St. Petersburg: 1870. Seven volumes. Slightly later half calf and paste paper boards; original printed wrappers bound in. Boards somewhat scuffed; light wear to edges and corners. Bookplates on front pastedowns; institutional ink stamps on title pages and front wrappers, occasionally on internal leaves. Even tanning, light dust soiling. Good plus. Item #1776
Rare, complete first appearance of this account by former Russian military officer Pavel Ogorodnikov of his travels across the United States and in the American West during the late 1860s, as it was initially published in seven parts in the short-lived St. Petersburg literary periodical Zarya [Dawn]. Ogorodnikov was educated in the St. Petersburg Cadet Corps, before receiving an officer's commission in the 6th Infantry Battalion in Warsaw. He was kicked out of the army and imprisoned for minor associations and sympathies with revolutionary figures during the mid-1860s, and after his release he travelled west, eventually arriving in New York in early 1869. From New York he travelled by train to Chicago, and thence into the West, to California and San Francisco. His narrative provides a fascinating Russian perspective on life in America after the Civil War, one that is quite unusual for this period.
"Ogorodnikov's accounts of his journey to and around America in 1869 also received significant attention upon publication. Among the readers of the serialized diary was Fyodor Dostoyevsky, who was so impressed by some of the stories about Russian emigrants in America that he drew upon Ogorodnikov's sketches to create Shatov's and Kirilov's characters in The Devils.... Ogorodnikov's is a mature, experienced traveler, an elegant, educated flâneur, who never hesitates to offer a definitive opinion on subjects as diverse as men's top hats, women's education, and the 'true' character of the native Indian in America" - Marinova.
Zarya, the periodical in which this account appears, was published from 1869 to 1872, and also printed works by Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy. In the issues present here appear poems by Fyodor Tyutchev and Anastasy Fet, as well as a Russian translation of Othello. Ogorodnikov's narrative was eventually published as a monograph in 1872. Of this edition we locate only eight copies in American institutions, and none in available sales records. A rare account of American travel, in its original serial form.
Margarita Marinova, Transnational Russian-American Travel Writing, New York: Routledge, 2011, pp.19-22.