Lenin, Works of

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Lenin, Works of


V. I. Lenin was the author of hundreds of books and pamphlets and thousands of letters and articles. He gave numerous reports and speeches at party congresses and conferences, congresses of soviets, Comintern congresses, and various other meetings and rallies, and drafted a great many resolutions, decrees, theses, and other documents. Lenin’s works marked a new, higher stage in the development of Marxism and became a guide to action for revolutionary Marxists and Communists. They served as a powerful ideological weapon in the struggle of the working class and of all working people during the epoch of imperialism and of proletarian revolutions—the epoch of humanity’s transition from capitalism to socialism and of the building of a communist society.

Before the Great October Socialist Revolution, works by Lenin were published in Russia 212 times, in runs totaling 573,900 copies. The vast majority of these publications were produced illegally. The book What the “Friends of the People” Are and How They Fight the Social-Democrats, the first of Lenin’s works to be published, was written in 1894 and hectographed in installments, without the author’s name. Also printed illegally inside Russia were the pamphlet Explanation of the Law on Fines Imposed on Factory Workers (1895) and A Letter to a Comrade on Our Organisational Tasks (1902). The works The Tasks of the Russian Social-Democrats (1898), A Protest by Russian Social-Democrats (1899), What Is to Be Done? (1902), To the Rural Poor (1903), One Step Forward, Two Steps Back (1904), and Two Tactics of Social-Democracy in the Democratic Revolution (1905) were first published abroad. The book The Development of Capitalism in Russia was published legally in 1899.

During the Revolution of 1905–07, according to incomplete data, 76 titles by Lenin were published in Russia in runs totaling approximately 100,000 copies. These works included Two Tactics of Social Democracy in the Democratic Revolution (1905), To the Rural Poor, under the title The Needs of the Countryside (To the Rural Poor) (1905), Revision of the Agrarian Programme of the Workers’ Party (1906), The Victory of the Cadets and the Tasks of the Workers’ Party (1906), Report on the Unity Congress of the RSDLP (1906), and The Dissolution of the Duma and the Tasks of the Proletariat (1906). In 1908, The Development of Capitalism in Russia appeared in a second edition, and in 1909 Materialism and Empiriocriticism was published.

The first collection of Lenin’s writings, Economic Studies and Essays, was published legally in October 1898. In 1907 an attempt was made to publish Lenin’s collected works in three volumes, under the title Twelve Years. Lenin selected the content of the volumes and abridged somewhat the works to be included. The first volume appeared in November 1907 and included such works as What Is to Be Done?, One Step Forward, Two Steps Back, and Two Tactics of Social-Democracy in the Democratic Revolution. The volume was confiscated soon after its appearance. The second volume was to appear in two parts. The Agrarian Question: Part One was published in January 1908 under the pseudonym “VI. Il’in.” For the second part, Lenin wrote The Agrarian Programme of Social-Democracy in the First Russian Revolution, 1905–1907. However, the galleys and manuscript of this work were confiscated by the Okhranka, the tsarist security police, and were destroyed.

Most of Lenin’s works written between 1900 and 1917 were published in legal and illegal periodicals, including the newspapers Iskra (more than 60 items), Vpered (more than 70), Prolelarii (about 90), Novaia zhizn’ (14), Zvezda (25), Nevskaia zvezda (20), Sotsial-demokrat (more than 90), Rabochaia gazeta (15), Nash put’ (ten), and Pravda (more than 280 from 1912 to 1914). The December 1901 issue of the journal Zaria (Dawn) published the first four chapters of The Agrarian Question and the “Critics of Marx,” with the heading “The ’Critics’ on the Agrarian Question” and the signature “N. Lenin”; this was the first appearance of Lenin’s name in print. The journal MysV (Thought) published six items by Lenin, and the journal Prosveshchenie (Enlightenment) published 28.

From February to October 1917, the publication of Lenin’s works increased substantially. They appeared almost daily in Pravda (more than 200 items) and were reprinted by central and local Bolshevik periodicals. The party publishing houses Priboi and Zhizn’ i Znanie issued a number of Lenin’s works in pamphlet form, including Letters on Tactics (three editions), The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our Revolution, Political Parties in Russia and the Tasks of the Proletariat, On Slogans, Lessons of the Revolution, and The Impending Catastrophe and How to Combat It. Some of these pamphlets were reprinted in Moscow, Minsk, and elsewhere. In July 1917 the publishing house Parus printed Lenin’s book Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism under the title Imperialism, the Latest Stage of Capitalism.

Lenin’s works were published in foreign languages beginning in the early 20th century. In 1902, What Is to Be Done? was issued in English in London. Individual works by Lenin were published in Germany and Belgium beginning in 1905, in France beginning in 1909, in Norway and the USA from 1916, and in Austria and Finland from 1917.

With the victory of the October Revolution of 1917, a new phase began in the publication and distribution of the classics of Marxism-Leninism. Publication of Lenin’s works reached unparalleled dimensions; they included Lenin’s reports at the Seventh through Eleventh Congresses of the RCP(B), at the Second through Ninth All-Russian Congresses of Soviets, at sessions of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, and at trade union congresses. Also published were Lenin’s speeches to mass audiences and his reports and speeches at the first four congresses of the Comintern. Works by Lenin published from 1918 to 1920 included The Chief Task of Our Day, “On the History of the Question of the Unfortunate Peace,” The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government, The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky, A Great Beginning, “Left-wing” CommunismAn Infantile Disorder (in Russian, German, French, and English), and The Tasks of the Youth Leagues, Lenin’s speech at the Third All-Russian Congress of the Komsomol.

Works by Lenin published in 1921 and 1922 in periodicals and as separate editions included the speech The Trade Unions, the Present Situation and Trotsky’s Mistakes, the essay Once Again on the Trade Unions, the Current Situation and the Mistakes of Trotsky and Bukharin, the pamphlet The Tax in Kind (The Significance of the New Policy and Its Conditions) (more than 30 editions centrally and locally), and the article “Fourth Anniversary of the October Revolution.” The journal Pod znamenem marksizma (Under the Banner of Marxism) published the article “On the Significance of Militant Materialism” (no. 3, March 1922).

Lenin’s last articles, published in 1923, were “Pages From a Diary,” “On Co-operation,” “Our Revolution,” “How We Should Reorganize the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection,” and “Better Fewer, But Better.”

Some of Lenin’s works written before the October Revolution were first published between 1917 and 1923. The publishing house Zhizn’ i Znanie printed The Agrarian Program of Social-Democracyin the First Russian Revolution, 1905–07. In 1918, The State and Revolution was published as a book. For the second edition (1919), Lenin wrote a new section, “The Presentation of the Question by Marx in 1852,” which was added to the second chapter, “The State and Revolution: The Experience of 1848–51.” Lenin’s work The Agrarian Question in Russia Towards the Close of the Nineteenth Century was first published in 1918. Many prerevolutionary works by Lenin were reprinted, including the collection Twelve Years.

Attributing great importance to the wide distribution of Lenin’s works among the masses, the Ninth Congress of the RCP(B) (1920) resolved that Lenin’s complete collected works should be published. This task was assigned to Gosizdat (the State Publishing House).

The first edition of Lenin’s Collected Works was published from 1920 to 1926 and consisted of 20 volumes (26 books). It included more than 1,500 works and letters. Of these items, 48 were appearing in print for the first time. The volumes were published in editions of from 84,000 to 263,000 copies. Despite the incompleteness and shortcomings of this first edition of Lenin’s collected works, it aided greatly in the party’s theoretical work and in the propagation of Marxism-Leninism.

After Lenin’s death, the Second Congress of Soviets of the USSR, on Jan. 26,1924, passed a special resolution on the publication of Lenin’s works. The Thirteenth Congress of the RCP(B) (May 1924) stated in the resolution On the Work of the Lenin Institute: “The Thirteenth Congress considers the first and foremost tasks of the Institute to be the publication of a completely scholarly and very carefully prepared edition of the complete collected works of V. I. Lenin and the establishment of a Lenin library for a broader working-class readership. The library’s holdings will consist of selected works by Lenin in all the national languages of the USSR” (see KPSS v rezoliutsiiakh, 8th ed., vol. 3, 1970, pp. 121–22). The Lenin Institute aided greatly in the work of assembling Lenin’s manuscripts, various editions of his works, and documents and other materials about him. In 1925, the publication of the second and third editions of Lenin’s works was initiated; both were completed in 1932. They were identical in content, differing only in typographical form and in the number of copies printed. Each edition was in 30 volumes and contained 2,780 works by Lenin, including approximately 500 letters. As a rule, the works are arranged chronologically. The editions had an extensive scholarly apparatus. However, the appendixes and commentaries in some volumes contained factual and political errors. The volumes of the second edition were published in printings averaging 103,000 copies, including additional printings; those of the third edition were published in printings averaging 557,000 copies.

In 1940 the Central Committee of the ACP(B) passed a resolution stating that a fourth edition of Lenin’s works should be prepared for publication. The first two volumes appeared in 1941, and the 35-volume edition was essentially completed in 1950. It contained 2,927 works by Lenin, including more than 500 not previously included in his works and 81 published for the first time. However, many of the works in the second and third editions or published in the Lenin collections and in periodicals were not included in the fourth edition.

Between 1957 and 1967, the fourth edition of Lenin’s works was augmented by ten supplementary volumes. They included works that had appeared in the second and third editions but not in the first 35 volumes of the fourth edition, Lenin’s last letters, dictated in late 1922 and early 1923, and his Letters to Relatives, Philosophical Notebooks, Notebooks on Imperialism, and Notebooks on the Agrarian Question. The supplementary volumes also contained the most important works and letters included in the fifth edition, the Complete Collected Works, whose publication had begun. The fourth edition was the largest, published in printings of 800,000 copies. It was translated into the national languages of all the Union republics.

A major event in the ideological life of the CPSU, of the Soviet people, and of the world communist movement was the publication of Lenin’s Complete Collected Works in 55 volumes, undertaken according to a resolution of the Central Committee of the CPSU of Jan. 8,1957. The first volume appeared in 1958, and the edition was completed in 1965. It contains Lenin’s complete literary heritage—his published works, those intended for publication, and many other documents: draft resolutions of party and Soviet government bodies, letters, notes, and telegrams. The fifth edition includes both completed works and preliminary outlines, drafts, and variants, thus revealing the development of Lenin’s thought. The Complete Collected Works include approximately 9,000 completed works and documents, more than 1,000 of them published for the first time. Many documents previously published in part were printed in full in the fifth edition.

The volumes of the fifth edition have a more extensive scholarly apparatus than that in the previous editions of Lenin’s works; it consists of detailed prefaces and notes. The fifth edition also contains lists of works by Lenin that have not yet been found, works that Lenin helped edit, indexes of works and sources quoted or referred to by Lenin, name indexes with biographical data, and chronologies of important dates in Lenin’s life and career. An index volume in two parts was also published (1969–70). The Complete Collected Works have been published in printings of more than 500,000 copies, including additional printings. The edition has been translated or is being translated into many of the national languages of the USSR.

A number of books supplementing the fifth edition have been published, including Lenin’s Summary of the Marx-Engels Correspondence, 1844–1883, Notebooks on the Agrarian Question, and Preparatory Materials for “The Development of Capitalism in Russia.”

The Lenin collections, published since 1924, print manuscripts, materials, and documents by Lenin as they are discovered and studied. Thirty-eight collections have been published, containing 7,157 works. The 37th and 38th collections were published after the completion of the fifth edition of Lenin’s works; approximately 1,000 works in the collections were appearing in print for the first time. Many new documents by Lenin have also been published in periodicals, in the multivolume Biochronology of V. I. Lenin, and in other publications.

In 1930 and 1931, Lenin’s Selected Works were published in six volumes, containing more than 350 items. On the tenth anniversary of Lenin’s death a two-volume edition of Lenin’s Selected Works was published; it has often been reprinted. In 1960 and 1961 a three-volume edition of Lenin’s Selected Works was published, containing works included in the curricula of the system of party education; it has been republished in several editions. Editions of Lenin’s selected works have been translated into many national languages of the USSR.

Numerous collections of Lenin’s writings relating to particular subjects have been published and continue to be published. They include collections of works on the party, on socialist construction, on industry, electrification, labor productivity, and the socialist transformation of agriculture, on the alliance between the working class and the peasantry, on the national question and the national and colonial questions, on the state apparatus, and on ideological work. Other collections contain works by Lenin on young people, on trade unions, on proletarian internationalism, on the Revolution of 1905–07, on the Great October Socialist Revolution, on the foreign policy of the Soviet government, on war, on the army, on military science, and on the international working-class and communist movement.

Individual works by Lenin have been published in numerous editions.

According to the All-Union Book Chamber, the national bibliographical center in Moscow, a total of 465,714,000 copies of works by Lenin were published in the USSR from 1918 to 1974. This figure includes 355,479,000 copies published in Russian, 70,860,000 in 62 other national languages of the USSR, and 33,975,000 in 39 foreign languages.

Lenin’s works have been widely circulated in the other socialist countries. The fourth edition of Lenin’s works has been translated in virtually all of them, and the Complete Collected Works are being translated in several. Editions of Lenin’s selected works, collections devoted to particular subjects, and individual works by Lenin have appeared in these countries in large editions.

In the capitalist and developing countries, the number of books by Lenin that have been published and the size of the editions continue to increase. The Collected Works are being translated or have been translated in several of these countries.

Lenin’s works are published in 63 countries and in 125 languages. According to UNESCO figures, works by Lenin have been translated more than those of any other author; from 1897 through 1970, Lenin’s works were published 3,384 times in the capitalist countries. Works by Lenin published outside the Soviet Union have included The State, 93 times in 24 countries; What Is to Be Done?, 160 times in 37 countries; “Left-Wing” Communism—An Infantile Disorder, 300 times in 49 countries; Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, 288 times in 44 countries; and The State and Revolution, 356 times in 51 countries.


Lenin, V. I. Sobr. soch., vols. 1–20. Moscow-Leningrad, 1920–26.
Lenin, V. I. Sobr. soch., 2nd and 3rd eds., vols. 1–30. Moscow-Leningrad, 1925–32.
Lenin, V. I. Soch., 4th ed., vols. 1–45. Moscow, 1941–67.
Lenin, V. I. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vols. 1–55. Moscow, 1958–65.
Leninskiesborniki, books 1–38. Moscow-Leningrad, 1924–75.
Lenin v pechati, 1894–1970. Moscow, 1972.
Proizvedeniia V. I. Lenina. Moscow, 1974.
Lenina chitaet ves’ mir. Moscow, 1970.
Izdanie i rasprostranenie proizvedenii V. I. Lenina: Sb. statei i materialov. Moscow, 1960.
Zevin, V. la. O novykh leninskikh dokumentakh (K zaversheniiu izdaniia Poln. sobr. soch. V. I. Lenina). Moscow, 1965.
Ideinyi arsenal kommunistov. Compiled by I. P. Verkhovtsev and Z. A. Levina. Moscow, 1971.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.