Other Currencies

Soviet Children's Book

Progulka [A walk].

Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel’stvo, 1930. Octavo (18.8 × 14.4 cm). Original staple-stitched chromolithographed wrappers; 11, [1] pp. including wrappers.

A striking chromo-lithographed Russian children’s book by the Russian poet Sergei Nel’dikhen (1891–1941), who is today largely unknown. Nel’dikhen was a kind of outsider of the literary establishment: he was part of Nikolai Gumilev’s Acmeist “Tsekh poetov” and published in Mikhail Kuzmin’s “Abraksas” in 1922–1923. Variously described as a “primitivist” and an eccentric, and similar in some ways to the Oberiuty, he was also referred to as a Russian Walt Whitman, perhaps for his insistence on the conflation of poetry and prose. Following the publication of a controversial 1929 work, Nel’dikhen was declared a “class enemy” and his arrest followed in 1931, resulting in three years of forced exile in Alma-Aty. After his return, he published largely journalistic texts for a living. In 1941, he was arrested again and perished in a GULAG camp in 1942. His fate may explain the scarcity of this work, which is rare even by the standards of early Soviet children’s books.

The present work is a whimsical, yet slightly melancholic book about two young boys who brainstorm so many threatening reasons for not going for a walk outside, that the day passes them by without any adventures. With striking illustrations throughout by Georgii A. Tuganov (1902–1941), an artist and book designer who studied at the Ryazan Art School from 1922 and at the VKhUTEMAS graphic arts department from 1923 to 1929, under Vladimir Favorsky. He perished on active duty during World War II.

Not in: Lur’e, Kniga dlia detei, 1881–1939.

Rare; as of June 2023, KVK, OCLC show two copies in North America.

Book ID: 52972

Price: $3,000.00