St. Petersburg: v tipografii Eduarda Pratsa, 1852. Item #206
Pp. 7, , 134, 124, 32, 16, 38, 124, . 22,5x15 cm. Contemporary quarter calf, cloth sides, a little surface wear, later endpapers, preserving the original printed wrappers (‘Sovremennik 1852 No. IX, sentiabr’), guarded in the gutter. Without the final leaf from
the gathering 9½ (pp. 135–6 from the second sequence, a translation of Byron’s ‘On this day I complete my thirty-sixth year’ by Nikolai Gerbel); small spotted stain to pp. 21–22, with resultant loss of a few letters (sense recoverable), a similar brown stain to pp. 35–55 (again, the paper slightly thin, but no loss), occasional spotting, lower corner of p. 129 repaired (just touching a couple of letters).
‘Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy was twenty-three and convalescing in Tiflis after mercury treatment for ‘‘the venereal sickness’’ when he
completed the first part of Childhood, which appeared in a Petersburg monthly in September 1852 [pp. 1–104 in the second sequence here], above the initials L. N. It created an immediate sensation, one reviewer writing: ‘‘If this is the first production of L. N. Russian literature must be congratulated on the appearance of a new and remarkable talent’’. It was Tolstoy’s first published work and first attempt at fiction. ‘The original plan comprised a great novel (with the general title of 'Four Epochs of Growth') founded – but only founded – on the reminiscences and traditions of his family, so that Tolstoy was displeased when the magazine altered his Childhood to The History of My Childhood. ‘‘The alteration is especially disagreeable,’’ he complained to the editor, ‘‘because, as I wrote to you, I
meant 'Childhood' to form the first part of a novel.’’ (Rosemary Edmonds, preface to her translation, 1961). That novel, 'Detstvo i otrochestvo' (i.e. Childhood and Boyhood), was published in 1856.
This issue of ‘Sovremennik’ contains another first: the first Russian translation of anything by Nathaniel Hawthorne, chapters I–IX
of 'The House of the Seven Gables' (Boston, 1851; the third sequence here, pp. 124), with a short introduction by the editor and its own title-page: ‘Dom o semi shpiliakh. Roman Natanielia Gotorna… Sanktpeterburg v tipografii Eduarda Pratsa 1852’.
The National Library of Russia lists the novel separately (pp. 256), but we were unable to locate a copy in the West.