Dmitry Sergeevich Merezhkovsky was born August 14, 1866 in St. Petersburg, in one of the imperial palaces – Elaginsky, in the family of a real secret adviser, the head of the court office. His great-grandfather, Fyodor Merezhka, was an army sergeant in the Ukraine and served in the Izmaylovsky regiment, and apparently then the grandfather changed his Ukrainian name to Russian; in the veins of my grandmother the blood of the Princes of Kurbsky flowed; the grandfather on the maternal line – from a large bureaucracy – ruled the office of the St. Petersburg oberpoltsmeyster (mayor). In the Merezhkovsky family there were nine children – a family of sons and three daughters. Dmitry is the youngest of the sons. The feeling of the family was connected
Merezhkovsky first studied in the third classical gymnasium, then, in 1884, he enrolled in the History and Philology Faculty of St. Petersburg University. He was fascinated by the theories of O. Comte, G. Spencer, JS Mill, Charles Darwin, showed interest in the latest French literature. He comprehended various religious teachings, as well as sectarianism. At the same time, Merezhkovsky was captured by the Narodnik ideas.
The first poems began to write in the gymnasium. Later he himself defined them as imitation of Pushkin’s “Bakhchisarai fountain”. In 1880, his father took his son to Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Dostoevsky without enthusiasm agreed to listen to the poetry of the young man, and then summed up: “To write well – you must suffer, suffer!”. The meeting with Dostoevsky became one of the deepest experiences of youth.
In the same year, Merezhkovsky met S. Nadson, a cadet of the Pavlov Military School. Eight years after this acquaintance, the first collection of D. Merezhkovsky’s poems was published, and in their motives, their tonality, some influence of Nadson’s poetry was guessed.
Themes of D. Merezhkovsky’s poems of the 1880s. – loneliness of the poet ( “The poet of our days” (1884):
“Shut up, poet, silent: the crowd is not up to you.
Before your sorrowful doom who cares?
Firmly past you can tune to himself –
His tired of listening to us.. ”
Is not every one of your verses a treasure of the soul
For the glory of the imaginary is wasting madly,”
So for a sip of wine the last few pennies
Sometimes a drunkard throws. You
are late, the poet: there is no corner in the world,
In the chest, there is no bliss and sorrow,
So that thousands of singers about them in all ages
In all the regions they did not repeat.
You’re late, the poet: your world is devastated –
No ear in the fields, no branches on the tree,
From the fairy-tale feasts of the happiest times,
You have only leftovers…
Try to drain all the power of suffering and love
into one crazy scream; in indignation with pride
On the lyre and in the soul all the strings of rags
With one sobbing chord –
Nothing stirs the extinct hearts,
In the sacred terror the crowd will not shudder,
And at the last cry of the last singer
No one will respond! “
“I want, but I can not love people: I am a stranger among them…”), the emptiness of the soul (“in the soul – neither faith, nor fire…”), the illusory life and deceptive feelings (” Not sadness, but only a trace of sadness, Not love, but only a shadow of love, “” My soul is full of silent dusk: No passion, no love with their sweet flour… Everything was frozen in the chest… only the feeling of being Tomit lifeless boredom “) . His lyrical hero is a gloomy romantic, disappointed, desperate skeptic, but also a dreamer, a medium between Onegin and Lensky, Pechorin and Grushnitsky.
In 1888, DS Merezhkovsky undertook a trip to the Transcaucasus, stopped at Borzhomi and there met Nineteen-year-old Zinaida Gippius. January 8, 1889, in Tiflis, they were married. Soon the young people moved to St. Petersburg.
At the beginning of the 1890s DS Merezhkovsky approached the staff of the journal Severniy Vestnik, primarily with the editor A. Volynsky. Around the “Northern Herald” the first Russian symbolists united: D. Merezhkovsky, Z. Gippius, N. Minsky, K. Balmont, F. Sologub and others. The statements of the authors of the “Northern Herald” had a serious resonance. They became popular. Merezhkovsky’s poetry also became popular. His name was already associated with the literary elite, his poems were read on all kinds of journalism, and in 1892 saw his second poetic book – “Symbols, Songs and Poems”.
At the same time he delivered a public lecture “On the causes of the decline and on the new trends of modern Russian literature.” In 1893 the lecture was published as a separate book. Merezhkovsky’s work did not strike the aesthetics of Russian classical literature. Moreover, it pointed to the presence of all three signs of a new art (namely: mystical content, symbols, expansion of artistic impression) already in the works of Tolstoy, Turgenev, Dostoevsky, Goncharov. New art, according to Merezhkovsky, only continues these trends of the classics.
The union with A. Volynsky was short-lived. Volynsky did not take everything in the philosophy of symbolism, and his rapprochement with Merezhkovsky occurred primarily on the basis of their efforts for new poetry and a negative attitude to the civil priorities of the established literary criticism. Merezhkovsky’s first novel, The Les Miserables (later The Death of the Gods, Julian the Apostate) was published in 1895 in a cut-down and distorted form in the magazine’s pages, the editorial staff of Volynsky said. Already the next novel – “Leonardo Da Vinci” in the “Northern Herald” was not printed.
Soon Merezhkovsky approached Diaghilev’s circle – the artistic and literary “Cream” of that time, the meetings of which took place in the house of S. P. Diaghilev. In this creative atmosphere, a brilliant monthly magazine “
Literary department in the journal was conducted by DV Filosofov, whom D. Merezhkovsky met as early as 1892, when he was still a student of St. Petersburg University. From 1901 their fifteen-year friendship began. Merezhkovsky, Gippius and the Philosophers united in a triple alliance, into a community of like-minded people, whose meaning of life was the affirmation of the ideas of the Third Covenant, the kingdom of the Spirit. On the initiative of D. Filosofov, the journal provided its pages to Merezhkovsky, Minsk, Rozanov, Gippius, Shestov… Merezhkovsky’s most significant literary and critical work, in which he acted as a religious thinker – Leo Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky – was published in The World art “(1901-1902).
Religious and philosophical direction gradually conquered the journal space, which was the cause of Benois’s dissatisfaction. The editorial board has two poles: philosophical and artistic. In 1903, these disagreements spilled over into the pages of the “New Way” with controversy between Benois and Merezhkovsky.
However, Merezhkovsky did not change his interests: he focused entirely on religious and philosophical issues, on the history, the present and the future of Christianity and the Christian Church.
In 1902, Merezhkovsky began to create a literary magazine “New way”, the first issue of which was published in November 1902. The journal printed religious works, Solovyov’s ideas, reports from the Religious and Philosophical Meetings. In April 1905 the synodal authorities banned the Religious-Philosophical Meetings. Merezhkovsky, in order to keep the magazine afloat, wrote the novel “Peter and Alexei”. S. Bulgakov was invited to lead a political topic in the magazine. Disagreements between Merezhkovsky and the Bulgakov group led to Merezhkovsky and Gippius voluntarily withdrawing from cooperation in the journal, maintaining friendly relations with Bulgakov and the editorial office as a whole.
Back in the 1890s, Merezhkovsky began writing the first trilogy, in which he expressed his philosophy of history and his view of the future of mankind. The trilogy was called “Christ and Antichrist.”
In 1904, there was a personal meeting between Merezhkovsky and Tolstoy. This happened in Yasnaya Polyana.
In the summer of 1905, Merezhkovsky began talking about traveling abroad. March 14, 1906, he and Gippius left Petersburg and a day later were in Paris. There they meet with A. Bely, N. Minsk, K. Balmont, A. Benois, approaching G. Plekhanov and B. Savinkov. The Paris activity of Merezhkovsky is aimed at the approval of the “new religious consciousness”, the internal Church. For this, Russian “Saturdays” are arranged, lectures are given. June 11, 1908 Merezhkovsky and Gippius returned to Russia.
In 1908, Merezhkovsky’s books “Not peace, but a sword – to the future criticism of Christianity” and “In a quiet pool” were published one by one. January 13, 1910 in the bookstores appeared his book “Sick Russia”, which included an article published in the newspaper “Rech” in late 1908 and in 1909.
The main inspiration of his works of 1908-1909 was that the Christian idea in Russia was turned inside out. In 1908 he completed the drama “Paul I”, begun in Paris. Then the novels “Alexander I” (1913) and “December 14” (1918) were written. These things formed a trilogy. At the first publication of the novel “December 14” the entire trilogy was called “The Beast from the Abyss”.
Merezhkovsky appeared as a neo-Christian not only in his novels and journalism, but also in literary critical works. His debut as a literary critic took place in 1888 in the “Northern Herald”. It was an article about Chekhov – “An old question about a new talent.” Subsequently, a number of articles were published – again about Chekhov, and also about Korolenko, Rozanov, Andreev, Chaadaev, Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Maikov, Goncharov, Leo Tolstoy, Lermontov, Gogol, Nekrasov, Tyutchev…
Merezhkovsky accepted the October Revolution hostilely. At the end of 1919 he and Gippius left Petersburg and went to Poland together with DV Filosofov and a student of the philological faculty of Petersburg University VA Zlobin. But soon, in November 1920, the couple Merezhkovsky moved to Paris.
In exile Merezhkovsky worked with the same creative greed, as in Russia. From 1924 to 1939 he published many literary works: the novel “Tutankamon in Crete” (1924), “The Messiah” (1925), “The Mystery of Three, Egypt and Babylon” (1925), “Napoleon” (1929), “The Mystery of the West : Atlantis – Europe “(1931),” Jesus Unknown “(1932-1933),” Paul and Augustine “(1937),” Francis of Assisi “(1938),” Dante “,” Messiah “(1939).
Abroad, Merezhkovsky vehemently condemned Bolshevism, and even went to Italy to ask the fascist dictator Mussolini to make a crusade against the Soviet Union, to which he refused. After returning to Paris in the autumn of 1941, branded by the Russian emigration for Germanophilism (spreading the views of Germany), he found himself in public isolation. However, news of the atrocities of Hitler’s troops in Russia made Merezhkovsky doubt his choice. Shortly before his death, he, according to V. Mamchenko, condemned Hitler.
Dmitry Sergeevich Merezhkovsky died suddenly on December 7, 1941.