The Role of Western Scholars in the Resurrection of Andrej Belyj

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The year 2010 marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of Andrej Belyj’s seminal Символизм, the first of his numerous philosophical works, and thus provides a century of context in which to explore this “гениальный чудак or чудесный гений of Russian literature.[1] It is appropriate that this conference takes place in Germany, for perhaps more than any other country Germany embraced Belyj early on and has over these 100 years offered significant contributions to Belyj scholarship and indeed to the preservation not only of his memory, but also of his unique literary heritage. We need only recall that the first translation of Bely’s novel, Серебряный голубь (1910) appeared in German translation by Lully Wiebeck as Die silberne Tauber in 1912—just two years after its publication and long before any other Western translation. (The first English version would appear in 1974). A similar fate met Петербург, translated in 1919 by Nadja Strasser and published in Munich. Several other works such as На перевале  (Auf der Wasserscheide, by H[edwig] Bidder, Stuttgart: 1922);  Воспоминания о Блоке (Im Zeichen der Morgenröte: Erinnerungen an Aleksandr Blok, by Swetlana Geier, Basel: Zbinden, 1974) and her Воспоминания о Штейнере (Verwandeln des Lebens: Erinnerungen an Rudolf Steiner, Basel : 1975) have all appeared in German, but not in English. Translation is, of course, but one way to preserve and honor a writer, and Belyj has not faired all that well in translation. Another realm is literary scholarship and history and here too, as I hope to show, the Germans have frequently lead the way. A final and not unimportant contribution, especially in Soviet times, was the reprinting of works by Belyj and no one contributed to this effort as much as Dmitrij Tschižewskij at the University of Heidelberg.

The history of Belyj studies up until the 1970’s, primarily the Russian contributions, is marvelously described in an article by Gleb Struve who thirty five years ago opened the Andrey Bely conference at the University of Kentucky with his “Andrey Bely Redivivus.”[2] I recently reread Struve’s actual printed paper that is far more complete than his opening remarks to our conference, if memory does not deceive me. Struve was somewhat taken aback by the fact that two dozen scholars, mostly non-Russians, had gathered in one place in 1975.

It is, in fact, the story of these Western contributions that is my topic this evening. It has not to my knowledge been expressed in any systematic fashion, and it seems appropriate as the axis of Bely studies shifts back to the Arbat in some ways, that we honor those who have come and gone before, and in a sense paved the way for our now collaborative and often collective efforts. Along the way I hope to celebrate how magnificently far we have come since I began my own study of Belyj in the 1970s!

Let me begin by noting that in the 21st Century Andrej Belyj has returned home to the Arbat. Under Monika Spivak, herself an accomplished scholar and meticulous preserver of Belyj’s legacy, the Belyj Apartment Museum ( has become the center of the Belyj studies, uniting in a new way Westerners and Russians—opening the doors to all and growing on the shoulders of those who came before with full recognition of the debt to foreign scholars who had preserved the memory of Belyj for so many years. This was not always so.

With all due respect to my fellow Russian colleagues and Беловеды who themselves are not guilty of oversight, the actual Western contribution has frequently been myopically overlooked or ignored in most bibliographies printed in Russia. There are several bibliographies of Belyj, but to my knowledge there is nothing that approximates a complete bibliography of works by and about him such as the one for Aleksej Remizov. Russian sources include an entry in Русские советские писатели Т. 3, Ч. 1 (М. 1979), and M. Benina's “Андрей Белый Библоиографический указатель 1976-август 1986” and Mamontova's “Андрей Белый: Библиографический указатель 1986–1993.” These focus primarily and at times exclusively on works published in Russia or in Russian. They fail to account for the significant scholarly contribution of the West to Belyj scholarship. That bibliographical record which included documentation of Russian sources was begun by Anton Hönig (Andrej Belyjs Romane, 1965), at its time the first and finest bibliography and still a starting point for serious scholars of Belyj.[3] The tradition was continued in The Andrej Belyj Society Newsletter beginning in issue No. 2 (1983) and updated yearly through issue 14 (1997-1998). The Newsletter was clearly the most important contribution of the Society to Bely studies. It is now available in its entirety online[4] and was largely the brainchild and thanks to the efforts of Olga Muller Cooke and Ronald Peterson. Without their efforts an important page in the history of Belyj studies might have disappeared. Today electronic access to library catalogues and other databases around the world help provide a fuller picture of Belyj studies both in Russia and abroad. In preparing my remarks I have consulted the catalogue of Hollis Library at Harvard University ( that lists almost 300 works in connection with Belyi. While the list is not complete (the library does not have the English translation of The Christened Chinaman), it exceeds the number of works listed in the Russian State Library Российская государственная библиотека ( electronic index.  Of those three hundred works, some two hundred are originals, reprints or editions of previously works and correspondence by Bely.  The others then represent scholarship and translations of Bely, primarily into English.  I have cross checked those lists, primarily for translations with the Staatsbibliothek Berlin ( where he is mentioned in 292 items, La BibliothŹque nationale de France (, and the British Library ( The international attraction of Belyj is attested to by works and translations in a number of Slavic and Scandinavian languages, Italian and Japanese, but except for cursory mention of these I hope to focus in particular on German and English sources.

I have divided the study of Andrei Belyj into roughly three periods. The first period extends from Belyj’s death in 1934 until 1960.  The second can be dated from 1960 until 1987, and the third period from 1988 to the present. Belyj was, of course, often at the center of polemics and critical discussions during his lifetime. But little serious study or analysis was devoted to his works with the exception of Ivanov-Razumnik's, Summits. A. Blok. A. Belyj. (Вершины. А.Блок, А.Белый, 1923). What characterizes the early period after the author's death in 1934 is the almost complete lack of reprints of his works. The novel, Petersburg, was reprinted in 1935, but then not again in Russia until 1978. In 1937 an edition of Between Two Revolutions (Между двух революций) appeared. In 1940 a collection of Belyj’s poetry (Стихотворения) was published in the series The Poet's Library (Библиотека поэта). A similar effort was published in 1966 with an introduction by T. Xmel’nitskaja. The silence concerning Belyj, as it was for so many other writers both inside and outside the county for almost fifty years, was all but deafening inside the Soviet Union. The Correspondence of Aleksandr Blok and Andrei Belyj (Александр Блок и Андрей Белый: Переписка, 1940) offered new insight into the lives and times of both, and provided under the cover of the more politically acceptable Aleksandr Blok, a way to publish documents related to the theoretical problematic Belyj. This delicate dance of Soviet scholars around the memory of Andrej Belyj is a story still to be told by those who experienced it first hand in the days of Soviet censorship.

Even as his own native Russia largely ignored Belyj's contributions to Russian letters, Oleg Maslenikov in his The Frenzied Poets (1952) as did Renato Poggioli The Poets of Russia, 1890-1930 (1960) kept the memory of him alive among Western scholars. Belyj’s theoretical work in rhythmics was being actively pursued by Kirill Taranovsky Ruski dvodelni ritmovi (Beograd 1953) who would later go to Harvard University.[5] (A side note on Belyj’s rhythmic studies must include Vladimir Nabokov’s adoption of Belyj’s “scuds,” Nabokov’s application of Belyj’s отступления to Pushkin’s Евгений Онегин. There was also an American scholar in the 1930s who also tried to apply Belyj’s method to English poetry.)  Konstantin Mochul’skii's posthumously published Андрей Белый  (1955) indicated the writer’s stature among the émigré communities as did the publication of Valentinov’s recollections in Новый журнал “Встречи с Андреем Белым” (No. 45, 46, 47 in 1956 and 49 in 1957). Two German language contributions include the even earlier and curious addition to Belyj studies, the Vienna doctoral dissertation by Jutta Pflanzl in 1946: “Weltbild und Kunstschau des russischen Symbolismus in der theoretischen Gestaltung durch Andrej Belyj,” and Johannes Holthusen’s Andrej Belyj und Rudolf Steiner (1956).[6] At the end of the decade the first published translation of Petersburg into English appeared in 1959 by John Cournos.

The 1960s saw the first major revival of interest in Belyj, first in Europe and then the United States. This coincided with the unprecedented rapid growth of Russian studies precipitated in large part by Soviet achievements in space and nuclear technology. We were the Yuri Gagarin generation. The concern in the West, in particular, in the United States that Ivan was catching and preparing to surpass us  (словами Н.С. Хрущева «догнать и перегнать Америку» 1957), resulted in intense interest and financial incentives in American higher education for all things Russian, providing employment to dozens of Russian native speakers. A new audience arose for Russian writers, philosophers, and historians. Suddenly there was a generalized growth in the industry of Russian literary reprints of works ignored or forbidden in the Soviet Union. Belyj as well as others was well represented by Prideaux Press that published six works by Bely among its over 250 Russian titles in the 1960s and 70s. [7]  A leading proponent of Belyj studies in Great Britian was Professor of Slavonic Studies Georgette Donchin,[8] who helped bring Belyj’s memoirs back to life. Other reprints appeared in series by Bradda Books and Russian Language Specialties.[9]

Dmitrij Tschižewskij, who had spent time at Harvard in the early 1950s, returned to the University of Heidelberg and offered there a seminar on Belyj.[10] His involvement with the Wilhelm Fink Verlag led to reprints of eight of Belyj’s works (Котик Летаев, Крещеный китаец, Москва, Маски, Воспоминания о Блоке, Символизм, Мастерство Гоголя, и Переписка) in the series Slavische Propyläen.[11] One other aspect of Dmitrij Tschižewskij’s inspiration was the appearance of Anton Hönig’s already mentioned work and Lily Hindleys’ Die Neologismen Andrej Belyjs (1966). Both authors had been members of the seminars that also inspired among other Horst-Jürgen Gerigk, the noted Dostoevksij and Belyj scholar.  Prof. Dr. Gerigk, who sponsored my own Alexander von Humboldt grant, shared with me his recollection of the seminar on Russian Symbolism. Gerigk has, of course, continued his work on Belyj and recounted the work of Tschižewskij  in his book, Die Spur der Endlichkeit. Meine akademischen Lehrer. Vier Porträts. Dmitrij Tschizewskij, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Rene Wellek, Paul Fussell.[12]  The German contribution to Belyj scholarship has been significant and ongoing, even though language remains a barrier preventing much of this scholarship from being fully appreciated both in Russia and the English speaking countries.

In addition to the reprints of his work, the 1960s also unleashed a record number of memoirs of Belyj included in larger works. Gleb Struve had already in 1956 published his Русская литература в изгнании. Fedor Stepun published Встречи in 1962 and its German version Mystische Weltschau: fünf Gestalten des russischen Symbolismus in 1964.
             In 1969 Nina Berberova published in English The Italics are Mine (the Russian Курсив мой appeared later). Others would follow including Roman Gul's Я унес Россию.

Беловедение in the United States owes an enormous debt to Nina Berberova who would inspire John Malmstad at Princeton to examine and then edit the still most complete critical edition of Belyj’s poems, first in his 1968 dissertation (“The poetry of Andrey Belyj: a variorum edition”), and then later in his three volume edition published by W. Fink in Munich (1982-1984). In the United States other doctoral dissertations began to appear, such as Sam Cioran, The Apocalyptic Symbolism of Andrej Bely, Pierre Hart, “Andrej Belyj's Petersburg and the Myth of the City. Zoya Yurieff in 1967 would introduce the New York reprint of The Green Meadow (Луг зеленый).[13] The 1960s also saw the French translation of the novel Петербург by Georges Nivat.

If the 1960s was the decade primarily of reprints and memoirs, the 1970s was a major turning point, a decade of dissertations and translations and the slow emergence of Soviet scholarship into the light. In 1971 Ardis published Gerald Janacek’s translation of Kotik Letaev (Котик Летаев). Professor Janacek, still a graduate student at the University of Michigan, was fascinated by the music of Belyj’s prose and began work on a dissertation related to the novel. He mentioned that the translation emerged over one summer as he worked on the text. Ardis Press, just beginning under Carl Proffer also at the University of Michigan, decided to publish the text that launched Janacek’s career as a scholar of Belyj.[14] Jerry would spearhead the first real American Andrei Belyj revival by bringing to Kentucky an international conference on Belyj in 1975. The list of participants points to the growing scholarly interest and the international character of Belyj scholarship at the time. Georges Nivat, the French scholar at the University of Geneva, John Elsworth and Roger Keys among others were there and the resulting compilation of papers in 1978 was one of the first in the West.[15]

Translations in the decade, in particular of the novels into English, abounded, such as The Silver Dove (Серебрянный голубь) by George Reavey in 1974. The novel was also translated into Czech by J. Sansa in 1971 and into Japanese by K. Kawabata in 1977.  Petersburg appeared in Czech, Polish, Hungarian, Slovenian, and Dutch in 1970s. Both novels has appeared in newer German translations a decade earlier: Petersburg, (1959) and  Die silberne Taube (1961) both by Gisela Drohla. There was the new scholarly and annotated English translation by John Malmstad and Robert Maguire in 1978. The Malmstad-Maguire translation is in fact a primer on how to read Belyj and a Symbolist novel. Kotik Letaev, as mentioned above, appeared in English in 1971, in French by Georges Nivat and into Italian by S. Vitale and Japanese by I. Makai all in 1973. For the most part these translation projects were undertaken by scholars and frequently accompanied by valuable notes and commentary. Janacek and Berberova collaborated on a translation of The First Encounter (Первое свидание,1979). Ronald Peterson published in translation The Complete Short Stories (1980) to coincide with his re-publication of Рассакзы (1979). Other languages were equally well served with earlier translations of Belyj's works into Slavic languages, a list of which can be found in The Andrej Belyj Society Newsletter.[16] There was also a translation of Mochulsky’s book on Belyj into English that would join John Elsworth’s first biography of the author in English, Andrey Bely, (1972).

The heightened interest in Petersburg was stoked by Nabokov's Strong Opinions (1973)[17] that had name the work as one to the four best novels of the twentieth century and sent scores of readers scrambling for the work. Nabokov's very mixed public mentions of Belyj do not account for his own dependence upon Belyj's prosodic studies for his own study and translation of Evgenij Onegin,[18] or of the stylistic debt he owes to Belyj for his novel, The Gift.

Translations of a few articles and poems also appeared in English but, of course, there were major gaps, some of which remain today. One curiosity is the lack of translations of other works into English and other languages since then. The exceptions are The Dramatic Symphony (1987), The Christened Chinaman (1991), In the Kingdom of Shadows (2001), Glossolalia (2003) and the re-translation of The Silver Dove (2001) and Petersburg (2009). Such works as Masks and Moscow under Attack have defied English translations. (Magnus Ljunngren has shared with me the Swedish translations by the writer Kjell Johannson who in addition to Petersburg, The Silver Dove and The Second Symphony has done Moscow and Masks.)[19]

The importance of translations of Belyj’s works cannot be overemphasized. In addition to winning new readers, the translations often served as an entryway for non-native speaking students of Russian literature into Belyj’s workshop.

The 1970s witnessed over a dozen doctoral dissertations on Belyj's Symphonies, prose, critical theory and aesthetics in the United States alone. Many of those authors would become prolific publishers of articles and books in the years to come. Just few names of those who defended dissertations on Belyj and went on to academic careers include: Carol Anschuetz, Princeton; Anton Kovac, Stanford; Thomas Beyer, University of Kansas; Alexander Woronzoff, USC; Ronald Peterson, Harvard; Vladimir Alexandrov, Princeton; Steven Cassedy, Princeton; Charlene Castellano, Cornell; Maria Carlson, Indiana University, and Olga Muller Cooke University of London.[20] Some of these dissertations developed into books by Alexander Woronzoff and Vladimir Alexandrov adding to the already mentioned Sam Cioran, and Anton Kovac who published his book on the Symphonies. Western scholars approached all aspects of Belyj's works.  A brief list with apologies to those omitted of foreign scholars would have to include John Elsworth, author for the first life and works study Andrei Belyj in English (1972). Boris Christa, Johannes Holthusen, Ada Steinberg, Lena Szilard, Magnus Ljunggren, Tatiana Nicolescu, Dagmar Burkhardt, Maria Deppermann.

The 1970s and early 1980s would also witness the emergence of a handful of Soviet scholars who were all versed in Belyj studies and began to find ways to publish on this still complicated and problematic writer for Soviet critics. Inside the Soviet Union we find in 1978 Dolgopolov published a scholarly edition of Petersburg— the first Soviet publication of that novel since 1935. Joining Dolgopolov, were Grechiskin and Lavrov. Later Piskunov would publish commentaries to Belyj’s works. This history, the story of Soviet Russian Беловедение is, as I have mentioned, still to be written.

In this second period (1970-1987) the majority of commentary centered on Petersburg or the poetry. (Tschižewskij’s own copy of the 1922 edition with his own insertion of all the changes in pencil attest to the scrutiny the novel was receiving. This copy–still unexplored–is in the library of the Slavisches Institut). Belyj’s other prose works were problematic and largely inaccessible and incomprehensible to Western scholars. A bias against anthroposophy by scholars, and a lack of interest in and willingness to speak about Belyj at Dornach, Switzerland, discouraged attempts to look into the mystical or occult aspect of Belyj’s writings.  This changed slowly with the appearance first in German and then Russian of Belyj’s Memoirs of Steiner that caused a new look at the relationship between Belyj and his spiritual father figure. Swetlana Geier was called upon to do the translation.[21] Frau Geier did Belyj scholarship an invaluable service by providing the Anthroposophists with an opportunity to re-evaluate Belyj and his relationship to Rudolf Steiner. Any discussion of translations is incomplete without mention of Frau Swetlana Geier. Swetlana Geier is no longer a well kept secret for my German colleagues. Her work, in particular on Dostoevsky, has been recognized and acknowledged with prizes at the Leipzige Buchmesse and more recently in the film: Die Frau mit den 5 Elefanten. But her contribution to Belyj scholarship is no less dramatic. It began with a translation Im Zeichen der Morgenröte (Воспоминания о Блоке, 1974) and Verwandeln des Lebens (Воспминания о Штейнере, 1975). It is to this second work, I believe, that we can attribute the major change in attitude of Anthroposophists outside of Russian, especially in Dornach, toward Belyj scholarship. I remember my own very chilly meeting there in the summer of 1974. Those who had known Asja Turgeneva were still skeptical of Russian literature scholars. Slowly the realization that Belyj had not abandoned Doktor Steiner, moreover had found in him a foster father, lead to a gradual opening of the archives in Dornach. The atmosphere at least in the first part of the 1970s had been tainted, perhaps by Asja Turgeneva, Belyjs first wife who lived her days in Dornach, but also in part to the prevailing attitude that Belyj had parted ways with Steiner and Anthroposophy held by those émigrés, Khodasevich then repeated by Mochul’skij. An article by Fedor Stepun in Mosty in 1965[22] prompted Asja to break her silence on the matter in a reply.[23] All of this is recounted in my review article of Frau Geier’s work.[24] It was only after the appearance of Verwandeln des Lebens and further study that Dornach willingly opened it doors to Western scholars. Frédéric Kozlik published his dissertation as a book in a still largely ignored French work published in Frankfurt on the intersections of Belyj’s work and anthroposophical teachings. (L'influence de l'anthroposophie sur l’Ōuvre d'Andréi Biélyi, 1981). Here I simply have to bemoan the fact that at least in American institutions a reading knowledge of French and German is no longer expected in Slavic Ph.D. programs. Little wonder then that the contributions made in these languages rarely get reviewed in our professional journals.

To mark the 100 anniversary of Belyj's birth in 1980 there was a flurry of activity. Boris Christa (Bulgarian born and educated at Cambridge—who later became chair of the department at the New Zealand University of Queensland) released The Andrey Belyj Centenary Papers (1980) and headlined the effort outside of Russia where the interest was great but the production still hampered. He had previously published his The Poetic World of Andrey Bely (1977). Through the early 1980s Belyj scholarship flourished in the West—both in the United States and Europe. To mention a few notable books on: Ada Steinberg’s Word and Music in the Novels of Andrey Belyj (1982); Magnus Ljunggren’s The Dream of Rebirth (1982); Charlene Castellano’s Synesthesia (1980); Steven Cassedy’s Selected Essays of Andrey Belyj (1985); John E Malmstad, Andrey Bely: spirit of symbolism (1987) and John Elsworth, Andrey Bely: A Critical Study of the Novels (1983). With the inspiration of Nina Berberova, The Andrej Belyj Society was started with its set of Bulletins. I remember our first meeting in Houston in 1980 over cocktails with Nina Nikolaevna, Jerry Janacek, Olga Muller-Cooke, Sasha Woronzoff and Volodya Alexandrov.

One other major development was the re-examination of Belyj’s two years in Berlin, part of a general renewed interest in the topic of die Russen in Berlin (the title of Fritz Mieraus’ groundbreaking 1987 book), and Русский Берлин (1983), it too the title of a book by Lazar Fleishman and Olga and Bob Hughes. Curiously they had based their work on the Jashchenko archives at Stanford's Hoover Institute. They had overlooked the Jashchenko Nachlass in the then Staatsbibliothek Preussischer Kulturbesitz in Berlin.  My own decades long study of Belyj in Berlin began with a grant from the Alexander von Humbodt Stftung in 1984 and 1986, and DAAD support in 1989-1990. That research began with a conversation with Nina Berberova that lead me to uncover Vera Lourie who had been close to Belyj in the Berlin years. The fall of the Berlin Wall made visiting Fritz Mierau immeasureably easier and also inspired a flurry of work devoted to the glorious Berlin years of 1921-1923. Many German colleagues worked in this area; two of the better known were Doris Libermann and Amory Burchardt of Der Tagesspiegel. Dr. Walter Andreesen Director of the Ost-Europa Abteilung of the Staatsbibliothek worked steadfastly to preserve the legacy of Russian Berlin. Arno Spitz of the Berlin Verlag helped to publish both Russische Autoren und Verlage in Berlin (1987) and Вера Лурье Стихоторения (1987). More recently this time in Belyj's life has been recounted in Mina Poljanskaja's Foxtrot белого рыцаря: Андрей Белый в Берлине (СПб. 2009). It is more than a little disconcerting that this albeit journalistic text completely avoids giving recognition of the numerous German and Amercian sources which preceded and made possible her work.

Turning our attention back to the 1980’s, our Russian colleagues were not unaware of Belyj, but frequently did their studies of him under the cover and protection or auspices of Aleksandr Blok, who had been warmly accepted into the Soviet canon. I was shown by Stanislav Lesnevskij an invitation to a private evening celebrating Belyi’s 100th anniversary in 1980—where the writer was quietly remembered by Soviet scholars. John Malmstad commented on this silence in his article: “Belyi: A Centenary Unobserved.”[25]

Lena Szilard has published extensively on Belyj in Russian, Hungarian and other languages, and I want to recognize her presence and contributions here this evening. The 1980s also saw an emerging Italian connection—the University at Bergamo sponsoring a conference over several days that in 1986 (if I am not mistaken) and since then serious work continues in that language. 

The 1980’s saw several German language studies of note: Andrej Belyjs ästhetische Theorie des schöpferischen Bewusstseins: Symbolisierung und Krise der Kultur um die Jahrhundertwende by Maria Deppermann (1982); Schwarze Kuben - roter Domino: Strukturbeschreibung von Andrej Belyjs Roman "Peterburg"  by Dagmar Burkhart (1984); Ägypten und ägyptische Mythologie: Bilder der Transition im Werk Andrej Belyjs by Evelies Schmidt (1986) and Christa Ebert’s Symbolismus in Russland: zur Romanprosa Sologubs, Remisows, Belys (1988). In addition to the studies on Russian Berlin already mentioned there was inclusion of Belyj in Deutsche und Deutschland in der russischen Lyrik des fruhen 20. Jahrhunderts, edited by Lew Kopelew (1988) and Karl Schlogel’s Russische Emigration in Deutschland 1918 bis 1941 (1995).

There was also the publication of important previously unpublished words by Belyj in Russian in the West: The Memoirs of Steiner  (Воспоминания о Штейнере, 1982), and Why I Became a Symbolist (Почему я стал симвилистом…, 1982).

A line might be drawn, and I was struck by how distinctly it appears, between 1987 and 1988. If up until then Belyj scholarship had been centered in the West, in 1988 Dolgopolov publishes his study of Petersburg, accompanied in the same year by reprints of Belyj’s prose and poetry and the first Soviet re-evaluation of Belyj in Andrei Belyj: Problems of Creativity (Андрей Белый: Проблемы творчества, 1988).

As if let out the bottle, Belyj’s genie could not be restrained and dozens of Russian language reprints of the poetry, the novels, the memoirs and other critical works begin to appear in Russia.   Lavrov, Piskunov, and John Malmstad—now in concert and cooperation with his Russian colleagues—prepared scholarly annotated editions of correspondence and memoirs.  Here the Russians are incomparably more capable of uncovering the minutiae related to Belyj and his milieu. 

The 1990s could best be characterized as opening the pages of Belyj to his rightful readership in his own language.  A conference was held in 1992 at the Voloshin Home in Koktebel’ to commemorate the new openness, and it attracted a wide array of Russian scholars, and smattering of Westerners who could make their way there.  Other conferences followed and there was the inauguration and slow growth of the Andrei Belyj Apartment-Museum in Moscow. Western scholarship, while it declined from it s earlier days, continued in the works of Roger Keys, The reluctant modernist : Andrei Belyi and the development of Russian fiction, 1902 – 1914. (1996); Carmen Sippl, Reisetexte der russischen Moderne : Andrej Belyj und Osip Mandel'štam im Kaukasus. (1997); and Andrea Zink, Andrej Belyjs Rezeption der Philosophie Kants, Nietzsches und der Neukantianer and (1998).

Since the turn of the 21st century a number of key works have appeared, including Timothy Langen’s The Stony Dance (2005), an extraordinary comprehensive and brilliant reading Petersburg. Belyj’s "poem about song," Glossolalie, was translated into English by me and into German by Maka Kandelaki (2002).[26] A French translation now exists and an Italian and possibly Japanese version are in the works. John Elsworth's 2000 re-translation of The Silver Dove into English has been hailed as brilliant, and his new bold translation of Petersburg into English has recently appeared. Magnus Ljunggren has not let retirement slow him down and has published his Twelve Essays on Andrej Belyj’s Petersburg (2009).

One of the key areas is the re-discovered appreciation and attempts to understand the occult influences in Belyj’s life and works. There are new works that highlight the role of the esoteric and occult in Belyj such as Henrieke Stahl-Schwaetzer’s Renaissance des Rosenkreuzertums—a re-interpretation of The Silver Dove and Petersburg in light of initiation rituals applied to Belyj himself. Concerning the works in German in particular, I must lament the lack of cross fertilization of work in that language either by English speakers or Russian speakers. Taja Gut of the archives at the Goetheanum and his german language (Andrej Belyj Symbolismus, Anthroposophie, Ein Weg (1997) is largely responsible for restoring the role of Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy to the study of Belyj and ialong with Dr. Walter Kugler in making the archives in Dornach, Switzerland, accessible to all scholars all.

The coming together of Russian and foreign scholars embodied in Lavrov and Malmstad was exemplified in 125th anniversary conference, that brought together some of the old and the new.  Georges Nivat, John Elsworth, Aleksandr Lavrov, Stanislav Lesnevskij, Olga Cooke, Olga Matich, Magnus Ljunngren, Nina Kaukhchishvili, Tatjana Nikolesku, Lena Szilard, and me alongside of a younger generation, led by Monika Spivak, Japanese, Italians scholars and compilers of a Belyj web page. The conference itself served as an introduction of the special edition of Russian Literature (LVIII-I/II, 2005) devoted to Belyj, whose contributors also represent a great cross section of Belyj scholarship.[27] The recent conference on the 130th Anniversary of Belyj’s birth in Moscow also assembled scholars from France, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Switzerland,, as well as from Germany, Russia and the United States.

The new century has also brought a technical revolution to Belyj studies making him even more accessible to scholars and students alike. The website of the Belyj Museum in Moscow offers on line the complete texts of many first editions of Belyj’s works with ambitious intentions to print his entire completed works. The site is also rich in photographs and biographical information ( There is an Andrey White homepage ( replete with links to original works by the author, as well as reviews and articles.  Full text versions of many of Belyj's works are available at the Classic Russian Library ( Belyj's poetry is particularly well represented at the Library of Poetry ( or ( The Russian Virtual Library contains both biographical and textual information, including e-texts,

Monika Spivak has been noticeably present on the internet.[28] There are online copies of my own translations into English of The Christened Chinaman (Крещеный китаец) ( and of Glossolalie (Глоссолалия) Last but not least is the web page here at the University of Trier devoted to the project to bring to life an annotated edition of Belyj’s manuscript. (

All point to the resurgent interest in the works of a writer long ignored or passed over in his homeland. Andrej Belyj has returned home to the Arbat. Under Monika Spivak, herself an accomplished scholar and meticulous preserver of Belyj’s legacy, the Belyj Museum has become the center of the Belyj studies, uniting in a new way Westerners and Russians—opening the doors to all and growing on the shoulders of those who came before with complete recognition of the debt to foreign scholars who had preserved the memory of Belyj alive for so many years.

I shall pass over the contributions and discovery more recently made, many by those here this weekend, of Belyj’s mansuscript. It seems only fitting this gathering of scholars from countries and continents to celebrate Belyj’s work where interest and scholarship began in the West. It was in 1992 that collection was purchased from Russian poet and journalist P. Vegin (who had come to the United States in 1989) by Amherst College. [29]  One of its first publications in the West and attempts at annotation was begun by John Kopper of Dartmouth College who had been contacted by Stanley Rabinowitz and asked to work on the materials. The result was the appearance of Kopper’s “Мистик среди схоластов. Андрей Белый и средневековый мистицизм” in 1998.[30]

Many of you here this evening know and understand better than I the long and troubled history of this manuscript that is finally receiving its due attention. Let us hope that this spirit of openness and cooperation between Western and Russian scholars continues to help make Belyj, as he himself had wanted, more accessible to others. Saved from obscurity by dozens of us who recognized the extraordinary contributions of Belyj to literature, literary theory, poetics, Western thought and the portraits of his time, the study of Boris Nikolaevich Bugaev continues and flourishes today.  Many have contributed in the 21st Century already to work on this important work, and I shall say no more for only “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”

I am honored to have been invited to participate with you in the next few days, and wish all of us who so honor this major figure of 20th century culture the best of success.

Vielen dank für Ihre Aufmerksamkeit. Спасибо за ваше внимание.



[1] I have provided a printed copy of my remarks on my website at and that file contains many of the hyperlinks to articles, books and other materials to I shall be referring.

[2] Those proceedings appeared in Andrey Bely: A Critical Review (1978) and can be obtained at Google Books.

[3] Anton Hönig, Andrej Belyjs Romane: Stil und Gestalt, Forum Slavica, Band 8 (Munich: 1965), 110-124.

[4] The Andrej Belyj Society Newsletter from 1982-—1998 are available electronically at

[5] Taranovsky was Russian born in 1911, but after the revolution moved with his family in 1920 to Yugoslavia where he defended his dissertation in 1941, having spent time in Prague with Roman Jakobson. The work published in 1953 depends almost exclusively on Belyj’s methodology of calculating scuds (Nabokov’s word). Taranovsky would eventually end up at Harvard University in 1958 until his death in 1993. One of his students, James Bailey at the University of Wisconsin, would continue this work.

[6] Festschrift für Max Vasmer zum 70. Geburstag. (Berlin: 1956).

[7] The Prideaux Press in Letchworth has almost 250 books in their collection of Russian Titles for the Specialist published in the 1960s up through 1980. They include Одна из обителей царства теней  = In the kingdom of the shadows (1971); Памяти Александра Блока /Андрей Белый, Иванов-Разумник, А. З. Штейнберг (1971); Первое свидание = The first meeting (1974); Революция и культура = Revolution and culture   (1971); Трагедия творчества: Достоевский и Толстой  (1971); Вовращение на родину  = Returning home (1977).

[8] Georgette Donchin (1922-2008). Born in Lodz in Poland, she attended secondary school there (1932-38), and then the French school in Warsaw (1938-39). Her own mother died when she was very young, but she acquired a loving stepmother, through whom she learnt Russian.  Shortly before the war the family visited relatives in Egypt. The war made higher education an impossibility, and instead she went to work as a Russian and Polish Monitor for the Radio Monitoring Section of the UK Ministry of Information, Middle East Forces. In 1946 she was accepted at SSEES for the BA in Russian with English subsidiary. Awarded her Ph.D. in 1953, her The Influence of French Symbolism on Russian Poetry came out in 1958. She went on to the School of Slavic and East European Studies at University College London in 1960.

[9] Works re-published abroad included: Луг зеленый (1967);  На рубеже двух столетий. Intro. by Georgette Donchin. (1966); Начало века (1966); Воспоминания об Александре Блоке (1964).

[10] Dmitrij Tschižewskij “(1894-1977) (diese Schreibweise bevorzugte er selbst). Nach Kriegsende floh er nach Marburg, wo er bis 1951 Gastprofessor war, danach lehrte er bis 1956 an der Harvard-Universität. Von 1956 an war er Professor für Slawistik an der Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg.” cf. (žewskij)

[11] The list of Belyj’s works in the series Slavishce Propyläen include: Kotik Letaev Nachdr. d. Ausg. Petrograd, 1922 / mit e. Einl. v. Dmitrij Tschizewskij  (Slavische Propyläen ; 3) 1964; Krescenyj kitaec -Nachdr. d. Ausg. Moskau 1927 / mit e. Einl. v. D. Tschizewskij . (Slavische Propyläen  23) 1969; Maski-Nachdr. d. Ausg. Moskau 1932 (Slavische Propyläen ; 46) 1969; Moskva -Nachdr. d. Ausg. Moskau 1926 (Slavische Propyläen ; 45), 1968; Vospominanija o A. A. Bloke -Nachdr. nach 'Epopeja' 1-4, Moskau/Berlin 1922/3 (Slavische Propyläen ; 47), 1969; Masterstvo Gogolja -Nachdr. d. Ausg. Moskau 1934 / mit e. Einf. v. Dmitrij Tschizewskij (Slavische Propyläen ; 59), 1969; Simvolizm -Nachdr. d. Ausg. Moskau 1910 (Slavische Propyläen; 62) 1969; Perepiska / Aleksandr Blok ; Andrej Belyj. -Nachdr. d. Ausg. Moskau 1940 (Slavische Propyläen  65) 1969.

[12] Gerigk writes; “I have published a book with a very extensive chapter on Belyj's Petersburg in it: Staat und Revolution im russischen Roman des 20. Jahrhunderts,  1900-1925. Eine historische und poetologische Studie. (Heidelberg: 2005). It's on Sologub, Gorky, Belyj, Gladkov and Zamjatin. Concerning my academic teacher, Dmitrij Tschizewskij, I published a little memoir: Die Spur der Endlichkeit. Meine akademischen Lehrer. Vier Porträts. Dmitrij Tschizewskij, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Rene Wellek, Paul Fussell. (Heidelberg: 2007). The chapter on Tschizewskij describes, among other things, his literary favorites, among them, of course, Andrej Belyj. … concerning a seminar on Russian Symbolisms I attended as a student with Tschizewskij, on Belyj's "Arbat" as text. . . . And of course you'll know my article on "Belyj's Petersburg and Nietzsches Geburt der Tragödie" in Nietzsche-Studien.” E-mail from October 19, 2010.

[13]Юрьева, Зоя. In 2000 her work appeared in Russia, Творимый космос у Андрея Белого (СПб.: 2000).

[14] Telephone interview with author October 13, 2010.

[15] Those proceedings appeared in Andrey Bely: A Critical Review, ed. Gerald Janacek (1978). cf.,M1). There is an excellent overview presented by Gleb Struve of work on Belyj up to that time.

[16] A list of translations is found in The Andrej Belyj Society Newsletter, 2 (1983), 22-27.

[17] Vladimir Nabokov, Strong Opinions (1973), p. 57.

[18] Eugene Onegin: a novel in verse / by Aleksandr Pushkin; translated from the Russian, with a commentary, by Vladimir Nabokov ( 1964).

[19] e-mail to this author on October 1, 2010.

[20] “A list of doctoral dissertations from 1972-1982.” The Andrej Belyj Society Newsletter Belyj, 1 (1982), 17.

[21] The work appeared first in German, and only later was the Russian published. This was the first publication of an original major work by Bely since the 1930s.  It would be followed by others including Why I became a Symbolist.

[22] Степун, Ф. Андрей Белый и Рудольф Штейнер. Мосты, 11 (1965), 366-368.

[23]Андрей Белый и Рудольф Штейнер. Мосты, 13-14 (1968), 236-251.

[24] "Andrej Belyj's Reminiscences of Rudolf Steiner: A Review Article."  Slavic and East European Journal,  XXV, 4  (Winter, 1981), 76-86.

[25] Review: Belyi: A Centenary Unobserved.” Slavic Review, Vol. 42, No. 2 (Summer, 1983), pp. 266-271.

[26] Maka Kandelaki originally contacted me to complain of my German translation of Glossolalia. In fact I had never done a German version. My English had been automatically translated on the web with the obvious results. This did, however, initiate an attempt at the tri-lingual edition, Russian, English, German with my notes and the assistance and support of Taja Gut leading to the eventual Glossolalie.

[27] Thomas R. Beyer, Russia’s odd couple: Andrej Belyj and Aleksej Remizov”; Maria Carlson, “Theosophy and history in Andrej Belyj's Peterburg: Life in the Astral City”; Olga M. Cooke, “’Kosnojazyčie’ in the final decade of Andrej Belyj’s artistic life”; Cтефано Гардзонио, Традиция 'песни неволи' в поэзии Андрея Белого: 'Градяжий цикл' (Сборник Пепел)”; Эльда Гаретто, Из архива О. И. Ресневич–Синьорелли”; Александро Комлли, 'Мысли из лэни Андрея Белого (из дневника философских мыслей)”; А. В. Лавров, Андрей Белый и Эллис. О задачах 'Мусагета’”; О. А. Лектанов, О стихотвортении Андрея Белого Жертва вечерняя’ (1903). K теме: ‘Модернизм и массовая поэзия’”; Magnus Ljunggren, “The missing link in Andrej Belyj's Petersburg”; Джон Малмстад, Андрей Белый и Г. А. Рачинский; Olga Matich, Backs, Suddenlys, and Surveillance in Andrej Belyj's Petersburg”; Елена Наседкина и  Моника Спивак, 'Он переживал свое рожденье'. Болезнь и смерть Андрея Белого в письмах К. Н. Бугаевой и Иванова-Разумника”; Г. В. Нефедьев, 'Сон об Атланте': К подтексту мотива провокации в романах Андрея Белого Петербруг и Москва”; Михаил Одесский, Поэтика театра Андрея Белого. Послесловие к 'докладной записке' в Теонаркомпроса”; Надежда Пыхстыгина, Эзотерическая символика в романе Андрея Белого Москва”; Harsha Ram, Andrej Beлyj and Georgia: Georgian modernism and the 'peripheral’ reception of the Petersburg text”; Лена  Силард, Арбат Андрея Белого”; Андрей Шишкин, Танатос и преображение Андрея Белого в откликах Э.Метнера и Вяч. Иванова (новые материалы из римского архива Вяч. Иванова)”; and Елена Толстая, Андрей Белый и Алексей Толстой.

[28] Rather than list the numerous occurrences I suggest that one do searches on and for Belyj.

[29] Cf. According to the description at Amherst, “P. Vegin was a friend and supporter of Klavdiia Nikolaevna Bugaeva (1886-1970), Andrei Bely's widow.  After K. N. Bugaeva's death her close friend, Elena Vasilievna Nevejnova, a teacher who "literally saved her" (Klavdiia Nikolaevna was totally paralyzed and bed-ridden for the last seventeen years of her life), gave these materials to P. Vegin. . . . The 1.5 linear feet of materials include: handwritten copy of Bely's unfinished manuscript The History of the Evolution of the Self-knowing Spirit; a published fragment from the same manuscript; . . .  The most significant series in the collection is Series I - The History of the Evolution of the Self-knowing Spirit  ("Istoriia stanovleniia samosoznaiushchei dushi") - a copy of A. Bely's manuscript transcribed by K. N. Bugaeva from the original.  This copy was made because of Bely's extremely illegible handwriting, which became progressively worse each year, and the only one who could decipher his writing was K. N. Bugaeva.  After the copy was made, K. N. Bugaeva sold the last (third) part of Bely's autograph to the Lenin Library manuscript division in Moscow (now Russian State Library) and destroyed the first two parts.
           This pivotal work reflects Bely's intensive effort to formulate a complete world view, a system that will essentially explain, or begin to explain, the entire world as it is both revealed to, and concealed from, man. The manuscript is still unpublished.”  John Kopper of Dartmouth College was contacted by Stanley Rabinowitz and asked to work on the materials.

[30] Джон Коппер, “Мистик среди схоластов. Андрей Белый и средневековый мистицизм ,” Литературное обозрение 1998 (2), с.  13-20.