A title from The Old School Press 

Fedor Tiutchev

A Russian poet and a Russian illustrator

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About the book

Out of print

Poetry has a natural attraction for the private press. There is the opportunity for special treatment of the text, without the sheer quantity of printing necessary to put, say, a 150pp book through the press. After we acquired our Western proof press, longer texts became more practical propositions, but it is pleasing to drop a 'slim volume' into our production schedule to leaven the fare, especially when it comes with some strong engravings.

Fedor Tiutchev (1803-1873) published poems off and on from 1829, notably between 1836 and 1840 in Pushkin's journal The Contemporary, but he belonged to no poetic group and attached little value to his own verses and none to their publication. Only two books of lyric poetry appeared during his lifetime. apparently thanks entirely to the good offices of his friends including Turgenev. Avril Pyman has prepared translations for fourteen of Tiutchev's poems. Of Tiutchev and his work, she writes 'He was influenced in youth by the Latin poets, and by Pascal and Lamartine, but later by Goethe, Schiller, and Heine. Yet it is perhaps to Tiutchev's years of semi-retirement on his estate near Moscow and to his love for Elena Deniseva who bore him three children, that we owe many of the most inspired poems. In his work, religious impulse alternates with nihilism, veneration for ensouled nature with awful glimpses of the void, and a sensual love of cosmic order with intense, self-destructive attunement to the fascination of 'ancient chaos'. Always sonorous, his language is never artificial or pompous, his poetry conveying fleeting but profound existential insights.'

Tiutchev's poems are accompanied by strikingly cut engravings on perspex by Kirill Sokolov. He was born in Moscow in 1930 and became one of the former Soviet Unionís most dedicated professional artists, studying at the prestigious Surikov Institute in Moscow between 1950 and 1957. He worked and exhibited primarily as an illustrator, engraver and lithographer until he and Avril left Russia. In England, he illustrated two Russian classics for Oxford University Press and several books of poetry, made a series of cover designs for the poetry magazine Stand, and exhibited with the Society of Graphic Artists and Society of Miniaturists. He worked in a wide range of materials and in the 1980s experimented with various techniques: silk-screen, sugar aquatint, dry point, various forms of flat-bed printing, and engraving on plastic blocks, the last of these for a series of engravings for Akhmatova's Requiem (Black Cygnet Press). Kirill died in May 2004.

An opening from the book

About the edition

For this rare presentation of Tiutchev in English, the poems were printed in hand-set 14pt Monotype Octavian on a large page of heavy Somerset mould-made paper, folded on the fore-edge, wrapped in covers of green Fabriano Tiziano, and sewn with tape. There were 100 copies of which sixty were for sale. The price was £20 (Ä40, US$40). (ISBN 978 1 899933 16 7)

Find out more about the book

Read about the poet, wood-engraver, and translator:

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Read more about Sokolov and wood-engraving:

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