Thursday 20 July 2017

Mary Kenny: The year that shaped the world

From abstract art to political populism, 1917 ushered in the modern age

Mary Kenny, writer and author. Photo: Tony Gavin
Mary Kenny, writer and author. Photo: Tony Gavin
Mary Kenny

Mary Kenny

It was the year that ushered in the word "surrealism" - coined by the French poet Guillaume Apollinaire. It was the year when Benito Mussolini, recovering from a war-wound, developed a special theory of populism: "a country needs, at its head, a man who knows the people as a friend, but directs and guides them".

It was the year when a revolutionary young student began to publish his thoughts, sweeping aside the shadow of "tradition", be it king, religion or hierarchy: he was called Mao Tse-Tung.

Czar Nicolas II of All the Russias abdicated and was taken prisoner by the Bolsheviks. As he and his family were exiled to Siberia, they were accompanied by a staff of 44 people, including a doctor, tutors, cooks, valets, a hairdresser. When eventually executed, their closest servants choose to die alongside the Romanovs.

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