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Shakespeare, William

Romeo and Juliet. First edition of Pasternak’s adaptation for children.

Romeo and Juliet. First edition of Pasternak’s adaptation for children.

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Boris Pasternak / English literature / Illustrated books / Translations / William Shakespeare
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Shakespeare William [Romeo and Juliet]. Romeo i Dzhulʹetta.

Series Shkol’naya biblioteka.
Translation by B. Pasternak.
Foreword and comments by M. Morozov.
Illustrations by Elena Rodionova.
Cover by Nikolay Fidler.

Moskva-Leningrad, Detgiz, 1944.
8vo, 121, [3] pp., frontispiece, 7 pl.

In publisher’s illustrated wrappers.
Near very good condition.

Wartime edition. First edition of 'Romeo and Juliet' in Pasternak’s adaptation for children.

At the end of the 1930s, Pasternak became a translator: '...not by good fortune through misprision, and if conditions were better I ought not to be translating at all' (Makaryk, McHugh. Shakespeare and the Second World War. 2012).
Two extracts from 'Romeo and Juliet' appeared in magazines in 1941 ('30 Dney', No 4 and 'Internatsional’naya Literatura', No 5), but the beginning of WWII interrupted his work. In October 1941, Pasternak was evacuated to Chistopol, where he finished the translation in February 1942. He wrote to his first wife, Eugeniya Pasternak that he was totally absorbed in his work and had not written to anyone for more than two months — 'a conscious sacrifice for "Romeo and Juliet"' (Sergeeva-Klyatis. Pasternak v Zhizni. 2015). It costs him 'more pain' than 'Hamlet', the first Shakespeare play translated by Pasternak. In Chistopol he gave a public reading at Teacher’s House on February 26. Tickets cost four and five rubles, and 'the event was held as a benefit performance for soldiers of the Red Army' (Boris Pasternak: A Literary Biography. Vol. 2. 2004). After the first extremely rare collotype edition (100 copies only), the play was not published for a year. Pasternak believed that it was due to the deteriorating political situation between the Soviet Union and the UK: ' had an effect on Shakespeare and after him on me, so my shares falling...' (Lucenko. "..Pod Ruku s Morozovym". 2016).
The first official edition was published in OGIZ in February 1944 and the next edition was supposed to appear in Detgiz, the state publishing house of children’s literature. The author of the preface, a literary critic, Shakespearean Mikhail Morozov (1897–1952) called this translation 'a magnificent artistic creation', but he also considered that this translation is not for children. Pasternak corrected, edited, and shortened the translation, especially for children.
Most likely, an artist Elena Rodionova (1912–1996) prepared these illustrations of 'Romeo and Juliet' before WWII. For the first time, the illustration with the balcony scene appeared in the magazine '30 Dney' ('30 Days', No 4, 1941, p. 42). 

Zakharenko, 1955. # 113.

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