Moscow: self-published, 1890. , 141, 15 pp. 24,5x16 cm. Original full-leather binding with decorative gilt on the front cover. Gilt edges. Contemporary inscription on the first half-title ‘Betekhtina T.’ Edges of the spine are slightly chipped, but otherwise in a very good condition.
EXTREMELY RARE LITHOGRAPHED EDITION THAT LIKELY APPEARED BEFORE THE FIRST TYPOGRAPHIC EDITION.
The underground hectograph edition of the most scandalous work by Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910). Covering the topics of sexual abstinence, jealousy and lust, Kreitserova Sonata [i.e. The Kreutzer Sonata] (1887-1889) was banned by the Russian censors even before any typographic edition appeared. In November 1889, the story was read in public at the publishing house Posrednik and “the stir spread like rings in water, and in a very short time reached the outermost fringes of the Russian Empire and beyond” (Postlude to the Kreutzer Sonata). Despite Tolstoy’s reluctance, the novel was copied and a number of lithographed editions were in circulation in St. Petersburg. Although the copies were quite expensive, costing to some ten to fifteen rubles, they disappeared almost immediately.The work was officially suppressed in 1890 both, in Russia and the United States (First American edition came out in 1890; The United States Post office prohibited the mailing of publications containing serialized installments of the novel). The basis for The Kreutzer Sonata, according to Tolstoy, was a letter he received from an unknown woman in February 1886. In the diary, the author wrote: “So, the inspiration for the Kreutzer Sonata was one Slavic woman, who wrote me a comic, but remarkable in content letter about the oppression of women by sexual demands”. Interestingly, Tolstoy himself had doubts regarding the Sonata: “There was something nasty in the Kreutzer Sonata, something bad about the motives that guided me in writing it”. The novel had a specifically powerful effect on the author’s wife, Sofiya, who perceived the work as a personal attack on her. To shake off the shame, Sofiya petitioned the czar Alexander III to allow the publication of the Sonata. The novel was printed in volume thirteen of the Collected Works in 1891. However, it was promptly confiscated and prohibited for 9 years. In 1900, the separate edition of The Kreutzer Sonata finally came out in Russia.
The Kreutzer Sonata was first typographically published as a separate edition in Geneva in 1890 (in Russian). The same year the work appeared in Germany and the United States.
In 1892, Sofia wrote a novel ‘Ch’ya vin/a [i.e. Who’s to Blame] as a response to her husband’s cynical views about love and marriage. The work was first published in 1994.