Illustrated Early Account of the Sakhalin Penal Colony

Sakhalin: katorga [Russia's Penal Colony in the Far East]. Complete in two volumes.

Moscow: I. D. Sytin, 1903. Octavo (27.5 × 17.5 cm). Contemporary half calf with gilt tooling and title to spine; 438 and 199, [2] pp. With numerous photographs and illustrations throughout. Binding rubbed at spine extremities; corners somewhat scuffed; light foxing and discoloration throughout due to stock; good or better.

First Russian edition (previously printed abroad), of this important account of the first Russian penal colony, located on the island of Sakhalin in the North Pacific. "Despite the publication of Anton Chekhov’s account of his visit to Sakhalin in 1890, many Russians remained unaware of the brutality and savagery of the 'devil island'. In 1897 Doroshevich, Russia’s most popular journalist, travelled to Sakhalin and spent three months touring the island, interviewing numerous prisoners and officials, and recording his impressions. The feuilletons he wired back to his publishers were eventually collected and published in book form in 1903, under the title 'Sakhalin' (Katorga)... Despite having been imperial Russia’s most famous and successful journalist; having changed Russian journalism with his feuilleton-style; having been read by every segment of society and lauded by such literati as L. N. Tolstoi, A. P. Chekhov, V. G. Korolenko, A. M. Gor´kii and V. V. Stasov; and despite his Sakhalin feuilletons’ renewed popularity in post-Communist Russia, Doroshevich remains largely unknown to non-Russian readers" (See Andrew A. Gentes' preface to the first English translation, 2011).

A hereditary nobleman, Vlas Doroshevich (1865-1922) was born into a family of journalists. Inspired by Tolstoy’s writing and wishing to experience manual labor, he left school at the age of sixteen and worked at the shipyards, eventually starting his own journalistic career in the 1880s, writing for “Moskovskii listok” and “Peterburgskaia gazeta”. Doroshevich’s interest in the lives of the “common man” led to his development of a unique writing stile, meant to appeal to a broad popular audience. He was especially known for his use of colorful language intended to approximate the speech of his interviewees. In 1902-1917, Doroshevich was the de-facto editor of “Russkoe slovo”, the most read socio-political and literary newspaper of the Russian empire. In the summer of 1897 he took a trip to Sakhalin, eventually compiling these two volumes of “impressions.” Referencing Dostoevsky’s “Notes From the House of the Dead,” an account of his own time in a Russian penal colony fifty years prior, Doroshevich’s account includes chapters on “Katorga types," “Katorga theater,” “Katorga laws,” “The language of Katorga,” as well as chapters on “Katorga intellectuals.” Referencing Tolstoy’s “Kreuzer Sonata” he also interviews a nobleman murderer who killed his wife in a feat of jealous passion. The book is appended with dozens of photographic portraits of “Criminal types” as well as shots of Sakhalin nature and camp barracks. Doroshevich welcomed the Revolution but died of Tuberculosis shortly thereafter.

Book ID: P5797

Price: $750.00