St. Petersburg: V tipografii Eduarda Pratsa, 1846. Item #191
, 560 pp. 8vo. Contemporary half leather binding. Some light foxing, corners worn, spine rubbed with a couple of small abrasions, but sound; early ink ownership inscription to the front free endpaper, later bookplate of A.V. Leont’ev to front pastedown.
First edition, containing (on pp. –166) Dostoyevsky’s first novel, 'Poor Folk'.
«No debut in Russian literature has been described more vividly than that of Dostoevsky, and few, in truth, created so widespread and sensational a stir. Dostoevsky’s account is well known, though he considerably exaggerates and sentimentalizes his own innocence and naiveté. «Early in the winter [of 1845], suddenly, I began to write 'Poor Folk', my first novel; before that I had never written anything. Having finished the novel, I did not know what to do with it, and to whom it should be submitted.» The truth … is a good deal different. Dostoevsky knew very well what he wished to do with his novel … ‘There can be no doubt, however, about what occurred when the novel was ready. Grigorovich [the writer Dmitry Grigorovich, 1822–1900] was profoundly impressed and moved by the work; he took it to Nekrasov; and both young literati shed tears over the sad plight of Dostoevsky’s characters. Acting on the impulse of the moment, they rushed to Dostoevsky’s apartment at four o’clock in the morning … to convey their emotion. The next day Nekrasov brought it to Belinsky, who greeted it with equal warmth and appreciation. P.V. Annenkov visited Belinsky while the critic was plunged in Dostoevsky’s manuscript; and he has left a less well known but graphic account of Belinsky’s enthusiasm at his discovery. ‘On one of my visits to Belinsky, before dinnertime, when he used to rest from his morning writing, I saw him from the courtyard of his house standing at his parlor window and holding a large copy-book in his hands, his face showing all the signs of excitement. He noticed me, too, and shouted: ‘Come up quickly, I have something new to tell you about.’ ‘You see this manuscript?’ he continued, after we shook hands. ‘I haven’t been able to tear myself away from it for almost two days now. It’s a novel by a beginner, a new talent; what this gentleman looks like and what his mental capacity is I do not know yet, but his novel reveals such secrets of life and characters in Russia as no one before him even dreamed of. Just think of it—it’s the first attempt at a social novel we’ve had, and done, moreover, in the way artists do their work; I mean, without themselves suspecting what will come out of it. The matter in it is simple … but what drama, what types! I forgot to tell you, the artist’s name is Dostoevsky …’» (Frank 'Dostoesvky: the Seeds of Revolt', pp. 137–8).
The volume also contains works by Belinsky, Herzen, Maikov, Nekrasov, Odoevsky, Panaev, Sollogub, and Turgenev (Pomeshchik, Tri portreta, and translations of Byron and Goethe), plus Kroneberg’s translation of Macbeth.