Moscow: Tsentrizdat, 1929. 184 pp., 1 map. 22x15 cm. Original illustrated wrappers with the strict constructivist design. Illustrated throughout including the map of Finno-ugric speaking nations in USSR. Very good, few tears of the spine.
The book is printed in Erzya language, spoken in Republic of Mordovia, by nearly 100 000 people nowadays.
Extremely rare. No copies according to the Worldcat.
Tsentrizdat was the publishing house which full name translates as ‘The central publishing house of the peoples of USSR’, it existed from 1924 to 1931. Based in Moscow it was formed following Lenin’s idea, articulated at the Xth party meeting, ‘to help the working masses of the non-Russian nations [i.e. nevelikorusskim narodam] to catch up with the Central Russia, that is ahead’. By 1931 it was printing the periodical and non-periodical editions in 63 different languages, using latin, Cyrillic, Arabic and Chinese scripts.
Mordvinic language has been first recorded in the late 17th century, and is now regarded as two separate languages, Erzya language and Mokshan language. As they are Finno-ugric languages they have never switched to Latin script, and the Cyrillic script was used starting from the first abc for Erzya in 1884. The first books and newspapers started to appear in 1920. This book is the first full account of the region in the language of the region. The author Mikhail Markelov (1899-1937) is the representative of Erzya people. In the 1920s he led many folklore filed expeditions in the different areas of Mordovia to collect different kind of spoken traditions. This was the first book by the author, he was preparing the second one called ‘The Songs of Mordva’ for publication in 1932, but after the smear he was arrested as a contra-revolutionary, who was calling for the separation of Finno-ugric people from USSR. After spending 5 years in exile and camps Markelov was executed in 1937. This book remained the only publication by the author.