CITY: Publisher defends ‘anti-Russian’ advert in London’s Tube stations following public anger online
Penguin has defended its decision to use a quote from Russian author Ivan Turgenev as part of a marketing campaign for a series of new books.
The advert resulted in an angry response by some commuters and Russians on social media who claim the quote has been taken out of context.
The offending line the publisher chose to feature from Turgenev’s 1862 novel states: ‘Aristocracy, liberalism, progress, principles … Useless words! A Russian doesn’t need them!’
Writing on a petition Anna White started on Change.org demanding the posters be removed, she said: ‘It is an absolute disgrace that a publishing house is resorting to such low, cheap propaganda, based on ethnic hatred between the nations.
‘There is no other reason you have cited this quote in such a manner but to use this as a marketing tool to promote your company.
‘It is shameful that after bringing this honourable UK company to US your publishing house is resorting to these nasty tricks of adding a shock value to your advertisement, even when your message clearly provokes anger and ethnic hatred.’
A Penguin spokesman added: ‘The Pocket Penguins series features 20 great works of literature which we believe are true classics and should be read the world over. Alongside Turgenev, there are books by Tolstoy, Gorky, Bulgakov, and it is testimony to the quality of Russian writers that they make up such a large proportion of the series.
‘Our poster campaign is designed to intrigue people to find out more and introduce them to books we believe they will treasure. The campaign is intended as a celebration of these wonderful books.’
For more about this campaign go to change.org/penguinposters or email firstname.lastname@example.org.