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RUSSIAN ÉMIGRÉS: Хожденіе по Мукамъ [The Road to Calvary].


A rare first edition of White émigré Aleksey Tolstoy’s work The Road to Calvary was written in the time of staying in Paris after the October Revolution, and was published in 1922, after he moved to Berlin. Two year later he became one of rare White Russian writers, who returned to the Soviet Union and built a new career there.   

1 in stock


8°: 462 pp., [1] blank page, original wrappers with printed title, bound in a later blue half linen binding with gilt title on the spine (Very Good, slightly age-toned and stained in margins, title page with tiny tears in margins, old cancelled library stamps on the cover, title page and last blank page, old tears repaired with tape on pp. 7 and 33, some words underlined lightly with a pencil, last pages stained)..



The author Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy (1883 – 1945) was a Russian and Soviet writer, who came from a prominent Russian background. His father Count Nikolay Alexandrovich Tolstoy (1849–1900), was related to Leo Tolstoy, and his mother Alexandra Leontievna Turgeneva (1854–1906), a grand-niece of Decembrist Nikolay Turgenev and a relative of the Russian writer Ivan Turgenev. When his mother was two month pregnat, she ran away with her lover, Alexei Appollonovich Bostrom, leaving her husband and three children.

Aleksey Tolstoy was raised by Bostrom as his own son in an atheistic and anti-monarchist environment, after his mother and step-father were rejected by the church and the Russian nobility.

Siding with the White Army during the civil war and the October Revolution Tolstoy fled through Odessa to Paris, where he started working on the novel The Road to Calvary, describing the events in Russia between 1914 and 1919.

He published the book in Berlin, where he moved to live with his family in a close Russian community. The book brought Tolstoy a huge sucess abroad, as well as in the Soviet Union. When he returned there in 1923 he was accepted warmly, as a famous White Russian, who decided to return back home.

In 1937, Tolstoy was elected to the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union, and in 1939, he became a full member of the USSR Academy of Sciences. He was known for his early Soviet science fiction books and mostly for this adaptation of the 1883 novel The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, which was published in Russian asThe Golden Key, or the Adventures of Buratino in 1936.

1927 and 1928 Aleksey Tolstoy wrote a sequel to The Road to Calvary, called The Eighteenth Year, and in 1940-1941 the third part, titled Gloomy Morning followed, making the work a trilogy. The original first part was renamed to Sisters.

Tolstoy died in Moscow less than three months before the end of WWII. He was credited at the Nuremberg Trials of being the first person to ‘ascertain without reasonable doubt’ the use of gas vans by the Nazis to commit genocide, as a member of the Extraordinary State Commission in the Stavropol region.

This is a rare first edition. The book is not dated, but the year 1922 is mentioned in the introduction. We could only find three institutional copies (Bibliothèque Diderot LSHS – Fonds slaves (Lyon), National Library of Israel, The British Library, St. Pancras).

The book was re-published and translated to other languages already in the 1920s.


References: OCLC 819421985 & 864182164; John GLAD, Conversations in Exile, Durham and London, 1993, ff.; Thomas URBAN; Russische Schriftsteller im Berlin der zwanziger Jahre, Berlin 2003, pp. 32–45.

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