"As Art it is Perfection" - Dostoevsky. First edition of Tolstoy's Masterpiece.
TOLSTOY, [Leo Nikolayevich]. Anna Karenina. Moscow: T. Ris, 1878.
8vo., 3 vols; original pebble-grained cloth, ruled in blind to both boards; restored and rebacked in roan, with ticket of 'Bookbinder M. Artynov, Kyiv, 7 Bibikov Boulevard' to the corner of front paste-down; preserved in a custom-made slipcase; pp. [v], 6-369, [i]; [v], 6-493, [i]; [v], 6-413, [i]; lacking the final blanks; some light spotting and staining throughout, with some light pencil markings in places to the margins and some words underlined or crossed out; old owner's monogram stamp in purple to titles; occasional splash marks and corner creases to pages; some small closed tears to Vols I and II (some professionally repaired); and small hole to p. 215 of Vol I, with slight loss to a couple of letters; lower hinge of Vol II just starting; corner chip to p. 45/45 of vol III; another smaller to p. 47-48, retaining ribbon marker to Vol III; bookseller's stamp annotations to rear paste-down; all volumes rubbed and bumped in accordance with age; very good copies nonetheless.
First complete edition of Tolstoy's second great novel, beloved of Dostoevsky ('as art it is perfection') and Thomas Mann ('without equal in European literature'). It was originally serialised over a period of five years in Ruskii Vestnik, beginning in 1873. However, a clash between its editor Mikhail Katkov and Tolstoy prevented publication of the final instalment, so this first edition in book form also marks the first appearance of the complete text.
A complex novel in eight parts, with more than a dozen major characters, Tolstoy was originally displeased with his early drafts of Anna Karenina. In fact, he wrote in his diary of 1876: ""I loathe what I have written. The galleys of Anna Karenina for the April issue of Russkij Vestnik now lie on my table, and I really don't have the heart to correct them. Everything in them is so rotten, and the whole thing should be rewritten—all that has been printed too—scrapped, and melted down, thrown away, renounced." Now, however, the work is considered by many critics to be transitional, forming a bridge between the realist and modernist movements, and many consider it to be one of the greatest works of literature ever written.
Rare, especially so in the original cloth.