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The house with a dog

The scale of the anniversary celebration is comparable with Pushkin: Turgenev – one of the main newsmakers in the media; across the country open its exhibition, sculpture, “memorial space”; professionals and Amateurs take part in Turgenev scientific conferences, quizzes and “folk videokniga”.

Ivan Turgenev the writer is clear. But remains not solved. Photo: Getty Images

Figure Turgenev always easily mastered, and “high/official art” and pop culture: he visited the status of pioneer of new social actors, and singer noble nest “protraveller,” the favorite writer of Lenin, and master stylist. But what is Turgenev now? “Keeper of the traditions of Pushkin”? Exemplary “conservative liberal”? “Russian European”? One of the very few wholly “convertible” Russian writers? The author of almost the official anthem of the Russian language and – what else? The story about the drowned dog? The tale of first love? Novel about the nihilists?

About what it means for us Turgenev today – and about the adventures of the image of Turgenev during the writer’s lifetime and after death, – the “RG” talked with two modern biographers of the writer – Director of GIRLI named after V. I. dal Dmitry Bak and writer Igor Werbowy. Both soon out of the book is devoted to Turgenev.

How to explain the scale of the current “Turgenev boom” in Russia? Let me play the role of nihilist, for whom Turgenev – only long-departed writer whose relevance for people in 2018. How is it that the people who count refinancing interest rate or revise the agreements with trump, they have in mind the style of Turgenev? There is some underlying reason, maybe political?

Igor Firebow: I think they use the case, at least the word “Mumu”. And the “extra man” – a wonderful term for “optimization of personnel” and downsizing, for example. So…

Dmitry Bak: In my opinion, no false hype around the anniversary of Turgenev no. On the contrary, I in our literary anniversary Affairs – not only Turgenev – not enough serious level of conversation, discussion. In addition to the standard statement of the greatness and uniqueness that really means “hero of the day” for contemporary literature and culture? What sense, they are open, continue to live and evolve?

What “political” is, in the figure of this writer?

Dmitry Bak: I Think the explanation of “hype” – not in politics, and traditions. Not every anniversary can have a profound impact. “Latitude” is a truly universal mass, if you will, of folk popularity, fame, supported by the inclusion in the school curriculum. Plus – the ability to rank jubilee of world writers: such in our literature very little. According to the most strict account of all three – Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Chekhov. With a more open approach in the “short-list” will get two or three more classics, including, of course, Ivan Turgenev.

Igor Firebow: the Writer is large – and therefore politicized. And what sense to politicize the writer’s small and gray? A large figure always carries a big meaning – and what all of us is often not enough, if not sense? It is reasonable to look for them in the great writers, even using the anniversary as an occasion. Why? Well, it was the 200th anniversary of Pushkin is also celebrated widely. That the anniversary of Turgenev’s different somehow special in a big way – I think it is not. At the time, deputies from the Communist party, as I recall, it was noisy: do we not miss the anniversary of Turgenev, do not forget? They somehow tried to convince you that you’ll be presented a plan on preparation for the anniversary.

There is a literary Canon, the writer’s “iconostasis” – which is posted in the school office literature.The thing is that actually it is not static, is constantly being revised. Chernyshevsky was in this Canon, and then he was kicked out of there. Bitter at some point exposed – now they returned. But “influence” by Turgenev over the years, the feeling increases – right? Why?

Igor Firebow: Notice only: in life, and immediately after the death of Turgenev said that eternity was not his destiny, will forget soon. But that’s all.

Nowadays there is a writer with a similar fate – oddly enough, this is Victor Pelevin. The same desire every two to three years to publish the recipe social situation

Dmitry Bak: the Literary Canon – the phenomenon is dynamic. There are objective factors in the formation of the Canon: the promotion of the criticism, the inclusion in the school curriculum, the creation of museums, finally, the support of the state ideology. Turgenev’s canonization began in the pre-Soviet period and not suffered in our century. All the matter in the notorious label of “Russian Europeans”, which clung to the image of Turgenev is so strong that needs critical analysis. Yes, in his lifetime, Turgenev Genesis Europe came to the court such a familiar and understandable Russian writer – transparent habits and attitudes, living in Baden and Paris, 1870- eating for lunch, along with local luminaries – Flaubert and Goncourt, and Zola Doda. But than further away into the past the era of the lifetime work of Turgenev, the clearer it changed the European view of literary “russkost”. The most powerful of the Hyperborean messengers of the soul became Dostoevsky, Tolstoy. Precisely because of their opaque silhouettes began to Brezice sometimes hostile, but a genuine “light from the East”, to the detriment of and in opposition to domesticated family Viardot version of harmonious and predictable exotic a La Russe.

Igor Firebow: During the life of Turgenev was no less and perhaps even more popular in Europe than Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. And by the way, greatly contributed to their popularity – at least that fussed about translations of their books into foreign languages. After Turgenev’s death everything had changed – he seemed to be moved in the shadow of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. But it goes in waves – in the early twentieth century again a surge of interest in Turgenev. He continues to influence – really influence – the literature, not only Russian.

That is Turgenev important primarily as a medium, right? Signal the rest of the world that Russia still share liberal Western values and would continue to be a participant in the dialogue, not conflict? Do I understand correctly that if literature is an asset that can be converted into political dividends, Turgenev play as such a European patriot, the Westerner-Slavophile? And to you conditionally, “Smoke” and “notes of hunter”.

Dmitry Bak: Can be formulated more broadly: we share not only the “liberal” values, but acknowledge the possibility of the existence of common values as such. He wrote Turgenev about the “Noble nest”: I say, incorrigible Westerner, but made the Slavophile laveretskogo to break Westerner Panshin at all points. Turgenev, oddly enough, most of all explains the Russian soul. Why? That is because no one is able to combine the extremes of the two views of Russia and Russians, prevailing since the time of the publication of the famous “Philosophical letter”.

Igor Firebow: Turgenev is always ambivalent and contradictory. It has a little of everything. To the extent patriot, to the best European in the measure or protested – Slavophile. Nothing is his fault – he’s always suffered with his ambivalence and doubts. Life is too ambivalent and contradictory. A lovely couple at all times, I think.

Dmitry Bak: we Can say that Turgenev is the representative of a kind of “literary diplomacy.” “Diplomatic”, the momentary value of Turgenev’s cultural work is very important. Thanks to his efforts, East and West Eurasian literary continent for the first time caught the focus of the eyes of each other, a Pact of intent. In international politics and diplomacy, there are two beginning. One – conventions, treaties, pacts, the desire to find a common for the very different national traditions. The other’s sovereignty and national interest, the need to uphold the boundaries of identity. For example, Dostoevsky, and Solzhenitsyn close second beginning. Turgenev – a bright example of the first. Modern world is multipolar, it is extremely difficult adequate contact between States, ethnic and religious identities – that is why Turgenev, cultural and diplomatic practice extremely popular.

Igor Firebowassumed: he is a Westerner and a liberal – and he himself insisted on it. But all the time was out of this stencil. Typically, the first reaction to any event was the most sincere, uncomplicated. Reacted childishly impulsive – then looked at the views of colleagues on progressive “party” and corrected himself. Before the Russian-Turkish war protested the machinations of the British in the Balkans so that night on the train, wrote poetry pamphlet against the British Queen – “Croquet in Windsor”. But not published. Because he’s still in Europe to go back. There is about a pamphlet he tries not to remember – and in the conversations careful.

Strangely, however, the Balkan war, the Slavophiles, croquet at Windsor, where we – where it all. Here’s the truth: as a singer – well or “impartial researcher” – an interesting now Turgenev? In addition to the “music of language” and era details, what information can be extracted from his texts today?

Igor Firebow: Turgenev, say, gives his books “social fashion” triggers in everyday life “nihilists”, “superfluous men” and “Turgenev’s girls”. But for me he still is when he is immersed – is the singer of the painful world of man. That endless suffering, from life and from conscience. Which always gnaws. Much of it would have to solve using the methods of psychiatric. What he wrote – centered after all, he himself, on his thoughts, his childhood, his world. Maneuvered, cunning, changed only in appearance. Inside always is a lump of suffering. In the manuscript of the novel “virgin soil” suddenly wrote myself a little list: “with whom I had a fight”.

That is Turgenev is interesting to us as the rose – as Mayakovsky, Lemons – in this capacity?

Igor Firebow: Daffodils so don’t suffer. And Turgenev was able to turn his life into a nightmare. So that and the dreams, only a nightmare. It sounds trite – “trauma of childhood” – but something happened. In the history of his family full of white spots. In the history of his youth, when the family was terrible for the child event: parents on the verge of a nervous breakdown, something strange, what then brought the Turgenev story “First love” – where the young man caught his father with Princess Catherine Shakhovskaya (well, Zinaida in the story). Not only the “First love” – he’s just all life returns to the mysteries of childhood. In the sinister story “the Dream” is looking for some kind of shadow of his father. And so to the last breath. What happened to him, how it had all turned over in his mind, knowing, of course, impossible. But it is awfully curious.

Curious biographer, okay. But why the rest of us, needs two hundred years after his birth to remember him with kind words?

Igor Firebow: Because he’s a big, large, great. And talk to us about what we do not understand. With him it is easier. He knows that the answers to the questions no, he’s a fatalist. But if you have no one to talk to people – you’ll go crazy. Turgenev need to have someone to talk heart to heart. Oddly enough, I began to feel that way. It is possible endlessly to discover something – like in itself. He even terribly angry – but then stop and the same thing can annoy us in ourselves. Reader he, oddly enough, is close – just their human weaknesses. People want to appear strong – and in fact all weak and defenseless. The idea is simple enough, of course. But it takes courage to be able to admit it to myself…

And we should be interested in his private life, conventionally, the relationship with Viardot?


Picture of Nadia Rusheva “Turgenev listens to Pauline Viardot”. Photo: RIA Novosti

Igor Firebow: it just won’t go away. Not because Viardot – fact of his biography, but above all because he himself invented. And in fact, in this way, living in the mind of Turgenev, mixed Viardot and the same Princess Shakhovskaya, and the woman Lusha that first took him by the hair and said, “Come with me”. It’s such a complex way, Viardot, and many-armed Shiva(th) and arms(th).

Just “sex & public relations” – this is what the audience often reduces all puzzles of one or another great man. It seems like all this explains: why, why? – Yes, because in fact he was obsessed with Viardot.

Igor Verbov: He is obsessed with his idea. Your imagination if you want. Family Viardot herself did not understand, they are all just characters in his imagination. Just that’s his story, is his will: for he commanded. Like the dad in “First love” from Shakhovskaya: the whip. Convoluted – but it does in my head Turgenev.

As a schoolboy now tell about a man who had five thousand serfs, slaves? It’s very strange, unimaginable, if not to understand the historical context. How to explain that Turgenev literature was not only stringing letters, but also a social practice?

Dmitry Bak: Russian writer of literature is entirely social practice, involving the overcoming of literary output beyond – remember the late Gogol, Tolstoy, Turgenev… Here is also original, it tends to stay within the literature, to be and appear to be solely an artist, a painter. Each of the ideologists and readers of Turgenev takes his: yeah, writing about the revolutionaries, the nihilists, the populists – you mean “our”!.. No, I’m not yours, not anybody’s, I am pure artist, like meets Turgenev. All these social types “namozolil eyes I like mushrooms and the leaves in the forest”, so I sketched them, but more – no, no! Turgenev observes the “aesthetic barrier”, the ban on the unity of words and deeds. This puts him on the background of other classics in a risky position, but on the other hand, protects literature from the danger of turning into a straight ideology, the basis for rash action…

What is it like to be a biographer of Turgenev? When you started your works, that you intended to say to your readers? Why have you decided that now, in 2018, is it necessary?

Turgenev spoke, giving his books the “social fashion” triggers in everyday life “nihilists”, “superfluous men” and “Turgenev’s girls”.

Igor Firebow: I as a biographer of Andrei Voznesensky was curious about how weird rhyme times in our history. What’s the pattern? The sixtieth years of the twentieth century, strangely enough, suddenly intersect with the sixtieth century XIX. Then for the first time Tyutchev said the word “thaw”. Then Tsarevich, the future Alexander III, called the artist Vereshchagin “bastard” and “bastard” – not worse than Khrushchev said “abstractist at the Manege exhibition. But the more immersed in the biography of Turgenev, the more I think it’s like in the pool with his head. Quest, which is important, the search of unknown clues, and is there something there in the end – alluring and unknown.

Turgenev each generation assigns, gives him some identity. Whatever identity you have attributed to him? What he is, than he should be for 2018?

Dmitry Bak: Turgenev is an artist who, despite his veneer of neutrality, paradoxically, claims to be a social physician, diagnostician era. What is the “notes of hunter”? This reader’s school, developing the ability to notice the “little ones”, to see the ordinary people of Goethe and Sillero, as described in “Choir and Kalinite”. “The noble nest” is a novel about a man who knows how to come across dominant logic of self-care, about comfort. Buy this cream, go on this journey, live in the same Metropolitan area – “because you’re worth it”! Painfully familiar modern technology of finding yourself arranged and free. Nowadays there is a writer with a similar fate – oddly enough, this is Victor Pelevin. The same desire every two to three years to publish the recipe a social situation, medical history society, micropohone. As later will be Pelevin – Turgenev is over time get worse. Watershed – “Fathers and sons”: before the release of the novel in the light of the countless hither swarms of nihilists was invisible to others. But this is the last hit of the “pure artist” in the social ten. Then followed a much less successful hunting shots – whether the stories about the life of immigrants in the “Smoke” or going to the people in the “Novi”. Lost organic, there is a sweet and sour reaction of readers and critics…. Nov ‘ – that’s all past theoretical philosophizing. Turgenev no longer experiencing all the described as their own. Learned about “going to the people” – decided to write. He’s the man of the “thaw” of the sixties, outside of this time of liberty is not able to live like the sixties of the XX century Vysotsky, Ilyenkov, Shpalikov, Tarkovsky.

Publish, please, your “Turgenev minimum” – that he must – read- now! – is it necessary?

Igor Firebow: a Collection of short stories “notes of a hunter”. The novel “Fathers and children”. The story “First love”. The Comedy “a month in the country”. Although I’m sorry that I fall Turgenev’s “mysterious story,” they, I think, much more interesting than is commonly believed. For example, the story “Sleep.”

Dmitry Bak: If the list is not for fifth graders, in my Golden list would include several essays from “Notes of a hunter” – exactly: “yermolai and the Miller’s wife”, “My neighbor Radilov”. Of course, “the noble nest”, of course, “a month in the country”. However, the selection here the case is particularly complex, since there is no more versatile Russian writer than Turgenev.

When I someone said that they were going to interview Turgenev biography, all asked me to ask you about the “secret “Mumu” why Turgenev is primarily a “Mumu”, well, in the collective, national consciousness. What is the secret influence “Mumu” for readers? Why “Mumu” was “Turgenev meme”?

Dmitry Bak: There is an anecdote. Drowns Gerasim Mumu. And she said to him in a human voice: Oh, don’t swamp me, Gerasimos. He says: I’ve never seen a talking dog. She told him: I’ve never heard of a talking man. “Mumu” – the combination of two very important things. First, it is clear newsworthy – like a dog drowned. It is such a universal thing: compassion for the weak, pity in a clean, child-like way. And secondly, it is clear to anyone. What is common between “iliadou” and “Anna Karenina”? The woman from the man are gone. It is clear to everyone. “Mumu” is a perfect crosshair universal stories that are understandable to everyone.

Igor Firebow: Why cats in social networks are a great success? Any picture seals causes a storm of emotions? Apparently, here – feel sorry for the dog, drowned.