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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Connoisseurs' Celebration

Mass production of unique artifacts was one of the utopian dreams of Russia's 1920s constructivists. Now, as the publishing world settles into its new, capitalist role, that dream is being realized by IMA-Press, a young and enterprising Russian publishing house.


Its new edition of Johann Wolfgang Goethe's epistolary novel, "Passions of Young Werther," is not being published in standard book form. Instead, each of the separate letters is being mailed with a Russian text to 150 subscribers.


The first letter, dated by Werther May 4, 1771, was sent from IMA-Press the very same day 223 years later. During the next two months, nine more letters were sent, also on the same dates as in the novel. The last letter is due in September. The mailings will include a publishers' afterword and a special envelope for the letters.


An interesting novelty for connoisseurs is a lavish, illustrated edition of Igor Irtenyev's poems, "Empire of Good" -- a title written in response to U.S. President Ronald Reagan's infamous "evil empire" label.


Forty-year-old Irtenyev has spent the past few years writing ironic, nostalgic poems about the bygone, stagnant-but-stable Brezhnev days. His pieces are illustrated by Commersant Daily's cartoonist Igor Bilzho.


This large hardcover has been published by Raritet-537, a small publishing house that produces all of its books in quantities of 537 copies. Raritet is a private company owned by Sergei Nitochkin, who runs an antique bookstore on Ostozhenka Ulitsa near Park Kultury metro.


The publications are moderately priced at 25,000 rubles ($12).