Moscow: Typ. of A.A. Torletsky, 1877. Item #1188
ix, 214 pp. Large Octavo. With a woodcut portrait frontispiece. Period dark green quarter sheep with marbled papered boards; gilt-lettered title on the spine. Several markings of a Russian bookshop on the rear pastedown endpaper, otherwise a very good copy.
First and only edition. Very rare Russian imprint with only two paper copies found in Worldcat. First Russian biography of the world-famous zoologist, traveller and publisher of several important accounts of Russian voyages to the North Pacific and Alaska, Peter Simon Pallas (1741-1811). Born in Berlin, he gained prominence as a zoologist in the early 1760s, and in 1767 accepted the offer of Catherine the Great to move to Russia and become a professor at the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. In 1768-74 Pallas led a large-scale scientific expedition to the Russian Urals, Western Siberia, Transbaikalia, the Altai Mountains, the upper reaches of the Amur River, and the Caspian Sea. The results were published in a fundamental three-volume "Reise durch verschiedene Provinzen des Russischen Reichs" (1771-76) and translated into major European languages. Pallas became the father of Russian paleontology with his articles about mammoth and rhinoceros fossils found in Siberia. He is also known as the founder of Buddhist studies in Russia with his work "Sammlungen Historischer Nachrichten Ueber die Mongolischen Volkerschaften" (St. Petersburg, 1776-1801, 2 vols.) His major zoological work is the fundamental "Zoographica Rosso-Asiatica" (1811-1831).
Pallas had a close connection with Russian exploration of the Arctic and North Pacific. His seven-volume "Neue nordische Beytraege" (St. Petersburg & Leipzig, 1781-96) contained the first publications of M. Levashov and Krenitsyn's voyage to Alaska (Bd. 1), notes of Cossack Ivan Kobelev sent to the Gizhiga fort on Chukotka (Bd. 4), documents of Gerhard Mueller and Georg Steller (Bd. 5), accounts of Grigory Shelekhov's voyages to Alaska (Bd. 6), etc. (see: Lada-Mocarski 31). Pallas created the program of the proposed first Russian circumnavigation under the command of Grigory Mulovsky, which was cancelled due to the start of the Russo-Swedish War (1787). He also took an active part in the preparation of the Billings-Sarychev expedition to the North Pacific (1785-95), and one of the expedition vessels was named "Pallas" after him.
His first Russian biography addresses the "learning youth" and consists of two parts: the biography proper, the analysis of Pallas's discoveries and achievements in zoology, paleontology, geology, botany, ethnography and linguistics; and the description of all his travels. The frontispiece is a woodcut portrait of Pallas. The book's author Vladimir Marakuev was a prominent Russian educator and publisher, a member of the Russian Geographical Society. In the 1880s, he closely collaborated with Leo Tolstoy on publishing popular editions of short stories for Russian peasants (see a detailed note on Marakuev in the academic edition of Tolstoy's Collected Works: Tolstoy, L. Polnoye Sobraniye Sochineniy. Vol. 25. M., 1937, pp. 875-877). In the 1880s-1910s, Marakuev also issued over a dozen guides on vegetable and fruit gardening.
The book was the second and the last one in the series of biographies of famous scientists, published by the "Society of Distribution of Useful Books" (Obshchestvo Rasprostraneniya Polyeznykh Knig). The first book in the series, also authored by Marakuev and containing biographies of Carl Linnaeus and Georges-Louis Leclerc, comte de Buffon, was issued in 1874. The series never continued; none of its two books were republished or translated into other languages.