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Isaac Babel Autograph Endorsement Pertaining to the

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Isaac Babel Autograph Endorsement Pertaining to the
Item Details
Description

Isaac Babel Autograph Endorsement Pertaining to the Last Moscow Apartment Where He Lived Before Being Arrested & Executed in 1939 Stalinist Purge

A slip of paper entirely endorsed in Russian by Isaac Emmanuilovich Babel (1894-1940), the celebrated Russian Jewish writer, translator, and journalist, as (translated) "Moscow / Vorontsovo Field / G[reat] Nikolo-Vorobinsky Lane 4, / Apt. 3 / I. Babel." Expected folds and wrinkles and trimmed, else near fine. The paper slip measures 3.25" x 4.75" and is mounted to the right of a 3.5" x 5" black and white photograph of Babel. Displayed in a crisp, cream mat measuring 13.5" x 11.5" overall.

Babel’s last home in Moscow, on Great Nikolo-Vorobinsky Lane, was a two-story, 6-room apartment that he shared with an Austrian engineer flat mate. Babel’s common law wife Antonina Pirozhkova recalled an apocryphal story that Babel told her about Great Nikolo-Vorobinsky Lane in her memoir entitled “At His Side: The Last Years of Isaac Babel” (South Royalton, Vermont: Steerforth Press, 1996). (Please see the relevant pages included for reference only.) Babel claimed that the origin of the street’s name, which he spuriously translated as “Great Lane of Nikolai and the Sparrows” stemmed from the fact that nearby church members once caught and sold sparrows to raise money for the construction of the church. Pirozhkova later discovered that Babel had invented the whole story. In many ways, this anecdote exemplifies the mischievous sense of humor which made Babel famous.

Isaac Babel was an extremely talented Russian writer whose masterpieces “Red Cavalry” and “Odessa Tales” were widely acclaimed as representing the quintessential Russian and Russian Jewish experiences. Following Babel’s arrest and execution during Stalin’s Great Purge, however, his books disappeared from Soviet libraries and bookstores, only to be “rediscovered” by Soviet intelligentsia several decades later. In the West, Babel’s work came to exemplify both the achievements of Russia’s literary avant-garde, and the dilemmas faced by a modern intellectual, a Russian and a Jew, caught up in the swell of a violent social revolution.

Babel was born into a well-assimilated middle-class Jewish family in Odessa. While pursuing a career in business or law, he started writing short stories, and in 1916 was “discovered” by Maxim Gorky, who published several of Babel’s stories and encouraged him to pursue a literary career. While formally remaining a member of the Soviet cultural elite, Babel felt increasingly marginalized after the Soviet Union’s post-1932 turn towards Socialist Realism and conformity. His published literary output dropped; the regime viewed his silence as criticism and an unwillingness to celebrate Soviet achievements; his protector Maxim Gorky died. Not surprisingly, Babel’s name eventually appeared on Soviet proscription lists.

Babel was arrested at his summer home, a dacha in Peredelkino located about 25 km south of his Moscow flat, by agents of the NKVD (People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs, the interior ministry of the Soviet Union) during the night of May 15, 1939. Regarding the nocturnal arrest, Babel purportedly quipped to one of the agents, "You don't sleep much, do you?" NKVD agents confiscated 15 folders of manuscripts from Babel’s Moscow apartment and another 9 folders from his dacha at Peredelkino.

Babel was imprisoned for eight months, first at Moscow’s Lubyanka Prison and then at Butyrka Prison, while Soviet authorities formed a case against him. Convicted of espionage and conspiracy, Babel was executed by firing squad on January 27, 1940; his body was dumped in a common grave. Babel’s family was not informed of his fate until fifteen years later. The author's original unpublished work was never recovered, lending a tragic meaning to one of the last statements he was ever heard to have made: “They didn’t let me finish.”

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.

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Isaac Babel Autograph Endorsement Pertaining to the

Estimate $2,000 - $2,400
May 26, 2021
See Sold Price
Starting Price $700
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0015: Isaac Babel Autograph Endorsement Pertaining to the

Sold for $2,000
18 Bids
Est. $2,000 - $2,400Starting Price $700
Rare Autographs, Manuscripts, Artwork, Comic
May 26, 2021 10:30 AM EDT
Buyer's Premium 25%

Lot 0015 Details

Description
...

Isaac Babel Autograph Endorsement Pertaining to the Last Moscow Apartment Where He Lived Before Being Arrested & Executed in 1939 Stalinist Purge

A slip of paper entirely endorsed in Russian by Isaac Emmanuilovich Babel (1894-1940), the celebrated Russian Jewish writer, translator, and journalist, as (translated) "Moscow / Vorontsovo Field / G[reat] Nikolo-Vorobinsky Lane 4, / Apt. 3 / I. Babel." Expected folds and wrinkles and trimmed, else near fine. The paper slip measures 3.25" x 4.75" and is mounted to the right of a 3.5" x 5" black and white photograph of Babel. Displayed in a crisp, cream mat measuring 13.5" x 11.5" overall.

Babel’s last home in Moscow, on Great Nikolo-Vorobinsky Lane, was a two-story, 6-room apartment that he shared with an Austrian engineer flat mate. Babel’s common law wife Antonina Pirozhkova recalled an apocryphal story that Babel told her about Great Nikolo-Vorobinsky Lane in her memoir entitled “At His Side: The Last Years of Isaac Babel” (South Royalton, Vermont: Steerforth Press, 1996). (Please see the relevant pages included for reference only.) Babel claimed that the origin of the street’s name, which he spuriously translated as “Great Lane of Nikolai and the Sparrows” stemmed from the fact that nearby church members once caught and sold sparrows to raise money for the construction of the church. Pirozhkova later discovered that Babel had invented the whole story. In many ways, this anecdote exemplifies the mischievous sense of humor which made Babel famous.

Isaac Babel was an extremely talented Russian writer whose masterpieces “Red Cavalry” and “Odessa Tales” were widely acclaimed as representing the quintessential Russian and Russian Jewish experiences. Following Babel’s arrest and execution during Stalin’s Great Purge, however, his books disappeared from Soviet libraries and bookstores, only to be “rediscovered” by Soviet intelligentsia several decades later. In the West, Babel’s work came to exemplify both the achievements of Russia’s literary avant-garde, and the dilemmas faced by a modern intellectual, a Russian and a Jew, caught up in the swell of a violent social revolution.

Babel was born into a well-assimilated middle-class Jewish family in Odessa. While pursuing a career in business or law, he started writing short stories, and in 1916 was “discovered” by Maxim Gorky, who published several of Babel’s stories and encouraged him to pursue a literary career. While formally remaining a member of the Soviet cultural elite, Babel felt increasingly marginalized after the Soviet Union’s post-1932 turn towards Socialist Realism and conformity. His published literary output dropped; the regime viewed his silence as criticism and an unwillingness to celebrate Soviet achievements; his protector Maxim Gorky died. Not surprisingly, Babel’s name eventually appeared on Soviet proscription lists.

Babel was arrested at his summer home, a dacha in Peredelkino located about 25 km south of his Moscow flat, by agents of the NKVD (People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs, the interior ministry of the Soviet Union) during the night of May 15, 1939. Regarding the nocturnal arrest, Babel purportedly quipped to one of the agents, "You don't sleep much, do you?" NKVD agents confiscated 15 folders of manuscripts from Babel’s Moscow apartment and another 9 folders from his dacha at Peredelkino.

Babel was imprisoned for eight months, first at Moscow’s Lubyanka Prison and then at Butyrka Prison, while Soviet authorities formed a case against him. Convicted of espionage and conspiracy, Babel was executed by firing squad on January 27, 1940; his body was dumped in a common grave. Babel’s family was not informed of his fate until fifteen years later. The author's original unpublished work was never recovered, lending a tragic meaning to one of the last statements he was ever heard to have made: “They didn’t let me finish.”

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.

WE PROVIDE IN-HOUSE SHIPPING WORLDWIDE!

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