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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Literary Stars, In 5 Volumes

One of the underdeveloped markets in Russian book publishing is the area of reference books.

For example, conspicuously missing from the national bookshelf is any decent dictionary of Soviet writers and literature written by a national scholar.

Wolfgang Kasak, known to every scholar of Russia for his dictionary of Russian/Soviet Writers after 1917, for many years persona non grata in the Soviet Union, recently visited Moscow and Samara on the Volga. But alas, his masterwork is still not published in this country, despite many widely publicized plans by different local publishing houses to do so.

One of the few lucky exceptions is the widely praised biographical dictionary Russian Writers 1800-1917 -- a five-volume reference written by the Institute of Russian Literature in St. Petersburg, better known as Pushkin House, and published by Great Russian Encyclopedia.

Its first volume, published in a quantity of 100,000 copies, immediately became hard to get. The second volume, released in 1992, was printed in 60,000 copies.

It took two more years and substantial financial assistance by a Moscow private scientific and commercial company, FIANIT, to publish 40,000 copies of the third volume, which has just reached Moscow.

The book can be bought for about 12,000 rubles (about $6) at better bookstores, but I strongly recommend visiting the downtown office of FIANIT, at 22 Ulitsa Balchug, where the price is 7,000 rubles, and where you can also buy the previous two volumes and leave an order for the upcoming volumes four and five.