In his 1918 diary Merezhkovsky wrote:
How fragrantly fresh our February and March were, with their bluish, heavenly blizzards, what a beauty human face shone with! Where is it all now? Peering into the October crowd, one sees that it is faceless. Not the ugliness of it, but facelessness is what’s most disgusting. […] Strolling down the Petersburg streets, I recognize a Communist face at once. What frightens most in it – the self-satisfaction of a satiated beast, animalistic obtuseness? No, the most horrible in this face is its dreariness, this transcendental dreariness, found only in Paradise that’s been found on Earth, the Antichrist’s Kingdom Come.[
The phenomenon of Merezhkovsky
There are writers who are comprehended in the process of „rejection” of public opinion, criticism. These are the Marquis de Sade in France, Nietzsche in Germany, Henry Miller in America. For many decades, Dmitry Merezhkovsky remained as such. Among contemporaries, both before the revolution and in exile, he received for the most part very critical assessments, although his erudition and scholarship was recognized by all.
AP Chekhov, who proposed DS Merezhkovsky’s candidacy for honorary academicians for 1902, wrote earlier about the lecture by Merezhkovsky, who made his name widely known in literary circles: „In a public lecture by Merezhkovsky, judging by printed reports, there are many truths and good thoughts, but it is not political, or, rather, not ethical.In every society, be it a nationality, a sect, a class or just a circle of people connected with one common profession, there certainly exists an ethics of relations that does not allow, among other things, spoke about their presence If there are not enough strong reasons like criminality … Merezhkovsky ogulom, without sufficient grounds for that, spoke ill of his in the presence of strangers … At home, ie in a journal or in a literary society, scold and beat yourself in the persians but in the street be above the street and do not complain to the young ladies, policemen, students, merchants and all the other people who make up the public, no matter how low the literature is, and the public is still below it. Therefore, if literature is guilty and subject to trial, then the public here is anything, but not a judge „1.
Alexander Blok, reading Merezhkovsky’s novel „Alexander I”, published in 1911 in „Russian Thought” and in the newspaper „Russian Word”, writes in the Diary: „A writer who never loved anybody humanly, worried.” Disgusted, even to historical persons, he repeats himself, but worries him, he misses himself madly, just like his Alexander I in his office, and the beauty in some places is unheard of. The taste has been thinned to the last degree: it allows himself an obvious bad taste, a bad allegory , chooses to ruthlessness, leaving himself Mr. admiration from women sigh, from the Decembrists, epaulettes, from Alexander-dimple in his chin, -. and quite a lot of raw materyalami, sometimes no different from articles and satirical articles „2.
Most definitely the same idea, the same impression of Merezhkovsky and his works expressed VVRozanov, who had known him for many years. With Rozanov’s paradoxicality, he wrote: „… it seems to me sometimes (often) that Merezhkovsky is not … That this is a shadow next to the other … Or rather, the shadow of another, cast on the reader. And they say: Merezhkovsky, Merezhkovsky: no, but there are 1) Julian, 2) Leonardo, 3) Peter, 4) Christianity, 5) Renaissance … and so on, and so on … And among his … in the spaces between things, someone, nothing, a hole: in this hole there are shadows of everything … But shadows are not things, and the „universal Merezhkovsky” does not exist at all: but only when speaking of „Renaissance” is you mentioned „about Merezhkovsky.” this „emptiness” is filled with all sorts of thoughts, all sorts of feelings, all sorts of excitement, all sorts of hatreds … because that’s all this place is empty.
Oh, how terrible it is not to love anything, not to hate anything, to know everything, read a lot, read constantly and finally, to the last misfortune, eternally write down their emptiness and perpetuate what for everyone there is enough grief, even if only confesses in oneself. „3
Perhaps the only one who understood and, most importantly, accepted Dmitry Sergeevich from the beginning to the end was Zinaida Gippius, a wife who lived with him for 52 years and, as she said, never parted with him for a single day for all this time. The case is truly unique.
Dmitry Sergeevich Merezhkovsky was born on August 2 (14), 1865. in St. Petersburg, on Elagin Island, where his parents lived at the dacha. The great-grandfather of the writer Feodor Meryozhka was a military sergeant in Ukraine in the city of Glukhov, and grandfather Ivan Fedorovich came to the reign of Paul I in Petersburg and as a nobleman entered the rank of junior in the Izmaylovsky regiment. Then, probably, he changed his little Russian name Meryozhka to Russian-Merezhkovsky. From St. Petersburg he was transferred to Moscow and took part in the war of 1812.
The father of the writer Sergei Ivanovich served with the Orenburg Governor Talyzin, then with the Obergomarshal Count Shuvalov, and then with the Chief of Staff at the court office under the reign of Alexander II, having served up to the rank of the actual secret adviser (2nd class on the Table of Ranks).
The family had nine children: six sons and three daughters. Dmitry was the youngest of sons, a favorite of his mother. Parents often went on long business trips abroad or to the southern coast of the Crimea to Livadia, where the sick empress lived. Children remained in the care of the old housekeeper-Reval German woman Amalia Khristianovna and an old nanny who told Russian tales and lives of saints. In the groves and ponds of the Elaginsky Park, the children, having read Maine-Read and Cooper, played „in the wild”, climbed into the dark cellars of the palace or on the flat green dome of the same palace from where the seashore is visible, rolled on a boat, built bonfires on the sandy banks of Krestovsky islands, baked potatoes and felt „wild.”
Sometimes, at the request of his mother, his father took Dmitry with him to the Crimea, where Merezhkovsky had a little girl on his way to the Wuchang-Su waterfall. There the boy first felt the charm of the southern nature: „I remember the magnificent palace in Oreanda, from which there are now some ruins.” The white marble columns on the sea blue are for me the eternal symbol of ancient Greece, „he recalled many years later.
Poems began to write in the gymnasium from the age of 13. It was an imitation of Pushkin’s „Fountain of Bakhchisarai”. Father, who met in 1880. with Dostoevsky, took his son to him. Blushing, paling and stuttering, Dmitri read him his children’s poems. He listened in silence, with impatient annoyance. And then he said:
– Weak, bad, no good. To write well, you must suffer, suffer!
„No, let him not write, but he does not suffer!” His father said.
Merezhkovsky remembered this conversation and piercing eyes of pale blue eyes when Dostoevsky shook his hand in parting. He did not see him again, and then soon learned that he was dead.
Merezhkovsky lived in an old house on the corner of the Neva and Fontanka at the Laundry Bridge, against the Summer Garden. On the one hand, the palace of Peter the Great, on the other, through the Neva-his own house and the oldest wooden Trinity Cathedral in St. Petersburg. The apartment is huge, state-owned, with many rooms, residential and ceremonial, in two floors. The rooms are big, gloomy. My father did not like that children would make noise and interfere with him: they passed along the doors of his office on tiptoe.
And so, on the 1st of March 1881, when Dmitry walked up and down the room, writing the imitation of the Koran in verse, a servant who came running from the street told of a deafening explosion heard from the Mars field and the Catherine Canal through the Summer Garden. Father came to dinner from the palace all in tears, pale, and announced the attempt on the life of the Emperor.
„That’s the fruit of nihilism,” he said. „And what more do they need, these monsters?” Such an angel was not spared …
The elder brother, Constantine, a natural student, an ardent „nihilist,” began to intercede for „monsters.” His father screamed, stomped his feet, almost cursed his son and immediately drove him out of the house. Mother pleaded for forgiveness, but my father did not want to hear anything. The quarrel lasted for several years.
In the last classes of the gymnasium Merezhkovsky was fond of Moliere and composed of his comrades a „Moliere circle”. There was no talk of politics, which did not prevent the Third Section from becoming interested in the activities of this circle. All the participants were invited to a well-known building at the Police Bridge, they were questioned for a long time and did not want to believe that boys 16-17 years old were not engaged in „overthrowing the existing system.” If Merezhkovsky was not arrested and exiled, then this was only his father’s position.
Merezhkovsky continued to write poetry, met S.Ya. Nadson, then still a cadet of the Pavlov Military School, with whom he had heated discussions about religion, about death. Nadson introduced him to the poet ANPleshcheev, secretary of the Otechestvennye zapiski. Later Merezhkovsky recalled: „I remember the thin, sharp shoulders flashing in the door of the next room, chilly wrapped in a rug, like an old-fashioned kerchief, a hoarse, tearful cough and the vehemently growling voice of ME Saltykov.”
The first poem Merezhkovsky „Narcissus” appeared in the literary collection „Response”, published in 1881 by AS Suvorin in favor of students and students of the Higher Women’s Courses in St. Petersburg.After graduating in 1884. gymnasium, he enrolled at the Faculty of History and Philology of St. Petersburg University. In his student years he was fond of positive philosophy-Spencer, Comte, Mill, Darwin, although he already felt the inadequacy of this world outlook and was looking for an outlet in religious understanding of life.
In the house of the director of the St. Petersburg Conservatory, where he was led by ANPleshcheev, Merezhkovsky met Goncharov, then a blind old man, the poets A.N.Maykov, I.P. Polonsky, and when in 1885, the journal Severniy Vestnik was founded, with his closest collaborators VG Korolenko, VM Garshin, NK Mikhailovsky, GI Uspensky. Merezhkovsky himself took a rather active part in the magazine: he published many poems, the poem Silvio ( 1 890), a sympathetic article about the beginning Chekhov (The Old Question of a New Talent, 1888), then almost never recognized.
MK Mikhailovsky had a great influence on Merezhkovsky, and not only with his writings, but also with his noble personality. He ordered him an article „On the Peasant in French Literature,” which, however, he did not accept, considering it not conforming to the spirit of populism. Among his first teachers Merezhkovsky calls Mikhailovsky and Uspensky. He even went to Chudovo to GI Uspensky and spoke to him all night long about the religious meaning of life. Ouspensky proved to him that one should turn to the people’s world outlook, to the „power of the earth.”
After that, Merezhkovsky traveled along the Volga in the summer, along the Kama, to the Ufa and Orenburg provinces, walked around the villages, talked with the peasants, collected and recorded his observations. In Tver Province he visited the peasant Vasily Sytaev, the founder of the religious doctrine of „non-resistance and moral self-improvement.” Shortly before Leo Tolstoy visited Syutayev, and the latter talked a lot about him.
In his mature years, Merezhkovsky recalled: „In the” populist „I had a lot of childish, frivolous, but still sincere, and I’m glad that it was in my life and has not passed without a trace on me.” Then Tolstoy’s Confession was distributed on the lists, which made Merezhkovsky feel that the populism was not yet complete truth.
After graduating from the university in the summer of 1888, he went to the Caucasus and met Borzhomi with the eighteen-year-old Zinaida Gippius, who married in the same winter in Tiflis, returned with her to St. Petersburg and completely immersed himself in literary work.
In 1888 Merezhkovsky’s first book, Poems (1883-1887), was published in St. Petersburg, and in 1892- „Symbols (Songs and Poems)”, about which he would later say: „It seems that I used this word before all in Russian literature.” What are the symbols? What does it mean: symbols? „- they asked me in bewilderment.” Indeed, for the first time in our literature he gave the term a new meaning.
In 1893 the his first literary critical book „On the causes of decline and on the new trends of modern literature”, in which the theory of Russian symbolism is based, and the three main elements of the new art proclaim mystical content, symbols and expansion of artistic impressionability. „In poetry, what is not said and flickers through the beauty of the symbol acts more strongly on the heart than what is expressed by words.” Symbolism makes the very style, the most artistic substance of poetry spiritualized, transparent, throughly translucent, like the thin walls of an alabaster amphora in which The fire was lit … And Baudelaire and Edgar Poe said that the beautiful should surprise us somewhat, seem unexpected and rare, and French critics more or less successfully called this feature impressionism. „
Fame among contemporaries brought Merezhkovsky a collection of articles entitled „Eternal Satellites: Portraits from World Literature”, which included essays on the Acropolis, Daphnis and Chloe, Marcus Aurelius, Pliny the Younger, Calderon, Cervantes, Montenus, Flaubert, Ibsen, Dostoevsky, Goncharov, Maikov and Pushkin.
During these years Merezhkovsky traveled a lot. He lived for a long time in Italy-in Rome and Florence, as well as in Sicily near Messina; visited Athens and Constantinople. He translated ancient tragedies.
In 1893 the he began work on the trilogy „Christ and Antichrist”, which lasted 12 years. The first part, „The Death of the Gods, Julian the Apostate”, for a long time nowhere wanted to print. Finally he printed „out of grace” and with great difficulty „The Northern Bulletin” under the changed title „Outcast”. The second part of the trilogy „The Resurrected Gods. Leonardo da Vinci” was published in 1900. magazine „The World of God.”
Preparing for the third part of „Peter and Alexei”, printed in 1904. in the journal Novy Put (in a separate edition in 1905 the name „Antichrist Peter and Alexei” was named, all three parts were republished in Berlin in 1922), Merezhkovsky traveled to study the life of sectarians and Old Believers beyond the Volga, to the Kerzhen forests, to the city Semenov and the Bright Lake, where, according to legend, the invisible Kitezh-grad. Here he spent the night at Ivan Kupala in the forest, on the lake shore, in an interview with pilgrims and pilgrims of different faiths who converge there that night from all over Russia.Zinaida Gippius told about this trip in the essay „The Bright Lake” (New way, 1904. №1-2).
Merezhkovsky’s largest literary and critical work „L. Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky” was published in the journal „World of Art” in 1900-1902. (a separate edition in two volumes – St. Petersburg, 1901-1902). N. Berdyaev believed that it was through Tolstoy and Dostoevsky that he discovered the Merezhkovsky end of the great Russian literature, its inevitable transition to a new religious consciousness and a new religious action (the end of the second volume of Merezhkovsky’s book).
In the literary and aesthetic circle formed around the Merezhkovsky, and on the „Sundays” of V. Rozanov, whose constant visitors were Merezhkovsky, N. Berdyaev, A. Remizov, L. Bakst, K. Somov, S. Diaghilev, Vyach. Ivanov, the idea to organize a society was born to expand „home disputes” about aesthetics and religion and to promote rapprochement and understanding of intelligentsia and clergy. There was nothing to think about opening public meetings. At least to achieve permission in private, in the form of private „meetings”.
With these thoughts, October 8, 1901. to the „strict and inaccessible” Procurator of the Synod KP Pobedonostsev five founding members of the „Religious and Philosophical Assemblies in St. Petersburg” went: D.S. Merezhkovsky, V.V.Rozanov, D.V.Filosofov, VS Mirolubov and VA Ternavtsev. In the evening of the same day, they visited Metropolitan St. Petersburg Anthony. The promise to resolve the Assembly-with a strict choice and only for „members” -was received.
The first meeting of the Assembly was held on November 29 in the Hall of the Geographical Society near the Chernyshev Bridge. Zinaida Gippius in this regard notes: „The connivance of the chief prosecutor, the silent promise to endure the Assembly” for now. ” Metropolitan Anthony blessed the rector of the Theological Academy of Sergiy Finlyandsky (who in 1943 became patriarch) to be chairman.He delivered an introductory speech with a promise of sincerity and goodwill on the part of the church and with an appeal to the same from the „completely opposite side,” that is, the founding intelligentsia.”Yes, it truly was two different worlds,” recalled Z. Gippius. Skills, customs, even the language itself, everything was different, as from a different culture. All black and white clergy, professors and even students of the Theological Academy were allowed to participate. The meetings were closed, and for the presence of the public the permission of the spiritual authorities was required every time.
Reports on the meetings of the Religious and Philosophical Meetings were published in the journal Novy Put. Pobedonostsev looked at these publications and closed on April 5, 1903. Meetings. Z. Gippius explains: „Fathers” have long been worried. No „merger” of the intelligentsia with the church took place, but only „secular” increasingly pripiruli them to the wall, piled up. Archimandrite Mikhail was discharged to the aid, famous for his speech and familiarity with „secular” philosophy. But after two meetings, Michael obviously went over to the side of the intelligentsia, and instead of an assistant, the bishops found in him a new inquirer, and sometimes even a „prosecutor.”
After the revolution of 1905, instead of the closed Religious and Philosophical Assembly on the initiative of Merezhkovsky and his friends in 1907, A populous religious and philosophical society was opened, very different from the former, semi-underground. It was one of the ordinary intelligentsia societies that were emerging at that time.
Years passed, and Merezhkovsky’s relations with old friends became more and more tense. In the years of religious and philosophical meetings, V. Rozanov spoke of him as a man who does not see any interest, content, content in any people, except Russian. Rozanov highly valued and Merezhkovsky’s work on Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, which was attacked by NK Mikhailovsky. Rozanov believed that we had „a completely new phenomenon in our criticism: objective criticism instead of the subjective, the analysis of the writer, and not the confession of oneself” (The World of Art., 1903. No. 2. Chronicle, p. 16). At the same time, Rozanov sympathized and agreed with Merezhkovsky in criticizing Tolstoy’s religious teaching: „Merezhkovsky threw himself on Tolstoy like a barbarian hell, with sincere sincerity and great artistic power.” He clung to „non-doing,” „not marrying” , the alleged „resurrection” and all the boredom and dryness of Tolstoy in recent years. „
No less flattering was Rozanov and Merezhkovsky’s book Gogol and the Devil, published in 1906, which is based on such an unscientific thought: „Gogol has been catching his life all his life.” In Merezhkovsky’s work, the critic saw an attempt to penetrate into the psychology of the writer’s creativity, into the „metaphysical being of Gogol’s psychic life,” because before that, in the writings of PA Kulish, N. Tikhonravov, VI Shenrok, „we had some the Bubbling near Gogol: collecting rags that were left after the great man. „
In turn, N. Berdyaev noted that the great influence on Merezhkovsky was rendered by Rozanov, his staging of religious themes, his criticism of Christianity. „No matter how hostile Merezhkovsky Rozanov is now,” Berdyaev wrote in 1916, „but to this day he can not free himself from the charisma of Rozanov’s religion of the flesh, and he is impressed by those immediate Rozanov’s world-views that he does not have himself.”
The so-called „new religious consciousness,” advocated by Merezhkovsky, was formed from two trends: from what Dostoevsky in his Pushkin speech called „Russian world wanderings” and from a second, more practical source that was closer to Rozanov than to Merezhkovsky -from the needs and needs of a person’s family life. Historical Christianity, Merezhkovsky argued, in every possible way emphasized the spiritual principle, which led to the denial of the sanctity of the flesh, the mystical unity of spirit and flesh in their equivalence.
World history passes, according to Merezhkovsky, as a triune process. Paganism with its cult of flesh is replaced by the antithesis-church Christianity (as opposed to the true teachings of Christ) with its mortification of the flesh and asceticism. Historical Christianity has exhausted itself, and the kingdom of the „Third Testament”, the union of flesh and spirit, opens before us.
The idea of the „Third Testament” was expressed as early as the 12th century by the Italian monk Joachim Florsky, the ideological predecessor of Francis of Assisi. Its essence boils down to the following. The fate of the world goes through three main stages: God the Father, the Creator of the Old Testament, when life develops according to the law „lord and slave”; the period of the Son of God’s Christ (the relationship „father and child”), which continues to this day; in the future will open the „Third Testament” -The Kingdom of the Spirit, when life will pass in love and intimacy. True religion will be established as a result of the fusion of flesh and spirit, a new religious age will begin in the life of mankind.
Mesozhkovsky’s epistemology is associated with this teaching, recognizing three varieties of cognition. Empirical knowledge serves science and is based on a spatio-temporal view of the world. Metaphysical cognition is defined as a logical ability to act in accordance with certain laws, constructed by a limited human mind. Finally, mystical cognition comes from an intuitive, non-rational awareness of certain sub-empirical truths, such as the Christian dogmas of faith.
- Berdyaev, who knew Merezhkovsky well, noted that he had all left culture and literature.”He lives in literary reflections of religious themes, can not think about religion and write about it differently, as from literary phenomena, from writers.” Merezhkovsky can not write directly about life, he can not even think. „He is a writer to the core, more than anyone else. „
A similar assessment is given to Merezhkovsky and his former friend Rozanov. „They sat, sat in one nest and-quarreled,” – so Rozanov wrote about Merezhkovsky and N.Minsk, who, sitting in Paris, sent articles to St. Petersburg newspapers against each other. The same can be said about the relations between Merezhkovsky and Rozanov, who until recently in the Hall of the Geographical Society near the Chernyshev Bridge were engaged and sat at the same table of Religious and Philosophical Assemblies.
Frankly negative characteristic Merezhkovsky gave Rozanov in 1909g. in connection with his speech in the Religious-Philosophical Society on the theme of love and death: „Merezhkovsky is a thing constantly speaking, or rather a collection of coat and trousers, from which comes eternal noise .Whatever they give, no matter what they promise, even the kingdom He can not be silent in order to be able to speak more, every three years he completely changes, as if changing all his underwear, and in the next triennium refutes what he said in the previous one. „
This observation echoes the remark of A. Blok, who began his article about Merezhkovsky, published in the same year, with the recollection of Rozanov’s words about the trilogy „Christ and Antichrist”: „Do not listen to what he says, but look where he stands” . „This remark is very deep,” Blok added. „It often comes to mind when you read and re-read Merezhkovsky.”
Laughed at by journalists, newspaper reviewers and former friends, Merezhkovsky retired into books, into stubborn reading, and from his immense erudition, from the profound experience of many alien thoughts, his philosophy of the „new religious consciousness” and many of his books were born. As Rozanov said, he „always builds from other people’s material, but with a sense of native for himself.”
By 1909. the changes in the activity of the Religious-Philosophical Society, caused by Merezhkovsky, Filosofov and Zinaida Gippius, were determined. From the religious-philosophical Society turned into a literary one with „publicistic intonations.” The audience was going to listen about religion, but instead was present at the reduction of literary accounts, with the breakdown of literary ego. This caused a protest in the press of the old participants of the meetings, among them NA Berdyayev, BP Struve, VVRozanov, SLFrank, VATernavtsev, PPPertsov, objecting to the transformation of the Society into a kind of family circle without any public significance.
The final break occurred after the appearance in February 1909. Rozanov’s article „Tragic wit,” in which Blok’s words about Merezhkovsky are quoted: „Opening or rearranging his books, one can become confused, horrified, even indignant.” God, God, God, Christ, Christ, Christ, „- Positively there is no page without these Names, namely Names, not with a large, but with a huge letter written-so huge that it all obscures everything, casts its cross-shaped shadow. „
Sharing the thought of Blok, Rozanov notes that for Merezhkovsky the whole world is only a huge fence in the desert, where, with capital letters for universal reading, one is inscribed: D. S. Merezhkovsky.And this renunciation of Merezhkovsky in Rozanov’s way ends sadly: „It remains for me to say goodbye, pushing the urn with the ashes of my friend to the furthest corner of my heart, though still moodily gloomy.” Now Rozanov directly calls Merezhkovsky „evil man” who searches for his writings „evil people”, as a pagan calls the Evil Spirit. „Merezhkovsky, stirring the light with a literary wand in the hearts of people, will do the same thing for the Evil Spirit, without the slightest understanding of Christianity.”
Listening to Merezhkovsky, who delivered a brilliant speech against the authors of the collection of „Milestones,” Rozanov thought: „My God, but this was all Dostoyevsky spoke, and not Merezhkovsky.” This Dostoevsky glistened, and Merezhkovsky was beside him … But Dostoevsky is now dead, but alive Merezhkovsky crept up, took his lethal weapon from his pocket and pierced … not a still dead man, but his spiritual and fiery children, his ardent disciples. „
In 1906 Merezhkovsky published the book „The Coming Ham” – about the coming revolution. And when, on the eve of the world war, a new revolutionary ferment began and the Russian land was divided into two abysses, however much Rozanov despised his „friend” Merezhkovsky, he still understood that he was with him on one side of the abyss. One property brought him closer to Merezhkovsky, Gippius and Filosofov: „And never, never, never will you embrace the pork, stupid snout of the revolution.”
In his articles „Types of religious thought in Russia,” printed in 1916. in the „Russian thought”, N. Berdyayev noted that Merezhkovsky from literature, from his native elements, always runs to the religious mysteries of life, predicts an inevitable transition to a new religious revelation, to the „apocalypse of world history.”
From 1906 to 1914, Merezhkovsky lived most of the time in Paris, occasionally dropping into Russia. In 1907 in Paris in French a collection of articles by Merezhkovsky, Gippius and Filosofov „The Tsar and the Revolution” was published. The following year in St. Petersburg there were collections of Merezhkovsky „In a quiet pool”, „Not peace, but a sword: Towards a future criticism of Christianity.” In the 1910’s. there was his „Collection of Poems, 1883-1910” and a collection of articles „Sick Russia”. In the years 1911-1912. the first „Complete Works” was printed in 17 volumes. However, the most complete collection of works of the pre-revolutionary period is published in Moscow in 1914. in 24 volumes, after which, before emigration, the writer published several books in Petrograd: „It was and will be: The Diary, 1910-1914” (1915), „Two Secrets of Russian Poetry: Nekrasov and Tyutchev” (1915), „Non-Military Diary: 1914- 1916 „(1917).
The second Merezhkovsky trilogy is called „The Kingdom of Evil” and is devoted to the destinies of Russia. It is a drama for reading „Paul I” (1908), novels „Alexander I” (published in „Russian thought” in 1911-1912, a separate edition in 1913, reissued in Berlin in 1925) and „December 14” (1918, reissued in Paris in 1921).
When the February Revolution was accomplished, the Merezhkovskys were in Petrograd and sincerely welcomed the changes taking place. At the beginning of World War II, they for religious reasons negatively treated the war as a desecration of humanity. However, by 1917, they came to the conclusion that only an „honest revolution” could end the war. Like other symbolists, the Merezhkovsky saw in the revolution a great spiritual shock, designed to purify a person and create a new world of spiritual freedom. They believed that the establishment of democracy will enable the flowering of ideas of freedom (including religious freedom) in the face of the law.
Merezhkovsky did not belong to any of the political parties, but had almost everything, except for the Social-Democratic, which was internally alien to him. The Provisional Government was perceived by the Merezhkovsky and their friends as their own and close to them. They lived on Sergievskaya Street next to the Tauride Palace and spent the whole of 1917 „following the events by the minute.”
The coup d’etat on October 25 produced a sobering impression on Merezhkovsky. In Russia came, in his words, „the kingdom of Antichrist.” Individual freedoms were destroyed, and Merezhkovsky found themselves in the „power of darkness.”
The last point of the struggle was the Constituent Assembly, assembled in the Tauride Palace. Merezhkovsky lifted the curtains and peered into the white haze of the garden, trying to distinguish the round dome of the Palace … „They’re there … They’re still sitting there … What’s up there?” Only in the morning the Bolshevik sailor Zheleznyak (known for demanding the „million” heads of the bourgeoisie at rallies) dispersed the Assembly. „How many farther shots,” writes Z. Gippius in his Diary, „murders, deaths-all the same.” Next is the fall, then the slow, then rapid, agony of the revolution, its death. „
Merezhkovsky wrote about his tragic path from February to October: „How fragrant our February and March are, sunny-snowy, snow-white, blue, as if unearthly, the mountains! In these first days or only hours, moments, what beauty in the faces of the people, where are they now? Look at the crowds of October: they do not have a face … Yes, it’s not ugliness, but the absence of a face, that’s what’s worse in them … Going through Petersburg streets and peering into faces, you’ll immediately find out: here is a communist. predatory satiety, not brutal stupidity-the main thing in this face, but boredom, transcendentI’m bored „earthly paradise”, „the kingdom of the Antichrist. ‘”
In Petrograd in 1919 there was a famine. Merezhkovsky sold everything they could-dresses, furniture, utensils, books-and foresaw that there would be nothing to sell soon. „When the pound of bread is 300 rubles, and a pound of oil-3000, there will not be enough money, and starving death looks into the eyes,” Merezhkovsky writes in the Address Book. And he describes the mass shootings of the intelligentsia, noblemen, officers. Rumors circulated in the city that in the marketplace, under the guise of veal, the meat of those who had been shot was sold. „And in Europe they are wondering,” Merezhkovsky continues, „the gradual evolution from the human meat grinder to freedom, equality and brotherhood is possible or impossible.”
Characterizing the leaders of the revolution who launched this „bloody meat grinder,” Merezhkovsky maintained: „Among the Russian communists, not only villains, but also good, honest, clean people, almost” holy. „They are the most terrible. villains, smells of them „Chinese meat” „(the so-called meat was shot, sold in the markets by the Chinese).
Merezhkovsky hoped to overthrow the Bolshevik power when Yudenich approached Petrograd. Having learned about the defeat of Kolchak in Siberia and Denikin in the south, they decided to flee Russia.The researcher of life and creativity of Merezhkovsky Temir Pakhmuss writes about this: „Their role in the cultural life of the capital and the influence on the progressive part of the capital’s intelligentsia have been exhausted.” Without wanting to adapt to the Bolshevik regime, they decided to seek in Europe that freedom that was trampled in their homeland ” 4 .
Merezhkovsky filed an application to the Petrograd Soviet with a request to allow „by illness” to go abroad. The answer was: „Do not let go of it in any case,” and he notes: „With unlimited power over 150 million slaves, these people are afraid of one extra free voice in Europe. They will be tortured, killed, but not released.”
In the beginning of December 1919. Merezhkovsky was offered to deliver a speech on the anniversary of the Decembrist uprising at a solemn celebration in the White Hall of the Winter Palace. „I should glorify the martyrs of Russian freedom in the face of the murderers.” If those five hung up were resurrected, they would be hanged again, under Lenin, just as under Nicholas I. ” He would never forgive his refusal to speak.
In the silence of the cold and sleepless nights of Petrograd, the Merezhkovsky discussed two equally strange possibilities: „Life in Russia is a physical or spiritual dying, decay, and escape-almost suicide-descent from the prison window from a vertiginous height to towels bound … Which is better, perish with all or be saved alone? „
At first they wanted to escape through Finland, then through Lithuania and, finally, decided through Poland. Three times everything was ready and only at the last minute was broken. „Lately many people knew about our intention,” writes Merezhkovsky, „the rumors went around the city, and we lived under the eternal fear of denunciation.” In the end, through humiliation and deception, it was possible to get a piece of paper to leave Petrograd-Mandate for reading educational lectures in the Red Army units.
And then on a frosty night on December 24, 1919. Merezhkovsky couple, their friend Dmitry Vladimirovich Filosofov and Vladimir Zlobin, young secretary Zinaida Gippius, left Petrograd. Merezhkovsky recalled: „We went to the Tsarskoye Selo station on the muddy pink December evening, on the extinct streets with snowdrifts, on two cabs hired for 2000 rubles, at the station-the last meeting with speeches of the Communists, a concert of opera singers and the melancholy singing of the International” . The car was littered with trunks and sacks. In the compartment for four there were fourteen people and such air that Gippius became ill.
Three days’ journey to Bobruisk was, according to Merezhkovsky, a complete delirium . „The raids are extreme, interrogations, searches, arrests, drunkenness, songs, swearing, arguing, almost fights for places, stuffiness, darkness, stink, the feeling of insects crawling along the body …” After the frontline town, a Latvian cabby drove deaf forest roads and virgin lands The snowfall in the village is the last point closest to the Polish front. The Latvian transferred the fugitives to the Pole-smuggler, who ferried people across the front. He went on reconnaissance and, returning late at night, announced that it was dangerous to go: on the roads of the outpost. But it was dangerous to wait: around the place, raids and searches. Having conferred, the fugitives decided to go.
When the last hut at the exit was over, where the outpost could have been, the cabman turned fearfully to her head. „We also looked at it,” continues Merezhkovsky, continuing the story. „Will there be a flame in the dark windows, people with rifles will not jump out of the gate?” We knew that if we get caught, it’s better to shoot instantly than slow torture with mockery. , have passed! ” Soon the Polish legionary let them through the Polish front line, and the fugitives moved over the reserved line that separated „that world from this”.
The literary reputation of Merezhkovsky attracted attention and aroused the interest of the Polish gentry and Russian emigrants in Minsk, where they fell. Merezhkovsky lectured, wrote political articles against Bolshevism in the newspaper „Minsk Courier”. In the middle of February 1920. they moved to Warsaw and immersed themselves in the anticommunist activities of the Russian Committee in Poland.Gippius became the editor of the literary department of the newspaper „Svoboda”, which was published in Warsaw.
According to Merezhkovsky, after the catastrophe of the October coup in Russia, Poland became a country of „potential universality,” a country of messianism that could put an end to the enmity of the divided nations. Overcoming the long-standing mutual hatred, Poland and Russia, in the face of the general danger of Bolshevism, must create an alliance of fraternal peoples united by love for all of humanity. Merezhkovsky , Gippius and the Philosophers wrote an appeal to the Russian emigration and to the Russians in Russia, explaining the war in alliance with Poland and calling for joining these forces.
However, the peace concluded by Poland in October 1920. with Soviet Russia, put an end to the so-called „Russian cause” in Warsaw. Merezhkovsky accused the Pilsudski government and other European countries of having „missed the moment” to fulfill their great mission and did not recognize the danger to the future that the Bolshevik system represents. On October 20 Merezhkovsky left Poland and after a brief stop in Wiesbaden arrived in November 1920 in Paris.
Settled in Paris, where they have long had their own apartment, Merezhkovsky resumed their acquaintance with emissaries KD Balmont, IA Bunin, NA Berdyaev, AI Kuprin, NMMinskiy, C .L.Frank, L.Shestov, ISShmelev, AVKartashev, the former chairman of the Religious-Philosophical Society. During the trip in the 30s, meetings and discussions with Viacheslav Ivanov resumed in Italy.
16 December 1920. Merezhkovsky read the first lecture „Bolshevism, Europe and Russia” in which he considered the triple lie of the Bolsheviks: „peace, bread, freedom,” which in fact meant: „war, hunger, slavery.”
In 1921 the in Munich, published a book of four authors (Merezhkovsky, Gippius, Philosophers, Zlobin) „The Kingdom of the Antichrist” -programmed speech in the press after the flight from the Soviet Union, full of terrible impressions of the cruelties of life in Bolshevik Petrograd.
In 1926 the Merezhkovsky organized in Paris a literary and philosophical society „The Green Lamp”, which was headed by Georgi Ivanov, and by the secretary V. Zlobin. As Y.Terapiano recalled, one of the permanent participants in the meetings of the „Green Lamp”, Merezhkovsky decided to create something like an „incubator of ideas”, a kind of secret society where everyone would be linked („in conspiracy”) with respect to the most important issues. The society played a prominent role in the intellectual life of the first emigration and for a number of years collected the best representatives of the Russian foreign intelligentsia.
The first meeting of the „Green Lamp” was held on February 5, 1927. in the building of the Russian Trade and Industrial Union in Paris. In his opening remarks, Khodasevich recalled the meetings of the „Green Lamp” at the beginning of the 19th century, in which young Pushkin took part. „The flame of our Lamp shines through a green lampshade, or rather, through the green color of hope,” Merezhkovsky said in his speech. The first reports were read: M.O. Tsetlin „On Literary Criticism”, Zinaida Gippius „Russian Literature in Exile”, I. I. Bunakov-Fondaminsky „The Russian Intelligentsia as a Spiritual Order,” G.Adamovich „Is there a purpose for poetry? „. The verbatim records of the first five collections are published in the journal „Novyi Ship”, founded by Z. Gippius. However, in view of the difficulties encountered in verifying the verbatim text and in order not to tie the speakers at the meetings, it was decided to stop printing the verbatim records.
The meetings of the „Green Lamp” were only available to a few. For each meeting on the list were invited writers, philosophers, journalists, and at the entrance to the secretary VA Zlobin charged each with a small fee to cover the costs of hiring the hall. As Yu. Terapiano recalls , at about nine o’clock in the evening the hall was usually full. IABunin and his wife, BK Zaitsev, MAAldanov, AM Remizov, VFKhodasevich, NAAffffi and others took a place in the first row. Often, the editors of the journal Sovremennye zapiski MVVishnyak, VVRudnev and II.Bunakov-Fondaminsky often visited the Green Lamp, IP Demidov and S.I. Talin, from the „Renaissance” SK Makovsky. Participants of the debate were philosophers N. Berdyayev, K. Mochulsky, G. Fedotov, L. Shestov.
The audience of the first years of the „Green Lamp” was very attentive and sensitive and, according to the memoirs of contemporaries, every evening, then, caused long discussions of those present. After the debate and the answers of the reporters, Merezhkovsky sometimes also uttered the final word on the report. Contemporaries told how powerful and dangerous the opponent was Merezhkovsky, who had a rare oratorical talent and who was able to throw in time the most damning for the opponent’s remarks. He spoke as if he were thinking aloud in a quiet, all-hearing voice, almost without making gestures.
Particularly close friends of Merezhkovsky gathered at their homes on „Sundays”, where religious and philosophical questions were discussed. As before the revolution, and during the period of emigration, there were many legends about Merezhkovsky’s religious views. „Back in St. Petersburg,” Merezhkovsky once said on one of his „Sundays”, when the meetings of the „Religious-Philosophical Society” began, a reviewer announced that we are all engaged in „God-seeking” there, although I, and other participants in these meetings did not need any „god-searching”. ” However, since then the term „God-seeking” has firmly established itself in Marxist criticism, which has always advocated the Christian orientation of Russian literature.
The activities of the „Green Lamp”, historical and philosophical novels created by Merezhkovsky in emigration are evidence of a new creative upsurge of the writer, who entered the most mature and, perhaps, the most aesthetically significant phase of his development. His new novels appear : The Birth of the Gods, Tutankamon on Crete (originally in The Contemporary Notes, 1924, No. 21 and 22, a separate edition in Prague in 1925), The Messiah (in Contemporary Notes in 1926, 1927, a separate edition in Paris in 1928). The central philosophical work of this time was the book „Jesus Unknown” (Belgrade, 1932), which completed the trilogy about the ways of saving humanity. The first part was published in Prague in 1925. under the title „The Mystery of Three: Egypt and Babylon,” and the second in Berlin in 1930.- „The Mystery of the West: Atlantis-Europe.”
The figure „three” played an exceptional role in the philosophy of history and culture of Merezhkovsky. He often grouped his works in a trilogy or gave them a three-part character. Defining the genre of the third part of this trilogy, the book „Jesus
Unknown, philosopher B.Vysheslavtsev describes this work as „not literature, not dogmatic theology, not religious-philosophical reasoning, but intuitive comprehension of the hidden meaning, guessing the mysterious” symbol „of faith, reading the metaphysical cipher, unraveling the evangelical parables.”
Georgi Adamovich wrote about the „cold weather” coming from the whole work of Merezhkovsky and explained it with abstractness and „lifelessness” as the most characteristic features of the writer. Even more sharply appreciated Merezhkovsky in his lecture at the Berlin Russian Scientific Institute in 1934. Ilya Ilyin, who believed that he was an artist of external scenery, and not an artist of the soul: „The soul of the hero is for him a bag, which he pours on, pours everything that he, Merezhkovsky, needs at the moment and is convenient. digests everything as he knows. „
In September 1928 Merezhkovsky took part in the First Congress of Russian Emigre Writers, organized in Belgrade by the King of Yugoslavia Alexander I. Merezhkovsky and Gippius performed in Belgrade with public lectures organized by the Yugoslav Academy, and the government created a publishing commission under the Serbian Academy of Sciences, which began to produce the „Russian Library” , which included the works of Russian writers in emigration, including Bunin, Merezhkovsky, Gippius, Kuprin, Remizov, Shmelev, Balmont, Severyanin, and others.
Merezhkovsky has long been known as a master of the genre of the biographical novel. During the years of emigration, he created two more books of this kind: „Napoleon” (Belgrade, 1929) and „Dante” (Brussels, 1939). The novel about Napoleon goes back to Merezhkovsky’s controversy with L. Tolstoy, which was voiced in the first years of the 20th century in the book „L. Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.”Merezhkovsky opposed the dethronement, the landing of Napoleon in the novel „War and Peace”, where he appears „small, flat, vulgar, comic.” In 1913 he wrote an essay „St. Helena,” in which Napoleon is depicted as a combination of Apollonian and Dionysian principles.
In the novel about Napoleon, the French commander for Merezhkovsky is a „man from Atlantis,” „the last incarnation of the sun god, Apollo.” The ideas of the book about Napoleon come from the concept of the „Third Testament” preached by Merezhkovsky from St. Petersburg times. Atlantis is the end of the first humanity. Apocalypse is the end of the „Second Testament.” Napoleon, at one time, embodies both of them.
The philosophical meaning of the novel, its „metahistorical meaning” (M. Tsetlin) is determined by the reversal to the present, to what Russia was experiencing at that time. The book is written with an inescapable thought about the Russian revolution, about the catastrophe of 1917, after which the „demons of the revolution” established the Red Terror in the country. Merezhkovsky spoke about his historical works: „The majority believes that I am a historical novelist, and this is profoundly wrong, in the past I’m looking for the future … The present seems to me sometimes foreign. My homeland is the past and the future” (Link, 1925. March 16).
Among the religious philosophical works written by Merezhkovsky in the years of emigration are three small studies: „Paul Augustine” (Berlin, 1936), „St. Francis of Assisi” (Berlin, 1938) and „Jeanne d’Arc and the Third Kingdom of the Spirit” (Berlin, 1938) under the general title „The Faces of the Saints from Jesus to Us.” Noting that Merezhkovsky’s approach to the figure of Francis of Assisi was not really historical, but philosophical, P. Bicilli, one of the most profound philologists of the Russian diaspora, argued: „The author’s goal is to indicate the place of St. Francis not in the history of Europe but in the” eternal ” , „ideal” history „(Russian notes, 1938, No. 11. P. 199).
Posthumously in French, Merezhkovsky’s „Reformers” trilogy was published, which included books about Luther, Calvin and Pascal (1941-1942). Written shortly before the outbreak of World War II, this trilogy was published in Russian in New York in 1991. Finally, just before his death, Merezhkovsky completed his last trilogy about „Spanish mysteries”: „Spanish mystics: St. Teresa Jesus” (Revival, 1959). , No. 92 and No. 93), St. John of the Cross (New Journal, No. 64, No. 65, No. 65, 1962. No. 69), Little Therese (a separate edition in the USA in 1984).
In the 1940’s. Merezhkovsky moved to Biarritz in the south of France, and soon Paris was occupied by the Germans, all Russian magazines and newspapers are closed. Merezhkovsky always remained an opponent of all forms of totalitarianism. His philosophy of spiritual freedom as the foundation of the Kingdom of God on earth (the „Third Testament”) made it impossible for him to cooperate with both Bolshevism and nudity. He hoped for the mutual destruction of these two evils.
In the radio battles „Bolshevism and mankind”, uttered after Hitler’s attack on the USSR, Merezhkovsky remained true to himself and repeated the same thing that he had written about Bolshevism since 1920 as an absolute evil and the necessity of the Crusade against him, to which he once called Pilsudski and „Bolshevism will never change its nature, as a polygon will never become a circle, although it is possible to increase the number of its sides to infinity … The main reason for this invariability of Bolshevism lies in the fact that it was never national It has always been an international phenomenon, with the first day of its inception Russia, like any country, has been and continues to Bolshevism means to achieve the ultimate goal of capture world domination. ” It is no accident that Gippius finished his book on Merezhkovskii with the words that Merezhkovsky and she were „in the beginning, and in the end, and always” for intervention. „
The writer believed that the spiritual principle, culture and intelligence, systematically destroyed by the Bolsheviks, would return to Russia. He was convinced that it was precisely Russia plunged into blood that would be spiritually reborn and begin „the salvation of the world” that other nations would complete.
Social-Democratic, and then Soviet criticism, always disapproved of Merezhkovsky as a „reactionary from beginning to end” (an article in the Literary Encyclopedia). The creative legacy of the writer was represented in a caricature. This continued from the time of L. Trotsky’s article „Merezhkovsky” (1911), which later became part of his program book „Literature and Revolution” (1923), to the recent textbooks and courses of Russian literature of the 20th century.
In 1928 shortly before returning to the USSR, M. Gorky wrote: „Dmitry Merezhkovsky, a well-known Christian worshiper, a little man whose literary activity is very similar to the typewriter’s work: the font is read easily, but soulless, and it is boring to read it” (Pravda, 1928. 11 May) . This Gorky tradition of non-recognition of the artistic significance of Merezhkovsky’s legacy lasted for many decades, and only now the fog of Soviet literary criticism begins to dissipate.
A hundred years have passed since the first responses to Merezhkovsky’s books appeared. His reputation as a writer then rose to the level of a living classic, then fell catastrophically. Merezhkovsky’s historical significance is determined by the fact that he reflected the fluctuations of the thoughts and feelings of the Russian intelligentsia before, during and after the revolution. The intelligentsia that contributed to the unleashing of the revolution, and letting out of the bottle of „The Coming Ham”, the first from him and suffered. Such self-sacrifice „in the name of the idea” is the most significant feature of the Russian intelligentsia of the early twentieth century. And the artist painted historical processes with a constant thought about the fate of Russia in our time.