GUMILEV, Nikolai Stepanovich (1886-1921), trans. Gil’gamesh: Vavilonskii epos. [Gilgamesh: A Babylonian Epic]. St Petersburg: Z.I. Grzhebin, 1919.

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A major exponent of Russian modernism and a literary critic, Gumilev was also a prolific, wide-ranging translator, who tried his hand at works as different as S.T. Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner , and Chinese and Vietnamese poetry. Printed in 2000 copies, his translation of Gilgamesh was the first in Russian. As he explained, not being an Assyriologist, he relied freely on Paul Dhogme’s collection of ancient texts (1917), adding, revising and merging lines and episodes. He believed that ‘the beautiful poem Gilgamesh should be the property of all, not just solely of scholars’. On this copy he also penned a few amusing lines. RBH records only one other copy, not inscribed, having been offered at auction. Not in Kilgour or Fekula. Small quarto (190 x 135mm). With woodcut headpieces (uniform slight age yellowing, minimal mainly marginal spotting, occasional thumb marks). In the original stamped wrappers, in modern folding box (upper joint repaired, few small tears along edges, some repaired). Provenance: Nikolai Gumilev (autograph on first blank) – N. Georgievich.