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: Department of Public Education [vol. 1], and 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 acclaim and unqualified 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 2 copies of both parts having been offered at auction, the Bergé copy (Pierre Bergé, 11 December 2015) and the Eden Martin copy (Christie’s, 28 November 2018, but without first half-title and blanks, present here). The Fekula and Kilgour copies were both severely 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.
2 volumes, 12mo (170 x 97mm), complete with both half-titles and all the blanks (occasional light spotting, a few light stains). Contemporary Russian quarter calf, marbled boards, flat spine decorated in gilt with the Vorontsov arms at foot and contrasting morocco lettering-pieces (rebacked with the original spines laid down, corners and edges a little worn). Provenance: Counts Vorontsov (arms on spines) – VF (monogram stamped on verso of titles).