Leonid Nikolaevich Andreev (1871 - 1919)

Leonid Nikolaevich Andreev is one of the most famous and popular writers of the XX century. Such popularity can be explained on the one hand, with his outstanding gift as a literary artist and on the other, with his sharp perception of deep human nature and tragic catastrophes of modern history.

Andreev's first success as a writer is traditionally referred to an «Easter» story «Bargamot i Garaska» (1898) which was appreciated by M.Gorky. The first collection «Rasskazy», which was printed by the «Znaniye» publishing house (1901), helped him achieve deserved success and recognition within the literary society. L.N.Tolstoy and A.P.Chekhov responded benevolently to this book. Gorky introduced Andreev to Moscow's society of writers «Sreda». That time the young author began to publish his works actively in magazines and literary anthologies together with such contemporaries of his as I.A.Bunin, A.I.Kuprin and others. The periodical press focused more precise attention on him and wrote much especially about those stories and tales that caused keen interest within the public («Stena», «Bezdna», «V Tumane», «Zhizn Vasiliya Fiveiskogo», «Krasny Smekh», «Gubernator», «Tma», «Rasskaz o Semi Poveshennykh» and so on). The critics emphasized the artist's aspiration for the original assimilation of Russian classics' experience and also the intensive search after new means of expressiveness, marked allegorical nature and the variety of figures, sometimes shocking expression of style and originality of artistic ideas. The works by Andreev as a prose-writer became well-known abroad and have been translated into many European languages.

Andreev's debut as a playwright was successful as well («K Zvezdam», «Zhizn Cheloveka», «Dni Nashei Zhizni», «Tsar-Golod», «Chernye Maski», «Anatema»,  «Anfisa», «Sobachy Vals» and others). His plays were performed on the best stages of the capitals and many provincial boards. Andreev formulated the core of his aesthetic search in his «Pisma o Teatre» (1912-1913).

The adherent of radical changes in Russia, Andreev supported the February Revolution, but blamed the Bolsheviks for capturing the power in October 1917. He left Petrograd and settled down in his house in the Karelian Isthmus, village Vammelsuu. When Finland was declared independent, Andreev found himself abroad. A severe heart attack stopped his life in September 1919. In 1956 the mortal remains of the writer were replaced to the Literatorskiye Mostki of the Volkovo cemetery (Leningrad).

The first arrivals of materials connected with L.Andreev to Pushkinsky Dom are referred to the early 1920s. A larger part of the archive was presumably received from the writer's sister - R.N.Andreeva, a collector and keeper of everything concerning her brother's life and creating activity. With her active assistance in 1924 on the fifth anniversary of Andreev's death there had been an exhibition organized in Pushkinsky Dom after which a lot of memorial things, pictures (Andreev's works), photos and also books and handwritten materials were received for permanent storage.

In the late 1930s the fund was sorted out and inventoried, but, nevertheless, supplemented continuously long afterwards. For example, in 1964 the writer's son Valentin Leonidovich donated to the fund the missing part of Andreev's letters to his mother. Among the latest arrivals of the end of the 1980s there are valuable family and biographical materials produced by Andreev's grand-nephew A.S.Vagin.

The writer's creation is represented with autographs, authorized typewritten copies, typesetting manuscripts, proof-sheets, typographical copies of his main works from early essays and stories to the latest publicist articles and notes.

As for biographical materials, Andreev's youth diary (1892), two autobiographies (1901, 1910), family memoirs about the writer, documents concerning his activity in the «Russkaya Volya» newspaper (1916-1917), the collection of newspapers and magazines with Andreev's own publications and those about him can be mentioned.

Andreev's large correspondence with many first-rate literature figures, partly not published, is of great importance to researches of his works and biography.

The Literature Museum holds unique pastels of the 1910s by L.Andreev: «Myzykanty» (the illustration to «Zhizn Cheloveka» play), «Italyansky Peizazh. Via Appia», «Odin Oglyanulsa», «Krestianin-Finn», the portraits of his children Vera and Savva and also drawings including self-caricatures. Andreev's personal things were transported from the famous house on the Black River (Vammelsuu), now non-existent, such as a writing desk, two arm-chairs, reading lamps and candlesticks, a casket and a writing case, an ash-tray, an ink-pot, a Chinese censer, a cigar-case and so on. Besides that, there are posters of the writer's theatre and literature soirees. His iconography is well displayed too. The collection of photos taken by Andreev himself including the colour ones is also of special value, as it is known, the writer achieved considerable creational success in this field.

The studying of L.Andreev's works (together with the materials from archive funds) was started in Pushkinsky Dom in the 1930s and since 1960 the research of the writer's life and works has become systematical and many-sided in many scientific centers of the USSR. Nowadays Puskinsky Dom coordinates the work of specialists in literature taking part in the scholar text processing of a virtual Andreev's Complete Works and Letters edition in 18 volumes in the context of «INTAS» international project.

K.Y.Gerasimov, L.N.Ivanova