Moscow; Petrograd: Gos. izd-vo, 1923. Item #1542
6-ye izd. M.; Petrograd.: Gos. izd-vo, 1923. 165,  pp., 1 portrait. 23.6x15.6 cm. In original illustrated publisher’s wrappers. First few pages detached, loss of the pieces of the spine, tears of the wrappers, neat restoration of the front wrapper (tape). Good.
Scarce. Sixth edition with Whitman’s portrait. First edition published in 1907.
Avant-garde wrapper design by Evgenii Belukha (1889-1943), an artist and designer who greatly contributed to the 1920-1930s Soviet book illustration.
Sixth edition of Korney Chukovsky’s classic Russian translation of excerpts from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.
Much of Walt Whitman’s enormous popularity in 20th century Russia stemmed from the literary activity of the two noted Russian writers, Konstantin Balmont (1867-1943) and Korney Chukovsky (1882- 1969). The former published the first Russian translation of excerpts from Whitman’s Leaves of Grass under the title Pobegi travy [i.e. Shoots of Grass] in 1905. The 23-year-old Chukovsky, who at that time was only commencing his literary career, severely criticized the major figure of the Silver Age of Russian Poetry for the poor quality of the translation: Balmont as a translator is an insult to everyone whose works he translates! Two years later, the daring novice printed his Russian version of excerpts from Leaves of Grass (1907), which became Whitman’s classic Russian translation. The literary rivalry between the two main popularizers of the American author remained a lifelong concern and is perhaps most evident in this sixth edition of Chukovsky’s translation. In the third section (Whitman in Russian Literature) of the publication, the author offers an interesting panorama of articles, books, and reviews dedicated to Walt Whitman. Elaborating on Balmont, Chukovsky accuses him of plagiarism and criticizes his Shoots of Grass: I slammed this absurd book shut angrily, and my day was spoiled. As if someone had made fun of me. Other overviews are devoted to Futurists, Tolstoy, Turgenev, Repin, etc. The first two sections of the edition describe the life and literary accomplishments of the American poet and feature Chukovsky’s translation of the excerpts from Leaves of Grass.
Overall, an important evidence of the feud between the two most famous Russian translators.
Worldcat shows copies of the edition in The Yale University; Stanford University; British Library, St. Pancras; 2 copies in National Library of Israel; Bibliothèque nationale de France; Leiden University Library; Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Roma; Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin.