Item #1163 [MAYAKOVSKY’S REQUIEM FOR LENIN] Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. V. Mayakovsky.


Leningrad: Gosizdat Krym. ASSR, 1925. Item #1163

94, [1] pp. 17,2x13 cm. In original printed wrappers with constructivist design on the front wrapper. Very good, restoration of the spine, pale stain near spine throught the book, Soviet bookshop’s stamp on the back cover, front cover sligtly chipped on the lower margin, covers generally slightly soiled, vertical creases of the front cover.

First edition. One of 10,000 copies. Rare. Cover designed by E. Shol’te.
This epic poem about Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was written by Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930) shortly after the death of the Bolshevik leader in 1924. The 3,000-line poem, which sets the story of Lenin’s life against the history of capitalism and the trajectory of Soviet communism, echoes Mayakovsky’s grief over the loss of the ‘proletarian and his personal hero’. Although Mayakovsky never met Lenin, his fascination with the politician spanned numerous years, and the death of Ilyich deeply shocked the author, who wept bitterly at the funeral, approaching the body at least 10 times. A couple of months after the ‘farewell’, Mayakovsky started working upon his most ambitious poetic project – a poem about Lenin. Despite the fact that the author wrote about the Bolshevik leader earlier (Vladimir Ilyich! in 1920; My ne verim [i.e. We don’t Believe] in 1923), his knowledge of the life of the politician turned out to be superficial and the poet sought help from Osip Brik who gave Mayakovsky a ‘short course’ of Leninism. The poem was completed in early October 1924. In mid-October fragments of the writing appeared in Rabochaya Moskva, Vechernyaya Moskva, and several provincial newspapers. In 1925 the poem came out as a separate edition and went down in the history of Soviet literature as the most extensive and widely circulated poetic piece by the author. Interestingly, Mayakovsky’s fascination with Lenin might have been one-sided, as on May 6, 1921, Lenin forwarded a note to Lunacharsky about the publication of Mayakovsky’s poem 150 000 000: ‘You should be ashamed of yourself, having supported the printing of 5,000 copies of Mayakovsky’s 150 000 000. It’s nonsensical, utterly silly and pretentious. I reckon no more than 1 of 10 books of this ilk should be published, and in 1500 copies maximum, for libraries and oddballs who enjoy reading such things. You, Lunacharsky, should be caned for your Futurism. Lenin’.
Overall, an important document of Mayakovsky’s possibly unrequited fascination with the Bolshevik leader.

Worldcat shows copies of the edition at Harvard University, Amherst College Library, Princeton University, Northwestern University, and Getty Research Institute.

Status: On Hold
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