St. Petersburg: Typ. of V. Golovin, 1867. Item #225
, 381,  pp. 14x11,5 cm. Period style quarter leather. Title page with a minor restoration on the lower margin, otherwise a very good copy.
First edition. Very rare Russian imprint with only one paper copy found in Worldcat (The British Library). This is the first book and the first work in the genre of “stories about naval life” written by a prominent Russian writer Konstantin Staniukovich. Published by a small private typography, the “Sketches of Everyday Life at Sea” are very rare and anticipate the later great success of Staniukovich’s “Morskiye Rasskazy” (“Sea Stories”) – which were published in a revised and enlarged form in 1888 and made the author widely popular in the Imperial and later Soviet Russia. The “Sea Stories” are now considered classic literature for youth and four Russian movies based on the book were made in 1950-2008.
The “Sketches of Everyday Life at Sea” were published shortly after Staniukovich’s return from a three-year naval service in Southeast Asia, Russian Far East and North Pacific (1860-63), which he spent on several Russian naval ships (corvette “Kalevala”, transport ship “Yaponets”, clipper “Gaidamak”, and others). The book includes nine stories, some of which were first published in 1861-1864 (“Morskoy Sbornik” and other Saint Petersburg literary magazines). Very interesting is the chapter describing Staniukovich’s week-long stay in Hong Kong and Canton, together with Russian naval corvette “Kalevala.” The author gives a vivid picture of Chinese port merchants, main trade streets, tea and opium trade, beggars and thieves, markets, houses and gardens, children abductions, high level of literacy, religion, wide-spread Catholicism and little influence of Orthodox Christianity, punishments etc. The next chapter contains an extensive essay on Cochinchina (Vietnam) which contains the history of relations between France and the Kingdom of Annam, an eyewitness account of the final stage its conquest by the French in 1862, and description of Saigon where Staniukovich lived for a month and a half. The other chapters describe “Kalevala’s” voyage in October 1860-August 1861: “From Brest to Madeira”, “Madeira and Cape Verde”, “Life [on board] in the tropics” (including crossing the Equator in the Atlantic Ocean); “In the Indian Ocean” (from Cape of Good Hope via Sunda Strait to Batavia); “Abolishment of corporal punishments”; “Kuzka’s love (a short story)”; “Storm (a sketch)”.
“The son of an admiral, Staniukovich was born into a family with a long naval tradition. He studied at the Naval Cadet Corps in St. Petersburg from 1857 to 1860. In 1860 he completed the voyage described in his first book of sketches, “From a Voyage Around the World” (1867). Staniukovich retired from the navy in 1864 with the rank of lieutenant and taught school in a remote village of Vladimir Province in 1865 and 1866. In 1884, Staniukovich was arrested for his association with revolutionary Populist (i.e. Narodnik) émigrés; after a year of imprisonment he was exiled to Tomsk for three years…” (The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition. English translation).