Our Notes & References
Tolstoy’s own editing of his first novel: a lovely example, rare in original wrappers, of this second edition, specially adapted for children’s reading and showing for the first time a different version from the standard text.
Becoming a father of many children in the 1860s and 70s, Tolstoy developed a keen interest in educational practices, pedagogy and children reading. These two fertile decades saw the birth of his pedagogical periodical Yasnaya Polyana (1862) as well as his celebrated Alphabet, whose publication finished in 1874.
Tolstoy decided then to rework a creation of his own youth, a semi-autobiographical novel on his childhood. Published twenty years earlier, Childhood and Adolescence had been Tolstoy’s first published work, his first attempt at fiction and his first literary success.
It appeared from 1852 onwards in Sovremennik, the literary periodical founded by Pushkin. Upset with the journal’s extensive editing, Tolstoy had the work published as a book in 1856, restoring in particular the original title Detstvo (instead of Istoriia moego detstva [History of my Childhood] chosen by Sovremennik), as well as an interesting passage of the very first page, where the boy’s tutor accidentally hits “the image of my angel” (i.e. an icon), which Sovremennik had replaced with “my mother’s portrait”.
Now a mature author in his mid-40s, Tolstoy kept these restored features of the first edition and focused his attention on other passages, which he adapted or cut down. Although he published it again a year later, Tolstoy did not include this new version in his various subsequent collected works. This 1876 edition therefore offers an interesting variation on what has become the standard text, as well as a great insight in Tolstoy’s creative process.
Scarce, especially in the publisher’s original printed wrappers, which advertise, at the back, some of Tolstoy’s educational works, such as the Novaia Azbuka [New Alphabet] and a series of four reading books for children.
We could not find any example at auction outside Russia, and none in Russia in publisher’s wrappers.
Not in Kilgour; Bitovt, Tolstoii 1051; Lesman 2249 (bound); Terras p. 354; Tsavlovskii, M.A. “The history of Adolescence” // Commentary to Tolstoy’s publications; Turgenev, I.S. Complete works and letters in 28 vols, 1960—1968, pp. 75 – 77; ЭНИ Лев Толстой. Notes on the publication of Childhood and Adolescence // Encyclopedic library.