Our Notes & References
The first scholarly edition of the censored and provocative work by Russia’s greatest national poet.
Bored and revolted by the pious hypocrisy of the Russian Orthodox Church, Pushkin wrote this blasphemous and erotic poem, satirising the Church’s most revered dogmas of Annunciation, the Virgin Birth and the Fall of Adam and Eve, in April 1821. Much too scandalous to be published at the time, the text instead circulated anonymously in manuscript form. It came to the attention of the authorities only in 1828, at which point an inquiry was opened and Pushkin was brought in for questioning. He initially denied his authorship, but as the work was known to be his, the poet was obliged to write a letter to the Tsar Nicholas I confessing and expressing contrition in order to avoid exile.
The poem was first published in a collection of Russian poetry in London in 1861. Many editions were subsequently smuggled back into Russia, where they circulated illegally. Meanwhile a (heavily censored) version of the text in Russian appeared only in 1907. The poem was finally published there in full in 1917, without any other material.
This 1922 edition is the first to include extensive scholarly additions: bringing together the disparate accounts of the Gavriliada, the critic Boris Tomashevskii published it together with a rich series of articles on its plot, composition, language and editions among other subjects. The edition is also remarkable for the quality of its production: it was published by the founder of “Petropolis”, and printed by the former Golike and Vilborg company, renowned for its luxury books. The wrappers are designed by Vladimir Konashevich, one of the most famous early Soviet book illustrators.
Printed in 1000 copies, most of them numbered; this copy without number, nor the printed “No.”.
Kilgour 902, Smirnov-Sokolskii 1040, Rozanov 1432 (the only edition present in his collection); Markov 62.