Other Currencies

Russian Futurism

Gromy o mramor: stikhi 1924–25 goda [Thunder against marble: poems written in 1924–1925].

Kharkov: Izdatel’stvo “Proletarii”, 1926. Octavo (16.3 × 14.6 cm). Original sewn pictorial wrappers by Aseev (?); 102, [1] pp. Light wear to spine and corners; overall about very good.

First and only editon of these poems by Aseev, which includes three cycles, entitled “Romantsero,” “Dni,” and “Pesni.” Although best known for his later socialist realist writing, Aseev was a noted Russian futurist poet, the founder of “Lirika” group and publishing enterprise (1913). After it disbanded, he joined the futurist group Tsentrifuga (The centrifuge), which jettisoned tradition in favor of innovation in style and subject. Aseev was close to, and his work inspired by, Sergei Bobrov, Boris Pasternak, Mayakovsky, and Khlebnikov.

Aseev’s self-drawn wrapper illustration strikingly uses typography to represent the contrast between marble and sound as a metaphor for poetry, here exemplified by red angular thunderbolts, which also allude to contemporary visual codes for electricity and the output of various sound media. The marble construction depicted on the front wrapper is, aside from the large orb, strikingly similar to the version of Lenin’s Mausoleum built in 1930. Although one of the poems commemorates Lenin’s death in 1924, Aseev could only have known the preliminary version built by Shchusev in 1925. The attribution of the wrapper design to Aseev is based on the RGALI finding aid for the archive of literary critic Viktor V. Gol’tsev, which appears to contain Aseev’s original drawing. Not in Getty. Not in MoMA. Rare; as of April 2020, KVK, OCLC show two photocopies and other digital formats, but no paper copies. A copy formerly held by the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin is marked a war loss.

Book ID: 50738

Price: $1,500.00