The Corner

Re: Stalin in Paris

Rick: The traditional occupation for exiled Russians in interwar Paris was

as taxi drivers. Remember Mr Taxovich in LOLITA? “A stocky White Russian

ex-colonel with a bushy mustache and a crew-cut; there were thousands of

them plying that fool’s trade in Paris.” Stalin, of course, may have had

trouble driving a cab because of his withered arm (don’t know how much

function he had in it). In any case, the Tsarists might have shut him

out–he was, after all, a Georgian, not a Russian. He had quite a good

singing voice, though, and might have ended up as a low-grade cabaret act.

I think most likely, though, he would have sunk to his natural level, as a

petty criminal. Or perhaps not so petty: it was he, after all, who

engineered the theft of the Spanish Republic’s entire stock of gold bullion.

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