BABEL, ISAAK EMMANUILOVICH. 1894-1940.
Rasskazy. [Stories.] Moscow: Federatsiya, 1932.
8vo (195 x 137 mm). 219 pp. With illustrations by David Petrovich Shterenberg. Original decorated blue cloth, pictorial endpapers; facsimile jacket. Text block detaching at head, spine sunned, upper hinge showing.
FIRST EDITION. Ukrainian Babel, now considered one of the greatest of all Jewish writers, wrote some of the funniest stories about modern Soviet life. Although a devoted Communist, he chose to be "the master of a new literary genre, the genre of silence" when Social Realism became the official stye of the USSR. Beria listed him as No. 12 on the list of counter-revolutionaries and enemies of the people presented to Stalin in 1940. He was shot by a firing squad and his ashes buried with other victims of the Great Purge. Few copies of his books published in his lifetime survive. He was not rehabilitated until 1954. David Shterenberg was an important Ukrainian Jewish painter and graphic artist who was at one time the Head of the Department of Fine Arts of the People's Commissariat of Enlightenment (Narkompros). He illustrated many books before being denounced as a "Formalist" and his work was withdrawn from public view.
See illustration overleaf.