Paris: Librairie D'Amyot, 1842. 1st Edition. 12mo in half-sheets, early half red morocco over red patterned paper-covered boards, spine gilt-ruled and lettered, small manuscript date label affixed to foot of spine, edges sprinkled.
First edition of this collection of 92 Russian fables and folktales in verse, selected and translated into French from among the most popular Russian writers of the generation preceding Pushkin, including Alexander Sumarokov, Mikhail Kheraskov, Ivan Barkov, Ivan Khemnitzer, and the foremost Russian fabulist, Ivan Andreyevich Krylov, known as "the Russian La Fontaine." The precocious son of an impoverished army officer, Krylov got his start as a playwright and satirical journalist. He ultimately found his vocation as a writer of fables in verse, first through his translations of La Fontaine and Aesop, later as the prolific inventor of his own, which were among the earliest to satirize current political events, and were, moreover, a showcase for his stylistic virtuosity. Fables had always been popular throughout Europe as a means of moral instruction, but there was a particular craze for them in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a period of cultural ferment in Russia as elsewhere, when literary classicism was giving way to the new spirit of romanticism. The translations gathered here were made by Emmanuel Mikhailovich Golytsin, a member of the distinguished Russian noble family, who also translated a popular account of travel in China. The individual authors are not credited, though an early footnote claims that some fables have been "borrowed" from a well-known collection of Krylov's, from 1825. (The 1846 second edition of the present work included a biographical notice identifying source authors.) WorldCat lists only two copies: in the Bibliothèque Nationale and the National Library of Sweden. Bourquelot et Maury IV, p.12 (citing editions for 1843 – likely a typo – and 1846, but none for 1842). Boutchik 40. Binding slightly dusty, with small nick to spine, and slight rubbing to corners and tail of spine. Light foxing and finger soiling to preliminary pages, with evidence of removal of original rear wrap upon being bound. Very good. Rare. Item #493