Heritage Press – Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1952)

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1952)*
Sandglass Number VII:36
Artwork: Lithographs by Barnett Freedman
Translated by Constance Garnett, translation revision by Bernard Guilbert Guerney, and the three omitted chapters translated, edited and revised by Gustavus Spett. Introduction by Lionel Trilling.
Reprint of LEC #213, 20th Series, V. 5 in 1951. Originally 2 volumes.

Click images for a larger view.

Front Binding – A remarkable post is what I present to you today, as we welcome a Russian master and a beloved illustrator into the echelon of our blog. Leo Tolstoy (as the book prints his name here…I’ve seen it many ways!) has written two of the biggest literary classics of all time, including War and Peace and our selected book for this post, Anna Karenina. War and Peace has two different Macy imprints interpreting it in their own unique ways. The LEC War was issued in 1938 in a six-volume set, with Barnett Freedman (the same artist responsible for this edition) rendering its world with his talents. The Heritage War is a fascinating experiment. It combines the drawings of Fritz Eichenberg (who is no stranger to Russian literature illustration as our blog will show) with the paintings of Vassily Verestchagin, with each doing one volume of the two volume set. Verestchagin passed away in 1904, so it’s one of those cases where Macy wanted to celebrate the art of the past with the Heritage Press, a trend he also performed for The Iliad and The Pilgrim’s Progress, for example. We’ll continue on that trail when we get to War and Peace in the near future. As for Anna, it was printed twice by the LEC. In 1933, wood engraver Nikolas Piskariov put his spin on the book, and it also utilized Garnett’s translation (I do not know if it had all of the editors and revisions this one does). Freedman’s take, reprinted here, was done in 1951 as a two volume set. Here’s Tolstoy’s entire LEC output:

Anna Karenina (1931) with wood engravings by Nikolas Piskariov
War and Peace (1938) with lithographs by Barnett Freedman
Anna Karenina (1951)
with lithographs by Barnett Freedman
Resurrection (1963) with wood engravings by Fritz Eichenberg
Childhood, Boyhood, Youth (1972) with wood engravings by Fritz Eichenberg

I have Resurrection and the exclusive War and Peace Heritage editions, so you can expect those down the road.

Let’s talk about Barnett Freedman for a bit. He is well liked in the Devotees, although I will admit that his style is not usually my cup of tea. I do like his work for this, though. He did the two aforementioned works of Tolstoy for the LEC, along with George Barrow’s Lavengro in 1936 and Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part I in 1939. He also was responsible for the two Heritage Bronte publications, Charlotte’s Jane Eyre and Emily’s Wuthering Heights. Lastly, he had a hand in the Heritage Dickens line, rendering Oliver Twist. A short but sweet ride. The Bronte works are similar in style to this, and they’re not really my thing (I have the Random House Eichenberg editions which are LOVELY). I suppose I have been spoiled. :p Anyway, those curious about the career of Freedman and how Macy discovered him will definitely want to examine the included Sandglass below closely. It lavishes so much of its space to Freedman that Tolstoy almost seems an afterthought. :p

Production details! The LEC’s text was set by the Cambridge University Press, which the Heritage reproduces. Brooke Crutchley oversaw the LEC edition’s production, following the typographic plans of John Dreyfus. I cannot tell if Cambridge actually printed out the Heritage reprint’s pages from the Sandglass. The Curwen Press of London however did redo Freedman’s lithographic prints. Russell-Rutter and William Fortney once again did the bindery honors. The font is Ehrhardt, with the larger letter-shapes being of the Fleischmann type.

Back Boards – A delightful rarity to have art on both sides! The Bronte books share this feature as well.



Title Page – A lot of hands were involved in this book. Constance Garnett’s translation was chosen as the best choice for this work, but two further assistants were added to further refine her work. The first is Gustavus Spett. He is a Russian expert and translated three chapters Garnett did not originally. The second is Bernard Guilbert Guerney, who edited and revised Garnett’s work. Although he is not mentioned here, Lionel Trilling supplies an introduction.

Front Endpapers – This is a massively illustrated work, that it is. I figured I’d give you more bang for your buck and include the endpapers over interior illustrations. Each color was its own stone in the lithographic process, so just imagine how much foresight and planning had to go into each illustration!

Back Endpapers

Personal Notes – This came with my huge library acquisition. I’m glad to have it, as I’ve been curious about the contents of the novel for some time.

* = The Sandglass specifically mentioned Freedman’s death in 1958, so this is clearly not the original publication date for my copy. I will respectfully keep the date as is due to the book stating it as such, but I wanted to let you know that this is not a 1952 printing.


3 thoughts on “Heritage Press – Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1952)”

  1. I am a Freedman fan, and have all his work for the LEC and the Heritage Press–including this volume from both companies. Macy always felt that Freedman’s War & Peace was one of the ten greatest illustration jobs of all time, and I’m not going to refute that, but I have to say I find this Anna to be an even more masterful job. In it he has chosen a more photographic style than in the earlier works and though I do not always prefer that style over a more stylized depiction, in this novel it couldn’t be a better choice–or better realized.

    Incidentally, this is one of those cases where the quality of the Heritage Press edition need in no way hang its head in comparison to the pricier LEC version.

  2. I just completed the quartet of LEC Tolstoy with the acquisition of the six-volume War and Peace. I never thought I would find a copy in Fine condition with no sunning or rubbing to the somewhat delicate cloth spines, but when one came up on ebay I jumped at it. I would like to get the Russian-printed Anna Karenina to round out all the LEC Tolstory editions. I have read Anna Karenina twice and have enjoyed the movies, including the one with Greta Garbo and Frederic March, which I feel can’t be surpassed, but I will watch the new one coming out for coparison. By the way, the portrait of Vronsky on the HP front cover is so like Frederic March in the movie, with the pencil-thin moustache.

  3. Sadly I’ve never managed to get my head round the great Russian novels. I ascribe it to having War & Peace as an exam text when I was FAR too young to cope with it (bet no one else in my class has ever gone near it again either!)
    But it’s never too late to try again and this lovely edition could be the one that tips the balance. So thank you for this post.According to Michael Bussacco’s Heritage Press Catalog and Checklist, your copy appears to be the December 1971 reissue (some Christmas present, eh!), one of five books in Series 36 published as from the Heritage Club’s Del Mar, California, address. As to where it was printed: both the 1952 and 1971 Sandglasses use the same wording, ie that the lithographs were printed in London and then “sent to our bindery in New York, where they were joined to the printed sheets”. This sounds as if the text was already there, having been printed locally, if not in New York itself, then certainly in the US. The Cambridge University Press had printed as well as bound the LEC edition, which explains how their type-setters became involved; but I guess it would hardly make economic sense to print the much large HP run in England and then have to ship all the sheets back to New York?
    PS From something leccol says somewhere on the GMD group George Macy had the HP books printed by his own printworks – the Heritage Press!

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