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Soviet Samizdat

Poema kontsa. [Mayakovskomy] [The poem of the end. To Mayakovsky]. Samizdat edition.

[Moscow, ca. early 1970s?]. Octavo (22 × 16 cm). Original stab-stapled cloth-backed folder, into which are stapled 28 leaves of typescript to rectos. Occasional corrections in ink. Wrappers worn; internally good or better.

A curious artifact, this samizdat gathers two long poems by Marina Tsvetaeva. The first, “The poem of the end”, was originally published in exile in 1926 and could only be published in Russia in 1979. Dedicated to the end of a love affair, it is one of Tsvetaeva’s more lyrical, intimate works. The poem about Mayakovsky was written some months after the futurist poet’s suicide and published in a Soviet newspaper that same year.

The cardboard covers have been fashioned out of a folder issued for the All-Russian Society of the Blind (Vserossiiskoe obshchestvo slepykh, or VOS), originally founded in 1925 in order to improve the quality of life for those with vision disability and to create opportunities for work. Rather crudely produced, it is possible that the covers were deliberately chosen to obscure an illicitly-published text. But it is also conceivable that the typing and binding were done by a worker at the VOS publishing house, possibly as an unofficial side job (khalturka). This would explain the somewhat slipshod manner in which the book is bound and the unusual amount of typos throughout the text. The pages are also different in quality: a few are original typescript, while others are blurred third or fourth copies, with different grades of paper used. Lacking additional provenance information, we can only speculate about its origins.

Book ID: 51338

Price: $450.00