Plikh i Pliukh [Plisch und Plum].

Moscow, Detizdat, 1937.

4to, pp. 71, [1], with illustrations by Busch; a very good copy in the original blue illustrative wrappers, with a colour vignette, some restoration to spine, small repairs to rear cover at head; in a folding cloth box.


US $3703€3454

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First edition in book form, very rare, of Daniil Kharms’s Russian free verse translation of the children’s story by Wilhelm Busch about two mischievous dogs, second only in fame to his Max und Moritz. The translation had been first published in the children’s magazine Chizh in 1936 (nos. 8-12), and remained in print throughout the century.

In 1927 Kharms had co-founded the avant-garde group OBERIU (‘The Association of Real Art’), with an emphasis on drama and on poetry in performance: among its surreal catchphrases were ‘Art is a cupboard’ and ‘Poems aren’t pies’. His arrest in 1931, and brief exile in 1932, forced him to largely abandon his writing for adults and concentrate on the children’s writing for which he has become known. His wit and taste for the grotesque made him a perfect match for the work of Busch, but this did not help him against increasing Soviet criticism – Plikh i Pliukh was attacked in Detskaia literatura 18 (1937) for its lack of a clear moral message. In 1941 Kharms was arrested again, and died in prison.

OCLC records a single copy, at New York Public Library. Not in COPAC or KvK; there is a copy at the National Library of Russia.

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