“The Republic of ShKID” is one of the most famous books for children in Soviet literature. This autobiographical work written by a tandem of authors – Grigory Belykh and Leonid Panteleyev (real name – Alexei Eremeev). The book tells about the years spent at the boarding school for difficult children.
But there is a book that is inextricably linked with the “Republic of ShKID”, although not so well known. The brief content of the story “Lenka Panteleyev” allows us to state that this is the first part of the dilogy, since one of the main characters in these books is a common one.
“Lenka Panteleev”: events, time and characters
The book is not too well known. Its existence is known to those who love the “Republic of ShKID” and are interested in the life of its authors. Actually, according to the very “Republic of ShKID” it is possible, without even seeing the story, to reconstruct its brief content. Lenka Panteleyev himself briefly mentions his childhood, and the main milestones coincide with the heads of the autobiographical story.
“Lenka Panteleev” – a story about the years preceding the events described in the “Republic of ShKID”. This is the story of the author’s childhood, his wanderings through the Russian civil war. A picture of the world given by the eyes of a ten-year-old child – intelligent, kind, talented, but surprisingly unlucky and restless. For those who are interested in this period of history, it will certainly be interesting to read the whole story, and its brief content. Lenka Panteleev writes about what he saw, and the world with children’s eyes is very different from the thoughtful analysis of adult texts about that time.
Of course, the story was written at a time when, by definition, the Red Army had to be a positive hero, while the White Guards were negative. This can be seen even by simply viewing the summary. Lyonka Panteleev is sympathetic to this side of the conflict. However, perhaps she was absolutely sincere.
Lenka Panteleev is the son of a retired military and music teacher. Mutual understanding between mother and father was not. The former military man had a serious conflict nature, a soft and timid mother was simply afraid of him. In the family there were constant quarrels, after all, his father left, then to die away from home.
Hard times came for the family. Money was scarce, but it was necessary to provide the boy with an opportunity to study normally in the preparatory school. Lyonka is an intelligent, talented child, he reads a lot, writes poetry, studies well, although he has problems with behavior.
School and disease
At the school he meets Volkov, a boy from a wealthy family. They share common interests, and Lyonka began to come to visit the Volkovs. There he heard that the Bolsheviks were spies and conspirators. Since before that the boy realized that Stesha’s housekeeper was connected with the Bolsheviks, this new knowledge frightened Lyonka. At home, he managed to unlock the chest with Steshy’s personal belongings and read the letters and pamphlets, unable to even really understand their brief content. Lenka Panteleev decided that the housekeeper was a spy. He told his mother about everything, but she did not pay attention to the political beliefs of the servant, but her son called the thief. The boy suddenly fainted. Whether Lyonka really got sick, or the fever was caused by nervous overexertion, but the child was lying delirious... for 48 days. During this time, there was a revolution, the country received a new government. Recovered, Lyonka realized with amazement that life around him had changed.
A former nurse left for the village near Yaroslavl invited the family who remained practically without means of subsistence for a summer stay. Lazy’s exhausted mother-in-law accepts this invitation. From this journey begins the acquaintance of Lenka’s house boy with the reverse side of the revolution.
In the village, Lenka gets acquainted with representatives of the Green Army – armed groups of unclear political convictions. There also lived the chairman of the committee of the poorest inhabitants of the village of Cheltsov. Lyonka made friends with him and even selflessly tried to save him from the detachment of the Green Army, warning of the attack. Fortunately, no help was needed, but Lyonka caught a cold and fell ill with diphtheria. The boy needed serious treatment. My mother tried to take him to a hospital in Yaroslavl, but she did not succeed. The city just took the White Guard units, and the family was forced to hide in the basement of the hotel. During the fighting, they stole all the things, in the beleaguered red parts of the city hunger began, there was no water.
Lyonka helped his mother as he could: went for water, tried to find food. They decided to return to the village, but along the way they were detained by a detachment of the Green Army. Everything turned out okay, but the family lost the bag with the money. The brief content of the book “Lenka Panteleev” is, in fact, a list of losses and endless wanderings of the family.
By the end of the summer, the desperate mother still found work in a small town on the Kama. She was offered the post of head of the music school. Life began to improve. But one day my mother needed to leave for business in Peter. She left Lyonka in the care of relatives. The aunt who was supposed to look after the boy was sick, and two weeks later Lenka realized with horror that his mother would not come back. He went for his aunt, got food, but when she recovered, it turned out that the boy was a burden to her.
The boy tried to get into an agricultural school and even lived there for a while, belatedly realizing that it was not an educational institution, but a den. Then Lyonka got to an orphanage, where he escaped, then – to another orphanage. Finally, the boy decided that he would go to look for his mother.
From this moment the brief content of the story “Lenka Panteleyev” is just a list of places where the boy went to his wanderings and where he always left. Lenku shook the country, he was sick, he stole things, he himself learned to steal, begging and hiding. There were people who helped the boy, gave food and shelter, there were those who drove him away. Almost a year Lenka wandered until he could finally get to St. Petersburg. There he found his family, but, alas, the bad habits that he acquired during the vagrancy, entrenched. The mother tried for a long time to cope with her son, but later she acknowledged defeat. She took him to the ShKID – Dostoevsky school, a boarding school for hard-to-educate children. But from this place begins a completely different book.