Moscow: GIZ, 1922. 159 pp.: ill. 18x14 cm. Original illustrated wrappers. Spine is slightly rubbed, otherwise near fine.
First edition. One of 2000 copies. Illustrated throughout by modernist artist Dmitriy Mitrokhin (1883-1973).
The first edition of the famous poem by Marina Tsvetaeva (1892-1932), the poem was based on Russian folk tale by the same title. Tsvetaeva wrote Afanasiev’s adaptation and decided to turn it into a poem, although she changed the plot significantly. The story of the love of a merchant son and a princess lost its fairytale ending, in Tsvetaeva’s version the story ended in the parting. The narration changed its angle also: in original fairytale the merchant son is the hero, undertaking different quests in pursuit of his loved one but in Tsvetaeva’s version the tale turns into story about the feeble masculinity, also the girl is the narrator. Tsvetaeva added couple of semi-erotic scenes to the original story, beautifully reflected by Dmitriy Mitrokhin.
Mitrokhin illustrated books throughout his life, he is best known for his participation in ‘Mir Iskusstva’ [i.e. World of Art] group. His style varied from classical to symbolistic. In 1920s Mitrokhin’s woodcuts and engravings were more abstract. In this particular work a strong influence of Natalia Goncharova could be seen with whom Mitrokhin was closely associated.
The same year the Berlin edition came out which is more common in our experience.