The Name of Pushkin House

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As it was already mentioned, Pushkinsky Dom began with Pushkin’s library. It had so to say attracted book rarities of the XVIII - XX centuries that in the course of time formed a collection unique in its way – the library. In the very beginning the library was located in the main building of the Academy of Sciences. It was formed as a collection of rarities. As early as in 1906 S.P.Kuvshinnikova presented to the library a copy of «The Duel» with A.P.Chekhov’s inscription: «From the disgraced, but invariably true author» («disgraced» is put here because Kuvshinnikova was the heroine of «The Fidget», that provoked a wave of rumors and re-trials concerning the «triangle»: S.P.Kuvshinnikova, her husband and the painter I.I.Levitan).

On occasion of A.S.Suvorin’s birthday Chekhov wrote one act to add to the play composed by this famous publisher, «Tatiana Repina». The manuscript was lost. Of the three copies only one survived till our times, and it is preserved in Pushkinsky Dom.

Since 1907 the library has been supplemented mostly with whole collections. One of the first was the collection of book lover and founder of the famous Museum of Theatre in Moscow A.A.Bakhrushin. This is a collection of magazine and journal clippings and the jubilee (1899) books devoted to Pushkin. The library was considerably enriched with books and periodicals (mainly dating to the first half of the XIX century), that came with that part of P.A.Efimov’s collection which Pushkinsky Dom managed to outbid.

In 1911 the Academy of Sciences purchased for Pushkinsky Dom P.A.Pletnev’s book collection comprising 3,000 volumes, and at the same time, according to the testament, it received 1,500 volumes-collection of writer I.L.Leontiev-Schegolev. In 1914 S.B.Vrevskaya donated the library of Trigorskoe village. These books, particularly the French ones, Pushkin had read, namely he turned to the famous work in many volumes by I.I.Golikov «The Deeds of Peter the Great».

During its formative period the library was replenished mainly with donations. In 1913 the structure, sources of acquisition, scientific specialization (with a focus on Pushkin and post-Pushkin epochs and translations of Russian writers into foreign languages) were subjected to a certain regulation with «Temporary Statute about Library, Collected for Pushkinsky Dom». The library gradually turned from a museum-archive into a scientific-research center. Some improvements were also made in terms of outer comfort. The library was given three not too large halls in the main building of the Academy of Sciences and… a staircase landing. The First World War of 1914 and the hospital, which was housed in the Academy building, forced the library as well as all other collections, to move to a garret.

In 1917 the library was brought back into the halls of the main building of the Academy of Sciences. During the Civil War and economic dislocation its employees saved private collections and libraries that were left in the empty apartments, abandoned mansions, neglected warehouses, shops and publishing houses. Thus several valuable collections were added to Pushkinsky Dom library, among them libraries of Dukes Meklenbourgskiye, Great Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich, his son Prince Oleg, who had perished at the front in 1914. The library of the young prince contained interesting editions, like «Day by Day» - selection of Lermontov’s works for every day of the year. These books were compiled by the Great Duke’s daughter Olga, a spouse of the Greek King George I. On the copy of the book belonging to Prince Oleg (he was, by the way, a devoted Pushkin scholar, who managed to publish in 1911 a facsimile edition of Pushkin’s manuscripts from the Alexandrovsky Lyceum archive) there was an autograph of 5-year old Tsarevich Alexei.

K.R.’ collection is also noteworthy for its selection of books by poets-autodidacts, whose work he followed with special attention. One of these simple little books bears a pathetic inscription from its author, a veteran soldier «To His Imperial Majesty Great Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich from the author, who is writing these lines with his teeth, as he has neither arms nor legs, Niktopoleon Svyatsky. Hospital of the Chesma military almhouse. Year 1901, March 27».

The Library employees discovered and brought together rich collections of historian M.I.Semevsky and library of S.V.Panina, a founder of the Public House in Petersburg. A real treat was discovery of books, manuscripts and personal things of F.M.Dostoevsky that were found in a pawnshop warehouse. Among them there was the Dostoevsky’s family relic – patrimonial New Testament, and also «The Tale of Wonderings and Travels over Russia, Moldavia, Turkey and the Holy Land» by monk Parfeny (Moscow, 1856) with drawings made by Dostoevsky. In May 1920 B.Y.Polonsky, son of the poet Y.P.Polonsky, donated his father’s library that had been kept in his apartment.

Pushkinsky Dom specialists carefully followed various book collections from the province. They brought Nakrasov’s books from Karabikha, in 1921 Garshin’s books and the archive were shipped in a special train carriage provided by the Petrograd’s Soviet.

Considerable book acquisitions were made due to connections with famous figures of art, like, for example, artist Nataliya Goncharova.

It took Pushkinsky Dom considerable efforts to save the books that were becoming rarities as their authors came out of favor with the new power, like N.S.Gumilev, L.N.Andreev, V.S.Mirolyubov, F.K.Sologub.

Maxim Gorky played an important role in the library acquisitions, primarily concerning books of Russian writers in translation especially because towards the end of his life Gorky had become director of Pushkinsky Dom. In the 1920s the library collection was considerably expanded, especially after it gained access, in 1927 - 1928, to the libraries of P.V.Annenkov, A.F.Koni, B.L.Modzalevsky. In 1928 the library of A.F.Onegin at last arrived – 3,420 books, brochures, almanacs and magazines. Three major names serve as major structural points of this collection and divide it into three blocks: Pushkin, Zhukovsky, and Turgenev. Besides this Onegin’s book collection possesses unique copies of other books – «Praise to Folly» by Erasmus of the Rotterdam (1685), «Dialogue about Honor» by Posevino (1558), «War of Gods» by Parni, «The Virgin of Orleans» by Voltaire (XVIII century) and some others. A major part of the collection is formed with editions of Russian free print. This part of the collection makes Onegin’s library similar, though this comparison might seem strange, to the collection of famous Russian collector and bibliophile M.N.Longinov, which was donated to Pushkinsky Dom by his daughter A.M.Kozlovskaya. The point is that while being the head of the Main Department of the Matters of Print (1871-1875), Longinov managed to add to his collection a large number of books and magazines that were banned by censorship, removed and destroyed.

It is quite characteristic that relatives and friends of deceased writers wanted to donate the inherited collections specifically to Pushkinsky Dom. M.M.Shatelen brought the library of her grandfather – the famous dramatist A.N.Ostrovsky. A.A.Blok’s widow, as it was already mentioned, added to the donated archive and personal things of the poet his library – about 2,000 volumes.

Immensely important for the researchers are book collections of literature scholars, among them S.A.Vengerov (18,000 volumes), academician V.V.Vinogradov (10,000 volumes, including the books that had been absent from IRLI funds), and the library of N.K.Piksanov that had been collected for 70 years and comprised the unique Griboedov collection.

Due to these personal book collections that bear the imprint of their great owners, users and curators the library, one of the largest specialized book collections, acquired a specific character of a cultural monument.

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