London (actually: Geneva): Izdanie zhurnala "Nabat", 1879. Octavo (14.3 × 10.8 cm). Later black boards with gilt-tooled leather spine label, the fragile front and rear wrappers preserved; 78 pp. A near fine copy.
First and only edition of this collection of anarchist revolutionary essays by Petr Nikitich Tkachev, the Russian literary critic and political activist whom Nikolai Berdiaev considered "more of a predecessor of the Bolsheviks than Marx and Engels." During the student unrest in Moscow in the late 1860s, Tkachev led a small radical faction and was repeatedly arrested. In 1871 he emigrated and began writing for the socialist journals "Vpered!" and in his own Narodnik journal "Nabat" ("Alarm"), which advocated the creation of secret revolutionary cells in Russia and sympathized with terrorist acts. Although Tkachev is typically grouped among the Narodniks, and has been largely forgotten due to his early death in a French insane asylum, he in fact is an important early progenitor of Lenin's views on the revolution. In an open letter to Friedrich Engels (1875), Tkachev described the Russian revolutionary movement in proto-Leninist terms, as a carefully prepared event organized by a small group rather than a gradual mass phenomenon. Engels wrote a reply to Tkachev in 1875, and a "postscript" of fifteen pages in 1894, both of which were published in Leipzig. Unsurprisingly, thus, the philosopher Nikolai Berdiaev compares the dispute between Tkachev and Engels to the disagreements between Lenin and Plekhanov, the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks (In The Origin of Russian Communism). This title is no. 296 in the Souvarine and Bernshtein catalog (Dekker & Nordemann BV, 1980): "A very small group around Petr Tkachev, believed in a kind of Russian Jacobinism, the symptomatic importance of which was not seen until the following century." Ours may well be the same copy. KVK, OCLC show copies at the National Library of Israel, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Monash, and Princeton. Scarce in the trade, with no known auction records either in Russia or beyond.
Book ID: P5791