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The Mystery Monk] - ZOTOV, Rafail Mikhailovich] - 1834. 
Tip. III-go otdeleniya Sobstvennoy E.I.V. kantseliarii Skt. Peterburg 1834 - Three volumes, small octavo (17.3 x 10.8 cm). Engr. frontispiece, 340 pp. incl. half-title and title,  pp.; engr. frontispiece, 348 pp. incl. half-title and title,  pp.; engr. frontispiece, 352pp., incl. half-title and title,  pp.; in vol. 3 pp. 29-30 with tear across without loss, several pp. misbound, occasional light spotting and marginal waterstaining, several small marginal tears without affecting the text. Contemporary half green sheep over marbled boards, gilt lettering and tooling to spines, speckled edges; corners slightly bumped, gilt dimmed, boards of vol. 3 slightly rubbed. A lovely example, pleasantly bound, of the first edition of this historical novel depicting Russia in the second half of the 17th century and the rise to power of Peter I the Great. Novelist and playwright Rafail Zotov (1795-1871) counted among the favourite writers of the Russian middle class and was read by Tolstoy. Zotov took well known historical facts surrounding the power struggle between tsarina Sofia and future Peter the Great and further interpreted them in his own artistic way, thus creating an extremely intriguing story. The unfavourable comments that were made by some critics, in particular Belinskiy who blamed the author for his frivolous interpretation of history, did not decrease in any way the interest of the wider public. To satisfy the demand for the novel, five editions had already been published by the year 1881. Subscription leaf at the end of the third volume indicates that this first edition had 61 subscribers, mostly Russian nobility, including Princes Gagarin and Volkonskiy. A very rare production of the Golden Age of Russian literature: although the work became popular once published, the present first edition could not be traced at auctions in recent decades, nor on the market. We couldn't find any complete copy in Western libraries, and it seems that the two biggest Russian libraries, RGB and RNB, own only separate volumes. Obolyaninov 2648 (without date); Muratova, Istoriya Russkoy literatury XIX veka, 7584 (dated only 1836) and 7601 for Belinskiy's review; cf. Smirnov-Sok. I, p.304. [Attributes: First Edition; Hard Cover]
[Bookseller: Shapero Rare Books]
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