Moscow: Gosizdat, 1927. Item #1811
259,  pp.: ill.+ 3 pp. of eds. 20x13,5 cm. In original illustrated cardboards. Binding rubbed and bumped, with small fragments of covering paper lost from spine, tears of spine, water stain on upper edge, some soiling occasionally, signature on t.p. painted over with a marker, otherwise very good and mostly clean internally.
First edition with cover design created by Alexander Rodchenko. One of 4000 copies produced. The title is an alternative Cyrillic spelling of Zhōngguó, the Chinese name of the country. Traditional Chinese characters were used by Rodchenko in the cover design.
It is a rare publication by futurist poet and journalist Sergey Tretiakov (1892-1939), known as one of the major LEF theoreticians. The book contains the author’s observations about the daily life of ordinary people in China in the 1920s. Some of his notes were earlier published in the press, some texts were printed for the first time.
Born in Latvia, Tretiakov moved to Moscow and enrolled in Moscow University. In 1913, he joined the ego-futurist group “Mezzanine of Poetry”. During the Civil War, he lived and worked in Vladivostok, Beijing, Harbin, Chita. He was a member of the Far Eastern group “Creativity” and published his debut book of poetry ‘Iron Pause’ (1919) in Vladivostok. In 1922, he came back to Moscow and was employed in the Meyerhold Theater. At the same time, he took part in the creation of the LEF group and its magazine. In 1924, Tretiakov was invited as a Russian literature professor to Beijing National University. According to the introduction, Tretiakov had been living for 1,5 years in Beijing and managed to witness “amazing 1924 and 1925 when events changing each other almost reached the point of rebellion”.
Of Chinese period impressions, Tretiakov formed two books: “Chzhungo” (1927) and “Den Shi-Khua” (1930). In this one, he wrote about agriculture and politics, street transport, Chinese women’s position, feminism in China, traditional theater and street agitation, life of Beijing university, traditional rituals and anti-religious movement, etc.
Numerous photographs show a rural cart, bamboo rafting along canals, a peasant yard, transportation of live pigs, a water carrier, signboards of a trade street, theatrical production, amateur street performances, contemporary military generals and Beijing students, etc.
In 1930, the account was reprinted with the same design. In 1937, Sergey Tretiakov was arrested in Moscow and murdered. All his publications were banned.
Copies are located in California, Stanford, Hawaii, Illinois Universities, Getty Institute, New York and Los Angeles Public Libraries.