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Shvambrania (novel)

Last modified: 2016-03-19 by peter hans van den muijzenberg
Keywords: shvambrania | kassilh (lev) | sun (black) | tooth | sun: 11 rays | sun: 5 rays | cityscape | zigzag |
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Lev Kassilh (Лев Абрамович Кассиль), Soviet writer of young adult fiction. The novel Кондуит и Швамбрания | Konduit i Ŝvambraniâ (litt., Conduit and Shvambrania, also given as The Black Book and Shvambrania) was originally two separate texts, written in 1928 and 1931; a newly redacted version was published in 1955 (after the English translation). Original text (no images) online; English text also online, (from 1978 Soviet edition). A cursory glimpse reading suggests that the novel is a mosaic of fictional and real settings in 1917-1918 Russia and that the blue-red-white is a caricature of the Russian tricolor then being replaced by the red flag; its role should be clear upon reading.
António Martins, 22 Augustus 2010


Blue-white-red flag

[1st Shvambrania flag]
image by António Martins, 22 Augustus 2010

The original image seems to be hatched in Pietra Santa; the colorization above assumes so. It is deliberately "hand drawn" and thus there are some assymetries I assume meant to convey the sought sketchbook feeling, not vexillographically prescriptive. Flag ratio is approx. ~3:5 and it is divided horizontally. The upper stirpe has white background and shows a setting (or rising?) sun between two city outlines with flag towers and smoke stacks, all in solid black, touching the bottom of the stripe ("issuant"); from behind the sun five blue rays expand outwards to the upper corners and edge of the flag, and on the sun's half disc the outline of a human molar tooth. The bottom stripe is red with two parallel white zigzag lines going upwards at both fly and hoist, with three summits. The flag is mentioned on the fake ancient frontispice, as the last item of the verbose title:

In Search of Justice
Who Discovered
On the Big Tooth Continent,
With a description
Of the amazing events
That took place
On the Wandering Islands,
And also many other things,
As told by
Who now goes by the name of
And including a great number
Of secret documents, sea charts,
The Coat of Arms and the flag

António Martins, 22 Augustus 2010

Published in English by The Viking Press, New York. The coat of arms is displayed on the frontispiece and the flag is shown on p. 290. No blazon is provided, but from the text, the arms include 2 autos for Brenabor Keith IV (trademark of an automobile), the Shvambranian Tooth of Wisdom (and also the shape of Shvambrania on the map), the ship of Jack-the-Sailor's Guide, the black chess Queen, Guardian of the Secret. No explanation is apparent for the chequey field, perhaps it is the stage curtains — on p. 222 is stated «In the auditorium an inscription, 'All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players'. This phrase became a new device on the Shvambranian coat of arms.»
Rich Monahan, 20 Augustus 2010

I know books of Kassil from my childhood. There were several books of Kassil in the library of my parents (edited in 1967). Each book had individual colour, but all of them had one style and one emblem on the cover. The emblem was similar to Shvambrania coat of arms, but the details were different. The ball — for novel Goalkeeper of the republic; the star and flame (USSR pioneers sign) — for novel Be ready, Your Highness; I think it is a personal emblem of Leo Kassil made by book editors.
Victor Lomantsov, 20 Augustus 2010

Red flag

[2nd Shvambrania flag]
image by António Martins, 8 December 2005

Later in the book, the tricolor is replaced by a red flag.
António Martins, 22 Augustus 2010