University Archives


О происхождении видов

O proiskhozhdenii vidov ("On the Origin of Species", 1859) by Charles Darwin (1809-1882). In 4to, first Russian-language edition, translated from English by S. A. Rachinsky, 22.2 x 14.5 cm. Published by bookseller A.I. Glazunov, St. Petersburg, 1864. In half-leather binding.
OCLC Number: 612813262 (20 copies recorded). Binding is worn, and rubbed. Bumped corners. The internal pages have intermittent soiling, and staining. Rare.

"On the Origin of Species" was first published in England in 1859, and published in Russia, via a German translation by G.G. Bronn, in 1860. The first Russian-language translation, however, was not until 1864, made by S.A. Rachinsky, a professor of botany at Moscow University. Darwin's theory quickly made its impact on larger Russian culture and society. The very same year that Rachinsky published his translation, Fyodor Dostoevsky mentioned Darwinism in Notes from Underground: "As soon as they prove you, for instance, that you are descended from a monkey, then it's no use scowling, you just have to accept it." In Russia, Darwinism soon became a political lithmus test, with conservatives denouncing the theory, and liberals and radicals endorsing it.

In the following years, Darwin’s book had been printed and reprinted in Russia several times. This may seem surprising considering the strict censorship regime, and the opposition of the conservative and religious establishment to Darwinism, but censors had likely realized that restricting Darwin’s book will have little impact. Russians were learning about Darwinism not from the source, but through the writings of Darwin’s denouncers or boosters. Among the latter, one must mention Dmitry Pisarev, the intellectual leader of Russian nihilists, who in 1864 wrote "Progress in the World of Animals and Plants," a long essay presenting an enthusiastic endorsement of the Origin of Species ideas. Many years later, Ivan Pavlov, reminisced it was Pisarev’s essay that made him first interested in natural sciences. 

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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