Other Currencies

Stikhotvoreniia o svobode [Verse about freedom]. Narodnaia biblioteka No. 140.

Moscow: Gos. Izd-vo., 1919. Octavo (18 × 13.5 cm). Original staple-stitched illustrated wrappers; 56, [1] pp. Unopened and uncut. Very good.

Focusing on Pushkin’s political poetry, this collection is an early post-revolutionary attempt at creating a “Soviet Pushkin.” This volume was edited by one of the founders of Russian Symbolism, the poet and literary critic Valerii Briusov (1873–1924). Briusov was an authority on Pushkin and played an immense role in the canonization of Pushkin in the 1910s and 1920s. Prior to the Revolution, Briusov began assembling his essays into the book “Moi Pushkin” [My Pushkin], to be published in 1911, but the book only came out after his death in 1929. This volume includes Briusov’s essay “Politicheskie vzgliady Pushkina” [Pushkin’s Political Views], which was later included in the 1929 collection. This essay highlights Pushkin’s revolutionary activity and Decembrist sympathies as well as persistent conflicts with the Tsarist autocracy. Briusov also disputes the claims that Pushkin became a reactionary tsarist by he end of his life, claiming that this was the story fabricated by another poet, Zhukovsky, in order to ingratiate the poet to the Tsar after his death and to preserve his legacy. Briusov also provides commentary to the poems, with historical context and vocabulary clarifications. Unlike most Russian Symbolists who fled Russia after the October Revolution, Briusov remained in the country, joined the Communist Party in 1919 and became a chairperson in the All-Russian Poets Union. This publication is part of the Narodnaia biblioteka [People’s library] series, which published inexpensive volumes with a preface in a simple language to make the writer accessible to a broader audience. The publisher’s catalog on the rear wrapper indicates publications of Tolstoy, Chekhov, Lermontov, and Turgenev that were approved by the early Soviet government. As of January 2020, KVK and OCLC show only the copy at Staatsbiblothek zu Berlin.

Book ID: P5494

Price: $225.00