ca. 1980. ca. 1980. [Soviet Union]: n.p., ca. 1980. Quarto (30 × 22 cm). Contemporary beige buckram; 128 leaves of photo-reproduced manuscript text in purple ink to rectos on thick photographic paper. Boards lightly worn; splitting to spine; internally very good.
An unusual photographically printed samizdat edition of song lyrics and poems by Soviet actor, musician, and poet Vladimir Vysotsky (1938-1980), who had attained cult status by the early 1970s. While he was officially recognized only as an actor, his vast musical oeuvre, which documented the everyday hardships of Soviet life and occasionally even took aim at the party elite, only circulatedly in clandestinely reproduced samizdat and magnitizdat editions (legally unsanctioned amateur tape recordings). Samizdat (from Russian sam, self, and izdat', to publish) refers to the production of banned or otherwise unpublishable texts in the Soviet Union and its satellite states (using typewriters, mimeograph machines and photocopiers). Apart from all technical difficulties, the means of duplication were subject to confiscation by the state and in some cases even the possession of samizdat led to prosecution under Soviet criminal law. Despite Vysotsky's popularity (by some accounts even members of the highest Party echelons were regular listeners) and his surprisingly unrestrained ability to travel and perform, he was officially ignored by the establishment during his lifetime and no official mention was made of his passing, which resulted in large-scale public gatherings. The first sanctioned edition of his poems appeared in 1981. This commemorative volume was probably published shortly after the singer's death in 1980.
This is a commemorative volume published shortly after the singer's death in 1980, with a two-page preface by close friend Eduard Volodarsky (1941-2012), himself a controversial screenwriter whose films largely remained censored until Perestroika. In addition to the selection of approximately 130 poems by Vysotsky, the volume features over thirty poems, songs, and speeches in memory of the bard, some by well-known Soviet poets and performers such as Andrei Voznesenskii, Evgenii Evtushenko, and Bulat Akudzhava. Like many samizdat editions, this seems to have been a group effort: the table of contents appears to be in original typescript, while the majority of the text has been mimeographed or otherwise duplicated (with many pages showing light ink smears and other intriguing traces of the reproduction technology). The last ten pages are on lighter paper stock and in a different typescript. The pagination is flawed, with repeated as well as skipped page numbers, occasionally in manuscript. Book ID: P6768