Item #1349 [LISSITZKY] Ravvi: P’essa v triokh deistviiakh [i.e. Rabbi: A Play in Three Acts]. A. Terek, O. Forsh.
[LISSITZKY] Ravvi: P’essa v triokh deistviiakh [i.e. Rabbi: A Play in Three Acts]

[LISSITZKY] Ravvi: P’essa v triokh deistviiakh [i.e. Rabbi: A Play in Three Acts]

Item #1349

Berlin: Skythen, 1922. 62, [2] pp. 20x14 cm. In original avant-garde wrappers with letterpress design. Slightly soiled and small scuff of the front cover (design isn’t affected), otherwise very good.

Very rare. Title pages in German and Russian, text in Russian only.
The cover design was created by one of the leading figures of Russian avant-garde art El Lissitzky (1890-1941). Dissociated from the Vitebsk suprematist community led by Malevich, Lissitzky moved to Berlin as a cultural representative in 1922. There, El continued working on prouns and promoting them abroad. He established contacts between Russian and German artists and introduced Russian avant-garde into European modernism. As a writer and designer, Lissitzky contributed to various international magazines while helping to promote the avant-garde movement through numerous gallery shows. He also collaborated with Russian art and public figures in the creation of experimental projects. For example, in 1923, Lissitzky met Vladimir Mayakovsky in Berlin to design the iconic constructivist edition of the poem Dlya golosa [i.e. For the Voice].
This edition serves as another example of Lissitzky’s foreign project. Details of this letterpress design echo one of El’s unreleased draft cover designs for the Broom magazine (1922, Vol. 2 No. 3). This modernist monthly edition attracted contemporary European artists and reproduced their works. Another Lissitzky’s cover design adorned Broom’s issue #3 for 1923.
The play Rabbi was composed by the Russian female writer and scenarist Olga Frosh (1873-1961), who was close to Russian symbolists in the pre-revolutionary period. Her first work of fiction was published in 1907. At that time, she had already used the pseudonym A. Terek (like the Terek river) in memory of her Caucasian motherland. Later, she published the novels The Lunatic Ship (1931) and Raven (1933), where she portrayed the life of the St. Petersburg artistic intelligentsia in the early 20th century and the first post-revolutionary years. After the Revolution, she remained in Bolshevik Russia and joined the socialist writers. Forsh is the author of stories about the pre-revolutionary life of cities and provinces, historical novels, satirical stories on foreign topics, film scripts, and plays. Her works have been translated into the languages of the peoples of the USSR and foreign languages.
This play was printed by the Berlin-based Russian emigre publisher Skythen [Rus. Skify] earlier than in Moscow (Krug, 1923). The title pages of both editions underline the fact that the play was included in the repertoire of the Wandering Theater. This theater was founded by Pavel Gaideburov and Nadezhda Skarskaia in 1905 as a part of their Public Theater. The troupe toured across all provinces of the Russian Empire (and then the Soviet Union) until 1928.

Worldcat shows copies of the edition located in LoC, Princeton, Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Indiana, Iowa, Chicago, Wisconsin, Wayne, Pennsylvania Universities, Getty Institute, and Amherst College.


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