Petrograd: Parus, 1917.
48 pp. In original publisher’s wrappers. Front cover detached from block, otherwise very good and clean copy.
The first separate edition of Mayakovsky’s poem The War and The World, which became the culmination of the author’s anti-war pathos.
The outburst of World War I received contradictory reactions in the Russian literature of the 1910s. In the works of Vladimir Mayakovsky, the topic of warfare began to appear from 1914. His poems Mama i ubityy nemtsami vecher [i.e. Mother and the Evening the Germans Killed] (1914) and Ya i Napoleon [i.e. Napoleon and Me] (1915) expressed the horrors of war and condemned the bloodshed. In spite of radical approach to WWI, Mayakovsky was distinguished with the sharp patriotic enthusiasm, which with the course of time gradually waned. In early September 1915, Vladimir joined the Petrograd military automobile school where he was employed as a ‘skillful and experienced draftsman’. It was at the military school that Mayakovsky’s will to join the frontline vanished: ‘But now I don’t want to go to the front anymore… Soldiers are forbidden to [get published]’, he wrote in I, Myself autobiography.
Mayakovsky’s repugnance for war culminated in the poem the War and the World, which he started writing during his time at the school. While working on the piece, Vladimir often visited his friend and colleague Maxim Gorky with whom he recited new fragments. In the end of 1915, having finished Part 3 of the poem, Mayakovsky read it in the offices of Letopis magazine, with Gorky present. The poem and its public renditions were banned by the Russian military censorship committee. In No.9 issue of the magazine it was marked as one of the works which ‘cannot be published for reasons… the editorial staff has no influence over’. Two years later, after the overthrow of the imperial government,Mayakovsky started publishing The War and the World in parts in periodicals: in Letopis(The Prologue, Part 5, 1917, Petrograd), Chudo v pustyne [i.e. A Miracle in the Desert] (Part 4, 1917), and Novaya Zhyzn [i.e. New Life] (Part 3, 1917). For the first time the poem was published as a whole in the late 1917 by Maxim Gorky-led Parus Publishers. Interestingly, the Futurists received the anti-war poem extremely negatively and accused the author of having torn with all the basic principles of the movement.
Overall, a culmination of Mayakovsky’s anti-war pathos.
Worldcat shows copies of the edition at Harvard University, Amherst College Library, New York Public Library System, and Getty Research Institute.