DERZHAVIN, GAVRILA ROMANOVICH. 1743-1816.
Sochineniya [The Works]. St. Petersburg, 1808-1816.
5 volumes. 8vo. , vii, , 321, ; , 317, ; , 237, ; , 330, ;, 239,  pp. Vol 5 with engraved title, and 1 text engraving. Period tree calf, spines gilt in compartments and lettered in Cyrillic. Occasional very light foxing, two leaves soiled at fore-edge, all volumes re-backed with the original spines laid-down.
FIRST AUTHORIZED EDITION SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR on the half-title page of Vol 5. G.R. Derzhavin was perhaps the greatest Russian poet until Pushkin and he profoundly influenced the younger man. Although he was a Classicist, his work inspired many later poets such as Nikoli Nekrasov and Maria Tsvetaeva; and he has been called, by one biographer, "an innovator, even a revolutionary, in both language and style." "The poet in the full intoxication of his feelings, inflamed by the fire that comes from above, or to speak more simply, by imagination," he explained, "goes into a rapture, seizes his lyre and sings what his heart commands him." Derzhavin rose from a foot soldier to a government official under Catherine the Great. He is best known for his odes dedicated to the Empress and other members of her court. He published his first important poetry in 1776 and continued to write throughout his career as a statesman and even after he was removed from office. He was also a playwright who wrote libretti for operas, comic operas and children's plays. He maintained a home in St. Petersburg and a country estate at Zvanka near Novgorod. The first four volumes of his collected works appeared in 1808; the fifth did not come out until eight years later. He autographed the final volume shortly before he died; and his signature is of great rarity. See Svodnyi katalog russkoi knigi, pp 449-50.