Great Soviet Encyclopedia

Great Soviet Encyclopedia

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia ( _ru. Большая Советская Энциклопедия, or БСЭ; transliterated Bolshaya Sovetskaya Entsiklopediya) is one of the largest and most comprehensive encyclopedias in Russian, issued by the Sovetskaya entsiklopediya state publisher.


There were three editions. The first edition of 65 volumes (65,000 entries, plus a supplementary volume about the Soviet Union) was published during 1926–1947, the chief editor being Otto Schmidt (until 1941). The second edition of 50 volumes (100,000 entries, plus a supplementary volume) was published in 1950–1958; chief editors: Sergei Vavilov (until 1951) and Boris Vvedensky (until 1969); two index volumes to this edition were published in 1960. The third edition of 1969–1978 contains 30 volumes (100,000 entries, plus an index volume issued in 1981. Volume 24 is in two books, one of them being a full-sized book about the USSR) – all with about 21 million words (Kister 365), and the chief editor being Alexander Prokhorov (since 1969).

In 1957–1990 each year the "Yearbook of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia" was released, with up to date articles about the Soviet Union and all countries of the world.

The first online edition, an exact replica of text and graphics of the third (so-called Red) edition, was published by in 2000.

Other editors

Editors and contributors to the GSE included a number of leading scientists and politicians: Viktor Ambartsumian, Nikolai Baibakov, Mykola Bazhan, Nikolay Bogolyubov, Andrei Bubnov, Nikolai Bukharin, Nikolai Burdenko, Mikhail Frunze, Victor Glushkov, Igor Grabar, Veniamin Kagan, Ivan Knunyants, Andrei Kolmogorov, Valerian Kuybyshev, Anatoly Lunacharsky, Vladimir Obruchev, Aleksandr Oparin, Yuri Prokhorov, Karl Radek, Nikolai Semashko, and Kliment Voroshilov.



The third edition was translated and published into English in 31 volumes between 1974 and 1983 by Macmillan Publishers. Each volume was translated separately, requiring use of the index found at the front of each volume to locate specific items; knowledge of Russian can be helpful to find the right volume the first time. Not all entries were translated into English; these are indicated in the index. Overall, some entries indicate an anti-American biasFact|date=September 2008, which is understandable given the international tensions and ideological conflict between the USA and the USSR at the time.


The third edition has also been translated and published into Greek in 34 volumes between 1977 and 1983. All articles that were related to Greece or Greek history, culture and society were expanded and hundreds of new ones were written especially for the Greek edition. Thus the encyclopaedia contains, for example, both the Russian entry on Greece as well as a much larger one prepared by Greek contributors.

Finally, a supplementary volume covering the 1980s has been published in 1989. It contains translated and original Greek articles which, sometimes, do not exist in the 34-volume set.

Other Soviet Encyclopedias

Damnatio memoriae

Following the 1953 "liquidation" of Lavrentiy Beria, the notorious head of the NKVD, the encyclopedia — ostensibly in response to overwhelming public demand — mailed subscribers to the second edition a letter from the editor [Sophie Lambroschini, “ [ Russia: Putin-Decreed ‘Great Russian’ Encyclopedia Debuts At Moscow Book Fair] ,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] instructing them to cut out and destroy the three-page article on Beria and paste in its place enclosed replacement pages expanding the adjacent articles on F. W. Bergholz (an eighteenth-century courtier), the Bering Sea, and Bishop Berkeley. [O. Lawrence Burnette Jr. and William Converse Haygood (Eds.), " [ A Soviet View of the American past: An Annotated Translation of the Section on American History in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia" (Chicago: Scott, Foresman, 1964), p. 7.] ”] By April of 1954, the Library of the University of California had received this “replacement.” [“ [ He who destroys a good Book, kills reason it self:an exhibition of books which have survived Fire, the Sword and the Censors] ” University of Kansas Library 1955]

This was not the only case of political influence. Evolution of descriptions of Bukharin is described in:


*"Great Soviet encyclopedia", ed. A. M. Prokhorov (New York: Macmillan, London: Collier Macmillan, 1974–1983) 31 volumes, three volumes of indexes. Translation of third Russian edition of "Bol'shaya sovetskaya entsiklopediya"
*Kister, Kenneth. "Kister's Best Encyclopedias". 2nd ed. (1994)

ee also

*Damnatio memoriae
*Great Russian Encyclopedia


External links

* [ The GSE with all pictures and articles on Rubricon (paid subscription required)]
* [ Great Soviet Encyclopedia online]

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