PLENCK, Joseph Jacob von.
FROM THE SMIRDIN SUBSCRIPTION LIBRARY
PLENCK, Joseph Jacob von. Estestvennaia nauka o deistviiakh chelovecheskago tela … S Latinskago na Rossiiskoi iazyk perevedena … Fedorom Ershevym [The natural science of the actions of the human body … Translated from the Latin into Russian by Fyodor Yershov].
Moskva, v Universitetskoi Tipografii, u A. Svetushkina,  1789.
8vo (190 × 117 mm), pp. [4], vi, 97, [1]; a very good copy in contemporary half calf, rubbed, spine chipped at head, spine label lettered gilt; from Smirdin’s subscription library in St Petersburg, with its printed label to the front pastedown.
First edition in Russian of ‘Physiologia seu doctrina de actionibus corporis humani’, from the author’s Compendium institutionum chirurgicarum (1775). Plenck (1735–1807) was a noted Austrian physician, professor of surgery and obstetrics at Trnava, Budapest, then of chemistry and botany in Vienna, and is remembered today as the founder of modern dermatology. This is the first work by him to appear in Russian—the Svodnyi katalog lists a total of eight before 1801—and is relatively early for a medical text in the vernacular.

This copy of Plenck’s book comes from the great Smirdin subscription library. Aleksandr Smirdin (1794–1857) was a ‘pioneering bookseller, publisher, and owner of the famous subscription library on Nevsky Prospect in St Petersburg’ (Terras). He set up on his own in 1823, moving to a fashionable address on Nevsky in 1832. ‘Soon Smirdin’s publishing enterprises—books, journals, miscellanies, library, and press—acquired such a hold over Russian letters that Belinsky called the 1830s the “Smirdin period of Russian literature” … Smirdin lacked the education and taste to interact creatively with his authors. Yet his bookstore–library provided a popular meeting place for them, and its catalogue (1828) was an important bibliographical resource … The annual subscription to his library was too high to attract a mass public, but it did extend the availability of Russian literature [and, of course, Western books in translation] to a broader readership’ (ibid.).

Svodnyi katalog 5382; Sopikov 6629. WorldCat locates a sole copy, at Harvard.
£2500   
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