PUSHKIN, Alexander (1799-1837). Evgenii Onegin. Part I. [Eugene Onegin]. St Petersburg: Dep. of Public Education, 1825. [with] Evgenii Onegin. Part II. St Petersburg: Dep. of Public Education, 1830. [with] Evgenii Onegin. Part III. St Petersburg: Dep. of Public Education, 1827. [with] Evgenii Onegin. Parts IV and V. St Petersburg: Dep. of Public Education, 1828. [with] Evgenii Onegin. Part VI. St Petersburg: Dep. of Public Education, 1828. [with] Evgenii Onegin. Part VII St Petersburg: Dep. of Public Education, 1830. [with] Evgenii Onegin. Part VIII. St Petersburg: Dep. of Public Education, 1832.
Rare full set of this masterful novel, with the first lifetime editions of Parts I, III-VIII, and the second lifetime edition of Part II – ‘an encyclopaedia of Russian life’ (Belinskii). ‘The second edition of Part II is especially rare’ (Smirnov-Sokol’skii). Pushkin wrote the first part of his masterpiece during his years of exile. He had few hopes that his verse novel, which he saw as a satire of contemporary Russian society, would ever be approved by the censors. It was, with an imprint of 2400 copies, and it became the talk of literary circles in St Petersburg. The following parts were mostly printed in 1200 copies. The second edition of Part II was an exact reprint of the first of 1826, except for isolated minor revisions. Upon its first publication, the third part was praised as ‘a work of genius’. Parts IV-V, VI and VII first appeared during a period of open war between Pushkin and the government. However, Tsar Nikolai I himself, who, on recalling him to St Petersburg, had vowed to be Pushkin’s personal censor, took the poet’s defence against a critical review of Part VII by Bulgarin. Critics and readers universally welcomed with saddened enthusiasm the publication of the last part. Albeit already the proud owner of a complete set of first editions, the bibliographer Smirnov-Sokol’skii ‘forced himself’ to purchase an additional set only to lay his hands on the second edition of Part II. Smirnov-Sokol’skii, Moia biblioteka, 991, 1010, 997, 1001, 1002, 1008, 1014; Smirnov-Sokol’skii, Pushkin, 5, 24, 11, 15-16, 22,
7 parts in 1 volume, octavo (152 x 96mm). With six half-titles (Part I wanting half-title, title repaired, Part II wanting pp. 33-36 of text, Part V wanting pp. 75-92 of text, Part VIII wanting last leaf of text, somewhat dampstained and thumbed, edges softened, couple of tears to lower margins, one touching text, few small repairs at gutter, hole to blank sections of three leaves, the odd ink splash). Contemporary green Russia, bordered with a floral roll in blind, raised bands, spine gilt (rebacked, extremities and joints rubbed, gild oxidised). Provenance: inscription ‘79 E. Razuvaev’ (contemporary tipped-in paper slip) – small colour transfer stickers (pasted on four leaves).