8vo, pp. 178, ; ink-stain to pp. 36 and 45 (prior to binding), but a very good copy in the original boards, printed in blue and black, paper spine; ownership inscription on front free endpaper.
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Nechestivye rasskazy [Impious Tales].
First edition of a collection of eight short stories by the increasingly dissident Zamyatin, including ‘Iks’ [‘X’] and ‘Rasskaz o samom glavnom’ (‘Tale of the most essential thing’), ‘the single most important work of Zamjatin’s transitional period’ (Shane). ‘Iks’ tells the story of a deacon who joins the Bolsheviks – in love with a pretty girl called Martha, he is torn between Marxism and ‘Marthism’; the extraordinary ‘Rasskaz o samom glavnom’ depicts three worlds: that of a yellow-pink caterpillar Rhopolocera, that of peasants fighting on opposite sides of the Revolution, and that of a distant dying star.
‘During the 1920s Zamyatin developed a deceptively simple, unobtrusive style based on the conversational literary language in a series of anecdotal novellas where literary parody joined gentle irony in depicting human frailty in accommodating to the new Soviet environment’ (Terras). Despite his high literary standing, Zamyatin drew increasing censure from Soviet critics, and the publication of his dystopian novel My (‘We’) abroad in 1929 occassioned his arrest, and the removal of his books from libraries. He went into exile in 1931.
Alex Shane, ‘Zamjatin’s prose fiction’, The Slavic and East European Journal, 12:1 (1968).
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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.
Ein Landarzt. Kleine Erzählungen.
First edition of this collection, including not only the title story and Ein Brudermord, but also Auf der Galerie, Vor dem Gesetz, Eine kaiserliche Botschaft, Ein Bericht für eine Akademie and eight other stories.