Academician Dmitry Sergeyevich Likhachev ( 1906-1999)

Дата публикации: 04 ноября 2022
Автор(ы): V. GOLDMAN
Публикатор: Научная библиотека Порталус
Источник: (c) "Science in Russia" Date:03-01-2000
Номер публикации: №1667594985


Academician Dmitry Sergeyevich Likhachev( 1906-1999). This eminent scholar and philologist is well known above all by his studies of the Russian 12th-century epic The Layoflgor's Host and other literary monuments of the medieval Russia. He has written extensively on Russian culture, and on problems of textual criticism as well. And we also remember Academician Likhachev as a man wedded to his cause in the struggle for the purity of our native tongue and as a man who has epitomized the flower of the 20th-century Russian intelligentsia. But late in 1999-thanks to the St. Petersburg BLITZ Publishers-

the broad public discovered another side to Academician Likhachev's talents-as a topnotch artist who way back in 1937 produced a series of amazing drawings in Novgorod the Great. Now an album of these drawings is off the press. Dmitry Likhachev had been eager to see this album in print. Unfortunately he departed from us just a week before the edition came off the press... By courtesy of the BLITZ Publishers we are pleased to present an adaptation of the reminiscences written by Dmitry Sergeyevich Likhachev about his trips to Novgorod the Great; and we also reproduce a few drawings he made there.

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Zina [wife] and I went to Novgorod during my vacation, on V. Komarovich's advice. That was just before the birth of my daughters. It was in the summer of 1937. We rented a room at Baroness Tiesenhausen's on the very edge of Novgorod. The windows opened on a wondrous view of Krasnoye pole ("Red Field") and the Nere-ditsa Church and belfry on the very horizon. It was this very room that Komarovich had been renting before us.

I took along a spyglass, and in the hours when we were not taking a walk - early in the morning or before sunset - I would feast by eyes on Nereditsa. I remember the shades of swifts flitting on the white walls of the church here and there at dusk. Evenings, if we were not very tired after our daytime walks, we liked to stroll on Krasnoye pole. There were lots of geese at grass out in the field and returning home toward the evening; they would stop before house gates at Slavna, and honk and gabble to be let in. Toward the evening, by the way, we walked to the Kremlin now and then, we would sit down next to the Monument of Russia's Millennium and admire the golden dome of the St. Sophia Cathedral, gilded with a thick overlayer and bedazzling in its mirror smoothness in which the clouds - scudding across the sky were reflected. You could look at this dome endlessly, the way you look at a running wave. In the daytime we took long walks - every time to some new monument. We walked pretty far - to the village ofVolotovo with its famed church of the fourteenth century, to Khutyn and to the St. Cyril Cloister where, at the New St. Cyril Cemetery, Alexander Blok's sister and her mother, the second wife of Blok's father, are buried. Myself, I took solitary

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walks to Lipna and to Skovorodka where, assisted by his wife, Olsufyev was cleaning the frescoes. We were also to the St. George Monastery, and to Peryn, and to Arkazhy...

Since Zina was then "near her time", our outings were "quite a feat" in a way, not counting in our stopovers at an ice-cream cafe near the St. Parasceva Church on the Yaroslavl encampment site. We have never eaten ice creams like that ever since... They were delicious.

We were going back to Leningrad by steamboat, past the Arakcheyev barracks and lovely woodlands (much later, as Senkevich and I went by boat in those parts, there were no woods any more, and what remained of the churches was wrack and ruin here and there). Granin, who took part in the shootings for the Travelers' Club TV series, sighed, "How could one live in such villages, what boredom!" But in 1937 we had no "boredom" like that yet...

Before the war I made two other trips to Novgorod together with Fedya Rosenberg. On our second trip Mikhail Ivanovich Steblin-Kamensky joined us. In Novgorod Fedya had become acquainted with a bookkeeper who had a motorboat. And we went in it to Lipna, Peryn, to the St. George Monastery...

So, by the outbreak of the war I got to know Novgorod well enough. That influenced the choice of the subject for my M.A. dissertation: The Novgoro-dian Chronicles of the 12th Century; and then, in 1945, my book was off the press: Novgorod the Great. Studies in the History of the Novgorod Culture of the llth- 17th Centuries, written for the most part during the siege of Leningrad...

At this point I come to the main thing... At the end of the war I lived with my family in Kazan and worked at the Institute of Russian Literature as before. Our Institute was being "re-evacuated" back to Leningrad. I was not included into the list of those going home (maybe my name was struck off) as politically unreliable. Our dear Viktor Andronnikovich Manuilov, in charge of our Institute in Leningrad,

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summoned me there on a business trip. The Germans were still near Leningrad. At night our train went by the station with a somber name - Dno or Mga. I stayed in Leningrad for quite sometime: they had stolen my passport, money, military service certificate, food-cards - as good as all my documents were gone. I had to get new ones, go through the various medical commissions and the like. I do not remember-whether during that trip of mine or on the next one-Novgorod was cleared from the enemy That happened in January or February In May the road to Novgorod was open again, and Viktor Andronnikovich [Manui-lov] suggested that I go to Novgorod - to have a look and see what had been left over there, if anything. The train crawled by fits and starts, and I could see so many German corpses, bloated and not buried yet, lying about in the still mined swamps at Leningrad. V'k had a transfer at Chudovo. I went to take a look - if [Nikolai] Nekrasov's home had survived. It had! That was truly a miracle...

I arrived at Novgorod in the morning. The train stopped in an open field. That was what remained of Novgorod. Then I could discern St. Sophia and other churches. Several trains stood on tracks nearby, with peasant families disembarking. Envoys from various collective farms were busy trying to woo them in with promises of detached izba homes, community foodstores and other good things. I saw another train pulling in. It brought native Novgorodians coming back home. My God, what a storm of weeping and wailing broke loose as the people saw that their long dreamt-of Novgorod was no more. Those lamentations begged for a folklore student's pen. "Thou Novgorod, our most beautiful, what have they done to thee? Jesus, this is what remains of thee..." And so forth in the same vein. All of the train, composed of red goods cars, was aweep with little children weeping, and women throwing themselves prone to the ground...

Well, I took my briefcase and went about in search of some abode. The earthen wall on the St. Sophia Side of the town was all scarred with trenches

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and German dugouts. Now common people were living there. Here and there I could see puffs of smoke rising upwards, and women with pails trudging to the river Volkhov to haul water. There were clotheslines with laundry drying in the air. No trace of streets. Paved with cobblestone, they were under a wanton growth of weeds, rather tall for the month of May. Next, I found myself on the Torg Side - and I had to watch my step and feel if it was the pavement or soft soil I was treading. No token of what used to be a street, you could always fall into some manhole or well. I roamed about like a blindman. But I had a stroke of good luck on the very first day, hitting upon a Peasant's House [inn]. I think it occupied the building of the Noble Assembly (if you looked at the Kremlin from its main entrance, the building was on the right side). Half of the edifice of the early nineteenth century was away, the other half had a roof intact, and one had put cots flush against one another for fellow-travelers. I slept without taking my clothes off.

What did I see in Novgorod? Compared with the other things around it, the Kremlin was nearly intact. The Monument of Russia's Millennium was dismantled, separate figures were marked with numbers in white: clearly, it was about to be taken away and put together elsewhere. No domes on the St. Sophia's drums. Treading the grass around the church, I found a gilded ball that had supported a cross on top of one of the smaller domes. I picked it up. A rather thick gilding, neatly done, was clearly distinct. Way behind the St. Sophia Cathedral I could read an inscription on a house wall: El viva Salamanca-tWs where the Spanish had been billeted. The Spanish army must have had its territorial units there. The St. Euphemius belfry was without a wooden surmount that had matched it so well. But the museum was already "at work": its old director, Tamara Konstantinova, was picking in the rubble of Novgorodian houses to retrieve what of the redwood furniture she could find for her study. I gave her the golden ball but then regretted it: she showed no interest in that. And she took no interest

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in the gone Kitovras either, as I found it out on my second trip to Novgorod. The point is that Young Pioneers, out on a trash run collecting scrap metal, turned to and broke off the Kitovras in the Sigtun Gate.* Afterwards a Leningrad engineer discovered the Kitovras in a junkyard and sent in a letter in which he asked the museum to dispatch an official solicitation. Otherwise he could not salvage it, for the thing was all too heavy. But the museum never sent such a paper. The staff did not want to write it and commit themselves, for that would have meant that the museum was responsible for the St. Sophia Cathedral; but the superintendent, Tamara Konstantinova, was loath to take on such responsibility. She wanted the Department of Architecture to file that paper. But people over there did not want to recognize St. Sophia as their own either. So the Kitovras was lost forever - perhaps it is tucked away in some private collection. In the end the Kitovras was copied from a copy at the Moscow Museum of History, and thus it was installed, a copy from a copy. But that happened several years later.

I went into some of the houses within the Kremlin. All of them were littered with packets from chemical heaters that German soldiers were using, and with some other packets - substances against lice or bedbugs, who knows.

On one of the banks of the Volkhov there lay scattered here and there, sideways, bells from the St. Sophia belfry. A tank hauled them out of the water; the biggest bell, whose peal was so much admired by Novgorodians, had its ears torn off in the retrieval effort.

In the Chamber of Facets the Germans had set up an officers' club, I could see some of the inscriptions in German. Our troops had not shelled the Kremlin; but the thick walls of the Chamber provided secure shelter anyway. A street on the St. Sophia Side was paved with the stone of one of the

* Such runs for scrap metal destroyed an immense amount of cast ironwork in the Arakcheyev Gruzin. I was told about this by a Novgorodian restoration artist Chernyshev (his article on a St. Sophia chandelier was published in the Works of the Old Russian Literature Department).

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Churches: the Germans demolished it for the construction of their defenses as well.

I went to the St. George Monastery. The church on Sinichya Gora (mountain) had survived whole, but the best monuments (the cemetery on Sil-nishche, mind you, used to be most rich) were taken away I saw them in the St. George Monastery. Unlike the Germans, the Spaniards did not make do with modest graves for their war dead and put up ornate headstones from the pillaged material. The graveyard was on the site of a sacred spring sheltered by a costly canopy. The St. George Monastery was turned to a stable for an Estonian cavalry unit. The swollen carcass of a horse lay across the road. I had to climb over it. On the other side of the St. George Church a gun emplacement had been built. Telephone wires were strung from it on to the staircase of the church. The upper landing still kept the remains of bonfires, the walls had a thick coat of soot. The art-minded Spaniards drew nude wenches on the stairway walls-right on what remained of the 12th century frescoes.

But the most frightful sight was presented by a church overlooking, eater-comer, the Volkhov and having blue domes with golden stars. It had been the main Nazi stronghold. The floor was piled high with mines and machine-gun cartridges. It was at this place that the Germans had rebuffed our onslaught that claimed a very high toll from us. The bodies of thousands of Soviet soldiers had gone under the ice.

I also walked to my favorite haunt, the necklace of churches on Krasnoye Pole. Trenches were here, there and everywhere: at Nereditsa (walking thither was particularly dangerous, for the ground was not demined yet; I trod cautiously, watching every step); at the Kovalyovo cemetery and at Lipna, one of our strongpoints. The churches were turned into watchtowers. That is why they were so heavily damaged by the enemy artillery. The trenches around Kovalyovo were dug amongst graves and will into burial vaults, and they had tombstones for protection. I took a picture of one such headstone, "Mother

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Maria's". Had there been a nunnery at Kovalyovo?

I still remember a terrific wound inflicted by our shell on the western side of the Savior's-on-Ilyin Church. As a rule, our artillery had not been shelling the Novgorod churches (a special order had been issued). The Germans had made use of that and set up observation and fire-control posts in the upper storeys of historic monuments. The observation post within the Savior's Church had been particularly perilous to our troops advancing from the east. So one single shell had been fired and, alas, it damaged the frescoes wrought by Theophanus the Greek... The Volotovo Church that I am so fond of was razed to the ground, it was a heap of rubble not above average human height, and one could still find precious pieces of frescoes there. Quite a lot could have been saved at Volotovo had one turned to the job in good time. To see such a magnificent church reduced to a heap of rubble, and the demolished Skovorodka Monastery with frescoes that had never been photographed and that were cleaned by the Olsufyevs, and Kovalyovo in ruins - all that was awful to see. At Khutyn there still towered the gaunt frames of the domes, but I was unable to get thither.

Before my departure I walked to the place where Madam Tiesenhausen's home had stood. I recalled our life there, my vacation and the delicious ukha (fish- soup) that she had cooked (Madam Tiesenhausen was a priest's daughter, and her husband, Baron Tiesenhausen, had served before his arrest as a petty clerk at the Novgorod branch of the State Bank).

I also recalled Baroness Tiesenhausen putting a pillow on the window sill of her bedroom (her house was flush with the sidewalk) and talking to passersby with her head resting on the pillow - all and sundry knew one another over there.

A serene provincial life that even wholesale arrests begun in 1936 could not disturb - where is it?


Опубликовано на Порталусе 04 ноября 2022 года

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