Story of a Life. Complete Set. Volume I – Childhood and Schooldays / Volume II: Slow Approach of Thunder / Volume III: In that Dawn / Volume IV: Years of Hope / Volume V: Southern Adventure / Volume VI: The Restless Years // Translated by Manya Harari and Michael Duncan.
First Editions (except Volume I: First Edition, Second Impression). London, Harvill Press, 1964-1974. 8°. 283, 221, 253, 224, 223, 227 pages. Original Hardcover with beautifully illustrated dustjackets in excellent condition. All dustjackets in protective collector’s Mylar. This is an unusually beautiful set in Fine condition. Three minor stains to rear dustjacket of volume I.
Konstantin Georgiyevich Paustovsky (31 May [O.S. 19 May] 1892 – July 14, 1968) was a Russian Soviet writer nominated for the Nobel Prize for literature in 1965.
Paustovsky began writing while still in Gymnasium. His first works were imitative poetry. He eventually limited his writing to prose, after Ivan Bunin who wrote in a letter, “I think that your sphere, your real poetry, is prose. It is here, if you are determined enough, that I am sure you can achieve something significant.” His first stories to be published were “Na vode” (“On The Water”) and “Chetvero” (“The Four”) in 1911 and 1912. During World War I, Paustovsky wrote some sketches of life at the front, and one of them was also published. His first book, Morskiye Nabroski (“Sea Sketches”), was published in 1925, but was little noticed. It was followed by Minetoza in 1927, and the romantic novel Blistaiushie Oblaka (“Shining Clouds”) in 1929. His work of this period was influenced by Alexander Grin as well as the writers of the “Odessa school”, (Isaac Babel, Valentin Kataev, and Yuri Olesha). In the 1930s Paustovsky visited various constructions sites and wrote in praise of the industrial transformation of the country. To that period belong the novels Kara-Bugaz (1932) and Kolkhida (1934). Kara-Bugaz won particular praise. It is essentially a tale of adventure and exploration in the region around Kara-Bugaz Bay, where the air is mysteriously heavy. It begins in 1847 and moves to the Russian Civil War period when a group of Red Guards is abandoned to near-certain death on a desolate island. There are, however, survivors, who are rescued by an explorer. Some of the survivors stay on to help in the exploration, development and study of the natural wealth of the region.
Paustovsky continued to explore historical themes in Severnaya Povest (″Tale of the North”, 1938). In this tale, after the anti-Tsarist Decembrist uprising in Saint Petersburg, a wounded officer who took part in the uprising and a sailor try to make it by foot across the ice to Sweden. They are captured in a sequence of dramatic events. Years later, in Leningrad of the 1930s, the great-grandsons of the participants in the events unexpectedly meet. In the late 1930s, Russian nature emerged as a central theme for Paustovsky, for example, in Letniye Dni (″Summer Days”, 1937) and Meshcherskaya Storona (1939). For Paustovsky, nature was a many-faceted splendor in which man can free himself from daily cares and regain his spiritual equilibrium. This focus on nature drew comparisons with Mikhail Prishvin. Prishvin himself wrote in his diary, “If I were not Prishvin, I would like to write like Paustovsky.″
During World War II Paustovsky served as a war correspondent on the southern front. In 1943 Paustovsky produced a screenplay for the Gorky Film Studio production of “Lermontov”, directed by A. Gendelshtein. Another work of note is Tale of the Woods (1948). This story opens in a remote forest in the 1890s, where Tchaikovsky is composing a symphony. The young daughter of the local forester often brings Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky berries. Half a century later, the daughter of this girl is a laboratory technician at the local forest station.
From 1948 until 1955 Paustovsky taught at the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute. Paustovsky also edited a few literary collections, Literary Moscow (1956) and Pages from Tarusa, in which he tried to bring new writers to the public’s attention and to publish writers suppressed during the Joseph Stalin years.
Other major works include Snow, Crossing Ships (1928); The Black Sea (1936); and The Rainy Dawn (1946). Paustovsky was also the author of several plays and fairy tales, including “Steel Ring”.
Perhaps Paustovsky’s most famous work is his autobiography “Povest o Zhizni” (“Story of a Life”). It is not a strictly historical document but rather a long, lyrical tale focusing on the internal perceptions and poetic development of the writer . It has been called a “biography of the soul” rather than a biography of events. Nonetheless, it does provide a unique view of life in Russia during the turbulent years of WWI, the Russian Civil War and rise of the Soviets, all of which Paustovsky participated in. In 1965, Paustovsky was nominated for a Nobel Prize for literature, the prize was awarded instead to Mikhail Sholokhov. In February 1966 he was one of the 25 prominent figures from science and the arts who signed a letter to the 23rd Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, appealing against re-Stalinization in the wake of the Sinyavsky-Daniel trial. He died in Moscow on July 14, 1968. (Wikipedia)