Studi Slavistici XVIII (2021) 1 • Per Andrea Trovesi in memoriam

Soviet Time-Traveller into the Past: Poetics of Goluboj Čеlovek (The Blue Man) by Lazar’ Lagin

Dmitry Vladimirovich Novokhatskiy
University of Catania
Published July 20, 2021
  • Time-Travel,
  • Soviet Science Fiction,
  • Lazar’ Lagin,
  • Alternate History,
  • Historical Novel
How to Cite
Novokhatskiy, D. V. (2021). Soviet Time-Traveller into the Past: Poetics of Goluboj Čеlovek (The Blue Man) by Lazar’ Lagin. Studi Slavistici, 18(1), 87-106.


In Soviet science fiction, neither time travel nor alternate history proved to be particularly popular; one of the reasons is likely related to their obvious rejection of Marx’s materialist conception of history. Among the few exceptions is the novel Goluboj Čеlovek (‘The Blue Man’) by Lazar’ Lagin (1964), a backwards time travel story which uses chronotravel as main motif and whose protagonist is not a typical alternate history progressor but a conductor of Communist ideas. In Lagin’s novel, the natural unfolding of history, an evolutionary process which create the conditions for a Communist society to emerge, replaces the theme of righting the wrongs of history. Although Goluboj Čеlovek resembles a historical novel in some respects, it differs in that the narrative revolves around time splitting, and more specifically history splitting into two extrapolating timelines, which is a common feature of alternate history. The constant contrast between pre-revolutionary Russia (the author situates the action in the year 1894) and the ussr (1959) provides the background context for Lagin to demonstrate the supremacy of socialism. Following the early tradition of alternate history, this novel combines aspects of some genres of pulp fiction (for instance, adventure novel, love story, and secret history) and fantasy/fairytale. Written during the Thaw period, this work satirises both the tsarist Russia and the ussr.


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