Nikolay Stepanovich Gumilev (1886 - 1921)

Nikolay Stepanovich Gumilev is a first-rate acmeist-poet, one of the leaders of the «Silver Age» literature. He discovered a bright, dynamic and exotic world enriched with a spirit of adventure and risk for Russian poetry. His «Muza Dalnikh Stranstvy» («Muse of Long Journeys») resembles the world literature types of a wanderer constantly in love Don Juan and universal Wandering Jew Agaspher.

Gumilev was born in Kronstadt in a family of a navy officer and doctor. He spent his childhood and youth in Tsarskoe Selo. In 1905 he published a collection of poems «Put Konkvistadorov», not absolutely mature and therefore having a seal of romantic and symbolist mentors. What looked original in the book was the guise of a knight errant, who opposed the world of bright but unrealizable miracles to the dull world of reality. In 1906 after finishing high school Gumilev left for Paris where he attended lectures in Sorbonne, studied French art and improved his poetical mastership.

In 1907 (in respond to the summons of the Muse of Long Journeys - one of the most important dominants in Gumilev's creative outlook and poetic world) he left Paris for Africa and the Near East - the travel repeated many times afterwards. In 1908 his second book of poems ”Romanticheskiye Tsvety» was published in Paris.

In 1910 Gumilev married Anna Gorenko - the future poetess Anna Akhmatova (their marriage turned out to be short-lived). In the same year a book «Zhemchuga» was issued representing a result of successful work on mastering of his Russian verse, especially in the famous poem «Kapitany» brilliantly combining the motives of sea adventures like in Stevenson's novels with the cheerful energy of «Kipling's Rhythm». In 1910 Gumilev appears as the main organizer of the «Poets’ Workshop» («Tsekh Poetov»), inside which a new poetic current »Acmeism» (or «Adamism») was developed declaring objectivity and clarity of the world view, perfection of form, strength of mind and courage the personal qualities of an acmeist.

In 1912 a real acmeist book of poems by Gumilev «Chuzhoe Nebo» was issued. Since the beginning of the World War I (August 1914) the poet signed up to a hussar regiment as a volunteer and was awarded with two Georgievsky orders for showing personal courage in battles. In the end of 1915 (1916 - on the title page) a collection of verses «Kolchan» was published - full of deep tragedy and burning of the author who ceased to use the relative lyric guise especially in «Pyatistopnye Yamby» that reflected his split up with Akhmatova. Judging by the elegance of the verse and the form perfection this book is a masterpiece of acmeism.

In 1917 Gumilev was in Paris again. The first months of 1918 he had spent in London, which he later left for Petrograd where he took part in many-sided literary activity.

The year of 1918 was also commemorated with a collection of verses «Koster” contain a lyric chronicle of the poet's spiritual life during the war years and the «Russian» theme (poems about childhood and countryside, i.e., a poem «Muzhik» and others) slightly expressed in preceding books. In 1921 Gumilev issued his earlier poems about Africa («Shatyor») in a separate edition and also the top accomplishment of his Muse - the last book of poems «Ognenny Stolp». In the latter he concentrated completely on the indissoluble ontological problems along with the tragedy of knowing, that all cosmic and spiritual abilities concealed in the manhood, are impossible to realize in the conditions of this world's existence combined with the sensation of his inevitable doom («Zabludivshiysya Tramvay»).

On the 3rd of August, 1921 the poet was accused of participating in the plot of «the counter-revolutionary Petrograd Fighting Organization» (so called «Tagantsev’s Case») and executed in the same month. The stain of a counter-revolutionary did not make for successful fate (on the level of state storage) of Gumilev's manuscript legacy. No special fund of his has been created in the Manuscript Department of Pushkinsky Dom. It began to be formed subsequently from the creational, bio-graphic and correspondence legacy of the poet included in the personal funds of contemporary writers as well as from private collections and separate archive arrivals. Among them there are Gumilev's translation of a satiric poem «Atta Trol'« by H.Heine (typewritten, with Blok's corrections), rough copies of six poems, the outlines of a plan and several scenes of a play «Okhota na Nosoroga», the autograph of a poem with a letter to F.K Sologub (received in 1928 with the archive of the latter writer from his sister-in-law O.N.Chernosvitova, nee Chebotarevskaya), the program of courses «Istoria Poeziyi» («History of Poetry») and «Teoria Poeziyi» («Theory of Poetry»), two poems (typewritten and authorized typewritten copies). L.N.Gumilev (the son of Gumilev and Akhmatova, a famous author of the most significant ethnological theory of the XX century) donated the letters of his father to his mother, his drawings, the autographs of articles about poetry, translations from German and French, letters of different people to him, 14 books of the poet with donating signs. Here is also an album with autographs of poems of 1902-1906 once donated by the poet to his acquaintance M.M.Marx.

At last the largest and the fullest arrival at Gumilev fund was the collection of P.N.Luknitsky having been collected by him during decades and containing manuscripts, photos, bibliographical materials including the writer's prayer book.

All materials (including not marked here) constitute the main scholar fund on the basis of which the text proceeding for the edition of Academic Complete Works collection of the poet is being realized nowadays.

A.I. Mikhaylov