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3. The Soviet Icarus: From the Dream of Free Flight to the Nightmare of Free Fall

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses one of the most bizarre, utopian, and daring of all Vladimir Tatlin's projects: the construction of a flying machine, an air-bicycle, which he called the Letatlin. His air-bicycle was to free man from the bonds of gravity and gives him the sense of flight as enjoyed by birds. It is important to remember that the Letatlin was conceived at a time when people were already regularly flying in aeroplanes and Zeppelins, and the first gliders of the nineteenth century were already a part of aviation history. One should also take into account the fact that the 1966 film Andrei Rublev, directed by Andrei Tarkovskii, begins with the story of a monk who was supposed to be the first Russian Icarus. Another story features a very different reaction from another Tsar, Peter the Great.

Keywords: air-bicycle; Andrei Rublev; flying machine; free flight; Letatlin; Russian Icarus; Vladimir Tatlin

10.1163/9789004263222_005
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