FIRST EDITION IN RUSSIAN, though Darwin's theories are known to have been discussed in Russia from 1861, possibly through the German and French translations of 1860 (see lot 276) and 1862 respectively. Rachinsky (1833-1902) was professor of botany at Moscow University but he also wrote newspaper articles on religion, education, art and science. Rachinsky had previously issued an article making use of Darwin's theories on symbiosis, called Flowers and Insects
(which is considered the inspiration for Tchaikovsky's A Chorus of Flowers and Insects
of 1869). Rachinsky's translation included Darwin's preface dated February 1860 from the American edition, but did not include anything specific for its Russian audience; an article on the significance of Darwin was written later in 1864 by Dmitri Pisarev. Darwin's influence in Russia reached beyond the scientific community to embrace novelists, critics and social theorists, from Tolstoy and Dostoevsky to Chernyshevsky and (somewhat later) Lenin, and should be viewed in context; 1861 saw the liberation of the serfs in Russia, during the relatively liberal reign of Alexander II (1855-1881).
In the Soviet period, the agrobiologist Trofim Lysenko rejected "capitalist" Darwinism and Mendelian genetics and devised his own theories. Agricultural yields fell considerably after the collectivisation of farms in the early 1930s, resulting in widespread famine, and Lysenko claimed he would be able to increase yields through his work. Lysenko's close relationship to Stalin meant that his ideas on genetics were officially approved and scientific opposition not tolerated; it was only after the death of Stalin that Lysenko's faulty theories were challenged. The Soviet refusal to acknowledge natural selection resulted in untold suffering in Russia and seriously impaired scientific progress there.