St. Petersburg: Typ. of Gemylian, 1835. Entirely lithographed edition. xxii, , 241,  pp. Quarto. 19th-century ink stamp of the St. Petersburg bookshop on the title page, several ink stamps of the private Oriental library of Hippolyte Brunnert (title page, p. i, last leaf etc.), several ink stamps with Chinese characters in text. A clipping from the Russian-language Harbin newspaper on the rear free endpaper. 19th-century quarter leather with marbled papered boards and gilt-lettered title on the spine. Paper slightly age-toned, title page slightly soiled, spine with cracks on hinges neatly repaired, otherwise a very good copy.
First edition, first impression. Very rare Russian lithographed book with two copies in the US institutions, found in Worldcat (Yale University, Cornell University). No records of this work were found at Western auction records.
The first grammar of the Chinese language published in Russian. Our copy, dated «1835» on the title page, could relate to the «Grammar’s» rare first impression. Russian State and Russian National Libraries record only 1838 edition, but John Lust presumed the first edition of the book had more than one impression (see Lust 1015). This rare, fully lithographed Russian imprint combines Cyrillic cursive text and clearly reproduced Chinese characters; each page is surrounded by a ruled border. The total print run due to financial difficulties turned out to be 360 copies instead of planned 600 copies.
The author of the book, the famous «father of Russian sinology» monk Iakinf (Nikita Bichurin), wrote it on the basis of his 14-years work in Beijing as the head of the Russian Orthodox mission (1808-21). The «Grammar» was intended for the newly founded school of Chinese language in Kyakhta – a significant centre of Russian-Chinese tea and fur trade since the early 18th century. The school was founded in 1830, and Iakinf became its first teacher and author of all tutorials. In his «Grammar,» Iakinf tried to avoid common mistakes of the previously published European grammars of the Chinese language, which tended to systematize it similarly to the structure of European languages. «The main concepts [of language and writing] were adopted from Chinese dictionaries and tutorials, and the rules of word-formation are based on the practical knowledge of Chinese language» (Preface/ Kitayskaya Grammatika, SPb., 1853, p. xx). The main text is followed by ten supplements, including several tables of various Chinese characters, four tables detailing the spelling of Chinese sounds in Russian, Portuguese, French, and English, and a list of the main goods of Kyakhta trade – in Russian and Chinese (various furs, fabrics, metals, utensils, animals, etc., and over twenty sorts of Chinese tea).
The «Chinese Grammar» was actively used as a tutorial by the students of the Kazan and St. Petersburg universities well into the early 20th century. For this work, Iakinf received his second Demidov Award in 1839. Nevertheless, the book has never been translated into European languages or republished in Russia.
Our copy bears ink stamps of the oriental library of Russian sinologist and author of a Chinese-Russian dictionary Hyppolite Semyonovich Brunnert (1882-1948). He graduated from the Oriental faculty of St. Petersburg University, studied in Beijing, and worked as a translator at the Russian Orthodox Mission in China (1911-1917). After the 1917 Russian Revolution, he stayed in China and taught at the Beijing University and the Russian school of Beijing; he was active in the anti-communist movement among the Russian immigrants in China.
Cordier 1669, Lust 1015.