(Paris: Éditions de la Pléiade, J. Schiffrin et Cie. 1925). 311 x 241 mm. (12 1/4 x 9 1/2"). 124, [1] pp., [1] leaf (colophon).Translated by J. Schiffrin. No. 73 OF 390 COPIES on vergé paper, signed by the publisher, from a total edition of 445 copies, 430 for sale.

Publisher's original dun-colored printed wrappers. With decorative head- and tailpieces and 18 color pochoir plates by Vassili Choukhaeff [Shukhayev]. Spine with vertical crack and some looseness (though the insubstantial volume still intact), the expected minor wear at extremities, but clean inside and out, and with richly colored plates.

This is an attractively illustrated edition of a major play by the man Britannica calls Russia's "greatest poet and the founder of modern Russian literature." Written in 1825 and first published in 1831, Pushkin's historical drama is based on the life of Boris Godunov, who served as regent and then as tsar following the death of Ivan the Terrible in 1584. He was widely suspected of having a hand in the death of Ivan's youngest son, the Tsarevitch Dmitry, and Pushkin assumed this to be the case for the purposes of the play. After Boris has become tsar, a young man claiming to be Dmitry appears and challenges Boris' right to rule. The pretender was in fact an ambitious and discontented young monk, but Boris is so overwhelmed with guilt at the murder of the real heir that he dies. His son Fyodor succeeds him but is soon murdered by political enemies. The play ends with the pretender being proclaimed tsar. The illustrations by Vassili Choukhaeff (1887-1973) are reminiscent of Russian icons, their flat forms rendered in bright colors that are beautifully achieved using the pochoir technique. The limited press run makes this an uncommon book to begin with, and it rarely shows up in commerce: ABPC and Rare Book Hub indicate that just five copies have been knocked down at auction since 1968.

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PJP Catalog: RBMS21.048