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LERMONTOV, Mikhail Yurievitch.

The Hero of our Days.

From the Russian of Michael Lermontoff, by Theresa Pulszky.

London: Thomas Hodgson, 1854 Stock Code: 125025
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One of the masterpieces of Russian literature

First Pulszky edition, the third English language version overall, of one of the masterpieces of Russian literature, Lermontov's A Hero of Our Time, originally published at Saint Petersburg in 1840. Maurice B. Line notes that this edition appeared in the latter half of June, while an anonymous translation published by Bogue - under the title A Hero of Our Own Times - came out a few weeks earlier. The first English translation was published in 1853 as Sketches of Russian Life in the Caucasus, a "free and expanded version" (Line) that omitted the section entitled "Taman". Pulszky's is the first English language edition to have an attributed translator. Decidedly scarce: Library Hub cites copies at four British and Irish institutional libraries (BL, Oxford, Cambridge, Newcastle); WorldCat adds just three among international holdings (Mannheim, Harvard, NYPL). The translator, Theresa Pulszky, daughter of a wealthy Viennese banker, was the wife of "one of the most interesting figures of Hungary's 19th century" Ferenc Pulszky (1814-1897), who fled to England from Hungary following the revolutions of 1848. Her Memoirs of a Hungarian Lady (London: Henry Colburn) was published in 1850. She "died in a pestilence" in 1866 (see Hungarian Review, Volume IX, No. 6, 2015).

This translation predates the late 19th century boom in Russian literature spearheaded by Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky and, like all Russian literature in translations from this period, is extremely scarce. Indeed Pulszky's translation was the first Russian novel to feature in the Parlour Library series, "the first successful series of fiction reprints" (British Library collection, online). Founded in 1847, "the sensational importance - in its courage, efficiency of handling, and success - of the Parlour Library as an innovation in cheap book publishing has hardly been realized. Its most remarkable feature was, perhaps, its sponsorship: for it originated in Ireland, with a firm of printers who had no experience of general publishing, and had no London money or support behind it. Its success was immediate and overwhelming. A London office was soon opened, and in 1853 the original promoters sold out to their London agent, Thomas Hodgson. By the time the Parlour Library, after further transfers of ownership, disappeared about 1863, nearly 300 titles had been issued" (Carter and Sadleir, eds., Victorian Fiction, pp. 12-13).

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Octavo. Original green cloth, decorations and titles to spine in gilt, cover decorations stamped in blind, yellow endpapers.


Two pages of Parlour Library advertisements before half-title and another two at rear. Spine faded with some slight wear to ends, extremities a little rubbed, small paper repair to top edge of the first preface page, internally clean with bright pages. A very well preserved copy with unusually bright cloth.


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