Small 8vo, pp. 95, ; some browning, a few light stains; private ownership stamp to title and title verso; later cloth binding, the original printed front wrapper by B. V. Titov bound in.
US $254 €228
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Spisok blagodeianii … [List of blessings].
First edition of the writer’s only original play. Olesha (1899–1960) is best known for the short novel Zavist’ (Envy, 1927), which was fêted by both Soviet and émigré critics and established the young writer’s reputation almost overnight. ‘A writer of great distinction, … as subtle – and sometimes as elusive – as the best representatives of that Western psychological school with which he had so many affinities, … Olesha wrote comparatively little …, and when the volume of his collected works was published in 1934, it contained all his fiction. Yet his one novel and the several short stories and plays are a more remarkable and lasting phenomenon of modern Russian literature than the many bulky tomes of more fortunate and more popular Soviet writers’ (Slonim, Soviet Russian Literature, p. 124f).
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GOR’KII, Maksim, pseud. [i.e. Aleksei Maksimovich Peshkov].
Starik. P’esa. [The old man. A play].
First edition, written 1915, but not premiered until New Year’s Day 1919.
First edition of Kundera’s first novel, The Joke, which gives a satirical account of the political atmosphere in Czechoslovakia in the 1950s. It tells the story of a young Communist whose life is ruined because of a harmless, joking reference to Trotsky in a postcard to his girlfriend. The Joke, together with all Kundera’s books, was banned after the Soviet invasion in 1968. A film adaptation by Jaromil Jireš with Kundera’s approval, also 1968, was similarly banned.