My Gift For Tom Paine’s Birthday

In the 19th-century, free thinkers and radicals of every persuasion held Tom Paine birthday dinners on January 29 to celebrate the freedom of thought and expression championed so articulately by the political pamphleteer. Today we would know him as a blogger . Since beginning to re-read Eric Foner’s 1976 social history, Tom Paine and Revolutionary America, I’ve been gathering material about Paine to publish here for his birthday. Conflicting time demands interrupted my plans, but along the way serendipity intervened.

Yesterday I received an unexpected gift from an Iranian blogger named  Mannoushka, who translated an essay of mine into Persian and published it on the blog streetspirit. I am truly humbled and honored by that. It inspired me to finally complete the essay’s move  to this site, where it certainly belongs.

A Word Is The Search For It is a study of “secret writing” by the Russian poet Osip Mandelstam and the Soviet psychologist Lev Vygotsky, who took great risk in the 1930s to preserve their freedom of thought in the shadow of Stalin’s Terror. I offer it here in celebration of Tom Paine’s day, and I’m proud to include links to its Persian translation. Thank you, Mannoushka!

streets[ translationA Word Is The Search For It on

Part I: In the Shadow of Stalin’s Terror

Part II: The Work of Inner Speech

Part III: Subtext and Secret Writing

Part IV: The Living Word

Part V: The Renewal of Motive

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