In the last couple of weeks, we have taken delivery of a wonderful new addition to our collections: the earliest published Russian translation of Goethe’s Faust (1838). This joins two similar relative newcomers – the first full(ish) Russian Faust (1844) and the first Russian translation of another Goethe work, Götz von Berlichingen (1828).
The University Library has recently acquired a rare edition of three early dramatic pieces by Goethe, the Neueröfnetes moralisch-politisches Puppenspiel (7001.d.268), which like Werther was published for the Leipzig autumn fair of 1774, when Goethe was 25 years old. The Library’s copy, bound in later period vellum with red morocco lettering pieces, is in excellent condition with only minimal browning. The title-page has a vignette of a seated boy striking with a sword at a slate bearing letters of the alphabet.
The three works in question are a dramatic poem, Des Künstlers Erdewallen, and two Shrovetide carnival pantomimes, Jahrmarktsfest zu Plundersweilern and Ein Fastnachtsspiel vom Pater Brey. In his Goethe, the poet and the age, Nicholas Boyle summarises the Jahrmarktsfest zu Plundersweilern : “In a fairground setting a vivid and satirical kaleidoscope of figures, quacks, gypsies, peasants, pedlars from Nuremberg and the Tyrol, an Italian barrel-organist, and one or two more characters from the refined classes, all conversing in a lively rhyming farrago, form an audience for a play within the play: the biblical folk-story of Queen Esther and the villainous Haman”.