1814 - 2015

Mikhail Lermontov House–Museum in Moscow

Russian State Literature Museums

Belongings and history of the house
Mikhail Lermontov was born in Moscow in 1814, in the house that belonged to Major General F. N. Tol, near Red Gate. Neither the house, nor the Church of Three Saints, where the future poet was baptized, nor Red Gate has survived to our day. However, a small single-storey wooden house with a mezzanine still remains in Malaya Molchanovka — it is here that Lermontov spent three years of his youth from 1829 to 1832, started to write verses and decided to pursue a literary career.

The poet’s grandmother Elizaveta Alexeyevna Arsenyeva rented the house from the merchant’s wife F. I. Chernova. They also rented the outbuildings — the kitchen, house for servants, stables, coach house, ice cellar, and barn. After M. Yu. Lermontov and E. A. Arsenyeva left the premises, the yard remained unchanged up until 1844.

In 1844, the house was acquired by Councillor of State V. M. Tyutchev, who made some changes: he added a utility building to the north-eastern corner of the courtyard, surrounded by a fire wall on three sides. In 1888–1897, the property belonged to the lawyer, bachelor of laws A. A. Kotlyarov, and at the start of the 20th century, to his son, attorney at law A. M. Aristov.

In 1909, all of the wooden houses and outbuildings were demolished, and a new stone block of utility buildings was put along the northern wall of the yard, comprising a coach house, privy, kitchen, and house for servants.

Manuscripts
On 21 August 1830, the board of the Imperial Moscow University heard a petition from the “student of the University Noble Boarding School Mikhail Lermontov” for his acceptance as a self-supporting student in the department of morality and politics. “I come from the nobility, being the son of Captain Yuri Petrovich Lermantov [sic]; I am 16 years old; at the University Noble Boarding School, I studied various languages and areas of science in the senior section of the upper class, but now I wish to continue my studies at the Imperial Noble University, which is why I humbly ask its board to allow me to enroll as a self-supporting student in the department of morality and politics, and to attend the lectures of the professors. Hereto is attached a certificate of my lineage and education. I, Michael Lermantov, have set my hand to this petition.”

In the spring of 1832 Lermontov decided to leave Moscow University, after having gone through some personal hardship. “For family reasons”, he moved to St. Petersburg, where he intended to continue his studies at the university there. But since the offer required him to repeat the first year, Lermontov decided instead to begin military service.

“To my dear friend Andrey. M. Lermontov, 1830”, Lermontov’s inscription on the flyleaf, refers to his university friend Andrey Zakrevsky. “Andrey Dmitrievich Zakrevsky, Lermontov’s classmate at the University of Moscow, a writer. According to Y. I. Kostenetsky, Zakrevsky was close to A. I. Herzen and N. P. Ogaryov at university, and together with them took part in the “Malov affair”.

While Lermontov was alive, a separate publication of A Hero of Our Time was released (St. Petersburg, 1840, ed. by A. A. Krayevsky, pub. by I. N. Kushinnikov and A. D. Kireev). Lermontov revised the text of the chapters previously published in journals and made various corrections. The novel was approved by the censor on 19 February and was published on 27 April. Lermontov did not read the proofs, since from 10 March to mid-April he was under arrest for a duel with E. Barant. The book has uncorrected scribal errors and misprints. The novel was released in two parts. The edition was sold out, and already in 1841, Lermontov sold Kireyev the rights to a second edition, with a run of 1,200 copies. In this edition (St. Petersburg, 1841) Lermontov made a few corrections; otherwise it repeats the first, including the same pages and lines. The preface first appeared in the 1841 edition; it apparently arrived during printing and therefore was printed with a separate pagination and is not included in the table of contents. Both editions had minor cuts made by the censor.

This poem was presumably written when Lermontov was awaiting his punishment in the wing of N. I. Polivanov’s house after the “Malov affair”, which occurred on 16 March 1831.

“…For a masquerade in the Noble Assembly, Lermontov was dressed as an astrologer with a huge book of fate under his arm; in this book the role of cabalistic signs was played by Chinese characters, which I cut out of black paper, and which were traced in a colossal form from a tea box and pasted on each page; under the letters were poems assigned to various acquaintances whom he was likely to meet at the masquerade.” From the memoirs of A. P. Shan-Girey, a second cousin of the poet, who lived in the house of E. A. Arsenyev in Moscow, when M. Yu. Lermontov was preparing for the New Year, 1832

Autograph of the poem by Lermontov. On the margin is a profile drawing of E. A. Sushkova, to whom the poem is dedicated.

A journal containing prose and poetry by the graduates of the boarding school, the students of S. E. Raich, an intimate literary environment for Lermontov at the school. Most of the works in the anthology are signed with pseudonyms. T. Levit gives a tentative identification of the authors. Some researchers believe that the “Thoughts, Statements and Remarks”, signed with the Latin letters N. N., were written by Lermontov.

The only poetry collection published in Lermontov’s lifetime was Poems of M. Lermontov (St. Petersburg, 1840; 1000 copies); it included 26 short poems and two long poems—“The Novice” and “The Song of the Merchant Kalashnikov”—out of 30 long poems and 400 short ones written by this time; the compilation was released on 25 October (it passed the censor on 13 August). The selection was made by Lermontov himself. The collection included only his later verse, with a single exception. The book opens with the “The Song of the Merchant Kalashnikov” and “Borodino”.
Epilogue
In 1977, the Moscow Soviet of People's Deputies gave the property to the literary museum. The museum was opened through the efforts of Irakly Luarsabovich Andronikov, who realized the real value of the house in Malaya Molchanovka back in the 1930s and saved it from demolition in 1938. In 1941, the first display dedicated to Lermontov was prepared in the house, but the war thwarted those plans.

In 1954, a memorial plaque was installed on its façade. Finally, in 1977, famed cultural figures of the country, including I. L. Andronikov, poet P. Antokolsky, literary scholar E. G. Gerstein, People’s Artist of the Soviet Union E. N. Gogoleva, literary scholar T. A. Ivanova, honored art worker of the RSFSR N. P. Pakhomov, and architect V. M. Smirnova addressed a letter to Literaturnaya gazeta newspaper, in which they emphasized the importance of the Moscow period in the development of the Russian literary classic’s creative work. On 18 February 1981, the house became the Mikhail Lermontov House–Museum.

Mikhail Lermontov House–Museum in Moscow
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