FOR CLANDESTINE CIRCULATION
PUSHKIN, Aleksandr Sergeevich. Gavriliada. (Snovidenie) A. S. Pushkina. (Gawriliada von Puschkin.) [The Gabrieliad. (A dream) by A. S. Pushkin].
‘Tsar’grad: Simonides i Ko.’ [i.e. Leipzig, E. L. Kasprowicz, between 1889 and 1904].  
12mo (120 × 80 mm), pp. 23, [1]; printed on pink paper; twentieth-century marbled paper boards, the original upper printed wrapper (restored and partially adhered to title-page) bound in.
An extremely rare edition of Pushkin’s ‘Gavriliada’, printed in Germany (in Weimar by G. Uschmann) for clandestine circulation in Russia. The Polish publisher Erazm Lukasz Kasprowicz (1835–1922) was engaged by Brockhaus in Leipzig in 1859, where he founded the Bibliothek Russischer Autoren in 1861, and opened his own ‘Slavische Buchhandlung’ in the city in 1864. At that time Saxony was known for its liberal censorship, and Kasprowicz specialised in publishing texts which had been suppressed by the Russian censors, and smuggling them back into Russia where they circulated illegally. The text of the present edition is apparently based on the (equally rare) edition printed in Geneva(?) in 1889, which has a few small omissions but is not heavily censored. Pushkin wrote his blasphemous parody of the Annunciation in 1821. It was too scurrilous to be published during his lifetime, and it circulated anonymously in manuscript until, in 1828, it came to the attention of Tsar Nicholas I. A retired staff-captain V. F. Mitkov was arrested for reading the poem to his servants, and Pushkin was ordered to appear before the military governor-general of St Petersburg. Pushkin initially denied having written the poem, but the work was known to be his, and he was obliged to write a letter to the Tsar confessing and expressing contrition, to avoid a second period in exile. ‘Far from Jerusalem lives the beautiful Mary, whose “secret flower” “Her lazy husband with his old spout / In the mornings fails to water”. God sees her, and, falling in love, sends the archangel Gabriel down to announce this to her. Before Gabriel arrives, Satan appears in the guise of a snake; then, turning into a handsome man, seduces her. Gabriel interrupts them; the two fight; Satan, vanquished by a bite “in that fatal spot / (Superfluous in almost every fight) / That haughty member, with which the devil sinned”, limps off, and his place and occupation are assumed by Gabriel. After his departure, as Mary is lying contemplatively on her bed, a white dove – God, in disguise – flies in at the window, and, despite her resistance, has its way with her. Tired Mary Thought: “What goings-on! One, two, three! – how can they keep it up? I must say, it’s been a busy time: I’ve been had in one and the same day By Satan, an Archangel and by God.”’ (T. J. Binyon, Pushkin, pp. 138–9). The poem was first published in a collection of Russian poetry in London in 1861; its first printing in Russia was a censored version in 1907, followed by the full poem in 1917.
WorldCat records copies at the New York Public Library, Harvard, and Temple University (giving the place of publication as Istanbul).
£3000   
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