La Sibylle Russe
St.-Petersbourg: Imprimerie de Jul Stauff (J. Fichon), 1882. Very Good. Item #20777
St. Petersbourg: Imprimerie de Jul Stauff (J. Fichon), 1882 [but 1881]. First Thus. 24mo (8.25cm.); later full red morocco, bound in original peach wrappers printed within typographically decorative border; xii,72pp. Minor bumping to corners, wrappers show some light soiling and wear with general rubbing slightly effacing text without loss of meaning; a few interior leaves trimmed a bit close, but still Very Good and sound overall. Imprint on p. 72 (in Russian): "Dozvoleno Tsenzuroiu. SNB. 1- Oktiabra 1881."
Original French-language edition of this Russian divination booklet first published in 1877 according to the Preface, signed "A. de K.," based on the system of an "old and famous divinatrix, who lived in Kiev many centuries ago" (our translation). The "sibylle russe" is composed of 36 cards (not included here, though it is unclear if this was to be issued with the cards), each described in detail in the text, each representing four sections of the same drawing (i.e. prophecy), among these an old sorceress (Your opinions will not be appreciated!), a nest (An inconsequential person will cause you harm!), and a ladder (Great success, many honors!). Forms part of the prevalent 19th-century Russian craze for fortune-telling, this title unrecorded though described perfectly by Faith Wigzell in her Reading Russian Fortunes: Print Culture, Gender and Divination in Russia from 1765 (1998): "Some of these books...were very short, commonly consisting of instructions and interpretive key to a single fortune-telling method," "...their contents attributed to illustrious sages, alchemists, sorcerers and seers" (p. 11). The present work, though cheaply published in the format thus issued for the peasant classes, is unusual in that here it has been adapted into French, "la langue universelle" of the Russian aristocratic classes during the reign of Peter the Great. We forgo calling this a French translation, as the Russian proverbs have been replaced with French commonplace idioms.
Apparently unrecorded: not in OCLC, COPAC, or KVK.