N watched a documentary about Soviet Wunderkinder, the “genius kids” who graduated high school at 11 / defended doctoral dissertations at 17 / broke Olympic records / received adult poetry prizes at 6, etc.

“So how did they turn out?” I asked N.

“They didn’t,” he said grimly. “They all died too young to turn out as anything much. Suicide, drugs, stroke. They are all dead.”

And to think we all spent our childhoods being made to feel deeply inferior to these kids.

3 thoughts on “Wunderkinder”

  1. Where can I watch this documentary? As a byproduct of Nehru’s obsession with Soviet Russia, we did see glimpses of this awe as kids growing up in India. Yes, even in the 90s. Some of our books were Russian (translated, of course) and we always heard stories about how Russian school students do great in high-school ‘Olympiads’.


    1. It’s on YouTube but it’s in Russian. I can ask for a link but it will be for Russian-speakers.

      There was a cottage industry of these poor kids in the USSR. I knew it wasn’t going to be good for them but I had no idea to which extent.


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