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Andrei Bely and Aleksei Remizov:

The Berlin Years 1921-19231

Professor Thomas R. Beyer

Middlebury College, Vermont USA
It is Ilya Ehrenburg who unites the two writers in his own memoirs, in particular during their Berlin years (1966: 428 ff.). Describing his own debt to these two innovators he notes that "без него [Белого] (как и Ремизова) трудно себе представить историю русской прозы" (1966: 430). Perhaps no two writers had such an impact on the Russian language and prose styles of the twentieth century as Bely and Remizov. Numerous scholars and critics mention both in the same breadth. Greta Slobin in her Remizov's Fictions, 1900-1921 notes "Along with his illustrious contemporary Andrei Bely (1880-1934), Remizov pioneered the experimental writing that radically affected the development of modern Russian fiction during the first quarter of this [the twentieth, TRB] century" (1991: xiii). Viktor Shklovski in a review of Remizov's Россия в письменах likewise mentions the two in the same breadth: "Нельзя писать книгу по старому. Это знает Белый." (Remizov, VII, 483). Gleb Alekseev writing in Berlin in 1923 publishes a tiny volume priceless for its characterizations of Bely and Remizov: "Я никогда не видел раньше человека, до такой степени влюбленного в слово. Если А. Белого волнует происхождение слова, его ритмика, его музыка, для Ремизова: слово — самоцель. У Ремизова оно живое..." (Живые встречи, 9).

They had much in common. Yet this seemingly self-evident fact has received little serious attention and no in depth study of the two men, their literary lives and the intersections of their lives and works has appeared.2 This is one more example of the lack of attention to many Russian writers of the twentieth century, in particular those who went abroad after the 1917 revolutions. Russians themselves until recently, as we must remind a younger generation, often were denied access to their literary heritage and publicly avoided mentioned of those in emigration for political reasons. The past fifteen years have seen enormous strides in addressing this issue, such as the excellent scholarly edition in ten volumes of Remizov’s works. Critical editions of Bely's prose and memoirs have also appeared in Russian. American and other English reading audiences have had limited access to works in English by both writers. Remizov once remarked that the richness of English literature has precluded a thirst for translations. The ornamental prose styles of both, unique and yet similar in their complexity and foreshadowing of sound and form over content, have made translation difficult, some would say impossible. The autobiographical writings of both writers remain largely untranslated and, except to handful of scholars, largely unknown. In addition, few scholars seem to have bridged the divide between Bely and Remizov studies.

My modest task today is to provide a brief overview of the intersections biographically and bibliographically, based primarily on the surprisingly little each has written of the other, of their Berlin period from 1921-1923 when the two were in close contact on a number of occasions.

Aleksei Mikhailovich Remizov (his real name) was born in 1877 to a family of merchants, but his mother soon abandoned the father and raised her children largely on her own. Boris Nikolaevich Bugaev, better known by his penname Andrei Bely, was born in 1880, the son of a Moscow University professor and musically gifted mother. Remizov was short and stout, with bushy hair and eyebrows. Bely was tall and lanky, and with the years would lose his curly locks. Bely died in Moscow in 1934; Remizov died in Paris in 1957. Remizov would complain of difficulties in publishing his works in his early career. Bely had ready access to the Symbolist journals Золотое руно and Весы, and to the major Symbolist publishing houses. Remizov was largely a prose writer and memoirist. Bely was a prolific critic, theorist and poet in addition to publishing novels, memoirs and books of literary criticism. So much for the differences!

Both were only children. Both were Muscovites with all that that meant for Russian literature in a time when the political, and thus the intellectual and artistic capital of Russia was Saint Petersburg. There was always something more “Russian” and less cosmopolitan about Moscow, an aura of good old-fashioned values always in contrast to and with contempt for the foreign, artificial, unnatural world of the Petersburg intelligentsia. Both attended Moscow University. Remizov began visiting classes in 1895 but was arrested in the fall of 1896 after participating in a student demonstration and subsequently exiled to Penza (Gracheva, 2000: 8-28). It seems unlikely that their paths crossed in their student years in spite of Remizov’s hint to the contrary.3 The timing does not bear out the memory. Bely enrolled at the University in September 1899. He was awarded his degree in May 1903 but continued his studies that September until he withdrew in the fall of 1906 to travel abroad. (Lavrov, 1988: 775-777).

Bely and Remizov both entered the literary scene in the first years of the twentieth century. Remizov's first publication came in 1902 under the pseudonym, Н. Молдаванов, "Плач девушки перед замужеством." Boris Bugaev took the penname Andrei Bely (Andrew the White) to avoid confusion with and embarrassment for his father, Nikolai Bugaev, a professor of mathematics and Dean at Moscow University, and published his Симфония (2-я драматическая) in 1902.

How aware were they of each other’s existence in those early years? Remizov had returned from exile to St. Petersburg in the beginning of 1905 where he received a position with the journal, Вопросы жизни (Grachevа, 16). In December 1905 Bely traveled to St Petersburg and stayed with the Merezhkovskis until his return to Moscow sometime after December 20. Remizov's comment that they had studied together, notwithstanding, they both date their first meeting to 1905.4 Remizov dates the meeting precisely as December 3, 1905 (VII, 56).5

The December 1905 encounters initiated contacts that would last for another eighteen years. Their paths crossed in the literary community. Bely wrote reviews and sometimes intervened on Remizov's behalf in the literary world where he was well positioned among the Symbolists. Both shared many acquaintances in common, and those relationships were at times problematic. Remizov admired Blok. The Blok-Bely relationship was a complex and fascinating one, complicated by Bely’s infatuation with Blok’s wife, their shared mantle of Symbolist fame, and twenty year long correspondence, a tortured friendship-feindship.

There was less contact in the second decade of the century. Bely's spent much time abroad in the first years heavily involved with Anthroposophy and Rudolf Steiner. Upon his return to Russian Bely was inducted by Remizov into the Obezvelvolpal. His certificate is dated January 24, 1917: Обезьяный знак первой степени с хвостом -- за претерпение ратное, за стихи, еще не полученные (Obatnina, 2001: no page). 6

The Great and Free Chamber of Simians would play a significant role in Remizov's Berlin period and was just one more intersection for the two writers.7

Nothing, however, had prepared the two for their brief but intense contact over two years in Berlin. Given the significant overlap of two of the most widely published and prolific writers in that period, what is striking is the lack of any overall picture of either writer by the other. What does exist is fragmentary, aphoristic, rather than a coherent narrative. The connection of the two has also largely escaped attention by those who have documented Russian Berlin. An extensive examination to detail the daily comings and goings of Remizov in Berlin is sorely needed, something akin to the study on Bely for that time period.

The major turning point in the lives of both came in the fall of 1921. Two events suggested that the time was right to depart. Aleksandr Blok died in August. Both would join others in mourning his loss. More ominous were the arrest and execution of Nikolai Gumilyov in August-September 1921. This was the first execution of a writer and left no doubt that others could be at risk. Remizov had been arrested in 1918 and freed only after the personal intervention of Lunacharsky. So it was that independently, but almost simultaneously that Remizov and Bely decided to leave Russia. Remizov departed Petrograd on August 5, 1921;8 Bely left Russia in October.

The Remizovs waited arrived in Berlin in mid September 1921 where his arrival in Berlin was recorded along with that of others in an announcement in Голос России (September 27, 1921). In the fall of 1921 Russian Berlin was just stirring, providing a hint, but no real indication of the cultural renaissance about to be experienced. There were a few brief notes of cultural activity for September, October and the beginning of December.

One curious announcement concerning the formation of a literary circle appeared in Воскресенье: Еженедельный орган безпартийных русских в Германии.

„По слухам, в Грюневальде состоялась дуэль на старинных пистолетах между А. Дроздовым и И. Соколовым-Микитовым. Дуэлянты обменялись выстрелами в воздух. После дуэли произошло трогательное примирение противников.”
«Литературный кружок»

В среду 26 октября в квартире известной в немецком артистическом кругу, г-жи Лампрехт состоялся первый организационый чай кружка русских литераторов.

В кабинете за круглым столом: — только что приехавший из России, как всегда душа общества, А. М. Ремизов, рядом с ним известный поэт Минский, З. Венгерова, молодая артистка Шаляпина, Ал. Дроздов, И.С. Соколов-Микитов, А. Вольский, П. Жакмон, Ф. Иванов и Р. Гуль. За чаем, который, под улыбки [sic] собравшихся, был вскипячен на газе А. М. Ремизовым, обсуждалась будущая работа кружка. Иногда обсуждения невольно прерывались рассказами А. М. Ремизова о жизни литераторов в Петербурге, о их вечерах. . . .

Образовавший кружок помимо интимных, художественно-литературных вечеров предпологает устраивать и небольшие открытые выступления. На них будут выступать со своимим произведениями литераторы и приглашенные артисты, музыканты, художники. После частых неудачных попыток создать в Берлине чисто-литературный кружок — таковой создан. И создан при участии и руководительстве русского пистателя, в атмосфере товарищеской непринужденности и подлинного искуства. [sic] (# 3, 30.X.1921, 3).9

In fact nothing seems to have come from the meeting, if indeed if ever took place, but it does hint at the soon to be created Russian House of the Arts in Berlin.

Remizov's story “Крестики” appeared in the first issue of Сполохи which was available in November. The newspaper Руль announced an evening in honor of Dostoevsky in connection with the 100th anniversary of his birth (30 October 1821 OS) planned for November 25 at the Philharmonie, where Remizov was scheduled to read with others. (# 304, 17.X.1921, 5) The newspaper later reported on the evening and summed up Remizov’s remarks: «Нет России у Достоевского и нет Достоевского в России.» (Руль, # 313, 27.XI.1921, 4). The same issue described new attempts by Русский общественный комитет помощи голодающим to raise additional funds with the participation of A. Remizov and A. Tolstoi.

Bely had departed Russia on October 20, 1921 and traveled on to Kowno (Kaunas) waiting for entry permission in Germany. He arrived in Berlin on November 19,1921. Here the paths of the two writers immediately crossed and stayed connected for the next two years. It was a brief period of extraordinary productivity, engagement in literary and cultural life, a pinnacle of professional achievement, for an instant both would be at the very center of Russian intellectual life.10 Yet little attention has been paid to the public persona, a new Remizov who appeared in Berlin, and then just as quickly disappeared in the thirty plus years that followed of his emigration in Paris.

Perhaps the most important event of the fall for Remizov, if not the key stimulus for the explosion of literary activity amidst the Berlin Russian community, was the arrival of Andrei Bely. Bely was quick to establish organizational ties with the literary elite of Berlin. Only two days after his arrival, on Monday evening November 21, 1921, Bely and the Remizovs along with others attended an organizational meeting of a group at the Cafe Landgraf to discuss the establishment of a Berlin House of the Arts (Дом искусств в Берлине) (Голос России, #822, 24.XI.1921, 3).11 A week later on November 29 Remizov was elected vice-president and a board of directors which included Bely was chosen (Голос России, #829, 2.XII.1921, 4). Bely had always had a penchant for forming groups. But for Remizov this marked a notable public presence, unparalleled either before or after Berlin. The next evening, November 30, a group of friends and co-workers of Skify (Скифы) met to open a chapter of the Free Philosophical Association-Vol'fila (Вольная Философская Ассоциация) in Berlin. Lev Shestov was chosen honorary president, but Bely was elected president, a position he held in the Moscow and Petrograd chapters, at the meeting that included Remizov and Ehrenburg (Голос России, # 831, 4.XII. 1921, 1 and Руль, #318, 3.XII.1921, 4.).12

Dec 1921

Sat 3 Remizov B and Erenburg read at DI

5 Vol'fila

10 DI B not mentioned

12 closed meeting of Vol'fila

14 B lect Kul'tura

15 Benefit for Committee to aid starving

17 DI board of Directors meet B?

18 Lecture on Problem of culture at YMCA

19 Public lect of Vol'fila

24 DI B reads Per Svid

26 B gives Vol'fila lect

29 B sch to read for Russ students

30 last meet of DI for year B??

Organizing Epopeja finishing Zapiski cudaka.

At the regular weekly meeting of the House of the Arts on December 3, Bely read from Эпопея and Remizov read one of his tales (Голос России, # 834, 8.XII. 1921, 3). On December 5, there was a meeting of Vol'fila to elect new members and a number of open Vol'fila meetings was also announced. On December 10 the House of the Arts House held its regular Saturday meeting with readings scheduled by A. Tolstoi and Remizov. On Monday, December 12, there was a closed meeting of Vol'fila.13 On December 14, Bely finally delivered his earlier promised lecture on "Современная культура в России."14

On December 15 in the Philharmonic Hall along Bely, Remizov and Tolstoi were featured at an evening organized by the Russian Social Committee to Aid Writers (Голос России, # 839, 14.XII.1921, 3). On December 17 another meeting was held at the House of the Arts to choose officers of the literary, artistic and musical section. Bely read at the House of the Arts on the 24th from his "Первое свидание," and Remizov read from his Tibetan tales, Заяшные сказки (Голос России, #852, 30.XII.1921, 3). Оn the 26th Bely was scheduled to deliver the Vol'fila lecture "Ветхий и Новый Завет." (Голос России, # 836, 10.XII.1921, 3). On the 30th the House of the Arts held its final meeting before the New Year.

As the brief review of the month of December indicates, there were many occasions in this period that brought together Bely and Remizov. Some of Remizov's and Bely's active participation in the House of the Arts is attested to by newspaper and journal entries of the time (see Beyer, 1987). Even more important was Remizov's active role in producing the Bulletins of the House of the Arts (Бюллетени Дома искусств).15 The two modest issues published by Helikon (Геликон) in Berlin are unique documents of the Russian emigration and its literary heritage. Remizov was clearly the driving force and the major contributor of original material to the work, the primary topic (sometimes target) of the publication was Andrei Bely. The Bulletins also served as one of the major outlets for Remizov's literary hoaxes.16 It is difficult to say with certainty what is real and what isn't in the issue.

The most entertaining reading is contained in the section with the German title "Albern" (silly, childish), which is signed by Remizov. The word play, the practical joking, and general nonsense are the characteristic signature of this complex and fascinating Russian writer. The section opens both with a word play and explanation of the term "Albern" itself for the Russian audience. In "Tulumbas" which follows, the wandering minstrel-clowns (скоморохи) appear, in a sense a self-justification of the role that Remizov assumed both in Russian Berlin and in the Bulletins. Reproduced here is a description of the Great and Free Chamber of Simians (Obezvelvolpal) along with its Manifest.17 The caricature of Remizov is attributed to Vasilij Masjutin, and here we can see the seal of the "коза рогатая." (30-32).18
Bely appears once more in the issue, in a fictitious conversation most likely the work of Remizov (33-34). Remizov will have a good laugh at the expense of Bely, Sumski-Kaplun, and E. Lundberg. The issue was just the tip of an emerging iceberg of politicization and polarization of the Russian writers in Berlin, and the reference to it even jokingly may have offended some. The incident of Bely's disappearing green scarf refers to a Christmas party held at the home of Jaschenko, editor of Русская Книга and Новая Русская Книга, the influential bibliographical journals of Russian Berlin. The matter is picked up by Remizov, who goes to the trouble to footnote it. It will re-appear in the next issue.19

This last sections poke fun at Remizov himself, and the issue concludes with a closing sketch by Remizov of Jaschenko. It is most likely Remizov who prints the silly note about Bely being a director of a film.

Апокриф А. М. Ремизова «Чудесный Урожай» из напечатанной в 100 экземплярах книги «Заветные сказы» приобретен кинематографической фирмой «Декла». В инсценировке участвуют артисты Моск. Художественного Театра. Режиссеры — З. А. Венгерова и Андрей Белый (37-38).

This type of a blurring of fact and fiction, mischief, "mystification," as Remizov himself would call it, was not always appreciated. In fact the authorship of many of such pronouncements is likely to remain a mystery, although Remizov is clearly at the center of many if not all.

The next issue and final issue of the Bulletin, No. 3, was a far more modest attempt of four pages (eight columns) dated March 10, 1922. Once again there is а section entitled: ALBERN. The nonsense includes a note that in the future copies of Remizov's books will be bundled with a hat or eyeglasses. The page also includes a self-portrait of Bely.

The original of the self portrait framed and embellished by Remizov can be found in the Fritz Lieb archive.20 The two glagolitic letters are cherv (Remizov's trademark) and buki (presumably for Bely). Remizov is certainly the author of the Albern texts and the notes: "A Three Way Correspondence." The sketch in this section by Malachovskij masterfully captures Bely's famous "eyes" (7-8). The green scarf is back in the news, but even with the good-natured kidding there is a hint in Bely's alleged note that Jaschenko, even "in jest," was not amused.


This second issue of the Bulletin was the final one, and would become a bibliographic rarity. Roman Gul' cites the tender sensitivities of the intellectual community, quick now to take offense as a key reason behind the demise of the Bulletins (81). Remizov seemed to know as much when he presented a copy of the Bulletin to Aleksandr Bacherac with a cover page bearing his signature, the date April 7, 1922 (Marias Verkündigung March 25) with the saying: "Не стоило огород городить." Unfortunately sides were being drawn, and this monkey business 21 was soon no longer funny in an atmosphere of distrust and petty bickering that was founded ultimately on irreconcilable differences in the Russian community. In March 1922 the newspaper Накануне began publishing and a tug of war began for the minds and hearts of Russians, drawing some home to Russia, threatening the final break with those who remained in Europe. Political developments would soon force many Russians to make a choice of being "with them" or "against them."

Bely and Remizov were particularly closely allied in March of 1922. Starvation in Russia served as a common cause uniting various political factions in the emigre community. Worldwide attention was focused on the problem and on Sunday, March 19, the House of the Arts organized a concert ball to aid the hungry. Among those scheduled to appear were Bely and Remizov (Голос Росссии, #920, 19.III.1922, 9). The following evening, the House staged another major event with the appearance of Thomas Mann who spoke at a benefit performance for writers in Petrograd. Mann spoke first on the theme of Goethe and Lev Tolstoi after which Bely thanked the writer (in German) for his help. As the second half of his performance Mann read from his Das Eisenbahnunglück.22 Mann was familiar in translation with works of both Bely and Remizov and would in fact send a letter of support to Remizov in early 1923 regarding the latter's residency issues.23 Bely and Remizov were also together at the House of the Arts on March 24, 1922. While the House of the Arts continued to occupy a leading role in life of Russian Berlin, tensions in the community would eventually lead to a breakup and the creation of a new group the "Writers' Club" in the fall of 1922.

After the summer break there was also a flurry of activity surrounding the thirtieth jubilee of Maksim Gorki's debut as a writer with the publication of his story "Макар Чудра" (Koreckaja: 1968). On September 30 messages and flowers were presented to Gorki by a delegation which included Bely as the representative from Vol'fila. On October 1 a special meeting in honor of Gorki at the Cafe Leon replaced the customary program at the House of the Arts. Bely was one of the speakers (Накануне, #149, 3.X.1922, 5). On October 13, Yu. Ajxenval'd, recently expelled from Russia with other intellectuals, appeared while Bely read "Афоризмы." Remizov was also scheduled to read a story that Friday evening. (Накануне,#159, 12.X.1922, 5). The election of new officers scheduled for the House of the Arts was postponed to the evening of October 27, 1922 in the Berlin House of the Arts and Bely was chosen president. The other officers included Remizov, Vengerov, Minski, Ehrenburg, Tolstoi, Shklovski, Khodasevich and the painter Ivan Puni. (Накануне, #176, 3.XI.1922, 5). Bely's reign would be short-lived: a lovely caricature in Веретеныш (III, Nov. 1922, 15) would capture the wildly gesticulating contortionist presiding over his single meeting.

After the talk, the discussion turned into a shouting match with a number of insults hurled around the hall, in spite of Bely's plea at the beginning of the meeting (Beyer, 1987, 27-32). The major controversy which erupted was followed by a request that Aleksei Tolstoi be expelled from the House of the Arts. On the next evening, November 4, Bely with Remizov, Khodasevich, and others organized the new Writers Club (Клуб писателей) as an alternative outlet for their artistic and creative energies and within days they would resign their positions at the House of the Arts. Bely was there and at a subsequent meeting of the Club.24

On November 11 Bely was again at the Writers Club. Together with Remizov, Bely was present at the official ceremony to celebrate to honor Gerhart Hauptmann on the occasion of his 60th birthday on November 15. (Дни, 17, Nov. 17, 1922, 6).25

There is much more in addition to these chronological overlaps. Both published in excess of twenty books in just two short years 1921-1923. They frequently collaborated; Bely's text would be rendered in script or even glagolitic by Remizov. They had mutual friends and acquaintances among the community of Russian writers: Ehrenburg, Shklovski, Pasternak, Khodasevich, Jaschenko, and Vera Lur’e, the young poetess from Petrograd. They were intellectually and literarily allied in the Russian Berlin House of the Arts, The Writers' Club, and The Free Philosophical Society. Together they attended series of weekly meetings and special events. They published in the same Russian daily newspapers, Голос России, Дни, the journals, Веретено, Веретеныш, Сполохи, Эпопея, Бюлетени Дома Искусств, Новая Русская Книга. and for the same Berlin publishing houses, Геликон, Эпоха. Both worked on extensive memoirs of Aleksandr Blok.

The history of this very special Russian Berlin has been examined by many, rightfully so as it was for two brief years, 1921-1923, the literary capital of the Russian world. As this world collapsed for economic and political pressures, Bely and Remizov as well as most of the others, would leave. On October 23, 1923 Bely departed Berlin, he arrived in Moscow on October 26; Remizov left November 5 for Paris. They would never meet again.

Bely’s arrival had coincided with and likely precipitated the burst of creative energies, and as it energized the Russian literary Berlin, so it might have given new life to Remizov, who would never before, and never again publish so prolifically or assume such a public profile. Somewhat surprising given the close contacts of the two is how little they subsequently contributed to an understanding of the times and of each other. Bely's recollections of Remizov are sparse indeed. The difficulty of writing or even mentioning Russians in emigration likely silenced the voice of Bely who had returned to Soviet Russia.

Remizov himself fails to spend the time and energy on Bely that he devotes to others. His archives reveal a major gap for the Berlin years. His own memoirs of Berlin are at best very piecemeal and aphoristic. When he does mention Bely, Remizov's recollections are largely positive, of respect and admiration, even tender memories of affection. Remizov does recall Bely at a meeting of the editorial board of Appolon in May 1909.

Необыкновенное впечатление на Андрея Белого. На него накатило — чертя в воздухе сложную геометрическую конструкцию образ Ивана Семеновича Стратилатова, костромского археолога, рассекая гипотенузой, он вдруг остановился — необыкновенное блаженство разлилось по его лицу: преображенный Стратилатов реял в синих лучах его единственных глаз.

...

В Берлине в 1922-м лекция Андрея Белого «О любви». Антропософдкая аудитория, исключительно дамы. Слушают, затаив дыхание. Не в воздухе, а на доске мелом воздвигается сложная геометрическая конструкция. Закрутив центральную спираль, Андрей Белый обернулся к аудитоии: синь плывет из его глаз, лицо сияет, образ любви за его спиной.



И вдруг, подобно гласу из облака, неожиданно голос из публики:

— А где же фалл? — Кусиков выразился по-русски. (X, 194).

Elsewhere Remizov recalls:

Странны бывают люди — странными они родятся на свет.

А бывают и не только что странные, больше — Андрей Белый —

Андрей Белый вроде как уж не человек вовсе, тоже и Блок не в такой степени, а все-таки (I, 13)

Из всех самый крепкий, куда ж Андрей Белый — так мля газообразная с седенькими пейсиками, или меня взять — червяк в три дуги согнутый, и вот первый — не думано! — раньше всех, первый Блок проситлся с белым светом (I, 14).

Ангел небесный, слетевший в наш ров львиный, ну, ему в его голубом шарфе, на ледяном ли пупе, в зеленый ли вей, другие у него дороги и земля другая, Андрей Белый — большущий роман «Эпопея» (I, 23).

In similar aphoristic fashion Remizov will mention Bely in lists of writers, or alongside them, and in particular notes Bely’s affinity with Gogol, which he Remizov shared.26 But there is no major segment devoted to Bely, and likewise Bely has left us without his promised literary portrait of Remizov. But there must have been more. For in Berlin for two short years their fates and days were destined to be spent in closer proximity than ever before.

The most tender recollection of Bely by Remizov comes in his notes to his own "Bely album."

В рисовании Андрея Белого было что-то от игры: как дети усядутся к столу и примутся рисовать, пока не надоесть и потом начнется другая игра, а испачканные чернилами, а всего милее? Красками, листки с фантастическими рисунками, в которых никогда не употребляется линейка и резинка, разбросанные по столу, летят со стола на пол, а с пола в печку. Игра, а не мастерство: во всяком мастерстве есть почему, а в игре — как рука водила и всегда важен только процесс, а не результат. В этом душа рисунков Андрея Белого! Но было и другое: страсть иллюстрировать — изображать мысль: но при неумении и эти иллюстрации, в которых всегда преднамеренность и отчетность, превращались в фантастические узоры, ничего не объясняющие.27

Neither Bely upon his return to Russia, or Remizov who moved to Paris for the rest of his life ever achieved the public acclaim or the publishing success of the Berlin years. Berlin had offered a unique set of circumstances. There was the relative, and extraordinary, free interaction and political and intellectual freedom and tolerance that could mix liberals, conservatives, communists and monarchists in a single room. This was not long lived, but nevertheless a reality of December 1921 to April 1922 (Beyer, 1997). In Paris Remizov and his wife were, if not ostracized, then clearly marginalized by the conservative elements. Rene Guerra recalls "В Париже (Ремизиов) был домоседом. В Берлине он был на виду." And then there was the absence of Bely, who had often been at the center of Remizov’s practical jokes and literary “hoaxes”: Bely’s fictitious interviews for the Bulletin of the House of the Arts, "Zwovierson," the green scarf affair. That proximity and familiarity never seemed to become troublesome, although there is Remizov's comment to Kondrjanskaya that “О русском ладе, он меня не понимнал" (331).

They both loved the sound of words, the dream world, fairy tales, the literature of Gogol, symphonies. Each in his own way celebrated a victory of style over substance, sound over meaning in much of their writings. They were alike in their exploitation of complex sound images, neologisms for Bely, archaisms for Remizov, all of which slow down or retard the reader in search of sense-meaning. There was, however, not a clear overlap, borrowing or influence to be spoken of. They listened not simply to different drummers, but to entirely different drums.

Today they and their contributions to Russian culture are being rediscovered and presented to new generations. Remizov's papers, in particular, anything bearing his own calligraphy or artistic enhancement, are being recognized as national treasures. Bely too has been republished and some of his art has appeared in color reproduction (Gut, 1997). If they could see, or better if we could look into both of their eyes, the defining physical feature of them both, whole new worlds might open before us and future generations. Ehrenburg concludes:


Андрей Белый витал в небесах, не мог прожить и дня без философских обобщений, много ездил по свету, восторгался, горячился, спорил. Алексей Михайлович Ремизов был домоседом, жил на земле, — даже под землей, походил на колдуна и на крота, вдохновлялся корнями слов, не мудрил, как Белый, а чудил (1966:433).


1 I wish to express my gratitude for those who have shared their time and expertise with me on this project. First and foremost, Fritz Mierau in Berlin, along with Waltraud Werner and Amory Burchard; in Paris Iegor Reznikoff and Rene Guerra; and in the United States Greta Slobin.

2 There is a short comparison of their prose in the В. Левин, "«Неклассические» типы повествования начала ХХ века в истории русского литературного языка, " Slavica Hierosolymitana, V-VI 1981, 245-275. Christa Ebert juxtaposes, but does not compare the two writers in her book. "Подобные поиски всецело внутренних реальностей . . .делают Ремизова близким к А. Белому . . ." (В. А. Чалмаев "Молитвы и сны Алексея Ремизова," А. М. Ремизов, Огонь вещей М: 1989, 23). Greta Slobin has looked at Bely's and Remizov's characterization of Gogol in "Белый и Ремизов в борьбе за Гоголя модернистов: Конец 20-х — начало 30-х годов." Алексей Ремизов: Исследования и материалы. СПб: 1994, 163-179.

3 Remizov later wrote. "Я с ним учился в университете: два самых мне близких из современников: Блок (Петербург) и Андрей Белый (Москва)." (Кодрянская, 290-291). Both also had a fascination with Nietzsche. Christa Ebert pointed out to me that in 1895 Remizov had translated Nietzsche’s Also sprach Zarathustra. It was not published; the first published Russian translation was in 1898 (See Rosenthal, Nietzsche in Russia, 33).

4 Remizov's literary memoirs must be approached with care for they are filled with lapses in memory, fabrications, hoaxes, called by Remizov and his researchers "мистификации." They are as much a part of the person as of his memoirs to the extent that they become an essential Leitmotiv in his work.


5 Obatnina errs in calling it 1906 (2001: 338). In December of 1906 Bely was in Paris.

6 In another article, Obatnina refers to a letter from Bely to Remizov of February 17, 1917 ("«Обезьянья Великая и Вольная Палата»: игра и ее парадигмы," Новое литературное обозрение, 1996, No 17, 205).

7 The Simian Chamber has been the subject of a number of articles. most summarized and superseded with wonderful illustrations in Obatnina's recent book.

8 A little known coincidence is that the certificate for Anna Akhmatova, who had been married to Gumilyov, is dated August 5, 1921.

9 It is difficult not to see a little irony here when the two writers presumably engaged in a duel had also met to form this circle all on the same page. The playfulness and irreverence presage and largely predate those literary mystifications of Remizov that have been identified. By their nature they are difficult to identify as to authorship. Can we assume that Remizov was the only writer placing statements of fiction as fact in the local newspapers? The only accurate study of such hoaxes or fabrications, i.e. мистификации, is based on Lazar Fleishman’s ability to assign payment to Remizov for several such passages in Голос России in the spring of 1922.

10 Remizov scholars can point to several studies of specific aspects of Remizov's activity in Berlin. In addition to Fleishman (1999), Fritz Mierau and A. d'Amelia have examined "Zwovierson." Obatnina (2001) describes the Berlin years as the glory days of the Simian Chamber, Remizov's Affenrat, Обезвелволпал.

11 Bely and Remizov would quickly be at the center of the creation of the House of The Arts in Berlin (Дом искусств в Берлине) (Beyer, 1987). Modeled after the Petrograd House of the Arts, there would be weekly meetings with lectures. By December 1921 both were already beginning the extraordinary publishing effort that would result in twenty two works by Bely and just as many by Remizov in Berlin in just two years. Admittedly the opportunities to publish in Russia had been severely curtailed beginning with the war years and thereafter, but there is still cause to wonder at the ability to flee a country, carry one’s unpublished manuscripts and then set about the task of preparing them for publication.


12 In late November and early December 1921 Bely and Remizov found themselves allied in the Berlin section of Free Philosphical Assocaition (Вольная Философская Ассоциация), normally referred to as Vol'fila (Вольфила). "Вольная Философская Ассоциация сосредоточивает свое внимание на проблемах философии, религии, культуры, сознания и общественности, взятых в свете кризиса жизни и в свете посиков положительных начал жизни и мысли " (Андрей Белый, "Вольная Философская Ассоциация," Новая Русская Книга, I, 1922, 32-33).The actual organization would become the target of one of Remziov's more elaborate "hoaxes, " his so-called "Zwovierson." Remizov himself in a little know work republished in Минувшее recalls that group and will focus on Andrei Bely as the target of much of his nonsense.

13 As organizers and key figures in both the House of the Arts and Vol'fila, it is likely that Bely and Remizov attended most of their meetings. Where their participation is either announced prior to the event or commented on after the meeting I have provided specific references to the newspapers or journals of the day. Where no citation is given, I have been unable to confirm their actual presence.

14 Bely published his article "Культура в современной России."in Новая Русская Книга 1, 1922, 2-6. The article with an introduction by Beyer was republished in Andrej Bely Society Newsletter, 5, 1986, 13-28.

15 The Bulletins themselves bibliographical rarities, were reproduced (unfortunately with some errors) in Beyer 1997.

16 Fleishman speculates that while Remizov was occupied with the Bulletins, his hoaxes did not find their way into the daily newspapers.

17 For a description of this first fictional and later actual 'society' see Slobin (1991, 34). Her reproduction (p. 148) of the Manifest in Glagolitic and Cyrillic is incorrectly identified as coming from the Bulletins. Also see Fleishman (1977).


18 The close working relationship between Remizov and Masjutin is documented by Xenia Werner. Masjutin's contribution to the art of Russian Berlin, including illustrations and portrait of Bely and Remizov are reproduced in Waltraud Werner.

19 Another one of the nonsense threads, Bely's green scarf affair, can be traced through letters found in Русский Берлин to the Bulletins, to the green scarf that Bely is wearing in a Remizov drawing in Basel. (See Ingol'd). Since color reproductions were not available when the article was published the green scarf that was a motif between the two writers went unnoticed. Remizov in a letter of Dec. 27, 1921 to Jaschenko notes that during the evening of коляди: "отобран зеленый шарф у Андрея Белого" (Русский Берлин: 167-168).

20 This self portrait contained in a portfolio of Bely by Remizov is the original framed and embellished by Remizov: "К рисункам Андрея Белого я делаю рамку: моя рамка, как украшение, в том же духе и одной природы с рисунками."

21 Remizov would continue to publish such hoaxes in Голос России. As noted above Fleishmann has identified many of these. There are, however, two strange notices concerning Bely that appeared in the Berlin press. I have not been able to identify the source, but one ought not to exclude Remizov as a possible author. Голос России published an announcement by the publishing house Logos: "Готовится к печати: Андрей Белый Доктор Доннер, роман . . ."( #1037, 20.VIII.1922, 9) Bely would later refer to this as slander:

"Тогда новая клевета возводится на меня: Я де написал пасквиль на Рудолфа Штейнера «ДОКТОР ДОННЕР» (тема романа, изображающего католического иезуита, направленная против традиций церковности). . . клевете верят!" (Почему я стал символистом, 115).


22 See Azadovskij. The German text of Bely's remarks was published in Beyer, 1995.

23 The story is recounted in "Мышкина-дудочка" (X, 163) in which Remizov supposedly received a letter from Thomas Mann dated January 31, 1923. He does, however, remark that he has an almost perfect copy, and the original has not been found, giving at least some scholars to wonder if the letter ever actually existed. Remizov would also meet with Mann during a visit to Paris several years later.

24 Aleksandr Bacherac (Бахрах) in an interview with me on August 9, 1984 and in a letter of March 3, 1985 recalled only that the organization had no rules and no records. (This accounts for the sporadic nature of meeting announcements and reports in the press.) I think K.N. Bugaeva errs in her note that Bely continued to work in the House of the Arts in November and December 1922. Bacherac indicated to me that after the November 3 meeting, the subsequent resignations from their positions and the simultaneous founding of Клуб писателей, that Bely, Khodasevich and others would never again go the House of the Arts. While many writers would speak on alternate evenings first at the Home of the Arts and then at the Writers' Club, Bely is never again mentioned as a participant at the House of the Arts. For a good description of the Writers' Club see the article in Дни, #111, 11.III. 1923, 15.

25 A description of the copies of the address, in German, a Russian Cyrillic and Russian glagolitic copy are reproduced and discussed in Riggenbach. The copies were obviously made by Remizov, but the text resembles an

article that appeared over Belyj's signature in November in Дни "Гергардт Гауптман", #19, 19.XI. 1922, 11. In one more curious note to this odd couple, Bely's signature comes first, and Remizov's is last.


26 See Greta Slobin, 1994.

27 See Ingol'd , 3. During the 1930s and 1940s Remizov for financial reasons turned to his artistic ability to make albums for sale.