[MAYAKOVSKY AS LITERARY CRITIC] Kak delat’ stikhi? [i. e. How are Verses Made?]

Moscow: Ogoniok, 1927. Item #264

54, [2] pp. 15x11,5 cm. In original illustrated wrappers. Very good, wrappers slightly rubbed several stains and owner’s pencil marks in text.

Scarce. One of 14500 copies.
First edition of the most elaborate piece of Mayakovsky’s literary criticism (he’s done only few other critical works and they are short essays). It includes a description of the way in which he wrote his poem «To Sergey Esenin», and can be considered Mayakovsky’s credo.
Mayakovsky’s ‘eternal’ struggle for sincerity in art and life is expressed most clearly in his longest and most substantial critical text How are Verses Made? The direct reason to write that was to react once more at the poet Sergei Esenin’s tragic death. Mayakovsky’s first reaction was poem «To Sergey Esenin». As Mayakovsky considered it his task to challenge the general feelings of pessimism evoked by Esenin’s death, his poem on Esenin lacks the elegiac tone that is characteristic for commemorative poems. It strikes the reader even by the absence of sympathy with a fellow poet. One of the reasons to write How are Verses Made? was to explain this seemingly cold attitude and lack of sympathy. Eventually his text went further than that and became a general statement about his own making of verse and about the way it should be done in general.
Mayakovsky gives some of the ‘rules’, for instance, the essential rule for beginning a poem is a problem in society that can only be tackled by a work of poetry - the theme, and further - a target. He intermingles his ‘rules’ with a description of the creative process. For example, fundamental to all poetry is rhyme. It comes to Mayakovsky when he walks through the city. (Beekman, K. Avant-Garde and Criticism).
In this book he refers to the verses of A. Kruchionykh, D. Bednyi, K. Balmont, S. Esenin, and compares their poems with his own.

Worldcat locates copies in Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Amherst College Library.

Price: $1,400.00

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