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Pilnyak, Boris

Roots of the Japanese Sun. The first mention of ninjas in Russia.

Roots of the Japanese Sun. The first mention of ninjas in Russia.

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Banned books / Illustrated covers / Japan
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Pilnyak, Boris [Roots of the Japanese Sun]. Korni Yaponskogo Solntsa. [With glosses by] Roman Kim [Legs to the Snake]. Nogi k zmee.

Leningrad, Priboi, [1927].
12mo, 183, [3] pp., [6] pp. (advertising), 2 l.ill.

In original illustrated wrappers.
In good condition, wrappers worn, stains to covers and top edge.

First edition. Rare especially in good condition. One of 8 000 copies published.

The main text of the book was written by Boris Pilnyak (1894-1938), who traveled to Japan twice, in 1926 and 1932. Despite much of his writing being criticized by authorities, Pilnyak was one of the bestselling Russian modern authors of that time. However, this novel was condemned in the Pravda newspaper for its sympathy towards Japanese imperialism. Pilnyak was suspected by the Japanese of espionage, and in 1937, the Soviets executed him on charges of being a Japanese spy.
Pilnyak's essay is one of the important texts on Japan written by a European writer in the 20th century.
The second part of the book consists primarily of glosses to the main text. The author, Roman Kim (1899-1967), known as an important Russian intelligence agent, contributed these glosses.
One of Kim's glosses in this book represents one of the earliest foreign mentions of ninjas and the ninja culture, making it the first known reference to ninjas in Russia.
The book was banned until 1957, and all copies were required to be destroyed or placed in specialized storage areas in libraries.

Blum # 368.

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