Trotsky’s Niece’s Mild Rebellion? Vera Inber’s «Как я была маленькая»
Inber’s “Как я была маленькая” clearly appears to have been influenced by another book, written by a different Vera, and featuring virtually the same title, “Как я была маленькой”. The author of that childhood autobiography was Vera Zhelikhovskaia (1835–1896). Zhelikhovskaia was not Jewish; instead she belonged to a very old and distinguished aristocratic family with plenty of royal connections. But this other Vera also spent part of her childhood in Odessa. Her When I Was Small came out in 1891, when Inber was a year old, and it became one of the most popular children’s books at the time. From then on, it was reprinted virtually every other year until the 1917 revolution. Inber, who describes herself as a ferocious reader as a child, undoubtedly read Zhelikhovskaia. If Inber’s When I Was Small was meant to be a secret tribute to the pre-revolutionary author, then what were the possible reasons behind it?
Keywords: Vera Inber, Vera Zhelikhovskaia, When I Was Small, children’s literature, discussion about children’s literature