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img-2The above featured book Mitja’s Love (Mi′tina Lyubo′v) is the Dutch translation of the Russian Ivan Bunin’s novel that was first published in Paris, France where the exiled anti-Bolshevik author was living.

Ivan Bunin (1870-1953) considered this particular novel one of his greatest works.

Among his acquaintances were Anton Checkov, Leo Tolstoy and Maxim Gorki to name a few of Russia’s finest authors. Bunin obtained some important Russian literary prizes during the early part of his life, but the crown jewel came when he obtained as the first Russian author the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1933, for his work The Accursed Days.

img_0001-2The featured translation above with its marvelous Art Deco type binding with raised printing as well as gold printing, was designed by the Australian born artist Mabel Dickinson Lapthorn (1889-1975). Lapthorn designed just a few book bindings for Dutch publishers, and the British National Portrait Gallery has a portrait done by her in their collection.  Most probably she spent considerable time in Great Britain. She is also known for having made ceramics in the Netherlands.

img_0002-2The book was published by the J. M. Meulenhoff Publishing Company with no date in the colofon, however the signed binding has the date 1933, and would be the only give away to a potential publishing date. There is no further mention of the binding designer. The very interesting part to this binding is found below the book title which carries the notice: Nobelprijs. As a translator the well known Dutch Jewish author S. van Praag is mentioned who to the best of my knowledge did not speak or read Russian. Most probably the book was indeed published in 1933 or shortly thereafter.

img_0003-2Of the greatest rarity is the preserved book band with the title Nobelprijs (Nobel Prize) found inside our copy, a fortunate find indeed as I know of no other copies anywhere.

Russian readers will be able to link to the Ivan Bunin Museum here.

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