Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Blok is a great Russian symbolist poet, the most remarkable representative of the «Silver Age» literature. The name of the poet is inseparable from the notions of high dignity, civic feelings and moral courage of an artist.
He was born in Petersburg, spent his childhood in the family of his maternal grandfather - a famous botanist A.N.Beketov. Ideals of humanistic «narodolyubie» («nation loving») dominating in the family along with scientific and literary interests played a vital part in Blok's mental formation. He got educated at the Slavic-Russian Department of the Philological Faculty of St. Petersburg University.
In 1898 Blok met his future wife Lyubov Dmitrievna, a daughter of an outstanding scientist D.I.Mendeleev, which caused a strong impulse for the poet's creating activity. Their relationship romantically and mystically comprehended by the poet was reflected in more than 800 poems, the selected part of which constituted the first poetry collection by Blok - «Stikhi o Prekrasnoi Dame» published in October 1904. The poems witnessed Blok's creational originality. The collection became the most significant «younger symbolist» event in Russian literature.
The second book of poems «Nechayannaya Radost» (1906) reflected a new world vision focusing attention on the present, on «mysticism in everyday life», urban life and «the forces» of nature and passion.
In 1908 the collection «Zemlya v Snegu» appeared. The cycles «Volnye Mysli» and «Na Pole Kulikovom» were run through with a catastrophic feeling of the epoch, with a presentiment of an approaching storm. The collection «Nochnye Chasy» (1911) included the cycles «Strashny Mir», «Vozmezdiye», «Arfy i Skripki», «Yamby» belonging to the summit of Blok's poetry. In his works the historic orientation became more profound, they gained viability and concreteness. The theme of Russia sounded emphatically in his poetry as the poet felt spiritual mightiness concealed in his country and his own closest relation to it (i.e., «Stikhi o Rossiyi», 1915).
From the beginning of the 1900s Blok appeared with critical and journalistic genre articles and essays. His prose was topical and aesthetically significant being lyrical in fact it interpreted general problems of culture and literature.
After the February Revolution of the 1917 Blok collaborated at the Committee «investigating the crimes of the tzarist government». The results of the investigation were summed in the book «Posledniye Dni Imperatorskoy Vlasti» (1921). The events of October 1917 caused spiritual enthusiasm and encouraged the poet for creational activity. In January 1918 poems «Dvenadtsat’» and «Skify» along with journalistic works (the article «Intelligentsiya and Rossiya») were written. In the late years he participated in the work of the State Commission for Publishing the Classics of Russian Literature and the Repertoire Department of the Education Commissariat Theatre Department; besides that he worked on the Publishing House «Vsemirnaya Literatura», made reports and wrote articles.
In the post-revolutionary years the poet's state of health turned worse because of starvation and hard living conditions, he came through severe depression and painful dissonance with reality. The poet died on the 7th of August, 1921.
After Blok's death his study and library were kept in violability by his widow Lyubov Dmitrievna. In October 1936 the Leningrad Department of the Soviet Writers' Union made a resolution to transfer all the manuscripts and memorial items belonging to Blok on the state storage to Pushkinsky Dom. One of the conditions of this transfer was opening the memorial museum of Blok in his last flat. The problem had not been solved yet when in October 1939 Lyubov Dmitrievna suddenly died. On the 2nd of November the Institute of Russian Literature received the archive, the library and the poet's personal things.
The Manuscript Department had received Blok's archive, which was supplemented later on until 1988. The poet's creative manuscripts are of the most considerable value. His notebooks contain above all the rough copies of poems that give an opportunity to follow their creative history since the earliest steps. Ten writing-pads of fair copies with the author's corrections constitute another valuable part of the archive materials. They include the whole complex of original poems by Blok and some in his translation belonging to the period of 1897-1921. The poems were predominantly copied to the writing-pads by the poet himself, but in some cases - by his mother or wife (the copies are authorized). Blok's diaries, typesetting manuscripts and rough copies of his editions combined with other important materials represent undoubted scientific interest.
Blok fund in the Literature Museum was formed from two main arrivals - one from L.D.Blok and the other - from the Beketovs' legacy. It embraced photos, portraits, drawings and personal things, including the poet's writing desk and decorating items of his study. In the years that followed this collection of the Literature Museum was replenished with portraits, illustrations to works by Blok, sketches of décor for theatre productions. Not long ago in connection with the opening of Blok's Memorial Flat a part of the items were transferred there for exhibit.
The poet's books arrived at the Library of Pushkinsky Dom a separate memorial fund. Blok's library is an integral, well preserved collection containing extensive information on the circle of the poet's interests, his literary tastes, friendly relations and the very personality of the owner. Numerous notes on the pages of his personal books represent a great value.
Steady interest to Blok's legacy stipulated the need for a scholar edition of his works being a primary task. In 1980 Pushkinsky Dom together with the A.M.Gorky World Literature Institute (Moscow) laid the foundation for scholar text proceeding of the academic Blok's Complete Works and Letters edition.