DERZHAVIN, Gavriil Romanovich.
AN EARLY TRANSLATION
DERZHAVIN, Gavriil Romanovich. Gedichte … Aus dem Russischen übersetzt von A. v. Kotzebue.
Leipzig, bey Paul Gotthelf Kummer,  1793.
8vo (195 × 117 mm), pp. [2], viii, 103, [1]; with engraved portrait frontispiece by Geyser after Borovikovsky; spotting to the initial and final gatherings, light offsetting elsewhere; contemporary green glazed paper boards, scored in imitation of morocco, spine sunned and chipped, a little worn at head and tail; early bookplate of W. Speyer, whose name is also stamped at the tail of the spine.
First edition: the poet’s first appearance in German, translated by August von Kotzebue (1761–1819, best known to English readers as the author of Lovers’ Vows, the play in Mansfield Park), who spent much of his career in Russia.

Kotzebue includes eleven pieces here, all rendered in German verse, among them the powerful ‘Ode on the Death of Prince Meshchersky’, ‘Verses on the Birth in the North of a Porphyrogennete Child’, dedicated to the future Alexander I (‘one of the first odes by Derzhavin in which he disregarded the prescriptive classical requirements of the genre to the extent of mixing “high” and “low” styles, standard mythological references and Russian country scenes, to suit his own imagination’, Terras), his ‘Felitsa’ poems, which ‘broke all the rules by addressing the Russian autocrat [i.e. Catherine the Great] in a personal, wittily conversational tone …’ (ibid.), ‘The Vision of Murza’, the first urban landscape description in Russian poetry, and the famous ‘Ode to God’.

This is a very early translation. French readers had to wait until 1811 (Dieu, tr. Golenistcheff-Koutouzoff, printed in Moscow), English readers until 1821 (John Bowring’s Specimen of the Russian Poets, the first appearance of Russian poetry in English), before anything by Derzhavin was translated.

Goedeke V.2, 277, 33. WorldCat locates only 2 copies outside Europe (Harvard, Wisconsin).
£600   
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