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Shakespeare, William

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Translation by Boris Pasternak.

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Translation by Boris Pasternak.

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Boris Pasternak / English literature / Illustrated books / Translations / William Shakespeare
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Shakespeare, William [ The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark]. Gamlet. Prints Datskii.

Series Shkol'naia Biblioteka.
Translation by Boris Pasternak.
Preface and comments by M. Morozov.
Illustrations by N. Kuz'min, [Eugène Delacroix and Mikhail Vrubel].

Moskva-Leningrad, Detgiz, 1942.
8vo, [1], portrait, 184 p., ill.

In original pictorial wrappers.
In good condition, creasing to front cover, neatly rebacked preserving original spine, new endpapers.

Second edition of 'Hamlet' translated by Pasternak. Very rare wartime edition (signed for printing 7/VIII 1942). One of 5 000 copies printed. 

In 1938, Soviet theater director Vsevolod Meyerhold asked Pasternak to translate 'Hamlet'. Meyerhold envisioned the role of Hamlet being played by two actors: a man and a woman, with one reciting the tragic monologues while the other mimicked him. Meyerhold tested his wife, actress Zinaida Reich, for the role of Hamlet.
Pasternak completed his translation in the spring of 1939. By that time, Meyerhold had been arrested and executed, and his wife had been murdered in her apartment. Pasternak feared he might also be arrested and wanted to finish the translation as his last work. He wrote in a letter to his father that he would have gone mad without working on 'Hamlet'.
This edition includes the only publication of illustrations by Russian artist Nikolai Kuz'min (1890-1987), with his portrait of the late Zinaida Reich as Hamlet featured on the front cover (refer to the research of literary historian Ivan Tolstoy).  Although it is not clearly stated and there is no information about it in the book, it is likely that the artist included Reich's portrait specifically for dedicated individuals.
The preface for this publication is illustrated with photos of English, American, Armenian, and Russian actors and is more detailed compared to the first edition of Pasternak's translation. The preface also mentions a theatrical performance of 'Hamlet' by Russian director Sergei Radlov, who had been in occupied territory and later left the Soviet Union with his theater and German troops. After the war, Radlov returned to Russia and was arrested.

Zakharenko, 1995. # 112.

OCLC locates three copies of this, all are in the USA: in the Harvard Library, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Library and the Stanford University Library (Lydia Pasternak collection).

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