Moscow: tip. V. Grachiova, 1862. 304 pp. In contemporary Italian half-leather. Gilt ornament on the spine. 24x17 cm. Pre-revolutionary stamps of the Russian library in Rome on the title page alongside the inventory numbers, otherwise a good tall fresh copy of an important and rare book.
The first separate edition of Ivan Turgenev’s (1818-1883) Otsy i deti [i.e. Fathers and Sons].
Fathers and Sons is considered to be the most famous novel by Turgenev. It first appeared in 1862 in Russkii vestnik [i.e. The Russian Herald]. After this publication, Turgenev prepared the novel for a separate edition by editing the text: he added a dedication to his mentor and liberal critic Belinsky (1811-1848). The dedication represented an important message to Turgenev’s friends and enemies and pointed to the democratic nature of the novel. The author also removed some of Bazarov’s unpleasant features (some call him the first Bolshevik in Russian literature). In his letter to Gertsen, Ivan wrote: ...while inventing Bazarov I wasn’t angry with him but felt attraction... I don’t feel guilty because of him... it was tough to make him a wolf and yet to defend him....
The novel examined a conflict between the nihilistic youth and the older generation, reluctant to accept reforms. Turgenev wrote that the idea for this book came to him on the beach at Ventnor, England, in August 1860. He also stated that Bazarov‘s character was based on a real person, a Dr. D. Turgenev finished working on the novel in his Russian estate in July of 1861, and published it in March 1862, in the conservative magazine The Russian Herald. Prior to this book, liberal Russian critics praised Turgenev’s realistic depictions of the serfs. However, in the case of Fathers and Sons, critics perceived the depiction of Bazarov as a subtle attack on liberalism. Turgenev, in turn, stated that he tried to obey aesthetic truth rather than write political propaganda.
Fathers and Sons was set during the six-year period of social ferment, from Russia’s defeat in the Crimean War to the Emancipation of the Serfs. The hostile reaction to the book prompted Turgenev’s decision to leave Russia. Ivan lived mostly in France and the West, following the opera singer Madame Viardot, her husband, and their children. Turgenev’s works were translated into French but it was not until about 1894 that Constance Garnett first translated them into English. Turgenev’s style had a great effect on those writers who followed the banners of both naturalism and realism. He was praised by Flaubert, Henry James, and William Dean Howells.
Bound together with:
Polonskiy, Y. Kuznechek-muzikant [i.e. The Grasshopper Musician]. St-Petersburg: Ryumin and Co, 1859. 48 pp.
This is the first edition of Yakov Polonskiy’s (1819-1898) satirical poem.