Reading the Sergei Dovlatov book really got me thinking, particular the section on his connection with the Cherkasov family. I’ve always been a huge fan of Eisenstein’s films, watching”Battleship Potemkin” back in my teens and moving onto the others when they appeared on TV. They were among the first I bought when domestic videos became available, and I have several on DVD too. One of the most stunning visually is “Ivan The Terrible”, which starts Cherkasov in the titular role, and I recall back in the day researching the actor. It transpired that he’d written a memoir, “Notes of a Soviet Actor” but in those pre-Internet days, access to old and obscure books was not easy.

ivan

Cherkasov as Ivan

However, reading “The Suitcase” reminded me of the book, and I had a little search online. The very lovely Abebooks had several copies, and one was a reasonably priced UK seller. It sounded like potentially a nice edition, as it’s from the Foreign Languages Publishing House, and my version of “Aelita” from them is very pretty. So I sent for it – and it arrived – and it is really lovely!

cherkasov-cover

The dustjacket, although a bit aged and grubby, is pretty much all there, which is an achievement for a start! And the insides are in very nice condition:

Title page

Title page

Like “Aelita” this book has little illustrations at the beginning of each chapter:

opening-illustration

And it also has copious illustrations – here’s one of my favourite shots from Ivan:

ivan-profile

However, one of the most exciting things for me is that there’s a whole chapter and plenty of pictures about the time Cherkasov played Mayakovsky!

playing-mayakovsky

I’m not sure I was actually aware that he’d taken on that role, and boy, I wish I could see it! As you can see, it looks like he really got into the part…

cherkasov-mayakovsky

I doubt I’d ever have had the chance of tracking down a copy of this book in the past, and it’s easy to take for granted  how nowadays we have so much available at the click of a button or two. As it is, this is one of those books I’ve had off and on my mental wishlist for decades, and to finally find such a beautiful copy is a real treat. Good old Foreign Languages Publishing House – I shall have to investigate their books further! 🙂

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