28 November 2018
GOGOL, Nikolai Vasil'evich (1809-1852). Vechera na khutore bliz dikan'ki. Kn. 1-2 [Evenings on a Farm near Dikanka. Books 1-2]. St Petersburg: at the Press of the Department of Public Education [vol. 1], and by A. Pliushar [vol.2], 1831-1832.
The very rare first edition of Gogol's first masterpiece and his first obtainable book, a collection of comical tales of provincial life. It was an immediate success; 'in Moscow Gogol met with the adulation and entire recognition sufficient to satisfy him. The young Idealists, with Belinsky at their head, carried him to the skies' (Mirsky, p.150). Pushkin remarked 'how we were surprised by a Russian book that made us laugh; we have not laughed since the days of Fonvizin' (Sovremennik, 1836, pp. 311-312). RBH and ABPC record only one copy of both parts having been offered at auction, the Bergé copy (sold, Pierre Bergé, 11 December 2015, lot 69, €147,799). The Fekula and Kilgour copies were both incomplete, with one volume only. Gogol's success with this work contrasts starkly with his first, self-published book: a poem of German idyllic life panned by critics. Gogol bought all the copies that he could find and destroyed them; as a result Vechera is his first obtainable book. Kilgour 340; Smirnov-Sokol'skii, Moia biblioteka, 604.
Two volumes in one, twelvemo (161 x 100mm). (Without the first half-title and blanks; first title repaired in the inside margin and fore-margin; some old marginal repairs; leaf 10.4 in vol.2 and leaf 16.1 in vol. 2 with the bottom margin repaired, affecting a few words; some spotting and occasional staining.) Contemporary Russian red quarter leather, flat spine titled and ruled in gilt (recased; spine gilding worn; endpapers renewed); custom red morocco backed clamshell case.
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