Moscow: GIZ, 1929. Item #1856
16 pp. 21,4x17,7 cm. Original lithographed wrappers, designed by Nikolay Kupreianov. Illustrated throughout by the same artist.
Spine is slightly rubbed, rust on staples. Illegible owner’s inscription in the top right corner of the front wrapper. Otherwise a good copy.
First edition of one of two Pasternak’s children’s books, printed during his lifetime. Very rare.
Pasternak wrote two poems, “The Menagerie” and “Carousel,” for his young son in 1924. It is dedicated to a visit to Moscow Zoo, which was rebuilding under new administration, and still was called ‘Zoological garden’ (Zoologicheskiy sad). In 1923 Samuil Marshak published his canonical ‘Detki v Kletke’ [i.e. Children in a Cage], that for years to come dominated the children’s verse in Russian, dedicated to the zoo. It’s possible that Pasternak already had that poem in mind, writing Zverinets, as they became two of the most recognized pieces on the subject from 1920s children’s literature.
The book is one of the fine examples of the collaborations between artist and the poet from the time. The designer behind the book was Nikolay Kupreianov (1894-1933), who was teasing at Polygraphic Faculty of VKHUTEMAS (and VKHUTEIN) from 1923 to 1930.
Around him at the school formed the circle of bright young students, who in early 1930s were implementing Kupreianov-inspired style in their own book designs - the list includes Alexey Laptev, Anna Borovskaya, Leonid Grinshpun, Ilya Kuleshov etc.
This book is a perfect example of Kupreianov’s own unique style - his fonts are very disproportionate and drawn at easy, while the composition of the drawings fluctuates around the page, leaving a lot of blank spaces for the readers to fill in in their imagination.
Overall a great book, that combines the best of the literary and artistic Moscow of the 1920s.