Saint Petersburg: Privileged typ. of Fischer, 1831.
Saint Petersburg: Privileged typ. of Fischer, 1831. First edition. Octavo (ca. 23,5x14,5 cm). , 112, 12 pp. With a lithographed portrait frontispiece (drawn by A. Notbek, lithographed by A. Radtsikh). Period brown quarter calf with marbled papered boards; spine with faded gilt-tooled decorations and a gilt-lettered title. Previous owner’s name in manuscript on verso of the frontispiece. A partly removed stamp and an ink note of a Soviet bookshop on the rear pastedown endpaper. Binding rubbed on extremities, corners slightly bumped, spine with cracks on hinges, occasional mild staining of the text, but overall a very good copy of this rare book in very original condition.
Very Rare Russian imprint with only one paper copy found in Worldcat (University of Chicago); its scan became the basis of all available e-copies. The book has never been translated into other languages; the second edition (looking more like a reprint) was published in 2012 (Moscow: Librokom, 2012).
A rare private Russian imprint with an unusual story of a partly religious, partly loyalist pilgrimage from Verknudinsk in Eastern Siberia (modern-day Ulan-Ude, Buryatia) to Saint Petersburg. The Siberian Kossak Andrey Nazimov (ca. 1786 – after 1843), decided to undertake a journey by foot from Verknudinsk to Saint Petersburg to fulfil his dream and see Russian Emperor Nicholas I and his family. Nazimov left Kyakhta on March 2, 1840 and reached Saint Petersburg a year later, walking via Lake Baikal, Irkutsk, Nizhneudinsk, Krasnoyarsk, Tomsk, Omsk, Yekaterinburg, Kazan, Yadrin (Chuvashiya) and Moscow. He then went on a side journey to the Valaam Monastery on Lake Ladoga and returned to Saint Petersburg in April 1841, where he was received and bestowed with presents by the Emperor and his family. Nazimov stayed in the capital until July 1841 and was received by several representatives of the Russian elite circles. On the way back, he made a side trip to Kyiv and Voronezh and returned to Verkhneudinsk in July 1842.
Most of the book is a detailed description of Nazimov’s journey. Several passages talk about his numerous misfortunes – when he was forced to join a party of runaway convicts on the way from Kansk to Krasnoyarsk, was almost murdered by robbers on the border of the Tomsk province, or was robbed and tied to a bridge on the border between the Orenburg and Kazan provinces. Over a dozen pages are dedicated to the story of his attempts to be received by the Emperor and the audience itself. There is a detailed list of Nazimov’s presents: a golden watch from the Emperor, a snuffbox from the Empress, an icon of the Mother of God, the Bible and several other religious books from the other members of the Imperial family. The lithographed frontispiece portrays Nazimov with all his presents and a marble bust of Nicholas I. Other interesting passages describe the Sarov Monastery and its head Rev. Ilarion, the churches of Irkutsk, Vladimir, Rostov, Uglich, Moscow, Tver, Torzhok, Novgorod, the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, Valaam Monastery, and many others. A four-page passage describes the visit of Alexander I to the Valaam Monastery in the autumn of 1815, which took place during a major storm on Lake Ladoga.
The book’s author is Wilhelm Bekker, a Saint Petersburg bureaucrat who either originated or previously lived in Siberia. A passage on p. 95 most likely refers to Nazimov and Bekker’s meeting in Saint Petersburg in April 1841: “In the crowd, Nazimov met a Siberian he knew before, who had served in Kyakhta. They started a conversation, and when the bureaucrat got to know that the Kossack didn’t have a place to stay, he invited him to stay in his place.” Apparently, Bekker’s story is based on his talks with Nazimov during the latter’s stay in Saint Petersburg in the spring of 1841. The last twelve pages are occupied with an excerpt from Nazimov’s original travel diary, describing his journey from Kazan to Vladimir in September-October 1840. Later in life, Bekker authored several more books, dedicated to his travels to Nizhny Novgorod (Puteshestviye iz Peterburga do Nizhnego Novgoroda vodyanum putyom, M., 1952), the Saratov province (Vospominaniya o Saratovskoy gubernii, M., 1852), Russian Baltic provinces (Poyezdka v Ostzeyskiye gubernii, M., 1852) and the Italian Bari (Puteshestviye irkutyanina v Bargrad dlia pokloneniya moshcham sciatitelya Nikolaya Chudotvortsa, SPb., 1861).
Overall a rare illustrated 19th-century Russian account of a foot journey from modern-day Buryatiya and Lake Baikal to Saint Petersburg.
More about Nazimov: Polovtsev, A. Russkiy Biograficheskiy Slovar (vol. 11); Biblioteka dlia chteniya (1842, vol. 50, pp. 25-28); Severnaya Pchela (1841, No. 260, p. 1); Vologodskiye Gubernskiye Vedomosti (1843, No. 8, pp. 75-79).
Status: On Hold