The Name of Pushkin House

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A special issue in the life of Pushkinsky Dom is organization of rooms. The first to be created in 1934 was Pushkin room, which, as one of the directors of the Pushkinsky Dom library A.N.Stepanov wrote, was supposed to concentrate in one place all books devoted to Pushkin and thus make them accessible to Pushkin scholars. The dominant feature of the room was its ramified system of catalogues, that follow not only all editions of the poet’s works, both published in his lifetime and posthumous, but also the variety of Pushkin scholarship. At present this room serves as a main source base for researches of Pushkin’s work both from this country and foreign.

In fact centers for the study of Old Russian literature and Russian Folk Art also became rooms of sorts; they possess unique specialized independent libraries. One of the largest collections of books on Old Russian literature was created on the basis of the personal library of the Department’s founder academisian A.S.Orlov (later it also included the library of V.P.Adrianova-Perets). Collection of Old Russian Relics was built around books on archeography and paleography that had belonged to V.I.Malyshev.

In the course of its existence Pushkinsky Dom has given rise to a number of academic collectives, schools of philology that can also be given the status of national property.

In terms of chronology the primary place here belongs to Department of Folklore, or oral public art, that has at its disposal a unique collection of materials on Russian folk art.

Here the outstanding students of the Russian Middle Ages academicians A.S.Orlov, V.N.Perets put foundation to the study of Russian Literature of this period. For many years the Department had been headed by D.S.Likhachev.

Throughout the time of Pushkinsky Dom existence its researches have were invariably oriented towards fundamental elaborations in the fields of source-study, bibliography, text study.

The Department of Source Study and Bibliography helps to make numerous thematic personal and collective bibliographical indexes that have received wide recognition in the world philological practice. Pushkinsky Dom produced the first Soviet textological studies that played a major role in development of this academic discipline. These studies were made by leading national textologists B.V.Tomashevsky, B.M.Eihenbaum, N.V.Izmailov, D.S.Likhachev.

Both historically and organically Pushkinsky Dom throughout the long years of its active life never lost or sold any of its possessions, but only accumulated, collected, brought and preserved them. We might suppose that the name of Pushkin overhanging the place played a beneficial role as from the early years of Pushkinsky Dom existence it had shared the universal character of Pushkin’s art. The main aim of Pushkinsky Dom research work is Russian literature in its full scope, diversity and interaction with foreign literature. Major contributions in this field are made by the efforts of all the Institute Departments – of New Russian Literature (beginning with XVIII century), Modern Literature (XX century), and Comparative Literature Department.

In the times of revolutionary shocks and cruel wars, crazy reforms and senseless reorganizations Pushkinsky Dom had served as a last refuge for numerous cultural treasures that were not recognized as such in their times, for destroyed collections, ownerless libraries threatened with ravage and destruction.

Pushkinsky Dom has passed with dignity through the difficult events of the XX century that became part of its history. In 2005 Pushkinsky Dom celebrates its 100 anniversary. It is a century of devoted service to Russian literature and culture. Let us remind the words said by Maxim Gorky that Russian literature is the best that was created by us a nation – this gives us a reason to call Pushkinsky Dom one of the best phenomena of Russian humanitarian science.

Nowadays Pushkinsky Dom employees continue to perform their historic mission with zest and consistence – they preserve, study and present to the world one of the greatest achievements of humanity – Russian literature – the best that was created by us as a nation: from the remote old centuries to the topical modern questions.

The idea of preservation and publication of popular wisdom and national memory dates back to the late XVII – early XIX centuries. Recently Pushkinsky Dom has begun to publish the complete «Code of Russian Folklore». The first part – «Bylinas» is opened with two volumes of «Pechora Bylinas» (300 variants of records, including over 100 new and 80 with music notations). They all are accompanied with rich illustrative material (photos of rare Pechora Old Russian monuments, ethnographical sketches, etc.) and supplemented with CDs, that carefully reproduce, with the help of modern technical means, the performance of the bylinas by the best narrators.

The success of the 13-volume collection of monuments of Old Russian Literature prepared by the Pushkinsky Dom specialists in Russian Middle Ages induced a new edition with a thorough commentary, comprising 20 volumes.

One of the major book events of 1997 of both national, European and even world level was the facsimile edition in 8 volumes of Pushkin’s working textbooks – the heart of the poet’s manuscript heritage preserved at Pushkinsky Dom. It was made possible due to the help of the Forum of Leaders of European Business and under the aegis of the heir to British throne Charles, Prince of Wales. The copies of this edition, presented by Pushkinsky Dom to all major library, university and museum centers of Russian and the former Union of Independent States countries, made Pushkin’s manuscripts available for a wide range of connoisseurs, both professional researches and interested amateurs.

In the not-too remote past a group of scholars headed by academician G.M.Friedlender, struggling the tough ideological grip and following the scholarly principles managed to carry out a truly unique complete edition of works and letters of F.M.Dostoevsky that had gained world recognition. After 20 years of hard work we have published 15-volume (in 22 books) edition of the complete N.A.Nekrasov, we are still working on Complete Works of I.S.Turgenev, I.A.Goncharov, A.A.Blok, A.M.Remizov, some volumes of which have already been published… This is practical result of fundamental scholarship. The point is not the editions per se – what matters most is that from now on they will serve a reference point for the whole world practice of editing Russian classics. In the similar fashion the world of Slavic studies is oriented towards Russian, and among them Pushkinsky Dom, scholarship, as it is presented in monographs, collections, at exhibitions, conferences, seminars and readings. The whole philological world demand such Pushkinsky Dom publications as «Russian Literature» magazine, «The Works of Old Russian Literature Department», «The Yearly Book of Manuscript Department», «Pushkin. Materials and Studies», «Dostoevsky. Materials and Studies», etc.

The great Russian writer and thinker Apollon Grigoriev once said a phrase that was to enter the reading books: «Pushkin is our everything».

As a matter of fact this aphorism was the principle on which Pushkinsky Dom, a living monument to the great poet, was and is still being erected.

Both its library and museum collections, diverse archives and research schools in their mutual interaction, collaboration and support strive to embrace, preserve and make available to the whole humanity «our everything» of the national culture!

Nikolai N. Skatov

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