On Hold

A Near Fine Copy

Zoo, pis'ma ne o liubvi ili tret'ia Eloiza [Zoo, Or Letters Not about Love, or the Third Eloise].

Berlin: Gelikon, 1923. Octavo (21.3 × 16 cm). Original typographically illustrated wrappers; 109, [1] pp. A very good, uncut and unopened copy, with only light toning to foreedge.

First edition of Shklovsky's acclaimed novel, which continued the montage technique developed in his memoir "A Sentimental Journey" and was written after illegally leaving the Soviet Union and temporarily settling in the Russian diaspora community in Berlin. "While living in exile in Berlin, the formidable literary critic Viktor Shklovsky fell in love with Elsa Triolet. He fell into the habit of sending Elsa several letters a day, a situation she accepted under one condition: he was forbidden to write about love. Zoo, or Letters Not about Love is an epistolary novel born of this constraint, and although the brilliant and playful letters contained here cover everything from observations about contemporary German and Russian life to theories of art and literature, nonetheless every one of them is indirectly dedicated to the one topic they are all required to avoid: their author's own unrequited love" (R. R. Sheldon, Zoo, Or, Letters Not about Love, Dalkey Archive, 2001).

The wrappers have been variously attributed to El Lissitsky and Natan Al'tman (whom the catalog of the Russian State Library names as the artist). When the work was published in the Soviet Union in 1924, by the publisher "Atenei", the wrappes were largely replicated and a note stated them to be "the work of the Gelikon publishing house."

Copies in this condition are not known to have come to market.

Book ID: 51620