Bodenstedt, Friedrich: “Aus dem Nachlasse Mirza Schaffy’s. Neues Liederbuch”
Berlin, . Hofmann & Comp (Stich und Druck von L. C. Zamarski.) XIV +  –217 +  p. First edition.
With color stone prints (chromolithography) with 6 cover pages and border pages.
Ornate, richly gilded, painted, full-parchment publisher’s edition (Hübel & Denck Buchbindererei, Leipzig). Decorative, very beautiful copy.
The man behind the book
Mirza Shafi Vazeh (1796–1852) was a classical bilingual poet in Azerbaijani who continued the classical traditions of Azerbaijani poetry from the 14th century. His verses were translated into nearly all European languages.
In 1844 he established a literary society “Divan-i Hikmet” which gathered many prominent Azeri, Russian and foreign intellectuals living in Tiflis. Among the members of this society was Friedrich Martin von Bodenstedt, a German poet and traveler, who became Vazeh’s friend. Vazeh rarely put his verses into written form, due to the high cost of pens, paper and ink in the region, and his friends transcribed most of his works during their gatherings. Von Bodenstedt was one of the scribes, and translated Vazeh’s poetry into German, upon his return to Germany. His first book about Shafi was entitled Thousand and One Days in the Orient.
This contained an account of Bodenstedt’s sojourn in Asia and included many of Shafi’s poems. His publisher asked him to issue separately the poems contained in it and as a result these were published in 1851 as a book named The Songs of Mirza Shafi,which contained many additional poems. The book became popular, was republished and translated into other European languages. However, after Vazeh’s death in 1852, F. von Bodenstedt denied Vazeh’s authorship claiming that they were his own verses and he presented them as belonging to Vazeh in order to add an exotic air to the book in order to enhance its popularity.
While the truth of this claim is difficult to determine because no original manuscripts from Sufi have been found in Germany, there is little doubt that Sufi’s poems were distorted and added to in translation. Only a few original manuscripts have survived to this day in Azerbaijan. Vazeh’s verses, which were translated and published throughout Europe in the 19th century gained attention in Azerbaijan only at the beginning of 20th century. In his poetry, Vazeh glorifies the joys of life, and the wisdom and goodness of man. He was also critical of the clergy and was accused of being an apostate. Research into Shafi’s writings is far from complete and continues in Azerbaijan to this day.