[WHITMAN'S LEAVES OF GRASS IN RUSSIAN] Pobegi travy / Perevod s angliiskogo K.D. Balmonta [i.e. Leaves of Grass / translated from English by K.D. Balmont]

Moscow: Scorpion, 1911. Item #492

[4], 216, [10] pp. 8vo. A fine copy. The contemporary owner's cloth binding with lettering piece glued to the spine. Original printed front wrapper preserved. A bookseller's mark on the free endpaper.

The most complete pre-revolutionary edition of Walt Whitman's work in Russian.

The earliest Russian translations of Whitman were made by Ivan Turgenev in the 1860s, though they remained unpublished. Leo Tolstoy found (as he put it) "something good" in 'Leaves of Grass'. He was very fond of Whitman in the 1890s and recommended his work for translation and publication. Between 1906 and 1913 there was a rising interest in Whitman's poetry in Russia. The democratic and free spirit of his work resonated with the prevailing social spirit in Russia. Translations of separate poems were published in periodicals long before that, but small collections of poems were printed in 1905 and 1907.

Translation methodology was a very difficult subject and not only in Russia. Kornei Chukovsky and Konstantin Balmont were the two main translators of Whitman's poetry and there was a fundamental disagreement between them on how Whitman's work should be translated. Balmont was a famous and successful poet and translator, the father of Russian symbolism. He claimed that he "was extremely precise and used re-phrasings only where it was demanded by [his] artistic perception". In fact, Balmont's translations are recognised not for their precision, but for their creativity, whereas Chukovsky, who published ten editions of his translations in his lifetime, and who was an ardent admirer of Whitman, remained more faithful to the original in his own work. This edition is also interesting because 26 pages were extracted for censorship reasons so p. 23 is followed by p. 49.

Price: $1,800.00

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