Russian

General Collection

Books 

tcturn

The collection contains nearly 15,000 books representing all areas and schools of Russian creative activity, with a particular focus on late-19th/early 20th-century culture. Soviet-period fiction and non-fiction, poetry, prose, and art and architecture are featured here, as is the rich literature of the Russian emigration. In the later category are hundreds of first editions published in Prague, Paris, Constantinople, Berlin, Shanghai, New York, and other cultural centers. Of special note is a collection of nearly 1,500 books of Russian — largely emigre — poetry (most autographed or inscribed by the author), which was assembled and sold by Dmitry Tarasenkov, the son of a prominent Russian literary scholar and bibliophile. There are many first editions here, ranging from Sirin (Nabokov) to the very latest works of the avant-garde writers of the "Third Wave" who publish in very small editions. Combined with the Ivask Collection of Russian Emigre Poetry, purchased by the college in 1987, the Tarasenkov Collection makes Frost Library one of the largest repositories of Russian emigre poetry in the world. The "jewel in the crown" of the Whitney library is a truly magnificent collection of books by early 20th-century Russian avant-garde writers and artists (e.g. Kandinsky, Malevich, Goncharova, Remizov, Khlebnikov, Kruchenykh) whose creations are by design both art and literature. An expert who has recently examined this collection claims: "there probably is none like it in the United States, in private hands." Often the fruit of collaboration between writers and artists, these books, many of which were hand-made and all of which were published in tiny editions, often contain stunning graphics. The art section of the library (600 volumes) contains a very rare early 18th-century lectern Bible with typographical decorations and rich engravings, as well as several folios and elephant folios of considerable value. An especially scarce set is Grand Duke Nikolai's Portraits Russes des XVIIIe et XIXe Siecles, published in 5 volumes between 1905 and 1909. If this set weren't valuable enough in its own right, the copy in Whitney's collection originally belonged to the Russian artist and scenic designer Alexander Benois (1870-1960) who pencilled in on virtually every page of text his own comments, annotations, and corrections! Other sections of the library include the categories: books about books, history, philosophy and the sciences, stage (containing works on theater, cinema, music, and dance), and reference.

 

Webster Hall