8vo, pp. 197, ; the odd page lightly spotted, but a very good copy in contemporary or early dark blue cloth; printed label pasted to the blank first recto: ‘This copy, no. , belongs to Vladimir Mikhailovich Shapiro'.
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Neskuchnyi sad [Bare garden].
First edition, no. 38 of 150 copies, of a poetical collection by the émigré poet, satirist and feuilletonist Aminad Shpolyansky. A journalist during the First World War, Shpolyansky emigrated to Paris shortly afterwards. ‘With his poetry and prose … he continued the classical tradition of Russian humour with its compassion for the “small man” … Published in Paris in 1935, Don-Aminado’s book Bare garden assembled alongside poetical works, a cycle of aphorisms under the general title “The new Koz’ma Prutkov” [a fictional author invented by Aleksei Tolstoy] … brilliantly witty and wicked. He casts doubts on all moral values – brotherly love, friendship, kindness, justice’, in a manner reminiscent of both Koz’ma Prutkov and Oscar Wilde' (Literaturnaia entsiklopediia russkogo zarubezh’ia 1918-1940).
Nabokov included several characters with the name Shpolyansky in his work, and his short story ‘Zaniatoi chelovek’ (‘A Busy man’) features a sketch of ‘Don-Aminado’ under the name Graf It: ‘So here he is – a thirty-two-year-old, smallish, but broad-shouldered man, with protruding transparent ears, half-actor, half-literatus, author of topical jingles in the émigré papers over a not very witty pen name’. Others were more generous, and he was extremely popular among the Parisian émigré community, including Marina Tsvetaeva.