Moscow: Detizdat, 1936.
8 pp. 19,5x15 cm. In original illustrated wrappers. Spine rubbed and chipped, tanned traces on rear sides of covers and near pages, otherwise very good.
Tenth edition. Since the story has debuted in a collection ‘Sovetskie rebiata’ (1926) and simultaneously in a separate edition of the Raduga publishing house, it caused a sensation in Soviet children’s literature and was reprinted numerous times. By 1936, printrun was launched to 100 000 copies (as credited).
Funny verses were created by coryphaeus of Soviet children’s books Samuil Marshak (1887-1964) in 1926. According to him, he was interested in wordplay. ‘Bagazh’ was made with many repetitions, so it resembles ‘The House that Jack Built’, the sole translator of which Marshak became earlier. The story is about a NEP lady who was going to Zhytomyr by train and checked in her luggage various items and a little dog, but upon arrival she got a much bigger mutt. Some critics compared the story with the Russian history of the 20th century.
The work changed designs and publishing houses, but the illustrator stayed the same until the Great Patriotic war. The artist Vladimir Lebedev (1891-1967) is considered a founder of post-revolutionary juvenile literature. He designed periodicals, produced ROSTA posters but dedicated himself to children’s book illustrations. Lebedev debuted with the publishing house ‘Raduga’ and gathered a circle of avant-garde artists to design children’s books in the 1920s. In 1924-1933, Lebedev was the artistic director of the Children’s department in the State publishing house. He generated a new style and visual language of books for new socialist generations.
His art remained the first and only medium for ‘Bagazh’ for ten years, although Lebedev created new designs for new editions.
For the collection ‘Sovetskie rebiata’ Lebedev didn’t draw characters or things but collected ready-made pictures – photographs and advertising clippings from old magazines – and combined them with some deliberate negligence. The 1931 edition features a mixture of realistic images but constructivist principles of their arranging (this design was repeated in 1936). When Lebedev designed ‘Bagazh’ in the 1950s, he visited a railway station and made detailed and realistic drawings of cages and station workers.
In the late 1930s, Marshak’s works, including ‘Bagazh’ attracted attention of Soviet authorities raising an issue of unsuitable literature. Works by Lebedev were severely criticized as well. This edition was the last one before a long and forced pause.
Copies of this edition are located in Southern Mississippi and Miami Universities, Yivo Institute.