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Wilde, Oscar

The Ballad of Reading Gaol. First edition of this translation.

The Ballad of Reading Gaol. First edition of this translation.

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English literature / Illustrated covers / Oscar Wilde / Poetry / Translations
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Wilde, Oscar [The Ballad of Reading Gaol]. Ballada Redingskoy Tur’my.

Translation by K. Balmont. 
Cover by M. Durnov.

Moskva, Skorpion, 1904. 
12mo, [8], 49 pp., [6] pp. advertising. 

In publisher’s pictorial wrappers.
Near very good condition, minor crack to spine, small loss to back cover, owner’s mark to first page.

Second Russian edition of the poem. First edition of this translation.

The first translation of Oscar Wilde's "Ballad" by N. Korn (presumably a pen name used by Korney Chukovsky) appeared in 1903, but it was riddled with errors. The following year, another version by Konstantin Balmont (1867–1942), a Russian symbolist poet and translator, was published. In the summer of 1902, Balmont traveled to England and visited the town of Reading, where Wilde had been imprisoned. In November 1903, Balmont delivered a lecture titled "Oscar Wilde's Poetry and The Ballad..." and presented his translation at a meeting of the Literary-Artistic Circle in Moscow. During his lecture, he likened Wilde to Nietzsche and hailed him as "the greatest English writer of the end of the last century." Balmont also prepared translations of works by Edgar Allan Poe, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Walt Whitman, and Robert Burns. His translations were always infused with his own distinctive style, often referred to as "Balmontic motifs." 
The book's cover featuring a portrait of Oscar Wilde was created by Modest Durnov (1867–1928), a painter, poet, architect, and a close friend of Balmont. Durnov was known as "a demon," a "master of thought," and a "Moscow Dandy." According to some accounts, he met Wilde during one of his trips to London.
This book was once part of the private library of Russian artist Mikhail Tarkhanov (1888–1962), a renowned master of endpapers and bookbinding. Tarkhanov received his education at the Stroganov School for Technical Drawing, which later became VKhUTEMAS, under the guidance of Vladimir Favorsky and Wassily Kandinsky.

OCLC locates two copies of this edition only: in the University Library of Bern and the Rome National Central Library.

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