1873 - 1924

Valery Bryusov: Traveler

Museum of Silver Age (House of Brusov)

The 2013-2014 Museum of Silver Age exhibition


In his first trip, in the fourth year of life, Bryusov went with his parents - in Crimea, Alupka and Yalta. The mountains seemed to him high and nature caused delight. 

Later, in 1898 and 1899., When the poet again visited Crimea and experienced the joy of recognizing what is seen in childhood, the Crimean landscapes became more modest in his perception. And he as a poet was trying to fall in love with nature.

In 1897 he went abroad for the first time one traveled through Germany, which fell in love with all his life, and during the subsequent European travels as much as possible he was trying to visit his favorite cities in Germany - Cologne, Berlin. In 1906, Bryusov and his wife Ioanna Matveevna Bryusova spent six weeks in Sweden.

Valery Bryusov. 1914

In the summer of 1908 during a European tour Bryusov couple traveled to Italy. By Baedeker guide poet learned about all that interested him museums and galleries. In Belgium, he was visiting Emile Verhaeren, the famous Belgian poet, which corresponded, and called him the master. 

In 1909, Bryusov and his wife traveled extensively in southern Germany and Switzerland. The poet again visited Paris, and then in a small rustic log cabin in Verhaeren (later, during the First World War, this house was bombed). 

In January of 1916, and then 1917's Bryusov traveled to Tiflis and Erivan in Baku, where he delivered lectures on the ancient oriental culture. Summer of 1924, after many years of work without rest: he had his last trip - in the Crimea. In the house of Maximilian Voloshin Bryusov spent the end of the holiday.

Correspondent of the newspaper 

“Russkie vedomosti” in 1914 and 1915: 

Warsaw, Białystok, Pułtusk, Przemyśl, Vilna

From August 1914 until the end of May 1915, Valery Bryusov lived in Warsaw and went on numerous road trips by car and train around the cities of Poland and Galicia. He was repeatedly in Łódź, Białystok, Pułtusk, Przasnysz, Żyrardów, Jarosław (not to be confused with the Russian Yaroslavl), and other cities.

He was one of the first Russian reporters of a major national newspaper to go to the “war theater” (later journalists were A. Tolstoy, M. Prishvin, V. Muizhel, and others). It was important for him to be at the center of world events, to experience their importance in his new role as a correspondent during a time of strict military censorship.

Business card of Valery Brusov

Developing new themes in Russian journalism and new techniques, Bryusov was one of the first to use documentary materials; for example, in his articles he translated and quoted letters of German soldiers and their wives from the battlefield (the essay “Letters from the enemies and to the enemies,” in Russkie vedomosti, no. 288, 14 December 1914).

Bryusov wrote about the military way of life, about pilots (some of whom met the poet and even sent him their pictures and signatures for the archive of the Literary and Art Circle), about the heroes of the battles, and about the sharpness of Russian soldiers and scouts.

The war helped the poet to overcome his creative crisis and rethink his life attitudes. Bryusov worked as a journalist, writing stories and essays for Russkie vedomosti (Russian gazette) and the Yaroslavl Golos (Voice) and collaborated with the Tomsk newspaper Sibirskaia zhizn (Siberian life), where four of the writer’s articles appeared, reprinted from Russkie vedomosti. But he also worked on a novella, a play, and poems; he translated works by Virgil and Edgar Allen Poe; and he collected materials for a novel about the war.

Despite the distance from Moscow, he kept leading the Moscow Literary and Art Circle, and organized the publication of the collected works of Karolina Pavlova and his own collected works, until the closing of the Sirin publishing house in January 1915. He then entered written negotiations with Musaget regarding the publication of the collection. The poet was also included in the literary life of Belorussian and Polish writers and poets. He communicated with Edward Slonsky (who was not only a poet, but also a dentist, who treated Bryusov) and others, gave lectures and poetry readings in the Warsaw Society of Writers and Journalists.

Postcard with Valery Bryusov’s poem “Poland” 1914

He had an active correspondence with editors and publishers in Moscow and Yaroslavl, as well as with French poets. His correspondence with his wife Ioanna Matveevna Bryusova was of special importance; she was in Moscow at the time and helped him in his business affairs.

Valery Bryusov. Letter to Ioanna Bryusova 1914

The poet sometimes wrote to his wife in French; this language was sometimes necessary for communication in Poland. Bryusov’s letters are precise, meaningful, logical, capacious, and sometimes detailed, taking up several sheets of graph paper, which the poet began to use during the war. 

They were written in different environments: in a hotel, in a train car or automobile, sometimes by candlelight, or with bad ink or a pencil. Bryusov sent several postcards to Moscow, which he bought during his travels around Poland and Galicia. Now these postcards are kept in the visual collections of the State Literary Museum.

Germany: Cologne

South portal. Peter’s doors

Valery Bryusov first went abroad in 1897. In a postcard, addressed to his mother Matrona Aleksandrovna, the poet wrote: “Alive and well. Crossing the border. Valery.” He traveled around Germany, limiting his trip to the cities of Berlin, Cologne, Aachen, and Bonn. He wrote in the memoirs of his youth, published by his wife in 1926: “Cologne and Aachen blinded me with the bright golden splendor of their medieval churches. For the first time, the images of the “Fiery Angel” came to me “through the magic crystal”.

Hahnentor. Preserved part of the city wall. Built in 1180
Cathedral. Buttresses
Cathedral and surroundings. Before the start of reconstruction in 1824

On the postcards that Bryusov bought in Cologne, a twentieth-century city is depicted, before its terrible destruction in the Second World War. Cologne was bombed 262 times. There is a lot of speculation about why the Cologne Cathedral survived and received only minor damage: the pilots used it for orientation when they went to bomb other buildings. At night, nameless heroes kept watch on the church towers, extinguishing any fires that started. The bridge over the Rhine was completely destroyed, as well as the train station near the cathedral.

View  of Koln in 1630

The Church of St. Maria im Kapitol, the largest Romanesque church in Cologne, was built in 1065 and was completely destroyed in the Second World War.

The Church of St. Ursula was also destroyed in the war. In 1964 it was rebuilt.

The Church of St. Severin was destroyed and rebuilt after the war.

The Town Hall near the Old Market was seriously damaged during the bombing, as was part of the city wall, erected in the twelfth century. They began to be rebuilt in the 1960s.

The Church of St. Columba (eleventh century) was destroyed in 1943, but the statue of Mary miraculously survived.

Germany: Munich, Berlin, Dresden

Valery Bryusov toured many countries in Europe. The poet loved Germany most of all and remained a lifelong Germanophile. On a map of his travels, it can be seen that Bryusov always tried to structure his itineraries in order to stop by his favorite German cities.

In the summer of 1897, the poet first went abroad, limiting himself to a visit of Berlin, Cologne, Aachen, and Bonn. (Postcards with views of Cologne, as well as the first edition of the novel The Fiery Angel, were presented at the exhibition in front of Bryusov’s office in the house on Prospekt Mira, 30, in the Museum of the Silver Age, Valery Bryusov House.

David Victorious.
Monument to the Prince Electors. Royal Palace.
Portrait of Dante.

In his long European trips in the summers of 1903 and 1908, in addition to Italy, Belgium, and France, the poet visited the German cities of Munich, Dresden, Leipzig, and Bonn, where he bought and sent postcards of cultural monuments and reproductions of paintings that he acquired in museums, galleries, bookshops, and bookstands.

These postcards are now kept in the picture collections of the State Literary Museum. The exhibit “Germany: Munich, Dresden, Leipzig” is another part of the ongoing series “Valery Bryusov: Traveler”. During the Second World War, many cultural monuments were destroyed, but the postcards have preserved the views of several architectural masterpieces, as Bryusov saw them at the turn of the century, that have since been lost forever.

Young organ grinder, to whom a young girl is bringing wine.
Postcard from Berlin's Keonig Museum
Postcard from Berlin's Keonig Museum
Potsdamer Platz and Königgrätzerstrasse.
Postcard from Palazzo Pitti, Florence
Credits: Story

Заведующая экспозицией Музея Серебряного века, "Дома В.Я. Брюсова" — Орлова Моника Викторовна

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