Moscow: Progress, 1976. Item #1334
245 pp.: ill. 16,5x10,5 cm. In original publisher’s illustrated wrappers. Slightly rubbed. Otherwise near fine.
Scarce. Translated from English by Natalya Volzhina (1903-1981), a Soviet and Russian translator. Edited by M. Finogenova. Designed by V. Alekseev.
This is the Russian translation of James Baldwin’s famous novel If Beale Street Could Talk. The original text was written in 1974 and translated into Russian 2 years later. The edition includes black and white illustrations by V. Alekseev.
The book follows a relationship between a 19-year-old girl named Tish, and a 22-year-old sculptor named Fonny. Aside from the tragic love story within Black life, the edition focuses on the Negro people, its long-recurring drama, and never-diminishing ability to endure and overcome hardships.
African presence in Russia predated the Bolshevik takeover in 1917. The arrival of the new Communist rule with its attendant vociferous anti-racist and anti-colonial propaganda campaigns enhanced the earlier perceptions of Russia as a society relatively free of racial bias. As a result, dozens of black, mostly Afro-Caribbean and African-American, travelers flocked to the USSR during the first two decades of its existence. The second wave of black migration to the Soviet Union took place in the 1950s. After the 1957 Youth Festival in
Moscow, the USSR under Khrushchev opened its doors to thousands of students from the Third World, many of them from Africa. By extending generous educational scholarships to young Africans, the Soviet Union sought to reaffirm its internationalist credentials and also curry favor with the newly independent African states.
James Arthur Baldwin (1924-1987) was an American novelist, playwright, essayist, poet, and activist, whose works explored intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in the United States during the mid-twentieth-century. At the age of 10, James was teased and abused by two New York police officers, an instance of the racist harassment by the NYPD that he would experience again as a teenager and document in his essays. Baldwin moved to Greenwich village in 1943 and while working odd jobs, wrote short stories, essays, and book reviews, some of them later collected in the volume Notes of a Native Son (1955). Disillusioned by American prejudice against black people, as well as wanting to see himself and his writing outside of an African-American context, he left the United States at the age of 24 to settle in Paris. Baldwin published his first novel Go Tell It on the Mountain in 1953. In the following years, the author issued a number of novels and essays namely focusing on Black lives, homosexuality, and homophobia.
Not found in Worldcat.