Barrytown, NY: Station Hill, 1987. 1st Edition. Octavo, publisher's red cloth, spine stamped in black, black endpapers, original illustrated dust jacket.
"Tristia—'sad things,' 'sorrows'—is the condition of these poems not because of some sort of personal ego loss. Rather, the title of this collection is apt because the acme as the high point is a place of isolation—not desolation. The sadness of Mandelstam...in the years of war and chaos is the sadness of Christ surveying from the cross the mass of spectators who were unaware of their own involvement in history. It is the sadness of the alienated true poet, the one who has mastered language and its powers only to discover that his voice has not been heard above the rush of history’s wave" (from translator Bruce McClelland's preface). First complete edition in English of one of the most significant Russian poets of the 20th century. Originally published in 1922, Mandelstam's great collection, rife with Greek allusions and Christian imagery, implicitly champions autonomy and individualism as a reaction to the Bolshevik seizure of power and the emerging suppression of independent artistic work. Despite antagonism from state officials, several arrests and eventual exile, Mandelstam managed to produce poetry into the 30s before he died at a Soviet work prison in 1938. Bilingual text in English and Cyrillic. Occasional annotations from previous owner throughout, else fine in unclipped dust jacket. Item #2444