8vo, pp. 46,  publishers’ catalogues; half-title adhering to front wrapper at upper inner margin, but a very good copy in the original buff printed wrappers; contemporary signature to title, occasional blue pencil marks in margin.
US $1049 €850
First edition of Bely’s important essay on Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. Tolstoy’s death at Astapovo station in November 1910 brought Bely to a new appreciation of the author’s genius. Yet along with it came a conviction of the irrelevance of ‘form’ to art and that even Tolstoy’s ‘revolutionary form’ was an obstacle on the road to the ‘reign of happiness’. The essay comes to a rousing conclusion in which Astapovo (i.e. the death of Tolstoy) becomes a symbol for the potential aesthetic future of Russia, ‘surrounded by emptiness; and this emptiness is not an evil emptiness, but as clear as noonday, a radiant glade’.
Bely had delivered the lecture on which this essay is based at a meeting of the Religio-Philosophical Society in November 1910. The young Boris Pasternak, who was later to reject Bely, was present at the meeting, and was inspired ‘with a belated professional interest, he thought, to read the work of the symbolists and reread that of their precursors’ (E. Pasternak, Boris Pasternak: Materialy dlia biografii, 1989).
Not in Kilgour.
You may also be interested in...
GOR’KII, Maksim, pseud. [i.e. Aleksei Maksimovich Peshkov].
V liudiakh [In the world].
First edition printed in Russia of the second volume of Gorky’s memoirs, first published in Berlin in 1916. It was preceded by Childhood (1913) and followed by My university years (1923). ‘Gorky reached the apogee of his creative powers in his autobiographical trilogy, Childhood, In the World and My University Years, a magnificent panorama of Russian lower and lower middle-class life. In vignette after vignette from his own life, Gorky is at his best, as he deftly shifts the center of attention from himself to the situation and people he faces’ (Victor Terras).
AKHMATOVA, Anna Andreevna.
First edition; the first post-Stalin collection of Akhmatova’s poems to be published. It includes some of the poems from her suppressed collection of 1946, Poems 1909-1945, severely censored for this edition.