We’re receiving no books from Russia. But literature is the most nation-specific of the arts. Music, painting, scientific discoveries – all this represents an Esperanto of sorts for the whole world. See more
Here, in this foreign land, only literature can transform the sharp pain of estrangement into a sweet melancholic yearning. And now the first sampler of the creative output of the Russian military detachment in France – that newly sprung, idiosyncratic people – has been released.
Let us not gripe about the book’s shortcomings, about the flaws in its versification, about its many awkward turns of phrase, about the banality of its ideas... Its virtues are of greater significance. Its tireless contemplations of the motherland, its quintessentially Russian dreaminess and the melodiousness of its verse are what render this book precious and dear to me. As a poet, Alekseev isn’t set apart by the acuteness of his emotional states. In his work they’re immediately transmuted into images in which he himself takes passionate delight, while occasionally compelling others to delight in them as well.
Aide-de-camp to the Provisional Government Commissary. Paris, 29 October 1917. No. 105. To the Divisional Intendant of the First Special Infantry Division. See more
Sick soldiers at the Hospital No. 45, Hôtel Dieu in St. Malo are in a great need of sugar that they receive in insufficient quantities. That’s why the War Commissary has instructed me to ask you to send a package with 30 kilograms of sugar, to be distributed among the soldiers, to the Doctor of this infirmary, M-lle Goldberg (Mademoiselle Goldberg).
With news of the revolution having reached Paris, a number of Russian newspapers appeared of the most extreme nature. The newspapers, as well as individuals who emigrated, having gained access to the mass of soldiers, fed them with Bolshevik Leninist-Makhaev propaganda, at times even giving false information, drawn from fragmentary telegrams in French newspapers. See more
In the absence of any official news or command, all this caused unrest among the soldiers. The latter desired an immediate return to Russia and expressed indiscriminate hostility towards the officers. On the 1st of July, as per the will of the soldiers, the troops were gathered from their various towns to the La Curtin camp. The rallies began here, in which the first regiment and its leaders sought to seize a leading role.
Dear God, save Russia and our Russian fools.
Dear Anichka, you must no doubt be angry that I’ve not written you for so long, but I was purposely waiting for my fate to be decided. Now it has been. See more
I shall remain in Paris, at the disposal of the local emissary of the Provisional Government. I’ll most likely be employed in investigations of a variety of soldierly affairs and misunderstandings.
In a month, I’ll probably discover how secure my position is here. Then we’ll be able to give some thought to your coming here as well – if that’s something you’d be keen on, of course. For the moment, though, I still don’t know what sort of salary I shall command. At any rate, my situation is an exceptional one – with any luck, it’ll open up new horizons for me.
As ever, I’m constantly with Goncharova and Larionov, I’m very fond of them both. Now to the matter at hand: they want to travel to Russia, they’ve already sent off their forms, but it’s all very slow. If you’ve someone you could call on at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, see to it that he finds their papers and wires them here to the Consulate so they can be issued passports as soon as possible. Their applications are perfectly in order, they just need to be hurried through.
I’m in fine fettle and contented with my fate. In a couple of days or so I shall have permanent lodgings; I’ll let you know my address. I’ve not had time to write much – been running around and taking care of various business. I’ll send you all sorts of sundries from Galeries Lafayette via Larionov when he goes to Russia.
My dear Kolya,
Mother has finally received your letter from Paris. I am happy that you are staying in France. I think I don’t have to describe how badly I want to come to you. I beg you - try to arrange it, show me that yiu are my friend. See more
I am in good health, very bored in the countryside, I dread winter. My book is finally out, but I haven’t gotten it yet. Neither have I gotten any letters from you, what a shame!
I don’t know anything about our friends: the post barely works. I have been writing a lot, and I don’t like anything I’ve written.
It’s so strange to reminisce: in winter 1907 you asked me to come to Paris in every letter, and now I don’t even know if you want to see me at all. Please know: I do remember you, I love you and I’m always sad without you. I watch wistfully everything that is happening in Russia. God is punishing our country.
Don’t forget me, my dear. Write to me.
Our son is very sweet and well-behaved. He resembles you very closely.
I stayed in London for two weeks and today I’m pressing on. In London, I didn’t waste any time. I met many poets, artists, and essayists. I gave an interview to one weekly literary newspaper on my general view of modern poetry, and came to the aid of one translator in compiling an anthology of contemporary Russian poets. See more
I feel like a completely new person, strong and rejuvenated as I was at least fifteen years ago. I've already written a dozen poems, and the verse wanders in my head. I’ve already said that I understand English poorly. The attitude towards Russians here is not bad at all, and toward the revolution it’s even great.
It was at the house of Lady Juliet Duff; and among the guests was Major Maurice Baring, who had brought with him a Russian in uniform. He talked French in a flowing monologue that suavely swept us all before it; and the things he said had a certain quality characteristic of his nation; a quality which many have tried to define, but which may best be simplified by saying that his nation appears to possess every human talent except common sense. See more
He was an aristocrat, a landed proprietor, an officer in one of the crack regiments of the Czar, a man altogether of the old regime. But there was something about him that is the making of every Bolshevist; something I have felt in every Russian I ever met. I can only say that when he walked out of the door, one felt he might just as well have walked out of the window. He was not a Communist; but he was a Utopian; and his Utopia was far, far madder than any Communism. His practical proposal was that poets alone should be allowed to rule the world. He was himself, as he gravely explained, a poet. But he was so courteous and complimentary as to select me, as being also a poet, to be the absolute and autocratic governor of England. D'Annunzio was similarly enthroned to govern Italy. Anatole France was enthroned to govern France.