Leningrad: Detizdat TsK VLKSM, 1937. Item #1454
10 pp.: ill. 7x6 cm. In original illustrated wrappers. Covers detached from text block and slightly soiled, spine rubbed and repaired on rear side with paper band, small rusty stains around staple, ink signature on p. 3, otherwise very good.
Lifetime edition. The back cover indicates a huge printrun of 500 000 copies and it seems to be true because of the enormous popularity of the author and the artist. Despite that, copies of this small fragile book hardly survived up to the day.
Miniature children’s book by the magnificent duo of Marshak and Konashevich. ‘The House that Jack Built’ was one of the first children’s books they produced together.
Samuil Marshak (1887-1964) introduced his early poetry and translations to the public in the 1900s. In particular, his poems were published in magazines ‘Jewish Life’ and ‘Young Judea’. As a Jew, Marshak was denied admission to universities. In 1912, he enrolled at the University of London and simultaneously started to study English folk tales and poetry. He was excited and always scrupulous about translation. As he wrote in memoirs, “First. Translation of poems is not possible. Second. This is an exception every time. If a translator treats his work in this way, he may succeed”. Marshak became the first and only translator of ‘The House that Jack Built’ into Russian. For this adaptation, he replaced ‘rat’ with ‘funny titmouse’, changed some actions of characters and even people involved. In this very version, ‘The House that Jack Built’ was widespread throughout the Soviet Union.
Marshak and artist Vladimir Konashevich (1888-1963) met each other in 1923 and began their prolific collaboration. Apart from this tale, they produced ‘Fire’, ‘The Tale of a Silly Little Mouse’, ‘Petrushka-Foreigner, ‘Three Brave Trappers’, etc. Until 1958, Konashevich was the only designer of this cumulative tale in Russian adaptation. He prepared a new design for every edition of ‘The House that Jack Built’. They differed by format, page number and illustrations. In 1937, Detgiz published the smallest edition.
The only copy is located in Indiana University.