HG Wells first visited Russia in 1914. He spent two-weeks in St. Petersburg and Moscow. After returning to England, he proposed to introduce Russian as a third foreign language in English schools, along with French and German. At the end of September 1920 Wells arrived in Russia at the invitation of LB Kamenev, who was visiting London as part of the Soviet delegation of LB Krasin. Wells spent 15 days in Russia, most of them in Petrograd. At this time Wells lived in M. Gorky ‘s apartment in the apartment building of E. K. Barsova at 23 Kronverksky Prospekt    . On October 6th, 1920, Wells met with Lenin in Moscow. In Moscow, Wells lived in the NKID guest mansion on Sofiyskaya Embankment.
Wells wrote the book “Russia in the Dark” about his first visit to the Bolshevik State as an attempt to clear the ‘ignorance’ of Revolutionary Russia from the mind of the average Westerner. In it, among other things, he described in detail his meeting with Lenin and the essence of the difference in their positions:
“This topic led us to our main disagreement – the disagreement between the evolutionary collectivist and the Marxist, to the question of whether a social revolution with all its extremes is necessary, whether one economic system must be completely destroyed before another can be activated. I believe that as a result of great and persistent educational work, the current capitalist system can become “civilized” and turn into a world collectivist system, while Lenin’s worldview has long been inseparably linked with the provisions of Marxism about the inevitability of a class war, the need to overthrow the capitalist system in as a precondition for the restructuring of society, on the dictatorship of the proletariat, etc.”
On July 23rd, 1934, Wells again visited Russia (USSR) and was received by Stalin; the text of the conversation was published in the Bolshevik magazine. Wells wrote of this meeting:
“I confess that I approached Stalin with some suspicion and prejudice. An image of a very cautious, self-centred fanatic, despot, envious, suspicious monopolist of power was created in my mind. I expected to meet a ruthless, cruel doctrinaire and a smug Georgian mountaineer, whose spirit never fully escaped from his native mountain valleys …
All my latent fears of seeing a stern and unyielding highlander in front of me were dispelled from the first minute. He is one of those who look completely different in photographs and portraits than in life. It is difficult to describe, and many descriptions exaggerate the gloom and immobility of the face. Stiffness in communication, personal simplicity gave rise to rumours of insidious hypocrisy; made him the subject of an inventive, scandal-hungry, deaf rumour … … As soon as we started a conversation, all my thoughts about undercurrents and hidden mental stress disappeared without a trace.
I don’t know which of us was more amazed by this, but in the course of the conversation I was most surprised that he did not want to see even a distant similarity between the processes, methods and goals of Washington and Moscow. When I spoke to him about the planned world, I spoke in a language that he did not understand. Listening to my suggestions, he could not understand what was at stake. Compared to President Roosevelt, he was very sparingly endowed with the ability to react quickly, and there was not even a trace of the cunning, cunning tenacity that distinguished Lenin. Lenin was thoroughly imbued with Marxist phraseology, but he completely controlled this phraseology, could give it new meanings, use it for his own purposes. Stalin’s mind is almost as well-trained, fostered on the doctrines of Lenin and Marx, as the minds of the British diplomatic service were fostered by governesses, about which I have already written so many unkind words. Its adaptability is also low. The process of intellectual equipping stopped for him at the point that Lenin reached when he modified Marxism. This mind has neither the free impulsiveness nor the organized nature of the scientist; he went through a solid Marxist-Leninist school…
I have never met a more sincere, straightforward and honest person. It is thanks to these qualities, and not to something gloomy and mysterious, that he has such a huge and undeniable power in Russia. Before we met, I thought he was probably in this position because he was feared; now I understand that they are not afraid of him, they trust him.
In the end, as I intended, I again emphasized that both he and Roosevelt occupy an exceptional position and can address the world together. It turned out awkward, as the hope that the person running Russia would at least partially understand the benefits of convergence, which would help create collective capitalism in the East and in the West, was undermined. He answered in the negative, remaining unconvinced. I should have learned Russian well or invited another translator, then I would have closed the distance separating us. Ordinary translators have a penchant for cliches. Nothing suffers more in translation than the freshness of an unfamiliar idea.”
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