Moscow: Puchina, 1928.
272 pp.: ads, portrait of the author. 13x18.3 cm. In original illustrated publisher’s wrappers. Tears to the spine, rubbed wrappers with worn edges. Otherwise in a very good condition.
Scarce. First edition. 1 of 5,000 copies. Original version printed in Yiddish in 1916. Translated by the author’s daughter, writer, and journalist Lyalya Koyfman-Rabinovich (1887-1964). The edition includes Aleichem;s biographical sketch by D. Glikman.
Wrapper design by the Soviet painter, poster artist, and one of the patriarchs of Soviet book design Valerian Scheglov (1901-1984). In the late 1910-s and 1920s, he studied at the Kaluga Real School under V. Levandovsky and at an art studio at the Kaluga Regional Museum. In 1926, Scheglov moved to Moscow where he collaborated with numerous journals and joined the publishing house Detgiz (from 1933 until his death). Valerian is mostly recognized as the author of more than 300 agitational posters and the designer of children’s books: S. Mikhalkov’s Krasnaya armiya [i.e. Red Army] (1939), A. Fadeev’s Molodaya gvardiya [i.e. The Young Guard] (1946), etc.
The first russian translation of Sholem Aleichem’s autobiography From The Fair.
A leading Jewish author and playwright, Sholem Aleichem (1859-1916) embarked upon writing this autobiographical venture after a near-death experience in Russia. In July 1908, during a reading tour, Sholem collapsed on a train going through Baranowicze. The author was diagnosed with a relapse of acute hemorrhagic tuberculosis and spent two months convalescing in the town’s hospital. Aleichem later described the incident as ‘meeting his majesty, the Angel of Death, face to face’, and claimed it as the catalyst for writing From the Fair.
The author, who decided to use a third-person narrative voice, began writing the novel in 1908 and was working on it until the last days of his life. Although From the Fair was conceived to comprise 10 chapters, the author’s passing in 1916 left the novel unfinished. The first two parts of the story came out as a separate edition in New York in 1916. The third part of the writing was serialized by the New York newspaper the Wahrheit [i.e. The Truth] the same year.
The novel depicts a vanished world of Eastern European Jewry and takes its readers from the author’s childhood in a Pale of Settlement shtetl to his first love and his early attempts at writing fiction and drama. Sholem considered From the Fair to be his best work and described the novel as ‘my book of books, the Song of Songs of my soul’.
The novel was first translated into Russian in 1928 by Sholem’s daughter, writer, and journalist Lyalya Rabinovich. At the time the novel was translated into Russian, Aleichem was one of the most extensively translated and published authors in the USSR. The writer received the party’s support for a number of reasons: first, literary merits; second, sharing the Soviet ideology; and third, friendship with the Soviet-backed Maxim Gorky. As a result, by the 1960s the Soviet publishing houses had issued over six million copies of Sholem-Aleichem’s works in 20 languages.
Solomon Rabinovich (pen name Sholem Aleichem) was one of the leading Yiddish writers in the period of the Jewish Renaissance. From the 1890s, he was engaged in literature although often couldn’t afford to print his editions. Initially, he lived in the Russian Empire but emigrated due to tsarist pogroms in 1905. Sholem Aleichem visited the West Ukrainian diaspora in Halychyna cities, then moved to New York in 1907, where he lived until his death from tuberculosis in 1916.
Worldcat shows copies of the edition at Yivo Institute at the Ohio State University.