A rare and complete set of the first complete edition of all of Tolstoy's writings, which began publication on the centenary of his birth. The volumes are divided into three series: works (volumes 1-45), diaries (volumes 46-58) and letters (59-89). Some volumes had a print run of 5,000, some of 10,000, so complete sets are rare.
This edition has a curious and complex history. Lenin took the decision soon after the Revolution to have Tolstoy's works published in time for the centenary (for which major celebrations were organised by the government), and Tolstoy's literary executor, Chertkov, became involved by March 1921. However, particularly after the death of Lenin in 1924, the political cult of Tolstoy began to be considered too ambiguous for the Soviet authorities, and they worked to replace this with a solely literary figure. Though Chertkov was overall editor, the editorial board, formed in 1925, was now filled with staunch party figures like Lunacharsky, the commissar of education and the party's spokesman for the official view of Tolstoy, and the first volumes did not appear until the centenary year. The whole set took thirty years to complete, due to changes in official attitude and personnel; Lunacharsky was removed from his post in 1929. For a full account of the publication history, see L. Osterman, Srazhenie za Tolstogo (Moscow: Grant, 2002).
For critical works on Tolstoy by Eikhenbaum and Shklovsky from this period, see lot 183.