Shanghai: Lit-khud. obiedinenie “Vostok" 1934. Item #539
1 front., 12 ads, , 206 pp.: ill., 3 pl. 26x19,2 cm. In publisher’s printed wrappers. Very good. Loss of small fragments of the spine, staples with rust, a couple of pages a slightly loose. Owner’s ink stamp on t.p. and p.17.
First and only edition. Very rare. First of only two published issues of a rare emigrant digest. It was issued by art and literary association “Vostok” (i.e. The East) under the leadership of Mikhail Shcherbakov (1890-1956). “Vostok” was organized after a famous Shanghai literary group “Ponedel’nik” (i.e. Monday) broke up in 1933. Vostok lasted only for a few years, and its most significant contribution was publishing of these two issues of “Vrata”. The purpose of the digest was “to reflect the life of Russian writers and artists in Far East and to show to Russian reader a fraction of rich Eastern culture” (from the introduction).
Fiction works and poetry by K. Baturin, B. Butkevich, Vsevolod Ivanov, Lu-Sinya (in translation), V. Obukhov, A. Nesmelov. Essays on Oriental studies by N. Rerikh, I. Baranov, T. Gol’tseva and others. The collection ended with brief information about the work done by the “Vostok” association since its inception, and then - with a rather voluminous bibliographic department containing reviews on most of the books recently published in the Far East. There were also articles on teaching of Dao, chinese characters, and a short account of Rerikh’s expedition from Ulaanbaatar to Tibet by one of the participants, P. Portnyagin. A few photographs from that expedition were printed in this issue. Positive reviews on “Vrata” were printed in californian almanac “Zemlya Kolumba” (i.e. Land of Columbus) and in magazine “Rubezh” (i.e. Frontier) printed in Harbin.
In the interval between the world wars in Shanghai, as in Harbin, there existed a Russian diaspora of representatives of the first wave of emigration. It is estimated that in 1937, about twenty-five thousand Russians lived in Shanghai, making up the largest group of foreigners in the city by a large margin. Most of them emigrated from the Far East, where the so-called “black buffer of the White movement” lasted until the autumn of 1922. The creative life of Russian China in the 1930s-40s was rich and fruitful. There were dozens of literary circles and societies, publishers worked, there were newspapers. Thrown away by the revolutionary wave outside of Russia, many famous poets and writers lived and worked there.