Rivers in Russian Literature 9781644531938, 9781644531945, 9781644531952

Rivers in Russian Literature focuses on the Russian literary and folkloric treatment of five rivers-the Dnieper, Volga,

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Rivers in Russian Literature
 9781644531938, 9781644531945, 9781644531952

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Rivers in Russian Literature


Margaret Ziolkowski

University of Delaware Press Newark distributed by the university of virginia press

University of Delaware Press © 2020 by Margaret Ziolkowski All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America on acid-free paper First published 2020 135798642 978-1-64453-193-8 (cloth) 978-1-64453-194-5 (paper) 978-1-64453-195-2 (e-book) Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available for this title. All maps by Lara A. Turston Cover art: Lara A. Turston

For Judith Zinsser and Roger Millar, fiends indeed


Acknowledgments ix Introduction 1 1 · Te Dnieper  25 2 · Te Volga  63 3 · Te Neva  102 4 · Te Don  134 5 · Te Angara  168 Conclusion 199 Notes 205 Selected Bibliography  223 Index 241


I am fascinated by rivers. And it appears that I am not the only one who is. When I frst mentioned this project to family members, friends, and colleagues, I was pleasantly surprised by their enthusiasm, which ofen greatly exceeded their responsiveness to topics I had previously pursued. I received numerous references to a range of interesting materials, for all of which I am grateful. Te interlibrary loan staf at Miami University was, as always, unfailingly helpful. University administrators awarded me a semester leave to follow my fuvial interests. Daniel Meyers, Miami’s Interactive Language Resource Center director, has repeatedly enabled me to compensate for my lack of computer expertise. My most sedulous and devoted readers have always been my parents, Teodore and Yetta Ziolkowski, and my husband, Robert Turston. Teir suggestions were invaluable. My children, Lara and Alexander Turston, encouraged me as they have since childhood. Lara favored me with her professional expertise in designing the maps of rivers included in the book. Anonymous readers at the University of Delaware Press assisted me in sharpening my focus and developing a broader riverine perspective, as did the ever patient press director, Julia Oestreich. I have been personally and professionally fortunate with this project. Most of all, though, I would like to express my gratitude to the Dnieper, Volga, Neva, Don, and Angara. Without them, there would be no book.


Rivers in Russian Literature


4 Mother Volga, Father Don. Tese appellations refect the reverence and intimacy with which Russians have long regarded important rivers. Such attachment is not unique; rivers have inspired emotions and efusions across both time and space. World music, art, folklore, and literature boast numerous compositions about rivers. Rivers have played important roles in the formation of ethnic and national consciousness, the development and sustenance of religious afliations, the creation of conceptions of social tradition and progress, and the growth of aesthetic appreciation and environmental anxieties. Russian literature—oral and written, medieval, tsarist, Soviet, émigré, and contemporary—has particularly eagerly engaged with river-related topics and produced a vast quantity of extraordinarily varied compositions in which rivers feature prominently and signifcantly. Tis study examines the history of Russian literary responses to fve rivers: the Dnieper, Volga, Neva, Don, and Angara. Tese responses include both well-known and scarcely remembered fctional and poetic compositions. Te literary history of these works illuminates perceptions of individual rivers as well as crucial refections on the meaning of Russian history. An analysis of this corpus as a whole reveals both stylistic and thematic consistencies and suggestive permutations in the treatment of these rivers across time. It provides a comprehensive look at the topics, imagery, and values associated with the Russian literary representation of rivers. Te study of rivers in Russian literature can be situated, broadly speaking, within the context of two related areas of interest that have received 1

increasing scholarly attention in recent years: water and waterways. Water qua water may be approached symbolically and spiritually or materially and practically. Te two approaches are by no means mutually exclusive. In Water in Medieval Literature: An Ecocritical Reading (2018), Albrecht Classen comments on water’s simultaneously practical and symbolic signifcance: “Water constitutes life, and it symbolizes life at the same time.”1 A similar observation is made by Karlheinz Cless and Hans Peter Hahn in their introduction to People at the Well: Kinds, Usages and Meanings of Water in a Global Perspective (2012): “Water is subject to multiple, ofen contradictory valuations. Any perspective which reduces water to a problem of supply or to questions of value and price will fall short of understanding the social and cultural valuations of water. Equally problematic is the reduction of water to being just a carrier of meanings, religious convictions or symbols and rituals, which would involve an exclusively culturalistic argumentation. Water is more than either of these approaches.”2 Like water itself, waterways too may assume both concrete and symbolic importance. As a growing crisis in both the availability and quality of water confronts us, the literature on water and waterways, material and symbolic, becomes ever more critical. Te spiritual signifcance of water has long been recognized. Decades ago, the renowned scholar of religion Mircea Eliade defned the supreme importance of aquatic symbolism in religious thought and commented on the remarkable cross-cultural unity of meaning ascribed to water: “In whatever religious complex we fnd them, the waters invariably retain their function; they disintegrate, abolish forms, ‘wash away sins’; they are at once purifying and regenerating.”3 In Te Meaning of Water (2004), Veronica Strang examines patterns of and attitudes toward water usage in the English Stour River Valley, taking into account long-standing spiritual and secular beliefs. Like Eliade, Strang comments on the persistence of key concepts in the human apprehension of water: “Te consistency of the meanings encoded in water enables an unproblematic fow of ideas from one cosmological explanation to another. In each transition, water retains its core meanings as the source of ‘life’ and of the spiritual and social ‘essence’ of human being.”4 In its purely material state, water has few equals in importance. As recognition grows that water supplies are not unlimited, that aquifers can be exhausted and water sources can be destroyed by pollution, scientifc attention to water has grown. In Elixir: A History of Water and Humankind (2011), the anthropologist Brian M. Fagan charts examples over time of hu2  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

man ingenuity in exploiting water for survival, sanitation, irrigation, and energy production. In Water 4.0: Te Past, Present, and Future of the World’s Most Vital Resource (2014), a study of water treatment technology from the Roman Empire to the present day, the environmental engineer David Sedlak also underscores the centrality of water: “If water is the essential ingredient of life, then water supply is the essential ingredient of civilization.”5 As attention to water has increased, so has attention to waterways. In 1999, a special issue of the Geographical Review was devoted to the desirability of shifing the focus of scholarly analysis of waterways like seas and oceans from the periphery to the center.6 Such an emphasis was anticipated by Fernand Braudel’s monumental Te Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II (1949) and later by works like Paul Gilroy’s Te Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (1993). A recent study of the Mediterranean, David Abulafa’s Te Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean (2011), attempts, in contrast to Braudel’s “horizontal” approach, to “provide a vertical history of the Mediterranean, emphasizing change over time.”7 Michael Pye’s Te Edge of the World: A Cultural History of the North Sea and the Transformation of Europe (2015) employs a diferent but equally compelling specifc maritime focus. Lincoln Paine’s Te Sea and Civilization: A Maritime History of the World (2013) adopts an even broader perspective in examining cultural interchange by sea and river worldwide. As eminently visible conduits of water, and as a form of that element that has been highly susceptible to human manipulation, rivers worldwide have also emerged in recent decades as objects of heightened interest and speculation. In an article on the formation of river images in Russian mental worlds in Meanings and Values of Water in Russian Culture (2017), edited by Jane Costlow and Arja Rosenholm, the Russian geographer Dmitrii Zamiatin writes, “Te archetype of water, living organically and naturally as seas, lakes, swamps, ponds, and streams, is perhaps most fully and vividly manifested in the image of the river.”8 For Russians certainly, rivers command greater interest than seas. As represented in Russian literature through the centuries, rivers lead the reader through diverse cultural eddies and currents. Viewed in its entirety, this body of work ofers insights into Russian national intellectual and aesthetic preoccupations. Rivers fow through space, time, and cultures. Trough the millennia, perhaps more than any other geographical feature, rivers have attracted metaIntroduction · 3

physical commentary in disparate oral and written genres of both popular and elite literature. Consider a few examples from a vast and constantly expanding body of work. “Everything changes. . . . You cannot step twice into the same river,” declares the ffh-century bce thinker Heraclitus of Ephesus in Plato’s Cratylus. “Time is like a river,” thought the second-century ce emperor and Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius. In the twentieth century, the ferryman Vasudeva rejoices in Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha (1922), “Te river is everywhere at once—at its source, at its mouth, by the waterfall, by the ferry crossing, in the rapids, in the sea, in the mountains— everywhere at the same time. . . . For it there is only the present, not the shadow called the future.”9 In the hit musical Showboat (1927), one of the protagonists dreams of trading the Mississippi for the River Jordan and engages in existential speculation on “Ol’ Man River.” Te physical signifcance of rivers in the development of human culture can scarcely be overestimated or perhaps even matched.10 Being next to a source of water for drinking, bathing, and washing, riverbanks were always a common choice for settlement and remain a favorite location for capital cities in many countries. Rivers provide food and, through fooding and irrigation, enable agriculture. Te benefcial impact of the annual fooding of the Nile is but the best-known of many examples worldwide. Rivers can be used to dispose of waste, at least apparently. Rivers have constituted transportation routes that have long surpassed roads in speed, convenience, and cost. Even when their surfaces are frozen, rivers can be traversed, sometimes with greater ease than when they are liquid. Transportation of goods and people by river is important for both commercial and military endeavors. From an early date, water mills ofered possibilities for grinding grain, thus easing food production, that far exceeded what people could accomplish on their own or with animals. In the twentieth century, the potential of hydroelectric power ofen made rivers a focal point for industrial development. Te manifold importance of rivers has long lent them territorial significance as borders and boundaries. Bridges have facilitated transportation and communication, but they can also serve as a means of intimidation. During his Gallic campaigns, Julius Caesar erected temporary bridges across the Rhine in part to awe the Germanic peoples with the power of Roman engineering and thus convince them that resistance was futile. Almost two thousand years later, in a similar efort to pacify a Germanic people, Gen. George Patton set up a heavy pontoon bridge at Remagen to cross the Rhine into Nazi Germany because more permanent structures had 4  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

been demolished by bombing. During that same war, Soviet forces at Stalingrad were determined not to allow the Germans across the Volga River, the symbolic heart of the Russian motherland, which Adolf Hitler had hoped to make Germany’s “Mississippi.” Battles at bridges and crossings of rivers could assume pivotal and indeed almost mythical importance in national histories and legends. For the ancient Israelites under Joshua, crossing the Jordan meant entering the Promised Land. In 312 ce, the forces of Emperor Constantine I defeated those of his rival Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge over the Tiber. Constantine’s conviction, actual or legendary, that a cross he saw in a vision before the battle was crucial to his victory contributed to the ofcial adoption of Christianity by the Roman Empire. Toward the end of the same century, the Emperor Valens permitted the Visigoths to cross the Danube into Roman territory, and on New Year’s Eve in 406 ce, Vandals, Alans, and others took advantage of solid ice to cross the Rhine. Both events were important markers in the decline of the Roman Empire. On another continent ffeen hundred years later, Gen. George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River on Christmas night in 1776 in order to attack Hessian forces in Trenton represented the most symbolic moment in the American Revolution. Because of the popularity of numerous paintings, many Americans still recognize the importance of Washington’s river crossing, although they may have the haziest of ideas as to the actual role it played in events as a crucial step toward colonial independence. Similarly, while many people are familiar with Julius Caesar’s crossing the Rubicon as a metaphor for making a fateful and irreversible commitment, most do not know the concrete historical basis of the metaphor. In 49 bce, it was Caesar’s decision to cross the shallow riverine boundary between the province of Cisalpine Gaul and Italy proper, an overt act of rebellion against the authority of the Roman Senate, that led to civil war and Caesar’s ultimate victory. Rivers have long held religious signifcance as well. Many peoples have believed that rivers are inhabited by anthropomorphic, supernatural creatures or are embodiments of divinities. In ancient Egypt, there were gods and goddesses of the Nile, like Hapi, the god of the river’s annual fooding. Greek and Roman mythology is flled with tales of the adventures of such beings, like the river god Achelous, who, in the guise of a bull, lost a struggle with Heracles over a woman and, in the process, lost one of his horns, which was subsequently transformed into a cornucopia, or horn of plenty, a Introduction · 5

common accessory of rivers in visual representations ever since. Tis is one of several riverine narratives treated in the Roman poet Ovid’s frst-century bce composition Metamorphoses. Celtic mythology boasted multiple river goddesses, like Sinann, the goddess of the River Shannon in Ireland. On the other side of Europe, the pagan Slavs thought that rivers were inhabited by rusalki, occasionally benefcent female beings who assumed an increasingly malevolent aspect over time afer the Christianization of the Slavs, and by decidedly hostile male creatures known as vodianye. Tere were gods and goddesses of rivers in China and India and among the indigenous peoples of Mexico and Central America. Te symbolic cleansing potential of river water has fgured in religious beliefs worldwide. John the Baptist promised sinners a new beginning marked by immersion in the Jordan. A thousand years later, Prince Vladimir of Kiev ordered the baptism of an entire population in the Dnieper. In India, the Ganges is still the most sacred of waters, a frequent destination for Hindu pilgrims and, especially on a day in the late spring known as Ganga Dashahara, the site of mass immersions intended to wash away sins. In Russia, Orthodox Christians celebrate the January holiday of Epiphany, which marks the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, by plunging, under the direction of religious authorities, into a frigid river through a cross cut in the ice; even Vladimir Putin has participated in this activity. Rivers may also seem to provide practical supernatural insight. In July on Ivan Kupala Day, a syncretic celebration by East Slavic peoples especially of the Feast of John the Baptist and the summer solstice (according to the Julian calendar, which was used in Russia until the Soviet period), young women would cast wreaths of fowers lit with candles on rivers in hopes of ascertaining information about their future marriage by observing the wreath’s progress downstream. Rivers have ofen captured the imagination as metaphors for human experience. In their apparent journeys from one place to another, rivers evoke life’s ineluctable progress from beginning to end, birth to death. Te author of an otherwise dry account of the series of hydroelectric dams built on the Volga, published in 1964, muses in his opening paragraph, “Tey say that rivers refect in their eternally moving waters not only the clouds and the trees on their banks, but also the fow of life itself.”11 Te fow of a river can call to mind the mystery of continuous and sometimes haphazard mental processes, as in the image of a stream of consciousness, which is meant to evoke the fast-moving fow of thoughts in the conscious mind. Te quest to 6  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

discover the sources of major rivers has commanded perennial interest, and these sources, however physically modest, are sometimes marked as sacred sites. Te search for the source of a river provides an analogy for the search for knowledge. As a worthy symbolic opponent in the common conception of human interaction with nature as a struggle for domination, rivers have few geographical competitors. In the twentieth century, the taming of rivers by damming them especially encapsulated the desire to subordinate nature to human will. Rivers inspire devotion, respect, even love. Trough the centuries, the relations of Russians with rivers have ofen been intense, emotional, and very personal. Te eminent and infuential nineteenth-century historian Vasilii Kliuchevskii introduced a novel approach to Russian historiography by arguing for more attention to climate and geography, not just dynastic politics, in the study of the Russian past. For Kliuchevskii, forests, steppes, and rivers had played defning roles in Russian history and in the development of the Russian worldview. Of the three, he thought, only rivers evoked unequivocally positive feelings. In an ofen-cited passage of his Kurs russkoi istorii (Course in Russian history, 1904–22), the historian describes in passionate terms the relationship between Russians and the rivers beside which they settled or along which they traveled: On the river [the Russian] came to life and lived with her soul to soul. He loved his river, he did not speak such afectionate words in song about any other natural element of his country—and with reason. During migrations the river showed him the way, when he settled down she was his devoted neighbor: he pressed close to her, he set up his dwelling, hamlet, or village on her uncontainable bank. During the signifcant Lenten portion of the year she even fed him. For the merchant she was a ready summer and even icy winter road, she did not threaten him with storms or underwater rocks: just turn the rudder in time at the constant capricious bends of the river and remember the shallows and shoals. Te river constitutes even her own sort of tutor of a sense of order and social spirit in the people.12

For Kliuchevskii, rivers reigned supreme. During both the tribal and the princely era of ancient Rus’, they quickly provided a hydrographic basis for territorial divisions. Te proximity of major river basins to one another also precluded isolation, helped foster a sense of ethnic unity, and contributed Introduction · 7

to state unifcation. Moscow later derived importance in part because of its fortunate position within an extensive riverine network. When Muscovy sought to expand its territory, it did so along the routes suggested by river basins. Russian history proceeded in accordance with “natural conditions: rivers to a great extent inscribed its program.”13 Te Dnieper and the Volga initially dominated this program, later the Don, Neva, and, as the Russians moved east across Siberia, a host of other rivers did.

Geography Kliuchevskii’s almost mystical apprehension of the importance of rivers in Russian history and culture becomes more comprehensible in the context of a brief overview of the riverine geography of Russia and of what was once considered Russian territory. Te majority of Russia’s many rivers fow through the basins of three oceans: the Arctic, Atlantic, and Pacifc. Te lion’s share fall within the Arctic Basin, which incorporates the great rivers of northern Russia and Siberia, rivers whose names have little resonance worldwide but that are immense: the Pechora, Northern Dvina, and Onega in the west; the Iana, Indigirka, and Kolyma in the east; and the Ob, Enisei, and Lena in between. Te last three command some of the largest river basins in the world: the Ob is 2,268 miles long, the Lena 2,734, and the Enisei 3,442. Te much smaller Pacifc Basin incorporates other unfamiliar but impressive rivers: the Anadyr, the Kamchatka, and the Amur, which is 1,755 miles long. Te Atlantic Basin is even smaller but nonetheless sizable. It includes three seas, the Baltic, Black, and Azov, and numerous rivers, many of which are well known, like the Neva, the Volkhov, the Don, the Kuban, and a river long claimed by the Russians as part of their patrimony, the Dnieper. Tere is also the inland drainage basin of the Caspian Sea, into which fow the Volga, the Ural, the Terek, and others; the Volga, at 2,294 miles long, is the longest river in European Russia and in Europe as a whole. Te vast majority of Russian rivers exhibit a meridian fow; that is, they fow roughly from north to south in European Russia, through the great Russian Plain, and from south to north in Asiatic Russia (Siberia). For the western area of the country, this means that rivers ofen bring muchneeded moisture to drier, southern areas. In the east, the fow of rivers into the Arctic Ocean means some lessening of the region’s iciness. Especially during the Soviet period, there were some who dreamed of reversing the fow of certain Siberian rivers from north to south in order to bring mois8  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

ture to parched regions in the heart of the Eurasian landmass. Like many mid-twentieth-century utopian, or dystopian, schemes, these fantasies were never realized, although as recently as the 1990s, the Russian government was still considering such possibilities.14 In Russia, as elsewhere, major cities are generally situated on rivers. St. Petersburg was built beside the Neva at great human and fnancial cost. Centuries earlier, Novgorod grew up beside the Volkhov, and Kiev, whose ancient ethnic claims are still contested by the Ukrainians and the Russians, grew up beside the Dnieper. On the Dnieper, Smolensk is frmly within Russia. Moscow was sited at the confuence of the Moscow and Neglinnaya rivers. Tere are many important cities on the Volga: Iaroslavl, at the confuence of the Volga and the Kotorosl; Nizhnii Novgorod, at the confuence of the Volga and the Oka; Kazan, near the confuence of the Volga and the Kama; and further south, Saratov, Volgograd, and, near where the Volga fows into the Caspian Sea, Astrakhan. Siberian cities are less densely situated than those in European Russia, but there too they were typically founded on major rivers: Omsk on the Irtysh, Novosibirsk on the Ob, Krasnoyarsk on the Enisei, Irkutsk on the Angara, and Yakutsk on the Lena. Te necessity for a rich network of waterways for national growth, combined with the tempting proximity of many Russian rivers to one another, led Russians from an early date to exploit their expansion along rivers to the maximum extent possible and to contemplate ways of linking waterways to improve their access to various seas; overland portage between rivers was ofen feasible but costly, difcult, and inconvenient. In 1946, the historian Robert J. Kerner titled his overview of Russian history Te Urge to the Sea. He subtitled it Te Role of Rivers, Portages, Ostrogs [small forts], Monasteries, and Furs. For Kerner, “the domination of river systems” was “the secret of the mastery of eastern Europe.”15 His book details the seemingly inexorable acquisition by Russians across the centuries of waterways spanning all points of the compass. Te Russian quest for and sense of entitlement to riverine access to the Baltic, Black, Azov, and Caspian seas and the Arctic and Pacifc oceans was a powerful factor in the development of the Russian state. Te attempt to systematically alter Russian riverine connections began in the early eighteenth century.16 Eforts across Europe to modernize in this era ofen included the modifcation of waterways to ease transportation and foster economic and agricultural development. In keeping with this trend, Peter the Great confdently asserted in one of his edicts, “We have decided Introduction · 9

to unite the major rivers in our empire into one watery body.”17 A few decades later, Frederick the Great of Prussia harbored analogous ambitions in regard to the Oder, for which he, like Peter, was praised by many of his educated contemporaries.18 Almost from the moment that construction of St. Petersburg was initiated under Peter, a desire to link the new city to the Volga Basin by water rather than by lengthy portage routes led to the construction of the Vyshnii Volochek system, a series of shipping canals and locks in the area south of Lake Ladoga. Canals had long been an object of British and American ambition especially. In Petrine Russia, the presence of canals linking rivers like the Tvertsa and Tsna meant that sizable ships could make their way from the city of Tver on the Volga northwest of Moscow through Lake Ladoga to the Neva and on to the Baltic, thereby supporting Russian imperial ambitions. Peter also dreamed, as had an Ottoman Turkish sultan in the sixteenth century, of linking the Volga with the Don and thus the Caspian with the Black Sea, but long-term Russian military commitments in the north prohibited such developments. Following Peter’s reign, expansion of agricultural development toward the southern steppes made improvements in navigation along rivers like the Dnieper desirable. In the late eighteenth century, the construction of the Oginski Canal enabled the creation of the Dnieper– Neman route, linking several rivers in the area of what is now Lithuania and Belarus. The Moscow River was also developed as a waterway at about the same time. Nineteenth-century riverine ambitions continued apace. Extensive tsarist construction of railroads in the second half of the nineteenth century meant that, as in the United States, the focus on the improvement of commercial river transport diminished, but plans were by no means completely abandoned. Te growing appearance of steamships on Russian rivers provided an incentive for such development. In the nineteenth century and early twentieth, multiple schemes for the amelioration of transportation and the exploitation of dams and hydroelectric projects were conceived. Tere were thoughts of submerging the treacherous Dnieper cataracts, which efectively prohibited ship trafc on a signifcant portion of the lower river, and dreams of linking the White and Baltic seas and providing irrigation to dry areas besieged by droughts. Later Soviet commentators sententiously attributed the prerevolutionary failure to realize such plans to the invidious impact of tsarism: “It was necessary to free the Russian 10  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

agricultural population from survivals of serfdom and from the oppression of noble latifundia.”19 Vladimir Lenin and his compatriots shared a keen appreciation of the importance of developing both water transportation and hydroelectric power. Tey were well aware of modernization projects being pursued in countries like Germany and the United States to make water serve human goals. It was Lenin who famously declared that Communism meant Soviet power plus the electrifcation of the entire country, an assertion plastered on billboards and promulgated in neon lights for decades. Hydroelectric endeavors would play a key role in this agenda. In 1920, the plan known as GOELRO, the Russian acronym for the State Commission for the Electrifcation of Russia, was ofcially approved and its implementation initiated. Te ultimate goal of GOELRO was massive industrialization and cultural transformation through the benefts of electricity. Te frst major hydroelectric project undertaken under the auspices of GOELRO was a hydroelectric station completed in 1927 on the Volkhov River, which provided energy to Leningrad and eased shipping. Another early Soviet hydroelectric project that commanded a truly mythic reputation because of its scale was a station built on the Dnieper in the early 1930s. As the capital of the Soviet Union, Moscow was the focal point of much hydrological development. By the late 1930s, the city had efectively become, as Soviet contemporaries liked to say, a port of three seas: the Caspian, White, and Baltic. In the early 1950s, the long dreamed-of canal linking the Don and the Volga was completed. As Soviet experts put it with characteristically stufy arrogance, “It was necessary to correct this obvious incongruity of nature.”20 Peter the Great would have agreed with this determinedly utilitarian point of view. Now Moscow became a port for two more seas, the Azov and the Black. Increasingly, the Soviets invested in so-called cascades, series of several dams, on multiple rivers, not only in European but also Asiatic Russia and throughout the Soviet Union’s ffeen republics. “Our party will succeed in saving man from the infuence of the elements, in making him the ruler of nature,” Nikita Khrushchev confdently declared at the Twenty-Second Party Congress in 1961.21 His optimism was infectious and widely shared. At the conclusion of one of his many books about Soviet riverine accomplishments, N. T. Kuznetsov dissolved into pure rapture: Future poets and writers will sing the marvelous charm and beauty of our rivers with new force. Tey will write about the smooth surface of Introduction · 11

reservoirs on the site of “cow fords,” about the charm of azure silhouettes of dams, of bridges lovingly inscribed into nature, that constitute a harmonious whole with it. Tese will be new songs, in which the treasures of our rivers will no longer appear as the gif of nature, but as tribute paid by nature to the genius of humanity, its industry and persistence. “Everything in the name of people, for the good of people” is written on the banner of communism; the rivers of our motherland will also work for the good of people.22

By the time most of the intended dams and hydroelectric plants had been constructed along major rivers in European Russia like the Volga, some rivers were now more like a series of huge lakes. As elsewhere in the world, in the Soviet Union there were potential industrial, shipping, and irrigation benefts associated with these developments, but there were also substantial costs, some of which only gradually became apparent. Rich farming land and forests were lost, areas below dams ofen dried up, many species of fsh disappeared, pernicious algae fourished, climatic changes and massive erosion occurred, and signifcant human and animal populations were displaced.23 An unsavory feature of Soviet dam and canal construction characteristic of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s in particular was the extensive use of prison labor. Buoyed by their apparent successes on the rivers of European Russia, in the second half of the twentieth century Soviet engineers and government authorities eyed Siberia with increased desire. Even in the nineteenth century Russians had dreamed of exploiting the gigantic rivers of Asiatic Russia. In the postwar period, a spirit of competition involving iconic American modernization projects like the Tennessee Valley Authority further fueled hydrological lust; the lawyer and administrator David Lilienthal’s infuential TVA: Democracy on the March (1944) was widely read in Russia, as well as in India, China, Latin America, and Africa. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, eforts to harness Siberian waters for hydroelectric power began in earnest. Projects like the Bratsk station on the Angara River dwarfed earlier Soviet dams and energy production in their scale. From the mid-twentieth century on, however, increasingly larger fssures in the confdence in the unalloyed benefts of hydroelectric schemes began to appear worldwide, including in the Soviet Union. It was repeatedly demonstrated, for those who cared to notice, that dams, small and large, ofen had a detrimental and unanticipated impact on the environment and 12  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

that their supposed advantages had been grossly overestimated. In the Soviet Union, some engineers, scientists, and government authorities began to recognize what locals had ofen realized much earlier, that gigantic hydroelectric projects could lead to devastation, not plentitude. Writers like the Siberian Valentin Rasputin broke with a tradition of glorifcation and exposed some of the negative consequences of the hydroelectric mission. Yet in both the Soviet Union and post-Soviet Russia, as in many other countries worldwide, capitalist, Communist, and authoritarian alike, the dream, or nightmare, of modernization embodied in huge dams did not fade quietly away.

Rivers and Artistic Culture Te treatment of rivers in Russian literature adheres to a rich and variegated tradition of cultural apprehension of rivers worldwide. Since antiquity, rivers have served as the subject matter of legends and as objects of artistic representation in various media. In the classical world, the use of a scantily clad reclining male fgure to symbolize a river or river god was widespread in statues, mosaics, and coinage.24 Tis tradition met with renewed enthusiasm during the Renaissance and later. One of the most famous examples is Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s seventeenth-century Fountain of the Four Rivers in Rome’s Piazza Navona, which depicts the Nile, Ganges, Danube, and Rio de la Plata. Anthropomorphic embodiments of rivers, like the defeated Achelous mentioned earlier, also fgured in classical literature. In book 8 of the Roman poet Virgil’s frst-century bce epic Te Aeneid, the spirit of the Tiber appears to Aeneas in a dream, ofering victory to the Trojan colonizers in return for their demonstrations of honor. Te magnitude of the ofer to serve as a “benevolent collaborator” is underscored by the Tiber’s less than modest self-description as the river most beloved of heaven, a projection of its future signifcance as the preeminent Roman river.25 Many rivers were the subject of encomia in antiquity. In their studies of rivers and ancient Rome and rivers in Roman literature and culture, Brian Campbell and Prudence Jones single out as a particularly comprehensive example of the genre the fourth-century ce poem by Ausonius of Bordeaux addressed to the Gallic Moselle.26 Ausonius provides a detailed summary of riverine benefts related to beauty, sustenance (fsh), transportation, and agriculture. In more recent centuries, river landscapes assumed increasing popularity in painting. Te Tames, which, it has been argued, is “the most painted Introduction · 13

river in the world,” benefted from the attentions of, among others, Antonio Canaletto, J. M. W. Turner, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, and Claude Monet, and the Seine from those of Charles-François Daubigny, Monet, Georges-Pierre Seurat, Alfred Sisley, and other renowned Impressionists.27 Te Elbe was painted by, for example, Carl Gustav Carus, Caspar David Friedrich, and Bernardo Bellotto. In the United States, the nineteenth-century Hudson River School, represented by Tomas Cole, Frederic Edwin Church, and other artists, brought fame to American river landscapes. In Russia, the painters Isaak Levitan, Mikhail Nesterov, and others sought to capture a quintessential Russian essence in their many Volga scenes. As Tricia Cusack observes in her study of landscape art in the development of national identity across Europe and the United States, “Te riverscape played an important role in transforming the abstract idea of the nation into a potent visual image.”28 Music too boasts many compositions related to rivers, one of the most famous of which is the waltz by the Austrian composer Johann Strauss, “An der schönen blauen Donau” (On the beautiful blue Danube, 1866). Richard Wagner attempted to capture a sense of the Rhine River in the prelude to Das Rheingold (Te Rhine gold, 1869), which opens with a scene of Rhine Maidens frolicking on the bottom of the river. Tis work later found great favor with the Nazis. Other well-known musical works that treat rivers include the Czech Bedřich Smetana’s nineteenth-century symphonic poem on the Vltava River (also known by the German name Moldau) that fows through Prague, and the Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky’s prelude to his opera Khovanshchina, “Dawn on the Moscow River,” which was orchestrated by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov afer Mussorgsky’s death in 1881. From the twentieth century, the Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos’s Uirapuru (1937), a symphonic poem about a mythical bird of the Amazon River, and the American composer Ferde Grofé’s Mississippi Suite (1924) both refect a variety of indigenous and popular infuences. Te East German production Das Lied der Ströme (Te song of the rivers, 1954), a multimedia documentary flm devoted to workers along six important rivers—the Volga, Mississippi, Ganges, Nile, Amazon, and Yangtze—featured music composed by Dmitrii Shostakovich with lyrics by Bertolt Brecht. Te representation of rivers in Russian literature constitutes an important chapter in the story of the literary depiction of rivers. Especially since the eighteenth century, rivers have been treated frequently in European and American prose and poetry. Te Tames, which was brilliantly character14  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

ized as “liquid history” by the early twentieth-century English politician John Burns because of its immense cultural signifcance, appears in poems by scores of authors, ranging from Edmund Spenser to William Wordsworth and T. S. Eliot. It is a consistent presence in the novels of Charles Dickens. In German literature at the turn of the eighteenth century, Friedrich Hölderlin produced poems devoted to the Main, the Rhine, the Ister (the Greco-Roman name for the Danube), and the Neckar. In the United States, the Mississippi has been a particularly productive prose subject, in works like Herman Melville’s Te Confdence-Man (1857) and Mark Twain’s Te Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), Life on the Mississippi (1883), and Te Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), a book that has assumed an almost iconic status in American culture. Many other examples of river-focused literary compositions worldwide could be mentioned. Within this context, Russian literature related to rivers ofers a spectacular example of a national obsession with riverine history and aesthetic perception.

Popular and Scholarly Rivers General and scholarly treatments of individual rivers exhibit a broad and ofen eclectic variety of approaches to their subjects, ranging from the idiosyncratic to the historical, environmental, and literary. Te description of a personal journey up or down a river, long a popular genre, lends itself to scientifc, historical, political, folkloric, literary, and other excurses. Major historical developments and political confrontations have ofen occurred on and along rivers, and many river studies examine such topics. John Feenan’s Te Magic of the Shannon (1980), for example, incorporates nautical detail, snippets of poetry, folkloric and historical anecdotes, as well as musings on the tormented course of relations between the Irish and the English. Andrew Beattie’s Te Danube: A Cultural History (2010) explores the diverse cultures and riverine usage of the ten countries that border on Western Europe’s longest river, however briefy, from its source to its mouth. In contrast to Beattie, Nick Torpe chose to follow the Danube upriver, ofen by bicycle, in order to provide a greater East European focus in Te Danube: A Journey Upriver fom the Black Sea to the Black Forest (2013), which emphasizes the Danube’s extraordinarily multinational character by highlighting the personal histories of a gallery of Romanians, Roma, Hungarians, and assorted southern Slavs. Increasingly, attention to the political complexities and environmental Introduction · 15

challenges associated with rivers worldwide has become a focus in personal riverine travel narratives. Lesley Chamberlain’s Volga, Volga: A Journey Down Russia’s Great River (1995) includes refections on imperial Russian, Soviet, and post-Soviet development of the river, with particular attention to problems of pollution. In A River No More: Te Colorado River and the West (1981), Philip Fradkin draws on personal travel experiences, interviews, and archival materials to describe the massive development of and political struggles over the Colorado River. In Te River at the Center of the World: A Journey Up the Yangtze, and Back in Chinese Time (1996), Simon Winchester combines gritty detail about the contemporary state of the river and the cities along its banks with discussion of its Chinese and foreign exploitation from the mid-eighteenth to the late twentieth century especially. A much admired and transcendent example of the personal journey genre is by the Italian Germanist Claudio Magris. Danube: A Sentimental Journey fom the Source to the Black Sea (1986) is an unusual work of intellectual history that focuses in sensitive and sometimes painful detail on the impact of Germanic culture and aspirations along the multinational shores of the river. Tis study served as a partial inspiration for the recent volume Watersheds: Poetics and Politics of the Danube River (2016), edited by Marijeta Bozovic and Matthew D. Miller, which ofers interdisciplinary explorations of the real and metaphorical river by scholars from diverse felds. Another unusual, earlier example of the personal journey genre is the Canadian writer Hugh MacLennan’s Seven Rivers of Canada (1961), with chapters on the Mackenzie, St. Lawrence, Ottawa, Red, Saskatchewan, Fraser, and St. John. MacLennan’s work tells the story of Canada and gives particular attention to the exploits of the voyageurs, the intrepid boatmen who transported goods, especially furs, and guided passengers through the wilderness. Other works eschew the personal but still attempt to provide encompassing accounts of the historical and cultural signifcance of particular rivers. Certain American rivers have been the benefciaries of such an approach. In River of Dreams: Imagining the Mississippi before Mark Twain (2007), Tomas Ruys Smith draws on early nineteenth-century documents, memoirs, letters, and other writings to illuminate the increasingly divergent representations of the Upper Mississippi as picturesque and progressive and the Lower Mississippi as a degenerate locus of slavery and associated evils. In Water and Afican American Memory: An Ecocritical Perspective (2011), 16  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

Anissa Janine Wardi examines the function of “‘nature’ as a politically charged racialized topography.”29 She stresses the symbolic importance of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. A similarly broad-based approach is taken by Tom Lewis in Te Hudson: A History (2005), in which the author examines, over a lengthy chronological span, a range of topics, such as the exploration and colonization of the Hudson by European settlers and the river’s development as a transport system by means of canals and steamboats. Several European rivers have received extensive treatment from historical, literary, environmental, and other perspectives. In Rivers and the Power of Ancient Rome (2012), Brian Campbell tackles the ambitious task of clarifying Roman geographical perspectives and social attitudes by analyzing what the Romans themselves had to say about rivers in geographical and historical documents, correspondence, and literary works. In Tames: Sacred River (2007), Peter Ackroyd explores the river’s evolution as a symbol of England and of civilization. He discusses the many writers, from Charles Dickens to Bram Stoker and Joseph Conrad, and Geofrey Chaucer to Edmund Spenser and Tomas Gray, who have represented the Tames in fction and poetry. In Die Donau: Ein europäischer Fluss und seine 3000-jährige Geschichte (Te Danube: A European river and its 3000-year history, 2000), Michael Weithmann provides an exhaustive account of peoples, events, and developments along the Danube from dim prehistory to the latter half of the twentieth century. In Der Rhein: Ein europäischer Fluß und seine Geschichte (Te Rhine: A European river and its history, 1994), Horst Johannes Tümmers discusses Rhine Romanticism and attempted German patriotic appropriation of the river, as well as the extensive eforts at “rectifcation,” or straightening, of the Rhine’s channel since the eighteenth century and the deleterious impact of massive industrialization. As for rivers outside Europe and the United States, in Te Ganges in Myth and History (1978), Steven Darian traces the history of Hindu and Muslim settlement and religious practice along the Ganges, from the ancient Aryans to the present, from the river’s Himalayan source through the jungles of the Ganges Valley to the Bengal Delta. He supplies fascinating details about the river goddess Ganga in mythology, art, and literature. Like the Ganges, the Nile, traditionally recognized as the longest river in the world, has been subjected to human manipulation for several millennia. In Te Nile (2002), Robert Collins treats the river’s exploitation and development from source to mouth, with particular attention to the historical struggles over water Introduction · 17

rights among Egypt, Ethiopia, and the Sudan. Paul Sinclair draws on oral histories to enrich Te Murray: A River and Its People (2001), an account of river regulation, dam construction, and environmental degradation on Australia’s second-longest river. Te representation of rivers in artistic culture across time and space, in poetry and fction or the visual arts, has been the subject of multiple studies. Prudence Jones examines the literary use of rivers in the poetry of Virgil, especially in Reading Rivers in Roman Literature (2005). In From Landscape to Literature: Te River and the Myth of Geography (1986), Wyman Herendeen traces literary riverine images as refections of the cultures from which they emerged from Roman antiquity to the English Renaissance. Christina Hardyment combines history and literary history with extensive excerpts from writers across the centuries in Writing the Tames (2016). In individual chapters of Riverscapes and National Identities (2010) on fve rivers—the Hudson, Tames, Seine, Volga, and Shannon—Tricia Cusack illuminates the ways in which riverscapes have ofen served to create a visual image refective of an ideal image of the nation. A recent collection, Te Image of the River in Latin/o American Literature: Written in the Water (2018), edited by Jeanie Murphy and Elizabeth G. Rivero, contains several articles that highlight the ways in which specifc Latin American rivers have been used by writers and other artists to underscore political upheaval and trauma. Peter Schilling Jr.’s Mark Twain’s Mississippi River: An Illustrated Chronicle of the Big River in Samuel Clemens’s Life and Works (2014) outlines in compelling detail many of the actual sources for Twain’s treatment of the Mississippi in his autobiographical writings and fction.

Rivers and Environmental History In recent years, the environmental history of rivers and the complex interaction between humans and nature in regard to rivers have received increasingly focused attention. A seminal study by Richard White, Te Organic Machine (1995), considers the history of the salmon fshing industry and hydroelectric construction on the Columbia River. White uses the image of the organic machine to describe the transformation of the Columbia into an energy system that, although heavily modifed, still retains natural qualities and thus possesses a certain agency. In Te Big Muddy: An Environmental History of the Mississippi and Its Peoples fom Hernando de Soto to Hurricane Katrina (2012), Christopher Morris examines attempts over 18  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

several centuries by European settlers and their American descendants to turn the vast Mississippi wetlands into dry land, creating in the process an unstable separation of river and valley. In A River and Its City: Te Nature of Landscape in New Orleans (2003), Ari Kelman focuses on the evolution of social attitudes toward and development and administration of the Mississippi waterfront in New Orleans. Te increased attention to the manifold interaction of human beings and rivers across time has had particular resonance in regard to European rivers. Te Rhine, “Europe’s romantic sewer,” has been a great source of interest. Marc Cioc’s Te Rhine: An Eco-Biography, 1815–2000 (2002) analyzes in detail the human modifcation and contamination of the Rhine that accompanied Germany’s aggressive industrialization. Cioc describes the gradual realization by the scientifc community that the self-cleansing potential of the river had been vastly overestimated, as had the practicability of sacrifcing selected riverine stretches to industrialization as a purported price for modernization. He chronicles the growing recognition of the necessity for pollution abatement and for habitat restoration. In Confuence: Te Nature of Technology and the Remaking of the Rhône (2011), Sara Pritchard employs envirotechnical analysis, the combined perspective of environmental history and the history of technology, to examine the Rhône’s transformations in the second half of the twentieth century or, as some would have it, the “taming” of a “wild” river through multipurpose development. As Pritchard points out, the Rhône had been the object of such designs for two millennia. As in the case of the Rhine, taming has begun to yield to modest restoration. Such attempts are also described by the environmental historian Peter Coates in A Story of Six Rivers: History, Culture and Ecology (2013), in which fuvial biographies of the Danube, Spree, Po, Mersey, Yukon, and Los Angeles rivers capture the intersection over time and space between human beings and rivers. Several of the authors in the collection Rivers in History: Perspectives on Waterways in Europe and North America (2008), edited by Christof Mauch and Tomas Zeller, also touch on these issues. In a piece on postwar attempts at saving the Rhine, for example, Tomas Lekan emphasizes a shif, characteristic of the second half of the twentieth century in general, from purely aesthetic to ecological concerns. Tere are several works by scholars from various disciplines that concern specifc Russian rivers. Te Russian river that has received the most scholarly attention is the Volga. I have already mentioned Cusack’s chapter on Introduction · 19

the Volga, in which she discusses the importance of nineteenth-century painters like Isaak Levitan and Il’ia Repin in the creation of an increasingly exclusionary Volga riverscape. In his study of the construction of the image of the Russian countryside, Tis Meager Nature: Landscape and National Identity in Imperial Russia (2002), Christopher Ely also analyzes the growing Russian perception in the course of the nineteenth century of the Volga as a worthy aesthetic object. Dorothy Zeisler-Vralsted ofers a comparison of two major rivers in Rivers, Memory and Nation-Building: A History of the Volga and Mississippi Rivers (2015). Like Cusack and Ely, Zeisler-Vralsted treats the cultural construction of the Volga but focuses primarily on the role of Soviet and American hydro projects, like the Moscow-Volga Canal completed in 1937, in developing a twentieth-century narrative of national transformation of nature. Guido Hausmann’s Mütterchen Wolga: Ein Fluss als Erinnerungsort vom 16. bis ins fühe 20. Jahrhundert (Mother Volga: A river as a realm of memory from the 16th to the early 20th century, 2009)30 examines several important topics, including Russian Orthodox appropriation of the Volga as a kind of Jordan, the gradual construction of the Volga as an imperial Russian river, the Volga as a symbol of freedom, and the role of steamboat tourism in the creation of a Russian sense of ownership of the Volga. In an article in the collection Vater Rhein und Mutter Wolga: Diskurse um Nation und Gender in Deutschland und Russland (Father Rhine and Mother Volga: Discourses on nation and gender in Germany and Russia, 2005), edited by Elisabeth Cheauré, Regine Nohejl, and Antonia Napp, Hausmann examines the appropriation of the Nile’s image as the source of civilization by German and Russian intellectuals writing about the Rhine and the Volga, respectively. A key text for Hausmann is an essay entitled “Russkii Nil” (Russian Nile) by the prerevolutionary writer and philosopher Vasilii Rozanov. First published in 1907 and republished in 1989 in the Soviet journal Novyi mir, Rozanov’s essay has enjoyed widespread attention among Russian intellectuals. Te author infuses an account of an actual steamship journey down the Volga with observations about the landscape, church architecture, the Russian character, and the signifcance of the river and its environs. For Rozanov, the basis for the comparison between the Volga and the Nile lies in their perceived character as sacred nourishers of the peoples who inhabit their banks. Te breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 meant that Russian academics in many felds could abandon many of the scholarly restrictions of the past. 20  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

Since then, interdisciplinary approaches to geography have assumed more importance, as scholars probe the cultural understanding of geographical objects like rivers. Te geographer Dmitrii Zamiatin, mentioned earlier, has been especially prolifc. In V serdtse vozdukha: K poiskam sokrovennykh prostranstv (In the heart of the air: Toward a search for secret spaces, 2011), he expatiates on the signifcance of metageography, the fgurative perception of space. In Zamiatin’s view, “the cultural landscape is the product of metageographical manipulations.”31 He argues for the importance of “geopoetics . . . the broad interdisciplinary feld on the border of cultural or fgurative geography and literature, as it is understood locally, regionally, in other words, spatially.”32 Te anthology Imperiia prostranstva: Khrestomatiia po geopolitike i geokul’ture Rossii (Empire of space: A reader in the geopolitics and geoculture of Russia, 2003), edited by Zamiatin and his brother Aleksei, is an exhaustive compendium of poetry and prose, ranging from fction to diaries and letters, devoted to Russian perceptions of Poland, the Baltics, the Caucasus, the Far East, and Russia itself. Te authors of the collection Obrazy regionov v obshchestvennom soznanii i kul’ture Rossii (XVII–XIX vv.) (Images of regions in the social consciousness and culture of Russia [17th–19th centuries], 2011), edited by Vadim Trepavlov, study the formation of Russian cultural images of disparate regions conjoined over the centuries to the Russian heartland. In the frst chapter, Trepavlov examines the process by which the Volga was transformed from a multiethnic object of reverence, maternal personifcation, and proprietary folklore into the perceived preeminent Russian river. In “‘Volga—russkaia reka’: Obrazy i opisaniia glavnoi reki imperii vo vtoroi polovine XIX veka” (“Te Volga is a Russian river”: Images and descriptions of the main river of the empire in the second half of the 19th century, 2013), the historian Mariia Leskinen details the solidifcation of the Volga’s image as specifcally Russian and as a much-lauded source of nourishment in the second half of the nineteenth century. Oleg Riabov discusses the signifcance of the image of Mother Volga during the Battle of Stalingrad in “‘Otstoim Volgu-matushku!’ Materinskii simvol reki v diskurse Stalingradskoi bitvy” (“We will defend Little Mother Volga!” Te maternal symbol of the river in the discourse of the Battle of Stalingrad). Riabov also contributed a piece to Meanings and Values of Water in Russian Culture on the role of the Volga in gendering Russianness. In Geografcheskoe prostranstvo v russkoi poezii XVIII–nachala XX vv. (geokul’turnyi apspekt) (Geographical space in Russian poetry from the 18th to the beginning of the 20th century [Te geoIntroduction · 21

cultural aspect], 1998), Ol’ga Lavrenova uses textual references to construct the mental maps of prominent Russian poets. Lavrenova observes that for the entire period she analyzes, the Volga, Don, Neva, and Dnieper rivers are mentioned by practically all the poets she treats, thus serving as important components of the “‘framework’ on which the image of European Russia is created” within the Russian poetic corpus.33 Western scholars also frequently stress the role of culture in the perception and representation of landscapes. In a volume of articles on geography and literature, Jim Wayne Miller observes, “Tere is always a cultural landscape imposed on the natural landscape—a cultural landscape that reveals something about the collective needs, tastes, predilections, values, and attitudes of people.”34 In his treatment of the image of the river in English Renaissance poetry, Wyman Herendeen likewise comments, “Te river, in geography and as an image, takes on the characteristics of the culture of which it is a part.”35 Cultures in turn are infuenced by their rivers. Folkloric and literary responses to rivers, as expressions of cultural perception, may tell us much about the societies that produce them as well as about the rivers they portray. In the Russian case, one may trace the development of key historical, ideological, and aesthetic patterns in the literature devoted to specifc rivers. One of the frst novels I ever read in which a major river fgures topographically and symbolically, dominating both the physical and moral landscape, was Te Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Twain’s Mississippi possesses a complex and compelling character as both a refuge and a hellhole. Years later I encountered a similar instance of riverine ambiguity in Nikolai Nekrasov’s “Na Volge (Detstvo Valezhnikova)” (On the Volga [Valezhnikov’s childhood], 1860), which brilliantly captures the duality of the Volga as simultaneously idyllic and traumatic. Living near the Ohio River, which played such an important role in the abolitionist Underground Railroad, has fueled my interest in the ways in which rivers can assume massive symbolic value in the national imagination. When I embarked on this project, I wished to select for discussion rivers that, like the Mississippi in an American context, the Rhine in a German context, or the Yangtze in a Chinese context, were signifcant for Russian culture, and literature in particular, at diferent times and in diferent ways. I also sought to pursue topics pertinent to multiple rivers, not only in Russia, or what was once considered Russia, such as the interrelationship between rivers and national identity, rivers and religious belief, rivers and empire, and rivers and environmental exploitation. Viewed together, the literary 22  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

treatment of several important rivers permits a more broadly national understanding of riverine signifcance. My specifc choices of river were infuenced by chronological, geographical, and cultural considerations. I wished to examine a diverse array of rivers whose collective importance to Russian development has spanned the entire past millennium. I have devoted a separate chapter to each of these rivers because I agree with the contention made by Coates in A Story of Six Rivers that when “chopped into segments featuring in diferent chapters, the organic integrity and distinctive identity of particular rivers would be swamped.”36 In other words, I am seeking to identify the specifc imaginative contours, the personality, as it were, of each of the fve rivers I discuss. As Herendeen comments in his monumental study, “All rivers are in some way unique in the eyes of their inhabitants.”37 Clarifying this uniqueness necessitates, as Campbell has observed in reference to the academic study of rivers in general, some attention to geography, natural science, history, and anthropology. Cusack argues similarly for drawing on geographical, historical, and cultural aspects to illuminate a river’s image.38 Te frst river I consider is the Dnieper, which today is generally identifed as a primarily Ukrainian river. As I suggest, however, a Russian conviction, right or wrong, over many centuries that the Dnieper was foundational in the development of Russia makes inclusion of the Dnieper in a study of rivers and Russian literature essential. Te other rivers I treat are today less controversial in their national identity, although no less complex in their representational development. Te Volga now has the reputation of being the quintessential Russian river, but that was by no means always a given. “Little Mother Volga” has dominated inward-looking perceptions of national identity for many Russians in many circumstances. Te Neva, on the other hand, is associated above all with the Russian imperial project and Peter the Great’s desire to make Russia part of the much admired West. Te Don, with its longtime associations with the Cossacks, commands interest above all for its perception as a doomed site of rebellious, even separatist attitudes toward the Russian and later Soviet state. Te Angara, the only Siberian river I include, stands in for the many Siberian rivers that were the object of Soviet hydroelectric frenzy and hence crucial to the evolution of literary Russian rivers. For a variety of reasons, the Angara has received more literary attention than other Siberian rivers. Each of the following fve chapters includes an overview of the physical features of the river under discussion, as well as relevant background Introduction · 23

information about its historical signifcance for Russian, and later Soviet, development. Te primary focus in each chapter is on folkloric and literary compositions that refect perceptions of each river in diferent periods and thus provide a kind of cultural seismograph of historical and literary change and development. Occasionally I also mention musical and artistic compositions. What emerges from this discussion is a keen sense of the specifc representational character of each individual river, as well as an awareness of the recurrent themes that mark the literary history of all fve rivers. A study of the many Russian folkloric and literary compositions in which the Dnieper, Volga, Neva, Don, and Angara play a role contributes to an enhanced appreciation of riverine Russia and also of its persistent cultural values and preoccupations.

24  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

1 Te Dnieper

4 Te Dnieper fows through lands that have long been the object of political and cultural struggle. Regions in contemporary Ukraine constitute contested space, as evidenced by ongoing conficts between Ukrainian military forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine and the secession of the Crimea from Ukraine. Tere is also the vexed issue of contested historical legacy. Who may lay claim to the political, intellectual, and spiritual inheritance of Kievan Rus’, as the loose amalgam of East Slavic princedoms situated on both sides of the Dnieper from roughly the ninth to the thirteenth century is generally termed? Is a nineteenth-century writer like Nikolai Gogol, from the Mirgorod district in what is now eastern Ukraine, but who wrote in Russian, most properly afliated with Russian or Ukrainian literature, or both? Te situation is complicated by the fact that publication in Ukrainian was ofen deliberately restricted or prohibited by both imperial Russian and Soviet authorities, and even during periods when it was not, strong pressures encouraged would-be or actual Ukrainian nationals to write in Russian. Te situation is further muddied by the division, for much of the past few centuries, of Right and Lef Bank Ukraine among Polish, Austro-Hungarian, and Russian spheres of infuence. A unifed and autonomous Ukraine is a tenuous entity of very recent date. Given all the disagreements and complexities, how does one go about discussing the Dnieper and its representation in Russian literature? A possible approach to this dilemma, if not a perfect solution, is suggested by a trilingual Soviet publication entitled Cholom tobi, Slavutichu / Poklon tebe, Slavuta / Paklon tabe, Slavutsich (Greetings to you, Slavutich), which was 25

published in three editions between 1972 and 1982 in Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian and consists of versions of poems and prose excerpts from works originally published in one of the three languages, or a medieval predecessor, dating from the tenth to the twentieth century. Slavutich is a traditional name for the Dnieper, a patronymic meaning “son of glory” (slava). Te editors of the Soviet anthology were explicitly tendentious in their goal of fostering an East Slavic brotherhood: “Te gray but eternally young Dnieper is called the river of unity of three fraternal peoples—the Ukrainian, Russian, and Belorussian.”1 Perhaps it was not called that by everyone, either then or now. Te river does, however, fow through parts of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine, and the question of whether Russians believed they had a cultural claim on the Dnieper is separate from the question as to whether they actually did. A growing body of scholarship by authors like Serhiy Bilenky, Alexei Miller, Jaroslav Pelenski, Serhii Plokhy, Stephen Velychenko, and Andrew Wilson examines the twists and turns over the centuries in the development and perceptions of collective East Slavic identities.2 In the context of this intensely ideological controversy, in discussing the Dnieper and its treatment in Russian literature, I have included works that appeared either originally in Russian or in a modern Russian translation from the Ukrainian or a medieval Church Slavonic predecessor. My assumption is that all such works had the potential to infuence Russian readers, be they Muscovite, imperial, Soviet, or post-Soviet. I recognize that my decision may not constitute a completely satisfactory solution, but neither do any of the alternatives, including denying Russians any cultural claim to the Dnieper.

Geography and Early History Te Dnieper (Ukrainian Dnipro, Russian Dnepr, Belarusian Dnyapro) rises in the Valdai Hills west of Moscow, which because of their mild elevation constitute a kind of geographic cradle of rivers, including most notably, in addition to the Dnieper, the Volga.3 Te Dnieper is 1,367 miles long. Approximately 300 miles fow through Russia, 370 through Belarus, and 700 through Ukraine into the Black Sea east of Odessa and west of the Crimean Peninsula. It is the fourth longest river in Europe (afer the Volga, Danube, and Ural) and makes its way through swamps, forest steppe, and black-soil steppe. On much of the river’s middle course, which includes Kiev, the right bank is steep and high, the lef low and sloping. Te now submerged 26  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

Dnieper rapids, or cataracts, on the lower part of the river long frustrated navigation, necessitating an elaborate portage system. Te multiple rapids were permanently fooded when the Dnieper hydroelectric power station and dam, DneproGES, was completed in 1932 between the cities of Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhia. Te power station was at the time the largest in Europe. Te climate throughout the Dnieper basin is generally milder than that of Russia to the east, even at the same latitude, which contributed to a perhaps overly optimistic image of Ukraine as the sunny south, an East Slavic Italy and breadbasket. Te Dnieper · 27

Te ancient Greeks called the Dnieper the Borysthenes, which literally suggests fowing from the north.4 In his Histories, the ffh-century bce Greek historian Herodotus, who visited the lower Dnieper, declared it the second largest of the Scythian rivers and believed it to be second only to the Nile in its value and productivity. He praised its water, its abundance of fsh, and the agricultural potential of the land along its banks, but confessed ignorance as to the exact location of its source.5 In antiquity, the river was also mentioned by the frst-century bce Greek geographer Strabo and the frst-century ce Roman lawyer Pliny the Younger. It frst appeared on a map drawn by the Greco-Egyptian geographer Ptolemy in the second century ce. In the medieval period, the Dnieper became well known as part of the route followed by northern traders to the Byzantines (the “route from the Varangians [Vikings] to the Greeks,” according to early East Slavic chronicles). Initially developed by Viking traders traveling from Scandinavia and involving multiple portages, this route presented particular dangers in its southerly portion, where nomadic groups of Asiatic origin like the Pechenegs, also known as Patzinaks, and later the Polovtsians, also known as Cumans, preyed upon vulnerable transients. Te route eventually proved useful for combined Viking-Slavic assaults upon Constantinople in the ninth century. In an extensive instructional memorandum to his son, De Administrando Imperio (On the administration of the empire), the tenth-century Byzantine emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus described in lavish detail the complex process of passage past the seven series of rapids on the lower Dnieper.6 According to Constantine, upon successful transit of the rapids, pagan traders would come to the island of St. Gregory, which they had identifed as an appropriate site for ritual sacrifces of live cocks in part because of the auspicious presence of a giant oak tree.7 Tis island, better known to the Slavs as Khortitsa, subsequently fgured prominently in both legend and history. Te frst mention of the Dnieper in Slavic-language sources is in the Povest’ vremennykh let (Tale of bygone years, or Primary chronicle), composed in Church Slavonic, the written language devised for ecclesiastical usage by Byzantine missionaries to the Slavs. Te anonymous compilers of the chronicle list the various tribes that once lived near the Dnieper and discuss the route from the Varangians to the Greeks. As Christians looking back on a pagan past, they were anxious to establish strong and long-standing links between Rus’ and Christendom. Hence the inclusion of the legend 28  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

of the apostle Andrew, brother of Peter, according to which Andrew, in a detour on his way to Rome from Sinope on the southern coast of the Black Sea, traveled up the Dnieper and across to where Novgorod later stood on the Volkhov River. On the hills where Kiev eventually appeared, Andrew declared to his companions, “See ye these hills? So shall the favor of God shine upon them that on this spot a great city shall arise, and God shall erect many churches therein.”8 Te apostle blessed the hills and erected a cross. Te tenth-century Christianization of the Rus’ (somewhat confusingly the name both of a tribe of mixed Scandinavian and Slavic origin and of a roughly defned geographic area centering on Kiev) is recounted in the Primary Chronicle. Te actual details of the event—the where, when, why, and who—have been much debated by historians. According to the chronicle, Prince Vladimir Sviatoslavovich of Kiev was baptized in the city of Kherson, close to the mouth of the Dnieper on the Black Sea, where he married Anna, sister of the Byzantine emperor Basil II. On his return to Kiev, he ordered that the city’s entire populace be baptized in the Dnieper. (Whether it was actually the Dnieper or a nearby tributary, the Pochaina, is a matter of discussion.)9 Tis was supposedly accomplished with much enthusiasm. To signify his complete break with the pagan past, Vladimir ordered a motley pantheon of idols of pagan divinities, erected only a few years earlier, ostentatiously destroyed. Te most sensational treatment was reserved for the idol of Perun, the thunder god, ofen regarded as primus inter pares among Slavic divinities. Te wooden statue was tied to a horse’s tail and dragged down to the water, beaten all the while by twelve men with sticks. Vladimir ordered that the idol be prevented from settling on the riverbanks until it had passed through the rapids. Afer that, the battered idol came to rest at a place subsequently known as Perun’s sandbank. According to the chronicle, all these events were greeted with great joy, except by the devil, who lamented his supposed loss of authority among the Rus’. One of the most important Kievan religious foundations still in existence, the Kievan Cave Monastery, dates from the eleventh century. In the early thirteenth century, a series of narratives about the monks who inhabited the monastery was compiled. In one of these tales, Byzantine Greek iconographers who balk at the magnitude of the task of decorating a church at the monastery attempt to evade their destiny by sailing back down the Dnieper. Because their assignment has been miraculously commissioned by the deceased saintly founders of the monastery, despite their repeated attempts to go downstream, the iconographers are always returned upstream. Te Dnieper · 29

Eventually they land at the monastery and accept their divinely sanctioned artistic fate. I mention these early chronicle and ecclesiastical accounts in part because of their identifcation of the Dnieper as a central locus of confrontation between Christianity and paganism, God and the devil. Christianity and God always triumph, but one senses that the demonic forces of paganism continue to lurk in the environs of the river. As will be seen, such a sense emerged explicitly in nineteenth-century Russian and Ukrainian literature that bore a Romantic tinge. Indeed in popular culture the Dnieper has never completely lost some of its questionable, or magical, associations. As noted at the beginning of this chapter, the legacy of Kievan Rus’, that is, to whose history the period belongs, the Ukrainians or the Russians, continues to be hotly contested. It is indicative of the complexity (and confusion) of the discussion that many of the works identifed as medieval Russian in Dmitrii Chizhevskii’s well-known history of Russian literature are designated as medieval Ukrainian in the same author’s history of Ukrainian literature. Te long unchallenged mainstream Russian narrative cast Kiev as the mother of Russian cities and asserted that afer the sack of Kiev by Mongol/Tatar forces in 1240, the political center of gravity of the Russian lands rapidly shifed to the northeast. In 1299 the metropolitan, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, moved his residence from Kiev to Vladimir, east of Moscow, and later to Moscow itself. Increasingly Muscovite princes asserted sole possession of the mantle of the Riurikovids (descendants of Riurik, the legendary founder of Kievan Rus’). According to this view, the history of Kievan Rus’ constitutes the early history of Russia. Te Ukrainian alternative to this narrative argues, on the contrary, to put it baldly, that Russian history only began with Muscovy. Moscow was not even mentioned in Russian chronicles until the middle of the twelfh century, but gradually came to dominate its fellow Russian cities in the course of the next few centuries, until its rulers felt in a position to declare themselves tsars in the ffeenth century. According to the Ukrainian view, assumptions of a direct link between Kievan Rus’ and Muscovy are presumptuous. Te history of Kievan Rus’, whose territory overlapped to a great extent with that of today’s Ukraine, constitutes the early history only of Ukraine. Te cultural prestige and accomplishments of Rus’ are Ukrainian, not Russian. Many Ukrainians would agree with the assessment of the nineteenth-century Polish historian Joachim Lelewel: “Te greatest of all the legends, lies, and mistakes with which the history of Rus’ is flled is [the notion] that this 30  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

history is synonymous with Muscovite and Russian history. . . . Moscow is a separate and villainous daughter of Mother Rus’, upon whom it placed its matricidal hand.”10 Such political integrity as Kievan Rus’ actually possessed was ofen temporary and illusory. Te Riurikovids fought among themselves from the beginning. Vladimir’s brother Iaropolk was treacherously slain during a civil war. Afer Vladimir’s death, three of his sons perished during the violent internecine struggles that ensued. Matters came to a temporary conclusion in 1024 when two of the remaining sons, Iaroslav and Mstislav, agreed to divide the lands of the Rus’ along the Dnieper, a harbinger of subsequent divisions.11 And so it went. Te anonymous author of the famous and controversial medieval work, the Slovo o polku Igoreve (Te tale of Igor’s campaign), bitterly lamented the disastrous consequences of princely disputes: “Discord arose among the forces of the god Dazhbog’s grandsons [a poetic designation of the Russians]. . . . And the princes began to say that what was little was great . . . and to forge treachery against themselves. Infdels from all lands waged war against the Russian lands.”12 Te geographic importance of the Dnieper declined in this period, too. Instead of negotiating the perilous and vulnerable southern rapids, some traders from the north went east and down other steppe river portages to the Sea of Azov, northeast of the Crimea.13 Italian merchants, particularly the Venetians, developed competitive new trade routes, and Constantinople declined in importance as a destination afer its sack by the Crusaders in 1204.14 In some sense the destruction of Kiev by the Mongols, its walls razed to the ground, was but the fnal gigantic nail in the cofn of the political unity of Kievan Rus’. For several centuries afer the fall of Kiev, most of what is now Ukraine was fragmented and dominated by initially pagan Lithuanians, Catholic Poles, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (a result of the Union of Lublin in 1569), and, along the southern Dnieper, by the Cossacks, an eclectic assortment of renegades of various ethnic origins, largely Slavic and Orthodox. Te Cossacks set up a series of forts along the Dnieper, ofen on islands. Te most important of these installations was located on Khortitsa Island.15 From their strongholds, the Cossacks organized raids under the direction of their leaders, or hetmans, against the Ottoman Turks and the remnants of once dominant Tatar populations, with the tacit support of Polish and Russian rulers, who, like Tsar Ivan IV (popularly known as Ivan the Terrible), disingenuously insisted to various sultans that they had no control or even infuence over these troublesome rufans. Te Poles hoped to tame Te Dnieper · 31

the Cossacks and bring them under Polish military and government control, but the Cossacks frequently rebelled against attempts to subdue them. Te most consequential rebellion by Cossacks against Polish authorities took place in the mid-seventeenth century under the leadership of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky. Afer maneuvering among diverse national parties, in a desperate and fateful move Khmelnytsky sought Muscovite support, and in 1654 Russians and Cossacks confrmed a treaty of accord at the town of Pereiaslav near Kiev. What kind of commitment both parties to the agreement actually believed they were making was a matter of dispute at the time and later, but an important practical consequence of the Treaty of Pereiaslav was that the Russian tsars became the titular and eventually actual rulers of what was called Little Russia (Ukraine). A subsequent treaty in 1667 between the Russians and Poles gave Lef Bank Ukraine and Kiev to the Russians and Right Bank Ukraine to the Poles. Te Russian portion was divided into three Cossack-run territories. In the course of the eighteenth century Cossack power diminished. In 1775, in a highly symbolic move, Russian troops destroyed the main Zaporozhian Cossack fort, or sech’, on Khortitsa Island. Ethnic Russian settlement was encouraged along the lower Dnieper, the Black Sea coast, and in the Crimea. At the end of the eighteenth century, afer a series of partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Russia acquired Right Bank Ukraine. Te Ukrainian population was largely rural and poor, while rapidly growing cities like Ekaterinoslav, Kharkov, and Odessa were dominated by Russians and other ethnic groups. It was widely assumed by Russian elites that the Ukrainians, or “Little Russians,” would sooner or later all become “Great Russians,” or at least participate in an “all-Russian” imperial culture, and during the nineteenth century the tsarist government pursued an increasingly aggressive policy of Russifcation.16 In 1863, in a sign of fears of nationalism evoked by the Polish revolt, the so-called Valuev Circular (named for its issuer, Petr Valuev, the minister of internal afairs) prohibited publication of educational and religious materials in Ukrainian. Te Ems Decree, signed by Tsar Alexander II during a stay at the German spa Bad Ems in 1876, went even further and banned publication of any works in Ukrainian, although some performance of songs and plays was subsequently tolerated. Equally important, it was clear to aspiring Ukrainian elites that Russifcation was the route to material and social success. For Ukrainian literati, there were soul-searching decisions to be made, only some of which were linguistic.17 32  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

Te Romantic Dnieper Te image of the Dnieper that emerged in the early nineteenth century in both Russian and Ukrainian literature was a highly stylized concoction.18 For Russian and some Ukrainian literati, the Ukrainian lands epitomized a charming Slavic exoticism, a visually stunning site of colorful and sometimes peculiar activities. As Myroslav Shkandrij describes it, “Ukraine was seen as a land of witches and charms, magic and treasures, ancient rites and forbidden knowledge.”19 Others have spoken sarcastically of the appeal of a “Ukraine in blackface.”20 One of the frst to take artistic advantage of this potential was the poet Vasilii Zhukovskii (1783–1852), a leading exponent of early Russian Romanticism. Zhukovskii made available to his contemporaries, through translations and adaptations, some of the seminal works of European Romanticism, for example, Tomas Grey’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” (1751), Sir Walter Scott’s “Te Eve of St. John” (1799), and Lord George Byron’s “Te Prisoner of Chillon” (1816). In 1817 Zhukovskii published “Dvenadtsat’ spiashchikh dev: Starinnaia povest’ v dvukh balladakh” (Twelve sleeping maidens: An ancient tale in two ballads). Te two ballads bore the names of their respective protagonists. Each was subsequently transposed into operatic form by the composer and friend of Zhukovskii Aleksei Verstovskii (1799–1862): Vadim, ili probuzhdenie dvenadtsati spiashchikh dev (Vadim, or the awakening of the twelve sleeping maidens, 1832) and Gromoboi (1854). For the plot of Twelve Sleeping Maidens, Zhukovskii borrowed heavily from a prose novel by the German romance writer Christian Heinrich Spiess, Die zwölf schlafenden Jungfauen, eine Geistergeschichte (Te twelve sleeping maidens, a ghost story, 1795), which was loosely based on medieval Catholic legends of sin and repentance involving pacts with the devil. Spiess’s novel is set in central Germany; the protagonist is a very Germanic Willibald. In Zhukovskii’s version, in what has been called the frst use of local color in Russian poetry, the setting is changed to Kievan Rus’, and the major characters are Slavic.21 At the beginning of Gromoboi, the Byronic protagonist, convinced that he is uniquely unfortunate, broods above the Dnieper: Над пенистым Днепром-рекой, Над страшною стремниной, В глухую полночь Громобой Сидел один с кручиной; Te Dnieper · 33

Окрест него дремучий бор; Утесы под ногами; Туманен вид полей и гор; Туманы над водами; Подернут мглою свод небес; В ущельях ветер свищет; Ужасно шепчет темный лес, И волк во мраке рыщет. (Above the foaming Dnieper River, above a terrible precipice, at the dead of night Gromoboi sat alone with his sorrow; around him a thick forest; clifs beneath his feet; the view of the felds and mountains is foggy; there is fog above the waters; the vault of heaven is covered with mist; the wind whistles in the ravines; the dark forest whispers horribly, and a wolf roams in the gloom.)22

Te description of the natural surroundings here is quintessentially Romantic. Alienated and unhappy, Gromoboi calls upon the Dnieper’s waters for help, intending to drown himself to escape his misery. At that moment from out of the depths of the forest appears an old man with a tail, claws, and horns—Asmodeus, king of the demons. Asmodeus ofers Gromoboi ten years of earthly pleasures and wealth in return for an eternity in hell. Gromoboi accepts the ofer and within the next twelve months impregnates twelve maidens and produces twelve daughters (sic!). When called to account afer ten years, he agrees to trade his daughters for extra years, only to sufer extreme pangs of remorse. Gromoboi fnally dies, and his daughters are rescued from a hellish fate by being cast into a deep sleep. In the second ballad, the pure knight Vadim is divinely inspired to come from Novgorod to the enchanted castle on the Dnieper and rescue the maidens. “Vadim” concludes in a mystic frenzy. (Zhukovskii was a devout Russian Orthodox believer.) What is most interesting about “Te Twelve Sleeping Maidens” in the context of the present discussion is Zhukovskii’s choice of the Dnieper region as a narrative locale. Te poet’s Dnieper is both exotic and dangerous. It is signifcant that Asmodeus is so conveniently at hand when Gromoboi bemoans his lonely lot; one wonders if the demon would lurk as comfortably on the banks of another, more familiar river, like the Volga. Te Dnieper, though, was a mysterious place for early nineteenth-century Russian readers; the actual presence of precipices, clifs, and forests helped 34  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

foster this image. Who knew what might lie in wait beside the river or what passions might arise in its environs? The Dnieper was soon the site for another narrative poem of violence and repentance, this one by Ivan Kozlov (1779–1840), “Chernets: Kievskaia povest’” (The monk: A Kievan tale, 1825), which circulated in manuscript for several years before being published, enjoyed multiple printings, and, according to contemporaries, was widely committed to memory.23 The pathos of Kozlov’s poem was enhanced by the tragic fate of the poet himself, who was struck by paralysis in 1821 and total blindness two years later. “The Monk” is heavily indebted to Byron’s Oriental romance “The Giaour” (1813), but like Zhukovskii’s “Twelve Sleeping Maidens,” it acquired in Kozlov’s rendering local Ukrainian coloring. The monk of the title finds refuge at a monastery “za Kievom, gde Dnepr shirokii / v krutykh bregakh kipit, shumit” (outside Kiev, where the broad Dnieper seethes and resounds within steep shores).24 He arrives on a stormy night, clearly anguished, and leads an isolated and morose existence. He finally unburdens himself to the abbot. The now monk, it transpires, grew up near the Dnieper and fell in love with the daughter of a transplanted Russian, a former member of the military. Unfortunately for all concerned, a dastardly distant relative, also a military man but a Pole (always a bad sign), appeared on the scene. His evil designs on the object of the young man’s love and deceitful machinations ultimately led to her death from grief and the bereaved lover’s unhappy wandering for seven years. At the end of that time, longing, among other things, for the sight of his native Dnieper, the hero returns to the Kievan region. Happening upon the author of his misfortunes, he wishes to forgive him but cannot control himself and instead slays the villain. Now the monk fears that his murderous act will prohibit him from reuniting with his beloved beyond the grave. Before his death, though, he enjoys a visit from her ghost. Once again it is indicative that Kozlov identifed the environs of the Dnieper as an appropriate location for this gloomy tale. Kozlov had visited Kiev and alludes in the poetic dedication to “Te Monk” to the foreboding atmosphere of the area: Я с ним бродил во тьме чужих лесов; с его родных Днепровских берегов мне веяло знакомою тоскою. Te Dnieper · 35

(I wandered with [the monk] in the darkness of alien forests; from his native Dnieper shores a familiar angst wafed to me.)25

In his lyric poem “Kiev,” Kozlov also speaks of wandering above the Dnieper in the dark of night. He describes how the river “pod drevnimi stenami, / kipit, shumit penistymi volnami” (beneath ancient walls boils and resounds with foaming waves).26 For Kozlov, this is an environment saturated in an evocative medieval history, in the passions and battles of knights and princesses of bygone days. Today the Dnieper bears witness to this heroic past: “I ty odin pod bashniami sviatymi / shumish’, o Dnepr, volnami vekovymi!” (And you alone, o Dnieper, resound beneath the sacred towers with your age-old waves).27 A well-known ingredient of Romanticism throughout Europe was a fascination with indigenous folklore, as witnessed most visibly, but by no means exclusively, in the eforts of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. Ukrainian folklore, like Slavic folklore in general, provided a treasure trove of tales about witches, sorcerers, changelings, vampires, and a host of domestic, forest, and water spirits. Beginning in the 1820s, Russian and Ukrainian writers and amateur collectors brought such material to the attention of a highly receptive Russian reading public.28 One of the frst to do so was Orest Somov (1793–1833), a member of the Ukrainian gentry who spent the bulk of his brief literary and journalistic career in St. Petersburg. In the late 1820s and early 1830s, Somov published a series of folkloric tales later assembled under the title Byli i nebylitsy (True and untrue stories). Tese narratives played an important role in the creation of a popular image of Ukraine as a rich locus of the fantastic.29 One of Somov’s engaging tales was “Rusalka: Malorossiiskoe predanie” (Te Rusalka: A Little Russian legend, 1829). Te term rusalka is sometimes translated as “mermaid,” but a rusalka is in fact a very diferent water spirit that lacks a fsh tail. Tought to be the spirits of children who died unbaptized or young women who drowned or hanged themselves because of amorous disappointments, in Ukraine rusalki were imagined as beautiful young women with long green hair and siren-like methods of captivation. Tose unfortunates who fell into their clutches on moonlit nights risked being tickled to death. Rusalki were particularly inclined to disport themselves on land during a brief period in the late spring beginning around Trinity Sunday (the frst Sunday afer Pentecost, or Whitsunday). Trinity Week is thus sometimes called Rusalka Week or Green Week. 36  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

Somov’s “Rusalka” is characteristic in its motivations and outcomes. Set explicitly at a time when Kiev was under Polish control, it tells the story of Gorpinka, the only child of a village forester’s widow. Gorpinka is beautiful and personable, but young and naïve. She makes the classic mistake of falling in love with a wealthy young Polish nobleman and does not heed her mother’s warnings about his true intentions (“Who knows what an adherent of a diferent faith, a Catholic, has in his soul?”).30 Naturally Gorpinka ends up seduced and abandoned. Eventually she drowns herself in the Dnieper, but her body is never found. Her grieving mother receives questionable advice from a sorcerer, who instructs her on how to lure her deceased daughter back to her house during Green Week. Te old woman fnds Gorpinka among a group of lively rusalki and ensnares her. Gorpinka tries unsuccessfully to convince her mother to release her using an entire compendium of rusalka lore: “I know that you’re grieving and crying about me: what’s stopping you from being inseparable from me? Cast away your idle fear and come down to us on the bottom of the Dnieper. It’s wonderful there! . . . In the wintertime we’re as warm under the ice as under a fur coat; and in the summer, on bright nights, we come out to warm ourselves by the rays of the moon, we romp and amuse ourselves and for fun we ofen play jokes on the living. What’s the harm if sometimes we tickle them or carry them of to the bottom of the river?”31

Te old woman keeps her daughter at home for a year in a zombie-like state, but Gorpinka revives and returns to her companions during the following year’s Green Week. Her mother repents of her dealings with the supernatural and retires to a convent. As for Gorpinka’s former lover, his body is found in the woods and the locals assume that he has been tickled to death by a rusalka. Nikolai Markevich (Mykola Markevych) (1804–1860) was a prolifc collector of Ukrainian folkloric materials and the author of a fve-volume history of Ukraine. In 1831 he published in Moscow, where the majority of his books initially appeared, a collection of ballads entitled Ukrainskie melodii (Ukrainian melodies). Two of these compositions, “Solntse utoplennikov” (Sun of the drowned) and “Dnepr” (Te Dnieper), focus on the river. “Sun of the Drowned” ofers a familiar vision of the Dnieper as a hotbed of supernatural activity. A group of young beauties goes out to bathe by the light Te Dnieper · 37

of the summer moon, only to encounter a crowd of corpses equally anxious to disport themselves by moonlight. Tey present a terrifying sight: Страшно недвижные очи глядели, И руки и ноги окрепли в волнах, Клочками слипались власы на главах, Лицы наполнясь водой посинели; Из уст растворенных, ушей и ноздрей Струи водяные лились как ручей. (Teir motionless eyes gazed terribly, their arms and legs grew stronger in the waves, the hair on their heads stuck together in clumps, their faces flled with water showed blue; from their open mouths, ears, and nostrils jets of water poured like streams.)32

Needless to say, the young Ukrainian beauties never forget this encounter and do not return to bathe in the river by moonlight. Markevich’s other ballad about the Dnieper constitutes an extended metaphor, a poetic treatment of the river’s geographic route in which the river is anthropomorphized as a giant, who begins his course as a baby and grows older as he approaches the sea. On the way he encounters and enters into a romantic union with the Desna River, braves the fearsome cataracts, and fnally, gray and tired, disappears into the Black Sea. Te poem refects a folk tradition of personifcation of the Dnieper updated to cater to somewhat coy Romantic fantasies. Russian literary attention to the Dnieper, its supposed denizens, and mysterious aura received a boost in the early 1830s when Nikolai Gogol (1809–1852) published the stories collected in Vechera na khutore bliz Dikan’ki (Evenings on a farm near Dikanka, 1831–32) and Mirgorod (1835). Like Somov, Gogol was of Ukrainian gentry origin but wrote in Russian and spent much of his adult life in Russia (and in Western Europe). Gogol extensively mined folklore in his stories with a Ukrainian setting and, in his short historical novel Taras Bulba (frst published in 1835 and extensively revised in 1842), also created a colorful and sensationalistic treatment of traditional Zaporozhian Cossack life before the destruction of the Khortitsa sech’ during the reign of Catherine the Great. Witches, devils, rusalki, and other supernatural creatures abound in Gogol’s Ukrainian tales. Teir activities are ofen described with the bizarre comic touches peculiar to Gogol and are less frightening than entertaining. 38  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

Within this corpus, it has ofen been noted that “Strashnaia mest’” (A terrible vengeance), one of the stories in Evenings on a Farm near Dikanka, constitutes an exception in its absolute dearth of humorous touches. “A Terrible Vengeance” is a lyrically written horror story with extensive descriptions of the Dnieper, along whose banks many of the dreadful events treated in the story unfold. Perhaps more than any other nineteenth-century Russian literary work, “A Terrible Vengeance” captured for readers an image of the Dnieper as awesome and mysterious.33 A painting done by Anton Ivanov-Goluboi (1818–1863) a few years later, Pereprava N. V. Gogolia cherez Dnepr (N. V. Gogol crossing the Dnieper, 1845), bears witness to the signifcance of Gogol’s role in creating the Romantic Dnieper. Te plot of “A Terrible Vengeance” revolves around the beautiful Katerina, her Cossack husband, Danilo, and her father, an evil sorcerer who has recently returned from many years abroad and now seeks both to undermine Cossack political authority and to enter into incestuous relations with his daughter. Te Dnieper is a constant presence in the story; Danilo’s land lies in a little valley not far from the river, the sorcerer’s castle hideout stands above it, and the story’s many characters constantly travel back and forth along the river. Te tone is set by a description of the Dnieper early in the story, when Katerina, Danilo, and his Cossack retinue are returning by boat on a moonlit night from a wedding in Kiev: It is pleasant to gaze from the middle of the Dnieper at the tall mountains, the wide meadows, and the green forests. Tose mountains are not mountains: they have no foot, but a sharp peak both below and above them, and beneath them and above them is the high sky. Te forests on the hills are not forests: they are the hair that has sprouted on the shaggy head of an old forest spirit. His beard is washed in the water below, and beneath his beard and above his head is the high sky. Te meadows are not meadows; they are a green belt that girds the round sky, and in both the upper half and the lower half the moon strolls about.34

Gogol’s narrator describes here the dizzying visual impact of the refection of the Dnieper’s banks in the river; hence the doubling efect of two moons, two skies, and so on. Te optical weirdness does not end with this. An additional efect of the doubling is a peculiar kind of distortion in which things do not appear to be what they are; the forests are not forests, the meadows Te Dnieper · 39

are not meadows. Instead they become components of the supernatural, with their own peculiar doubling. Tus the forests look simultaneously like the shaggy hair of the forest spirit and, in the watery refection, like his beard. Te cumulative efect is that any sense of reality, of perspective vanishes. One is scarcely surprised when corpses shortly climb out of their riverside graves. Like the folkloric Dnieper, Gogol’s Dnieper may assume anthropomorphic characteristics. On another night in the story the river is just barely audible: “Like an old man it grumbles and murmurs; it doesn’t like anything. . . . It is quietly at odds with the mountains, forests, and meadows on its banks and carries complaints about them to the Black Sea.”35 Here the personifcation contributes to a sense that nature, like the human beings who inhabit it, is out of sync, on the edge of mayhem and disaster. When the disaster comes, it is horrifc, so much so that the river, even in its own awfulness, ultimately cannot compete with the terrible fate the characters have created for themselves: “Maidens who have ruined their souls run out from the Dnieper waves in rows. . . . Teir lips smile strangely, their cheeks burn, their eyes entice the soul. . . . Run, Christian! Her lips are ice, her bed cold water; she will tickle you and drag you into the river. Katerina does not look at anyone; mad, she is not afraid of rusalki, but runs late at night with her knife and searches for her father.”36 Once again, appearances are deceptive and expectations disappointed, for it is Katerina who is slain with the knife by her father, who had earlier been responsible for the deaths of her husband and son. Te most frequently cited description of the Dnieper in “A Terrible Vengeance” is a long passage in which the narrator conjures up the contrasting appearance of the river on a calm, sunny day, a dark summer night, and during a storm. Tis descriptive triptych is a tour de force that blends realistic detail with folklore, metaphor, and hyperbole. On a summer day, the river is so still as to appear made of glass. It is as clear as a mirror and, like rusalki, the “green-haired” forests along its banks “cannot stop admiring their refection in the water.”37 Once again the natural and the supernatural blend seamlessly. At night the stars are refected in the river, and a familiar disorientation occurs. As it fows close to its banks, the river “leaves behind a silver stream, which fashes like the blade of a sword of damask steel.”38 Te metaphorical steel blade anticipates the literal knife that Katerina holds as she runs by the river, the knife that is the instrument of her own death. Violence and a terrible fate are linked to the Dnieper, which is beautiful 40  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

but dangerous. Finally, during a storm the river evokes frst a weeping Cossack mother bidding farewell to her son and then an angry old man. Te Dnieper is thus implicated in both the warfare that takes place along it and the machinations of Katerina’s sorcerer father, who appears at this moment on the river in a boat, frustrated by the attention lavished on the deceased Danilo, slain by him during a battle with the Poles. Te link between the Dnieper and the Cossacks was explored at greater length by Gogol in Taras Bulba, a tale of Cossack confrontations with the Poles and bitter family confict. In a detailed account of life at the Zaporozhian sech’ on Khortitsa Island, Gogol describes a scene of orgiastic male camaraderie, where merriment, drunken carousing, and planning for military campaigns may easily and suddenly shif into acts of wanton violence. In symbolic geographic signifcance, Khortitsa is located at “the place on the Dnieper, where, closed in until then by the rapids, it fnally came into its own and roared like the sea, overfowing at will.”39 Nature and humanity refect one another here in their refusal to be bound. Like the wild Dnieper, the Cossacks successfully evade control. In its tempestuous rapids, they have found the perfect home. Like Gogol, in his poetry Taras Shevchenko (1814–1861) evoked both the Dnieper’s links with the supernatural and its special signifcance for the Cossacks. Unlike Gogol, Shevchenko generally wrote in Ukrainian, not Russian, and at times endowed his image of the Dnieper with a sense of ethnic injustice foreign to Gogol. “Prychynna” (Te bewitched woman, 1837), which like many of his Ukrainian writings (Shevchenko also wrote in Russian) was translated into Russian quickly and repeatedly by a series of respected Russian poets, begins with a typically Romantic vision of the Dnieper: Реве та стогне Днiпр широкий, Сердитий вiтер завива, Додолу верби гне високi, Горами хвилю пiдiйма. I блiдiй мiсяць на ту пору Iз хмари де-де виглядав.” (Te broad Dnieper roars and groans, the angry wind howls, it bends tall willows to the ground and sends mountains of water down the stream. Te pale moon at that time looks out from the clouds.)40 Te Dnieper · 41

Onto this generic landscape comes a distraught young woman, not a rusalka, the poet tells us, but a poor orphan longing for her absent Cossack lover. Te despondent maiden becomes a victim of misguided sorcery. Caught and tickled to death by a band of bloodthirsty rusalki, her body is found by the Cossack, who proceeds to beat his brains out on an oak. Rusalki on the Dnieper appear in other poems by Shevchenko, most notably “Rusalka” (Te rusalka, 1846), a grim tale about a woman who drowns her illegitimate daughter, product of a liaison with a wealthy man, presumably a Pole (he is referred to in passing as Pan Jan), in hopes that the new rusalka will tickle her father to death. Instead one night the rusalka’s companions catch and tickle the unfortunate mother to death despite the anguished rusalka’s pleas for mercy. Polish exploitation of Ukrainians is strongly suggested in “Te Rusalka.” A more explicitly political conception of the eighteenth-century past and of the Dnieper’s own symbolic role emerges in Shevchenko’s narrative poem “Haidamaki” (Te haidamaks, 1841), an epic tale of Cossack insurrection again the Polish landowning gentry. At a key moment the agitated young Cossack Iarema mentally addresses the river: Ой Днiпре мiй; Днiпре; широкий та дужий! Багато ти, батьку, у море носив Козацько кровi; ще понесеш, друже! . . . Пекельнеє святo По всiй Українi сю нiч зареве; Потече багато, багато, багато Шляхетської кровi. Козак оживе; Оживуть гетьмани . . . . . . козак заспiва: “Нi жида, нi ляха” (O my Dnieper, Dnieper, broad and strong! You have borne much Cossack blood to the sea, Lord; you will bear more, friend. . . . Tonight an infernal feast will roar throughout all Ukraine; Much, much, much Polish gentry blood will fow. Te Cossack will come to life.; the hetmans will come to life. . . . Te Cossack will begin to sing: “Tere are no more Jews, no more Poles.”)

Te Dnieper appears to respond to Iarema, albeit inarticulately: “A Dnipr mov pidslukhav: . . . / Reve, stohne, zavivaie” (Te Dnieper seems to listen: . . . It roars and groans and howls).41 Here, as elsewhere in his oeuvre, 42  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

Shevchenko echoes a received perception of combined Polish-Jewish oppression of benighted Ukrainians. Te sometime identifcation of Cossacks and Ukrainians implied in “Te Haidamaks” has remained popular and yet controversial to this day. What is clear here, however, is an assumed afliation between the Cossacks and the Dnieper regarding freedom for Ukraine. In a narrow historical context, the explicit object of Cossack hostility in “Te Haidamaks” is the Poles (and the Jews); implicitly the discussion may be construed as referring to contemporary, nineteenth-century Ukrainians and imperial Russian oppressors. Tis particular passage was rendered in a song version, “Na Dnepre” (On the Dnieper), by the Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky (1839–1881) in 1878. Mussorgsky made use of the translation of Shevchenko’s work by the poet Lev Mei (1822–1862). In Shevchenko’s narrative poem “Hamaliia” (1842), which tells of the rescue of Cossack captives from Turkish captivity near Istanbul, a personifed Bosporus transmits the lamentations of the imprisoned Cossacks to the Dnieper, which in turn broadcasts news of the sorry situation: Зареготався дiд наш дужий . . . “Чи спиш, чи чуϵш, брате Луже? Хортице! Сестро?” Загула Хортиця з Лугом: “Чую! чую!” I Днiпр укрили байдаки. I заспiвали козаки. (Our mighty old man bellowed out . . . : “Brother Meadow, are you sleeping, do you hear? Sister Khortitsa?” And Khortitsa and Meadow roared: “I hear! I hear!” . . . Barks covered the Dnieper and the Cossacks began to sing.)42

Once again a coalition of sentiments between the Dnieper and the Cossacks is assumed. Folkloric personifcation blends seamlessly with a political agenda. Shevchenko’s own experience was bitter. A former serf, he was redeemed from servitude by the Russian painter Karl Briullov (1799–1852). His attempts to develop a viable written Ukrainian language were ofen greeted skeptically by Russian intellectuals like the radical critic Vissarion Belinskii (1811–1848), who believed that Ukrainians should adopt the route taken by Gogol and establish themselves as Russian writers. In 1847 Shevchenko was arrested and sentenced to internal exile for his participation in a secret Te Dnieper · 43

political society, the Brotherhood of Saints Cyril and Methodius. In exile in 1848 the poet dreamed of Ukraine and the Dnieper: То одинокому менi Здаϵться—кращого немаϵ Нiчого в бога, як Днiпро Та наша славная країна. (In my loneliness I dreamed that there is nothing more beautiful to God than the Dnieper and our glorious land.)43

Even before his arrest, Shevchenko had expressed the hope, in perhaps his most famous poem, “Zapovit” (Behest, 1845), which is the opening piece in the anthology Greetings to You, Slavutich mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, that he be buried overlooking and overhearing the Dnieper. Te poet died and was buried in Petersburg, but his remains were later transferred to a hill near the Right Bank Dnieper town of Kanev, a statue was erected, and a museum established. Shevchenko remains the Dnieper’s, and Ukraine’s, preeminent son. Te fascination with things Ukrainian that appeared to ofer such promise in Russian literary culture of the 1820s and 1830s dissipated as the century wore on. For exoticism, there were strong competitors, most notably the Caucasus, with its spectacular vistas and wildly diferent native peoples. Russian writers were also increasingly less interested in supernatural folklore (the rusalki and company) and more in ethnographic explorations of their own environs, like the sad lot of Russian serfs, the folkways of isolated northern Russia, and the lives of traditional Old Believers. Te few examples of Russian literary treatments of the Dnieper in the second half of the nineteenth century, however, do include works by the prominent poet Afanasii Fet (1820–1892) and the dramatist, novelist, and poet Aleksei K. Tolstoi (1817–1875). Tere were also painters who embraced an idyllic view of the river, like Arkhip Kuindzhi (1842–1910) in “Lunnaia noch’ na Dnepre” (Moonlit night on the Dnieper, 1880) and “Dnepr utrom” (Te Dnieper in the morning, 1881). Unlike many of his contemporaries, Fet was staunchly committed to an unabashedly aesthetic view of art. He is best known for his nature and love poems. “Na Dnepre v polovod’e” (On the Dnieper at high water, 1853) provides a characteristic example of his oeuvre. A pastoral idyll, the poem describes the beauties of the river landscape at the time of spring foods. 44  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

Sailing on a small craf piloted by an old man and his grandson, the poem’s speaker feels they are fying like birds across the water. Gold and silver tones fll the sky, while below all is blue, emerald, white, and yellow. Fet captures not only the sights but the scents and sounds of the scene: Над разыгравшимся, казалося, Днепром Струилися от волн и трав благоуханья. (Above the seemingly playful Dnieper, fragrances fowed from the waves and the grasses.)44

Tere is a mill, a green poplar, white-blossomed apple trees, and quivering willows. Nightingales sing, ducks and sandpipers are visible. What more could one wish for? “Ostalsia b zdes’ dyshat’, smotret’ / I slushat’ vek” (One would stay here forever, breathing, looking, and listening).45 Te poem is pleasing, but if the Dnieper were not named, one would not suspect its specifc presence. Tere are no rusalki, no abandoned maidens, no Cossacks. Tis is instead pure natural beauty emptied of supernatural and historical connotations and presented in conventionally charming imagery. Aleksei Tolstoi’s poems in which the Dnieper fgures are more historically specifc and traditionally Romantic in their allusions. “Kniaz’ Rostislav” (Prince Rostislav, 1840s) takes as its epigraph a brief reference from the Tale of Igor’s Campaign to the drowning of young Prince Rostislav Vsevolodovich of Pereiaslavl in the Stugna River, a tributary of the Dnieper, in 1093, as Russian forces were retreating afer a defeat by Polovtsians. In Tolstoi’s poem, Rostislav lies on the river bottom in his armor, his broken sword beside him, but he is not alone: Днепра подводные красы Лобзаться любят с ним И гребнем витязя власы Расчесывать златым. (Te underwater beauties of the Dnieper love to kiss him and to comb the knight’s hair with a golden comb.)46

Initially mourned by his wife and others, Rostislav awakens briefy afer a year, but now his wife is betrothed to another and no one else misses him: И он, склонясь на ржавый щит. Опять тяжелым сном Te Dnieper · 45

В кругу русалок юных спит Один на дне речном. (And bowing his head on his rusty shield, he sleeps again a heavy sleep in a circle of young rusalki, alone on the river bottom.)47

Tolstoi’s treatment of this theme was infuenced by Heinrich Heine’s poem “König Harald Harfagar” (King Harold Hardrada, 1841), which concerns the Norwegian king who perished at the Battle of Stamford Bridge during the invasion of England in 1066.48 Te Dnieper is repeatedly evoked in a another, lengthier narrative poem by Tolstoi, “Pesnia o pokhode Vladimira na Korsun’” (Song of Vladimir’s march to Kherson, 1869), which describes the grand prince’s Christianization and return to Kiev with his new bride, the Byzantine princess Anna. In the second part of the poem, Vladimir and Anna sail up the Dnieper. It is spring, all is lovely, and the prince is calm and content in his newfound faith. When they reach Kiev, where many formerly persecuted Christians are now able to worship openly, Vladimir steps onto the shore of the Dnieper, spiritually reborn and ready to introduce a new regime of mercy. As an idealization of the transformative efect of the prince’s Christianization on him and those around him, Tolstoi’s “Song of Vladimir’s March to Kherson” implies a symbolic link between the journey upriver and the dawning of a new era for Russia. Paganism is completely vanquished here, and the rusalki are not in evidence.

Te Sovietization of the Dnieper Te enforcement of the Valuev Circular in 1863 and the promulgation of the Ems Decree in 1876 hampered the development of written Ukrainian cultural productions in lands under Russian imperial control. Te Ems Decree was relaxed a bit in 1881 to permit performances of Ukrainian songs and light drama, but this still meant that Ukrainian culture was provincialized and construed as lacking in serious intellectual content. Ukrainian was not recognized by the Russian Academy of Sciences as a separate language, as opposed to a dialect of Russian, until 1905.49 Ironically, one of the unintended consequences of tsarist cultural repression was to stimulate the development of a more aggressive Ukrainian consciousness that found verbal expression in the politically more relaxed conditions of Ukrainian lands under Austro-Hungarian control.50 Meanwhile in imperial Russian Ukraine, 46  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

native Ukrainians were increasingly trapped in an indigent rural existence, while urban areas witnessed a continuing infux of Russian workers. As political movements critical of tsarist Russian practices began to emerge in Ukraine toward the end of the nineteenth century, Ukrainians ofen split in their opinions as to whether it was preferable to adopt a nationalist stance and seek Ukrainian autonomy or to ally with Russian socialists and later Bolsheviks in search of a more broadly based transformation of society. Te First World War, with the concomitant collapse of the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires in 1917–18, created an opportunity for the expanded development of Ukrainian nationalism. Te Ukrainian lands suffered great destruction as battling forces from several countries and factions within them moved back and forth across the landscape for years. Political attempts to acquire autonomy for Ukraine were regarded with hostility by both the provisional government established in Petrograd afer the abdication of Nicholas II in early 1917 and the Bolsheviks who came to power in late 1917. Civil war ensued, involving not only Ukrainians and Russians but Germans, Austrians, Poles, and others. German occupation was followed by brief and unstable Ukrainian independence for a portion of the Ukrainian lands. In early 1919 the Bolsheviks took Kiev and established a Ukrainian republic. Ukraine became an important battlefeld in the Russian Civil War, and Kiev, which changed hands a dozen times, was taken temporarily by White forces, who were no more enthusiastic about Ukrainian autonomy than the Bolsheviks. By mid-1921, the Bolsheviks had defeated the Whites on Ukrainian territory and a combined Polish-Ukrainian force. Most of present-day Ukraine came under Soviet authority in the form of the Communist Party of Ukraine. Ukraine was now a republic with some independence, but what it meant in practice to be “national in form, socialist in content” (the rather fuzzy nationalities policy adopted by the new Soviet state) shifed in the course of the 1920s and 1930s in Ukraine, as in other Soviet republics. Ukrainianization, the local variant of what was termed indigenization (korenizatsiia), was the hallmark of the 1920s. Instruction, publications, and ofcial discourse in Ukrainian increased dramatically, despite some resistance by ethnic Russians. In the 1930s, a backlash meant that Russian once more assumed a particular dominance. Too strong a commitment to Ukrainian became suspect, an indication of unhealthy and excessive nationalism. As these debates unfolded, Ukraine was simultaneously deeply involved in some of the most signifcant developments of the late 1920s and 1930s, Te Dnieper · 47

such as the massive Soviet push for industrialization, collectivization, and the famine of the early 1930s. Te Dnieper played an important and symbolic role in the frst of these developments, particularly on its lower reaches, as a key component in the Bolshevik drive to modernity. Te river gained iconic status as the site of the Dnieper hydroelectric dam, which fooded the river’s cataracts, greatly easing navigation, and created immense electric power to speed industrialization. Interestingly, it was during this same period that, as Mariia Leskinen has detailed, the four nineteenth-century statues at the base of the rostral columns in central Leningrad were increasingly reinterpreted as Russian rivers, one of which supposedly represented the Dnieper.51 In the twentieth century, dams acquired the status worldwide of prominent high-modernist icons. Drawing on David Harvey’s work on postmodernity, James C. Scott has defned high modernism as “a strong, one might even say muscle-bound, version of the self-confdence about scientifc and technical progress, the expansion of production, the growing satisfaction of human needs, the mastery of nature (including human nature), and, above all, the rational design of social order commensurate with the scientifc understanding of natural laws.”52 Scott and others have stressed that high modernism knows no ideological boundaries.53 In her comparative study of the Volga and the Mississippi, Dorothy Zeisler-Vralsted observes, “Despite rhetoric to the contrary, the belief in modernization, ofentimes realized through multipurpose river basin projects, superseded political distinctions.”54 Patrick McCully notes that the symbolic aura of progress associated with dams may be linked to “the creation of capitalist wealth, the spreading of the fruits of socialism, or the great march of communism.”55 In his study of six rivers, Peter Coates comments, “Te control of a great river through a mega-dam is one of the most emphatic advertisements of human prowess, national clout and the muscle of the central state.”56 Dams were multivalent political symbols, “symbols of the conquest of nature, of progress, and of the modern state. And especially, symbols of national empowerment and achievement.”57 Tey became “nationalist icons.”58 For many observers, dams superbly demonstrated a human ability to triumph over nature and force it to behave rationally. When President Herbert Hoover visited the Hoover (then Boulder) Dam site in 1932, he proclaimed, “Te waters of this great river, instead of being wasted to the sea, will now be brought into use by man.”59 While simple embankment dams had been constructed for thousands 48  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

of years, engineering and technological advances in the nineteenth century made possible the creation of ever larger structures to enable irrigation, control foods, facilitate navigation, produce power, or some combination of all of these; multipurpose dams became increasingly prevalent in the twentieth century. In the United States, the building of dams and the reaping of their economic benefts were important components of New Deal eforts to recover from the Great Depression. Tere was much enthusiasm in disparate quarters for dams. Te folk singer Woody Guthrie composed, at the request of the Bonneville Power Administration in Washington State, numerous songs about dams, one of which, “Roll on, Columbia,” eventually earned the honor of being designated the ofcial state folk song.60 Most dams continued to be constructed as earthen and rock embankments. As for more sophisticated dam construction, there were two major traditions, the massive and the structural.61 Dams built in the massive tradition, or gravity dams, depended upon mass (and concrete) for their stability and held back water by their very weight. Dams built in the structural tradition, sometimes referred to as thin arch dams (also concrete), relied on shape more than mass for stability. Te two traditions could be combined, in, for example, multiple arch dams that included prominent buttresses. Tere was, however, an important symbolic component to selection of the massive tradition in dam construction in that massive dams corresponded more directly to a desired image of colossal power. In their solidity they projected an aura of safety. Occasional horrifc dam collapses gave the lie to this image. Te Dnieper cataracts had been a thorn in navigation’s side for centuries, if not millennia. At the turn of the twentieth century there were multiple proposed projects for fooding the cataracts through damming. Te possibility of hydroelectric power generation came into play as well in these early designs.62 With the advent of the Soviet regime and its passionate desire for widespread electrifcation, in large part to enable industrialization, such plans assumed increased urgency. As Scott observes, “Electricity had, for [Lenin] and for most other high modernists, a nearly mythical appeal.”63 Te Dnieper hydroelectric project drew on Western experience and Western, especially American, engineering experts for its design and construction. Te rhetoric surrounding the construction of this and other early Soviet dams anticipated the tenor of Hoover’s remarks in its emphasis on mankind’s need, indeed responsibility to tame nature. In 1926 Leon Trotsky declared, “Te Dnieper runs its course through the wealthiest industrial lands; and Te Dnieper · 49

it is wasting the prodigious weight of its pressure, playing over age-old rapids and waiting until we harness its stream, curb it with dams, and compel it to give lights to cities, to drive factories, and to enrich ploughland. We shall compel it.”64 When its construction was completed and industrial development of nearby Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhia made possible, the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station gained stature as one of the wonders of the new Soviet world. Its signifcance derived in part from a perception of its construction as the happy result of a qualitatively diferent approach to labor, in which the laboring masses revealed both initiative and a useful spirit of competition that led, for example, to the breaking of world records in the laying of concrete. In the eyes of its admirers, the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station demonstrated that Soviet engineers and workers could productively adapt Western European and American methods, and then surpass them.65 As Anne Rassweiler expresses it in her history of the project, “Dneprostroi was the symbol of the success of the frst Five-Year Plan.”66 Zeisler-Vralsted summarizes the major role subsequently played by Dneprostroi in Soviet political discourse: “In constructing Dneprostroi, the discourse in Soviet publications became a benchmark for later hydro-projects. . . . Several themes were included in the rhetoric such as the promise of the machine to transform nature as seen in the achievements of electrifcation . . . the delivery of the historical goal of navigation[,] and the speed of the undertaking.”67 Te rhetoric surrounding Dneprostroi beautifully exemplifes Daniel Klingensmith’s contention, in his study of dam construction in India, that the “politics of dam-building . . . does not fully make sense unless it is seen as a larger project of moral development and national self-testing as well as a search for bureaucratic or political power.”68 Or, as Tim Palmer comments in his treatment of endangered rivers and the American conservation movement, “Te dam-building era refected a belief in the control of nature and in heroic infrastructure as a symbol of human accomplishment.”69 While under construction, DneproGES (the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station), or the Dneprostroi Dam, was visited by dozens of dignitaries. One of the most vocal and infuential of these visitors was the emerging dean of Soviet literature, Maksim Gorky (pseudonym of Aleksei Peshkov, 1868– 1936). A longtime supporter of the Bolshevik regime and author of Mat’ (Mother, 1906), one of the seminal texts of socialist realism, Gorky traveled extensively throughout the Soviet Union during the frst Five-Year Plan. He conveyed his impressions in a series of essays collected under the title “Po Soiuzu Sovetov” (Around the Union of Soviets, 1929), one of which 50  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

is devoted to Dneprostroi. For Gorky, the dam represents the unequivocal triumph of man over nature: “At Dneprostroi the will and reason of the working people are changing the fgure and face of the earth.”70 Te river is described as “mad” (beshenyi) and refractory (stroptivyi), the splashing of its waves as “angry” (serdityi). Gorky is enraptured by the dynamiting of the clifs along the Dnieper preparatory to the dam’s construction and contrasts contemporary human purposefulness with ancient and divine haphazardness: “In antiquity, they say, God performed such mighty tricks. He was a poor builder, we have to redo everything in our own, new way.”71 Te writer is troubled only by the ofen inadequate appreciation of young Soviet workers for how diferent their experience is from the evils of the past. He concludes his essay with an endorsement of the domination of nature that alludes to a metaphorical river of history: Tere is a poetry of “a confuence with nature,” of immersion in its colors and lines, but this is the poetry of passive submission to what is provided by vision and speculation. It is pleasant, it pacifes, and this alone constitutes its dubious value. Tis is for obedient spectators of life, who live of to the side, somewhere on the shores of the fow of history. But there is also the poetry of the overcoming of the forces of nature by the force of man’s will, the poetry of the enrichment of life through reason and imagination. It is majestic and tragic, it arouses a will to action. Tis is the poetry of fghters against a dead, fossilized reality, for the sake of creators of new forms of social life, of new ideas.72

What Gorky provides here is a kind of blueprint for an understanding of dam construction and socialist labor that would dominate the representation of dams on the Dnieper and other Soviet rivers for several decades. DneproGES itself was the subject of many paintings and other artistic works; one of the best known is a memorialization of Gorky’s historic visit by Petr Kotov (1889–1953), M. Gor’kii na Dneprogese (M. Gorky at DneproGES, 1951). Numerous poems and novels, some penned by prominent Soviet writers, sought to capture the excitement and enthusiasm of Dneprostroi. Even when the project was only in its planning stages, Vladimir Maiakovskii (1893–1930), a Futurist poet who wholeheartedly embraced the October Revolution, anticipated the benefts of the hydroelectric project in glowing terms in the poem “Dolg Ukraine” (Debt to Ukraine, 1926): Te Dnieper · 51

Где горилкой, удалью и кровью Запорожская бурлила Сечь, проводов уздой смирив Днепровье, Днепр заставят на турбины течь И Днипро по проволокам-усам электричеством течет по корпусам. (Where the Zaporozhian Sech’ seethed with vodka, daring, and blood, they will restrain the Dnieper region with a bridle of conductors and force the Dnieper to fow into turbines. And the Dnipro will fow with electricity along mustachewires throughout buildings.)73

Tere is a familiar opposition here between the wild past and the tamed present, between chaotic violence and productive industry; nature will be forced to serve mankind. Maiakovskii’s use of both the Russian Dnepr and Ukrainian Dnipro points to an idealistic conception of the river as supranational, Soviet. Six years later, in celebration of the day operations at DneproGES were actually launched, Dem’ian Bednyi (pseudonym of Efm Pridvorov, 1883– 1945), a committed Party member and propagandist, dedicated the poem “Porogi” (Rapids, 1932) to Gorky. For Bednyi, the construction of the gigantic dam on the Dnieper is a triumph over naysayers worldwide: Как много пиголиц пищало, Как много воронов вещало О “фантастической игре,” “Затее дикой” на Днепре. И вот—затея стала фактом, Игра—великим, смелым актом. (How many lapwings cheeped, how many ravens prophesied about the “fantastic game,” the “absurd undertaking” on the Dnieper. And now the undertaking has become a fact, the game a great, courageous act.)74 52  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

Bednyi welcomes the “organized force” (organizovannoiu siloi) that the waters of the Dnieper have now become. He devotes particular attention to the navigational benefts of the submergence of the rapids and draws an extended comparison between the physical rapids and the rapids of existence, for an assault on which he gives Gorky particular credit. By far the most ambitious poetic production devoted to Dneprostroi was the lengthy narrative poem Tragediinaia noch’ (A tragic night, 1930–63) by Aleksandr Bezymenskii (1898–1973). Like Bednyi, Bezymenskii was committed to retailing the Party line. A Tragic Night is a socialist realist narrative in verse, in which a host of characters develop the proper political consciousness through participation in the Dnieper project, while a few reactionary miscreants deservedly perish. Bezymenskii provides a brief historical overview of life along the Dnieper, from the pagan past to the Cossack sech’ and the positively perceived Union of Pereiaslav, “Kogda s sestroiu krovnoiu—Moskvoiu— / Soedinilas’ nen’ka Ukraina” (when Mama Ukraine united with her blood sister Moscow), and beyond.75 Under the Soviet regime, all is rationalized, and the “slepuiu vodu” (blind water) will be transformed into electricity and steel. Te poet carefully outlines the project, giving very specifc credit to the engineers involved. Like Gorky, he is impressed by the transformation of the landscape and also by qualitative changes in the nature of labor: И Днепр другой, И люди другие, И труд не такой. (Te Dnieper is diferent, people are diferent, and labor is not the same.)76

Now everyone works on the communal project as if they were building a home for themselves. Te retrograde distinction between public and private has thankfully been eroded. One of the most striking passages in A Tragic Night is an adaptation (to say “parody” might be unkind) of the opening of a famous poem by Aleksandr Pushkin (1799–1837), “Exegi monumentum” (I have raised a monument, 1836), itself an adaptation of a composition by the Roman poet Horace. “Exegi monumentum” lauds Pushkin’s own creative achievement, asserting that his poetry guarantees him immortality: “Ia pamiatnik sebe vozdvig nerukotvornyi / . . . Net, ves’ ia ne umru” (I have raised a monument to myself not made by hand . . . No, I will not die entirely).77 For Bezymenskii the Dnieper Dam is a superior monument: Te Dnieper · 53

Вы памятник себе воздвигли рукотворный, Бригады покорителей Днепра! Его не сокрушат ни смерти дух тлетворный, Ни яростных времен всесильные ветра. Как памятник труду . . . Он краше всех красот поэзии людской. (You have raised a monument to yourselves made by hand, brigades of subjugators of the Dnieper! Neither the putrid breath of death nor the allpowerful winds of furious time will shatter it. As a monument to labor . . . it is more beautiful than all the beauties of people’s poetry.)78

What is important here is the collective labor of the masses, not the eforts of an isolated creative individual, and material accomplishments, not illusory words. Nature fghts back at one point in the poem, when spring foods and rains overtop the dam when it is under construction. (Tis actually happened in May 1931.) Te Dnieper manifests a cunning force, but organized human opposition defeats it: “Vse, chto v kotlovane bylo, / Dnepru narod ne otdal v plen” (Te people did not give into captivity to the Dnieper anything that was in the foundation pit).79 Eventually the rapids disappear, ancient villages are replaced by factories and furnaces, and evidence of electric power covers the landscape: “U nas pred glazami / Elektricheskii vstal bogatyr’” (Before our eyes an electric knight has risen).80 Another Soviet Russian writer who was deeply committed to supporting the industrialization of the Soviet Union was Fedor Gladkov (1883–1958). Gladkov is best known for his novel Tsement (Cement, 1925), which, like Gorky’s Mother, is an early exemplar of socialist realism. In Cement, the main protagonists, Gleb and Dasha Chumalov, wrestle with the difculties of restructuring their personal relationship in accordance with socialist values, against the backdrop of restoring a cement plant to production. Like Gorky, Gladkov spent time, indeed years, observing developments at Dneprostroi. Energiia (Energy, 1932–38), which the author repeatedly revised in an efort to satisfy the objections of critics, concerns Dneprostroi (although the site is never specifcally identifed) and revisits many of the themes broached in Cement. Te Chumalovs, older and wiser, make an appearance in the fnal section of Energy. Te title Energy refers literally to the production of hydroelectric and other industrial power. Figuratively it points to the psychological and phys54  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

ical energy expended by young and old in the creation of a brave new Soviet world. Te central protagonist of Energy is the Communist Party secretary Miron Vatagin, who in the course of the novel supports and inspires others as he himself gains important insights into the collaborative nature of socialist labor. Other characters participate in the Dneprostroi project and make increasingly more enlightened contributions as administrators, engineers, and shock workers. As in Cement, several couples struggle to develop mature relationships based on an egalitarian understanding of relations between the sexes. A few evildoers plot to sabotage a glorious future, but they are stymied in their eforts and are arrested or dead by the end of the novel.81 Energy is seven hundred pages long, but the Dnieper itself, as opposed to the construction work, makes remarkably few appearances. In its unconstrained form, the river is inimical to human beings. Early in the novel Miron almost drowns while swimming in the river on a day of: Suddenly he was thrown of to the side by the explosion of a whirlpool. Te water began to seethe and sing. It began to play tricks with him, it grabbed him by the legs and arms, and whipped him in the face. All of a sudden he saw that the water was alive, incomprehensible, predatory, and quick-sighted, and that its eyes were granular and opaline like those of a dragon-fy. It was watching him from every quarter, all scaly and in convulsions.82

Tis is the natural world as it might appear in a horror flm, not a pastoral poem. For Gladkov, nature is an opponent. Te landscape before DneproGES was devoid of any charm, hostile to human interests: “Te brown hills, bare and clayey, the granite blocks wrenched from the depths, the river in its high stone shores—it all slumbered cheerlessly and inhospitably in primordial wildness. Faded peasants, with chapped faces just as brown as the hills and the granite, lived in ravines, hiding from winds and foods.”83 Te river emerges only briefy and occasionally in the novel, when it threatens the construction of the dam. Late in the novel the water becomes an accidental graveyard for two quarreling would-be wreckers. Only the eforts of human beings can transform this malevolent space into something productive and positive. Another Soviet writer whose writings about DneproGES gained widespread attention was the Ukrainian author Iakov Bash (pseudonym of Iakiv Bashmak, 1908–1986). Bash, who, like Gladkov, was from an impoverished Te Dnieper · 55

peasant background, worked at DneproGES from 1928 to 1932 as a carpenter and brigade leader. He then pursued a university-level education and career as a writer. His best-known novel about DneproGES is Goriachie chuvstva (Warm feelings), an earlier version of which appeared in Ukrainian as Na berehakh Slavuticha (On the shores of Slavutich). A revised Ukrainian version was published in 1947 with the title Hariachi pochuttia (Warm feelings). Translated into Russian in the early 1950s, Warm Feelings appeared in multiple Russian and Ukrainian editions. Warm Feelings is in many ways reminiscent of Energy. At the center of the novel is Petr Gontar’, an accomplished blacksmith and veteran of the First World War and the Russian Civil War. Te novel opens with a trip by Gontar’ down the Dnieper rapids during which he witnesses frsthand the primitive respect the river pilots have for the challenges ofered by the river. Bash’s novel contains many more detailed descriptions of both the river and the actual dam construction process than does Gladkov’s. Once again, a contrast between the inchoate, unproductive past and the creative present is repeatedly stressed: “Tere, where just recently had lain the everlasting silence of the steppe and only wild clifs showed black,—the huge structures of locks and the hydroelectric station were being raised in the midst of a powerful din and peal, and across the entire width of the Dnieper, among the high crib-works, in the complex piles of concrete molds and construction scafolding, the outlines of the titanic dam were appearing.”84 Te constantly exploding sounds of dynamite evoke a military image in which the river is the enemy: “Te earth shook from the cannonade of explosions. And this persistent siege of the river, these explosions again recalled the front.”85 In this battle between mankind and nature, the river is a capricious and dangerous opponent, especially during the record-breaking spring food of May 1931: “Te waves came like mountains. With a threatening rumble they rushed against the barriers, they fung themselves against the crib-work walls, and tried to break through into the foundation pit. . . . Te hydroelectric station resembled a huge, bustling port that was being rapidly evacuated in the face of a threatening attack by the enemy.”86 Te river here has become a brutal beast. Eventually the battle between mankind and river resembles the battle at Armageddon: “It seemed that all of nature had risen against people. It seemed that nature had gathered together all the countless maelstroms of the Dnieper rapids and borne them like a steppe storm across the dam and hurled them there in order to smash and food everything that had been created by human hands.”87 But the dam stands frm, and when 56  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

it is fnished and the waters rise and food the rapids, the latter expire with a quiet, hoarse moan like a wounded animal. Now the Dnieper submits to mankind: “It quietly and submissively turned toward the sluicegates and obediently, like a tamed giant, bent its neck into the pipe, fowed down, and turned the turbine faster and faster.”88 Triumph! “Slavutich has been chained!” declares an old river pilot.89 Nature has been defeated; the rapids of the river and the rapids of the past are gone forever. Besides Soviet Russian and Ukrainian writers DneproGES evoked literary responses from the American journalist, novelist, and activist Anna Louise Strong (1895–1970), a dedicated supporter of frst the Soviet and later the Chinese Communist regime. In the 1920s and 1930s she spent much time reporting from the Soviet Union. One of the fruits of her observations was the novel Wild River (1943). Te novel’s hero, Stepan Bogdanov, is an active participant in the Dnieper dam construction and eventually acquires both a mature political consciousness and an administrative position of great responsibility. Strong’s account of the enthusiasm that surrounds the Dneprostroi project and the transformative labor practices engendered by Soviet existence constitutes no less of an encomium to the miracle of socialism than the works by Soviet writers of the same period.

Te Dnieper at War and Later Te Germans invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941. As in the First World War, during the Second World War Ukraine became a battlefeld and the site of some of the worst atrocities of the war. By mid-August 1941 most of southeastern Ukraine had been captured by German troops, and the Germans were on the verge of reaching DneproGES. Unwilling to abandon to the enemy the marvelous and highly strategic structure completed only a few years earlier, retreating Red Army forces, working together with administrators and engineers, dynamited the dam, afer having removed and shipped some of its internal components to the east. When the Germans were forced to retreat in 1943, they vandalized the dam. It was rebuilt and enlarged in the second half of the 1940s. Te destruction of DneproGES and the battles that took place along the Dnieper as the Germans moved east and later retreated westward were commemorated in poetry and prose. A novel by the Ukrainian writer Oles’ Honchar (1918–1995), Liudyna i zbroia (Men and arms), was published in Russian as Chelovek i oruzhie (1960) before it appeared in Ukrainian. Te Dnieper · 57

Te work contains many descriptions of the Dnieper and an account of the destruction of the hydroelectric station, all set against the backdrop of the horrifc events of the summer of 1941. A young soldier, seeing the river for the frst time as the Soviet forces fall back from the front, senses impending tragedy: “He had hoped to see it bright and sunny, in a food of blue, but the Dnieper appeared before him in the heavy steel twilight, with the inhospitable noise of the wind, as a gloomy expanse. . . . It was only the middle of summer, but the water in the river was somehow autumnal. . . . Te trees agitated by the wind and the Dnieper plowed up by it. . . . What melancholy everything inspired, what sadness lay on the soul!”90 DneproGES is represented as the still beating heart of tormented Ukraine. Another soldier, a native of the area, sees the dam as a kind of apotheosis of the river’s potential, made possible by human eforts: Te huge concrete crest of piers across the entire Dnieper, the cranes over the dam, and the hydroelectric station on the right bank that resembled a fairy tale palace . . . all this, together with the granite of the shores, the azure of the Dnieper, the green hills of Khortitsa Island, and the high dome of the sky, fowed together into a single whole, and stood like one harmonious creation begun by nature and completed by people. Force and harmony. Light and purity. It seemed that not a speck of dust had ever fallen on this structure, on everything that shone here with newness, with a kind of festiveness. It seemed that this sunny picture had been drawn from somewhere in the future as a model of what would someday triumph over the entire land.91

Tis is an ode to high modernism, to Soviet accomplishments, to the human capacity for great endeavors. For the soldiers gazing at it, destruction of the dam by the enemy seems inconceivable. Te same soldier who initially sees the Dnieper landscape as an embodiment of melancholy because of German depredations had earlier written verses about DneproGES as “the symbol of a new Ukraine, the child of a new, socialist civilization.”92 For the engineers at DneproGES, the structure and its operations are the pride of their existence. Yet shutting down and blowing up part of DneproGES is a necessary response to the threat of German occupation: “Nothing will touch DneproGES, the spirit of destruction will not lord it over things here.”93 Honchar describes in poignant detail the preparations for dynamiting the structure. When the destruction takes 58  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

place, it is as if the unproductive past triumphs over the creative present: “Like the voice of past times, in the dusk over the Dnieper there resounded the threatening rumble of the rapids, a deep, seething roar, in which there was something primitive, wild, and gloomy.”94 Implicitly the victory of human beings over nature symbolized by DneproGES has been revoked. Te loss of the lands along the Dnieper and their eventual recapture were the subject of poems by Russians and Ukrainians composed during and afer the war. As recently as 2005 a bilingual Ukrainian-Russian edition of a narrative poem for young readers by one Anatolii Khudiakov was published in Dnipropetrovsk.95 Te epigraph to the poem, Za ridni berehy / Za rodnye berega (For native shores), comes from a poem composed in 1941 by the Russian poet Evgenii Dolmatovskii (1915–1994), “Pesnia o Dnepre” (A song about the Dnieper): Кто погиб за Днепр, будет жить века, Коль сражался он, как герой. (Whoever perished for the sake of the Dnieper will live forever if he fought like a hero.)96

For Native Shores ofers a brief historical overview of events that transpired on and along the Dnieper. Te central section of the poem concerns the battle to retake the river from the Germans in October 1943 and the reminiscences of veterans who participated in it. Te Dnieper of this narrative is personifed (“Dnepr surov i nespokoen, / Mnogo videl raznykh voin” [Te Dnieper is stern and uneasy, it has seen many diferent wars]).97 As a sentient entity, it implicitly sides with the Slavs: “Podderzhi nas, Dnepr-reka” (Support us, River Dnieper).98 An important motif in For Native Shores that was alluded to at the beginning of this chapter is a conception that became increasingly common in poems about the Dnieper composed in the decades afer the Second World War, the notion of the friendship of peoples: С украинцем русский рядом, Белорус, грузин, казах, “Нет!” сказали всем преградам, Побороли вместе страх. (A Russian is next to a Ukrainian, a Belarusian, Georgian, Kazakh, “No!” they said to all obstacles, together they overcame fear.)99 Te Dnieper · 59

Similar thoughts are expressed in several poems included in the trilingual Greetings to You, Slavutich. For example, in a work by the Ukrainian poet and devoted Soviet citizen Pavlo Tychyna (1891–1967), the Ukrainian speaker ponderously announces to his beloved: “Ia ukrainets, a ty rossiianka, / druzhba u nas” (I am a Ukrainian, and you are a Russian, we have a friendship).100 For Tychyna, this constitutes the basis for ongoing cooperation: Помнишь—мы город обороняли в дни войны. Вместе с тобою его и построить мы должны. (Remember, we defended the city in the days of war. You and I should also build it together.)101

Sometimes the trinity of Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia is emphasized, as in a poem by the Ukrainian poet Ivan Nekhoda (1910–1963), “Dnepr-Slavutich” (Dnieper Slavutich), when he waxes lyrical about the beauty of the river: С Валдайских холмов . . . Струится Днипро сквозь леса. В нем щедрость России лазурь Беларуси, Степей украинских краса. (From the Valdai Hills . . . the Dnieper fows through forests. It has the generosity of Russia, the azure of Belarus, and the beauty of the Ukrainian steppes.)102

In “Kievu” (To Kiev), the Belarusian poet Pimen Panchenko (1917–1995) describes the symbiotic relationship of the three East Slavic peoples who live beside the Dnieper using a nature metaphor: Одна у нас судьба и путь единый, Мы братской дружбой сплочены навек Так Днепр связал Россию с Украиной И с Велоруссией ветвями рек. (We have one fate and a united path, we are joined together forever in brotherly friendship. Tus the Dnieper bound Russia with Ukraine and with Belarus by means of the branches of rivers.)103 60  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

In the context of subsequent and current developments, such sentiments ring hollow at best. Te notion of a tripartite brotherhood of East Slavic nations may be gone with the wind, but a literary fascination with the Dnieper has not disappeared. An unusual example is provided by a recent series of young adult novels by Ilona Volynskaia and Kirill Kashcheev entitled Irka Khortitsa—superved’ma! (Irka Khortitsa—superwitch!). Te heroine of the series is an early adolescent who lives in Dnipropetrovsk with her grandmother and inhabits a fantastic world marked by exciting encounters with the supernatural. Each novel has as an appendix a “Brief Magical Dictionary” and “Little Book of Irka Khortitsa’s Incantations.” Te dictionary is an eclectic compendium of traditional and modern creatures of the imagination, all of whom appear at some point in the series. A specifc entry on Dnieper witches, to which sorority Irka implicitly belongs, describes them as beings who “have from time immemorial lived on the lands along the Dnieper and are distinguished by distinctive methods of witchcraf that allow them to control people, non-human beings, spirits, animals, and natural phenomena.”104 As a “born witch,” Irka has the capacity to do good and behaves accordingly. As Irka’s surname suggests, she has a strong connection with Khortitsa Island. Te etymology of Khortitsa is unclear. It may derive from the word for a kind of dog, khort; supposedly early Rus’ hunter-travelers to Constantinople would temporarily leave their canine companions on the island while busy with the Byzantines. A derivation from the name of the ancient Slavic god Khors has also been proposed.105 Volynskaia and Kashcheev build on such folkloric tidbits to create an image of Khortitsa as “one of the most powerful magical sites in the Slavic world,” where dragons sometimes appear and a knightly force stands guard.106 Nor should one forget the ancient Slavic god Simargl, also known as the Great Hound (Velikii Khort), who resembles a giant winged hound and, according to Volynskaia and Kashcheev, is a benevolent protector of nature, animals, and plants.107 Irka, it emerges, is actually Simargl’s daughter and thus possesses the ability to transform into a giant winged hound herself. At the end of Ved’mino nasledstvo (Witch’s inheritance, 2012), the second novel in the series, the adolescent and her equally gifed friends, Tan’ka and Bogdan, wind up at an important archaeological site on Khortitsa Island, where Irka, in her fying canine guise, successfully battles malevolent supernatural forces. In the human imagination, rivers are frmly linked to the cultures that inhabit their banks. Te Dnieper is no exception. In considering the culTe Dnieper · 61

tural odyssey of the Dnieper, a few key moments may be identifed: the Christianization of the Rus’, the foundation of the Zaporozhian Sech’, the construction of DneproGES, and the Second World War battle for the Dnieper. Christianization supposedly meant the downfall of East Slavic paganism, but traces of pagan belief have survived to the present; much scholarly attention has been given to the phenomenon of dvoeverie, or dual faith, which was characterized by a continued belief in spirits of various kinds and a reliance on magical practices despite nominal adherence to Orthodox Christianity. Te pagan Dnieper that was ofcially abandoned in 988 continued its existence in oral folk narratives and gained wide currency in Russian Romantic literature. It lives on today in popular fction. Te Dnieper’s connections with the Cossacks fueled a perception of the river as wild and free, a potent symbol for the political aspirations of Ukrainians, aspirations dramatically captured above all by Shevchenko. What the actual links were between the Cossacks and modern Ukrainians may be a matter of controversy, but as the adoption of Cossack hairstyles by right-wing groups today indicates, some Ukrainians admire the Cossacks and believe that they themselves are the legitimate heirs to former Cossack lands on the lower Dnieper. In the twentieth century, DneproGES served as a modernist icon of Soviet achievements and the assumed future dominion of human beings over nature. Modernity meant technological and industrial progress, and DneproGES, which dramatically facilitated navigation and enabled the electrifcation of a huge area, was an object of pride and a model to be emulated. Tat DneproGES had to be dismantled during the Second World War gave the achievement a tragic dimension, but the successful retaking of the Dnieper helped defne both a sense of nearly sacred victory and a perception of Soviet forces as a brotherhood of nationalities. Implicitly the Soviets triumphed because they had transformed society as well as the environment and were able to work together in wartime as in peacetime. Today the Dnieper still fows, although, like many rivers worldwide, not as forcefully as it once did, because of the construction of an entire cascade of dams along its length. One suspects, however, that rusalki will always linger in the river’s depths, fguratively if not literally, despite its apparent subjugation to human desires. Te Dnieper’s literary future, though, would seem to belong more to Ukraine, and its supposed Cossack descendants, than to Russia.

62  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

2 Te Volga

4 In their study of Russian rivers published in 1955, M. Davydov and M. Tsunts confdently enunciate the symbolic signifcance of the Volga: “Te Volga is the river of Russian glory, the personifcation of the force and greatness of our people. It is inseparable from Russian history. Say its name, and before one’s mental gaze arises a multitude of historical events—from the uprising of Stepan Razin to the legendary epic of Stalingrad.”1 A rallying call during the Battle of Stalingrad in late 1942 and early 1943 was “Za Volgoi dlia nas zemli net” (Tere is no land for us beyond the Volga), a declaration attributed to the famous Soviet sniper Vasilii Zaitsev and meant to convey an absolute refusal to allow the Germans across the river. Te perception of the fondly designated Little Mother Volga (Volga-matushka) as the quintessential Russian river is so well established as to suggest that it was somehow always a watery Russian patrimony, inextricably entwined with the fate of whatever regime was currently in power. But it was not always so. Indeed in many ways the cultural history of the Volga River over the past millennium has been a tale of relentless Russifcation subsequently construed as primordial, a proprietary attitude marketed as organic truth. A large component in this process of appropriation was economic, with a host of important social consequences for those who gained their living from the river in a variety of ways. Te fact that the Volga long served as a frontier and boundary between Russia and others, between regimentation and open-ended possibilities, also had an important impact on its representation. Te river eventually came to be viewed as both an icon of freedom and a symbol of servitude, a conduit into wide-open phys63

ical and mental spaces and the site of narrowminded, claustrophobic concerns, a veritable prison house of the spirit. Te story of the Volga winds its way through history, folklore, literature, and art, a complex narrative of the encounter between humans and nature, rich and poor, Russians and non-Russians.

Geography and Early History Like the Dnieper, the Volga rises in the forested Valdai Hills northwest of Moscow. Te spring that is considered the source of the Volga is graced with a chapel, a ftting symbol of the river’s quasi-sacred status in Russian eyes. At 2,294 miles in length, the Volga is the longest river in Europe, and it is the longest river in the world that does not fow into an ocean; it fows into the Caspian Sea. In Asiatic Russia, the Volga is exceeded in length by the Siberian Ob, Enisei, Lena, and Amur. Its system includes many thousands of rivers and streams, and the territory embraced by its basin constitutes an area larger than that of Britain, France, Austria, Switzerland, and the Netherlands combined.2 Major tributaries on the lef, east bank include the Kama, Vetluga, and Samara, and on the right, west bank the Oka and the Sura. Flowing frst largely east, past the ancient Russian cities of Tver, Iaroslavl, and Nizhnii Novgorod, below Kazan the Volga takes a predominantly southerly direction, past Samara, Saratov, Volgograd, and Astrakhan. Its last approximately one hundred miles constitute an extensive delta. Te Volga fows through forest, steppe, and desert. For much of its length, the lef bank is relatively fat, the right high and hilly, even steep. In its pristine state, the Volga was marked by many shallows that impeded navigation. Dam construction intended to provide more consistent depth, as well as hydroelectric power, began on the upper reaches of the river afer the Revolution. Afer the Second World War, the ambitious Big Volga project was vigorously pursued in order to exploit the industrial potential of the middle and lower portions of the river. Tis eventually resulted in a cascade of increasingly large dams.3 Classical authors called the Volga the Rha. In the Middle Ages Arabic and Persian writers referred to it as the Itil (or Atil), which was also the name of a city on the lower reaches of the river near the delta. Slavic sources spoke of the Volga. The etymology of that name is still a matter of discussion, in part because it is not entirely clear whether the name was ultimately derived from Slavic, Finno-Ugric, or 64  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

some other language group. 4 To some Russians, etymological accuracy does not matter, only quasi-spiritual and nationalistic associations: “Perhaps the specialists are correct who assert that the name Volga is of Finnish origin and means ‘bright’ or ‘sacred,’ but for us and other peoples Volga is a primordial Russian name that has absorbed so much that it can rightfully be ranked with another holy word—Russia. The Russian heart hears in it both Vol’ga—the name of a bylina [medieval Russian epic] knight, and the word volia [will], that expresses the cherished striving of our people toward light, brotherhood, and unity.” 5 Like the Dnieper, the Volga served as an important trading route from time immemorial. In the late ninth and early tenth centuries, Vikings (or Varangians) sailed down the river and on to the Caspian Sea in search of plunder. The upper and middle Volga regions were inhabited in part by Finno-Ugrian peoples, the Merja (or Meri), Cheremis (or Mari), and Mordvins. Slavic settlement of this area began under the auspices of Kievan Rus’.6 Iaroslavl, named in honor of the Kievan grand prince Iaroslav the Wise, son of St. Vladimir, the ostensible Christianizer of Rus, was founded in 1024. Later Moscow and Tver vied for control of the region, with Moscow the victor in 1400.7 The Cheremis were gradually pushed east and encouraged to cooperate militarily and otherwise with the Russians. Today most of their descendants live on the left bank of the Volga between the Vetluga and Viatka rivers. 8 The Mordvins were driven south and east by a Te Volga · 65

combination of Russian and Tatar pressure. The majority now inhabit the Moksha and Sura River valleys. 9 The Merja lived to the west of the Cheremis but were absorbed by the Russians as early as the tenth century. Their memory survives in certain river and place names.10 An important role in Russian colonization of the upper and middle Volga regions, and later on areas to the south as well, was played by Russian Orthodox monks granted lands and the right to establish monasteries by various Russian rulers. Tis included the dubious privilege of enserfng, and if necessary forcibly Christianizing, members of the indigenous populations. Needless to say, such endeavors ofen led to violence on both sides. Te benefts of literacy and other aspects of Russian culture were at least partially ofset by oppression and exploitation.11 Russian peasants moving into the area were also subject to enserfment under monastic auspices or those of Russian landowners. Later settlers in the area included Old Believers, the disenfranchised dissidents of the schism in the Russian Orthodox Church in the late seventeenth century, and conservative strel’tsy, or musketeers, who had sided in vain with Peter the Great’s sister Sofa in an abortive rebellion at the very end of the seventeenth century.12 And there were Cossacks, those freebooters of diverse origin who used the Volga, as well as the Dnieper and the Don, as a watery highway for robbery. Te growing Russian colonization of the Volga region thus constituted a complex combination of organized and elemental migration processes.13 In the early medieval period, the middle Volga, particularly the area near the junction of the Kama and the Volga, was dominated by the Bulgars, a Turkic people who had settled there in the seventh century. In the early tenth century Akhmed ibn Fadlan, an Arab visitor to the Bulgar capital of Bolghar, located on the Volga not far from present-day Kazan, lef a colorful and somewhat disdainful description of the funerary customs of the Rus’ traders who visited the city, which involved elaborate cremation and human sacrifce. Te lower reaches of the Volga had been dominated for several centuries by the Khazars, another Turkic people, until Vladimir’s father, the Kievan prince Sviatoslav Igorevich, defeated the Khazars and sacked their capital city, Atil (or Itil), in the late tenth century. A little more than two centuries later, afer their invasion of the Bulgar and Russian lands and points east in the early thirteenth century under the direction of Khan Batyi, grandson of Chingiz Khan, the Mongols gained control of much of the Volga. Te khans of the so-called Golden Horde established a capital, the city of Sarai (actually the frst of two cities with 66  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

the same name), north of present-day Astrakhan on the Volga tributary the Akhtuba. Golden Horde control of the Volga was undermined by a war in the late fourteenth century between Tokhtamysh, khan of the Golden Horde, and his Mongol challenger Timur. In the afermath of Tokhtamysh’s defeat, the centralized power of the Golden Horde collapsed and gave way to individual khanates. In the second half of the sixteenth century, afer more than a century of struggle, Russian forces under Ivan IV stormed Kazan, an event commemorated by the construction of the Cathedral of St. Basil on Moscow’s Red Square. Shortly aferward Astrakhan was annexed. Russian control of the region was managed from the fortress city of Tsaritsyn (renamed Stalingrad afer the Russian Revolution and Volgograd afer the collapse of Stalin’s reputation), founded in 1589 near the point where the Volga comes its closest to the Don. Te Russian military push into the lower Volga was followed by agricultural and industrial development.14 Afer 1589, Russian barges were free to sail the entire length of the Volga. A new age of immense commercial potential was dawning for Russia on its eastern frontier.

Mythology and Early Folklore of the Volga Russian expansion along the upper and lower reaches of the Volga was accompanied by the development of an ever larger body of mythology and folklore devoted to the river. Some of these narratives allude to Russian conficts with hostile ethnicities and underscore, explicitly or implicitly, Russian claims to the Volga basin. Te formation of the Zhiguli Mountains, or Heights, one of the highest points along the Volga, is explained by a complex tale of foiled nomadic envy. When the would-be conquerors appear in their boats on the Volga, a Russian knight and his beloved on the shore are miraculously transformed into steep, craggy clifs and the river itself rises up and tosses the boats about. Te few nomads who survive retreat to the east in disappointment.15 In another tale of Eastern malfeasance, a beautiful Russian captive fees from the unwelcome attentions of a khan of the Golden Horde. Arriving on the shores of the Volga, she sees her beloved on the opposite bank and leaps into the river. He hastens toward her, but the young woman is overwhelmed by waves and drowns. Her body is covered over by sand, except for her single maidenly braid, which becomes ever larger, causing the river to grow increasingly narrow and shallow at this point. Meanwhile the young woman’s beloved has turned to stone on Te Volga · 67

the opposing clif and awaits the day they will reach other.16 Because of damming and submersion, this now will never happen. Tis tale eventually formed the subject of a poem by a prolifc poet of the Volga, Apollon Korinfskii (1868–1937), “Poloniankina kosa” (Te captive’s braid, 1900). One of the most important Russian cities on the Volga from as early as the fourteenth century was Nizhnii Novgorod, situated near the confuence of the Volga and the Oka. Initially intended as a frontier fortress, like many Russian cities on the Volga, Nizhnii Novgorod quickly became an important international trade center. Te displacement of the indigenous Mordvins was justifed in various legends. In one, the name of the hills on which Nizhnii is situated, the Diatel Mountains, is derived from the name of the sorcerer Diatel (Woodpecker). Diatel tells the legendary Mordvin Skvorets (Starling), familiar from bylina narratives, that his ofspring will retain control of the area as long as they do not quarrel among themselves. If they do, declares Diatel, they will be overwhelmed by the Russians, who will construct an impregnable city of stone.17 Tat of course is what comes to pass. An explanation for the later failure of the Tatars to take Nizhnii is provided by the story of the city’s women, who are washing laundry in the Volga when they spot a Tatar reconnaissance party. Afer his men are driven of by the women wielding bucket yokes, the Tatar prince decides to withdraw his forces, fearing that if the women of Nizhnii are so ferce, the men will be even more formidable.18 Russians are both deserving and superior. A particularly charming set of legends about the foiling of Tatar assaults on Russian cities involves the mythical city of Kitezh near Nizhnii Novgorod. Although Prince Iurii of Vladimir is killed in battle and his troops defeated by Khan Batyi, when Batyi and his men approach Kitezh, the city, with all its churches, monasteries, and treasures, disappears into a huge hole in the ground that flls with water, becoming Lake Svetloiar.19 Te sound of the invisible city’s church bells may sometimes be heard. Tis legend later became the basis for, among other artistic compositions, an opera by Nikolai Rimskii-Korsakov. As is well known, Ivan IV inspired respect, awe, and fear and became the subject of multiple popular folk narratives.20 A curious legend involving the Volga that again refects the cherished notion that the Volga is Russians’ by right, describes Ivan’s violent encounter with the river on his way to do battle with Tatar forces. When the Russians wish to cross the Volga, the river becomes tempestuous and rough, and the Russian boats are in danger of capsizing and the troops of drowning. Ivan frst threatens the river and then 68  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

orders one of his subordinates to beat the river into submission. His subordinate does so, and in the process draws blood in three places. Especially in the summertime at sunset, it is supposedly still possible to see the traces of three bloody weals in the water, a symbol of Russian mastery of nature.21 Te revenge of a ruler on a body of water that is an obstacle to his territorial ambitions is actually a motif of great antiquity; in the ffh century bce the Persian king Xerxes was said to have had the Hellespont strait (now the Dardanelles) fogged for similar reasons.

Stepan Razin in History, Folklore, and Literature As the Russians gradually gained control of the middle and lower Volga, their eforts were by no means consistently harmonious. Te exploitation and enserfment of their own peasants that accompanied Russian expansion had complex and sometimes violent consequences. A series of rebellions took place in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, ofen involving the participation and leadership of Cossack forces, whose numbers continued to increase along the Don River, which roughly paralleled the lower Volga to the west. Predatory Cossack expeditions frequently spread into the Volga region and further east. Te seventeenth century witnessed a series of cataclysmic events: the socalled Time of Troubles at the beginning of the century involving a series of pretenders to the throne, internecine struggles, foreign invasion, famine, and widespread destruction; the increasing desperation of the Russian peasants and brutal attempts by the new Romanov dynasty, founded in 1613, in collusion with landowners, to bind the peasantry to the land and drive them to higher levels of production; a violent ecclesiastical schism; and the losing struggle of the Cossacks to prevent the erosion of their privileges and much-vaunted independence. Large numbers of refugees poured into the upper Don region, hoping to share in the benefts of the freebooting Cossack lifestyle. Te hereditary Cossacks on the lower Don viewed these developments with anxiety. A growing rif developed between the downstream domovitye (householding) Cossacks in their established and prosperous communities and the upstream golyt’ba (poor, literally naked). Te latter were frustrated by the cumbersome process of gaining membership in the Cossack community and its simultaneous refusal to permit agricultural endeavors; real Cossacks were supposed to earn their keep by hunting, fshing, stock raising, or raiding.22 Te situation was exacerbated by a de facto Te Volga · 69

Turkish monopoly of the Black Sea, which slowed Cossack raids down the Don to a trickle, and ofcial Russian discouragement of raids down the Volga to the Caspian, where Russian authorities wished to preserve good trading relations with the Persians. Stepan (Stenka) Razin was the scion of a well-to-do downstream Cossack family; his godfather was the elected head of the Don Host, the ataman (Cossack chiefain) Kornilo Iakovlev. Te precise reasons Razin emerged as the ataman of a mass of primarily upstream golyt’ba are unclear, but by the spring of 1667 he had organized a large naval expedition in search of plunder on the Caspian. Te Cossack forces sailed down the Volga, gathering booty and men as they went. Afer wintering on the Yaik River east of the Volga, Razin and his men went on a rampage along the Caspian coast, collecting large amounts of plunder in the process, but with a signifcant loss of lives. Returning in triumph to Astrakhan near the mouth of the Volga, the Cossacks were greeted with enthusiasm by the lower classes and soon too by non-Russians like the Mordvins, who had long chafed under a sense of dispossession by the Russian state. Back on the Don for the winter of 1669–70, Razin set up camp on an upstream island. More of the golyt’ba and even some of the domovitye focked to join him. Unnerved by Razin’s success and fearful of potential consequences, Ataman Iakovlev turned against his godson and connived with the Muscovite authorities to try to put an end to the rampages of his motley crew. In the spring of 1670 Razin’s forces again sailed down the Volga to Astrakhan, plundering and inciting widespread rebellion. By this time, the essence of Razin’s undertakings had metamorphosed: “[It] displayed that peculiar mixture of brigandage and revolt which characterized all the mass uprisings of the period. At frst, to be sure, piracy was the dominant element; but the latent forces of insurrection were not slow to emerge, so that what began chiefy as an expedition of plunder was soon to be transformed into a full-scale social rebellion with immense and far-reaching consequences.”23 Tis was, however, a disorganized and largely destructive social rebellion, a reaction against oppression and injustice lacking a clear program for change. Up the Volga from Astrakhan went Razin and his men in the summer of 1670, entering in triumph the towns of Chernyi Iar, Tsaritsyn, Saratov, and Samara. Rebellion on a massive scale swept through the Volga basin. At Simbirsk, however, Razin’s troops stumbled and their siege failed miserably, in part because of the arrival of well-trained Russian government troops, but also because of chaos in the ataman’s own ranks. In a sense, Razin’s suc70  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

cess bore within itself the seeds of its own destruction; the new adherents to his cause were untrained and poorly armed and ultimately did not constitute a viable military force. Simultaneously rebels under the command of Razin’s brother Frolka sufered defeat on the Don. Razin returned to the Don and in the spring of 1671 was defeated and seized in his island stronghold by Cossack forces under the command of Iakovlev. He was executed in Moscow on Red Square in June 1671. Razin was gone, his incoherent movement quashed, but the Cossack leader’s folkloric existence was just beginning. Even during his lifetime, Razin’s remarkable takeover of several Volga towns led to his being credited with magical powers.24 In death he assumed both heroic and supernatural status; the possibility appeared that his death was fctitious and that he would eventually return. In a variety of oral narratives, he fgured as the defender of the oppressed, a relentless seeker of fnancial and existential justice for the poor, a kind of Robin Hood of the steppes.25 In part because of the long-standing hostility of the tsarist government toward Razin and the rebellious impulses he represented, many of these narratives were not collected and published until the Soviet era.26 In the somewhat more relaxed political atmosphere of the second half of the nineteenth century, however, an infuential history of Razin’s rebellion by Nikolai Kostomarov (1817–1885) appeared. In Bunt Sten’ki Razina (Te rebellion of Stenka Razin, 1859) Kostomarov retold many of the stories popularly associated with the Cossack leader. Te Rebellion of Stenka Razin reached a large audience and was used as a resource for background material by several poets in whose compositions Razin appeared.27 Te Volga and its immediate environs provide the setting for many of the stories told about Razin. In various episodes the ataman and his men lurk in the Zhiguli Mountains overlooking the river and stop ships laden with merchandise. Te impoverished boat haulers and sailors are met with lavish hospitality, while the merchants in charge of the ships are forced to render tribute and sometimes their lives. Te proceedings may assume a truly fantastic guise. Espying a ship, Razin takes from his pocket a marvelous handkerchief on which he fies to and from the ship as if on a magic carpet. Or, on seeing a ship, he twists his foot and the ship obediently turns in the desired direction and comes to shore. He can create a boat for himself from threads or a drawing and escape from jail. He can make himself and his followers impervious to bullets.28 Perhaps he still lives, hidden in a cave in the Zhiguli Mountains. Te Volga · 71

One of the most haunting stories about Razin concerns his purported romance with a captive Persian princess. In this narrative, Razin exhibits a special commitment to the Volga, which serves as a daemonic sponsor of his successes. A beautiful rendering of this episode appears in Aleksandr Pushkin’s “Pesni o Sten’ke Razine” (Songs about Stenka Razin, 1826), in which the poet, who described Razin in a letter to his brother in 1824 as “the sole poetic personality of Russian history,” makes use of traditional material and maintains a deliberately folkloric style, as well as the trochaic meter favored by Russian folk poetry:29 Как по Волге реке, по широкой Выплывала востроносая лодка Как на лодке гребцы удалые, Казаки, ребята молодые. На корме сидит сам хозяин, Сам хозяин, грозен Стенька Разин, Перед ним красная девица, Полоненная персидская царевна. Не глядит Стенька Разин на царевну, А глядит на матушку на Волгу. Как промолвил грозен Стенька Разин: “Ой ты гой еси, Волга, мать родная! С глупых лет меня ты воспоила, В долгу ночь баюкала, качала, В волновую погоду выносила, За меня ли, молодца, не дремала, Казаков моих добром наделила. Что ничем еще тебя мы не дарили.” Как вскочил тут грозен Стенька Разин, Подхватил персидскую царевну, В Волгу бросил красную девицу, Волге матушке ею поклонился. (A sharp-nosed boat sailed along the wide Volga River, on the boat were brave oarsmen, Cossacks, young lads. In the stern sat the master himself, terrible Stenka Razin, before him a beautiful maiden, a captive Persian princess. Stenka Razin gazed not at the princess, but at Little Mother Volga. And terrible Stenka Razin said, “Hail, Volga, my dear mother! From my early years you nursed me, through the long night you sang lullabies and rocked me, you carried me 72  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

through in stormy weather, you watched over me, a fne fellow, and provided my Cossacks with booty. But we have not yet presented anything to you.” Ten terrible Stenka Razin leaped up, seized the Persian princess, threw the beautiful maiden into the Volga, and ofered her to Little Mother Volga.)30

Pushkin’s immediate source for the subject of this poem was the earliest written account of the story, which appears in the much-translated recollections of Jan Struys, a Dutch sailor who was in Astrakhan at the time of Razin’s adventures. Te relevant excerpt from Struys’s memoirs was published in the Russian journal Severnyi arkhiv in 1824.31 Because no other contemporary witnesses mention the Persian princess, she is assumed to have been a fgment of the Dutchman’s imagination.32 Like many contemporary travelers, Struys was also in the habit of presenting as frsthand accounts material he had actually only read or heard. Pushkin was also familiar with many folk compositions about Razin and generic tales of drowning and other forms of murder of their lovers by bandit leaders. His poem ofers an image of the Volga as a powerful donor who must be placated and literally fed. Te list of Russian poets who treated Stenka Razin in verse is long. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, many followed Pushkin’s example in closely adhering to a traditional plot and maintaining a folkloric style. In addition to Pushkin’s poem, one of the most famous versions of the Persian princess tale is found in a poem by Dmitrii Sadovnikov (1847–1883), a native of Samara and amateur ethnographer who is ofen called “the poet of the Volga.” In his treatment of Razin, Sadovnikov relied heavily on Kostomarov’s Te Rebellion of Stenka Razin.33 Kostomarov links Razin’s violent act to the vehement Cossack insistence on an exclusive male camaraderie, an absolute refusal to tolerate female companionship when at war ofen typical of traditional martial societies. Sadovnikov’s poem “Iz-za ostrova na strezhen’” (From behind the island onto the mainstream), part of a cycle entitled “Svad’ba” (Te wedding, 1883), acquired tremendous popularity in a musical version. It made such successful inroads into popular culture that its author’s name was ofen forgotten, in this way providing a superb example of the folklorization of a literary text.34 In Sadovnikov’s poem, Kostomarov’s interpretation comes to the fore. A drunken Razin overhears his men complaining that he has traded them for a woman and has thus himself become a woman. Angry and defensive, the ataman hurls the princess overboard and addresses the Volga: Эх, кормилица родная, Te Volga · 73

Волга, матушка-река! Не видала ты подарков От донского казака! . . . Чтобы не было зазорно Перед вольными людьми, Перед вольною рекою,— На, кормилица . . . возьми! (My dear benefactress [literally, feeder or wet-nurse], Volga, little mother river! You have not seen any gifs from the Don Cossack! So that I will not be ashamed before free people, before the free river,—here, benefactress, take this!)35

While Sadovnikov retains some sense of the river’s role as magical donor, he difers from Pushkin in his marked emphasis on the idea of freedom— the freedom of Razin’s men and the freedom of the Volga itself, which are implicitly linked. Such a bald allusion to Razin’s political aspirations would have been unthinkable in the more constrictive atmosphere of early nineteenth-century Russia under Nicholas I, who had found Pushkin’s composition unacceptable simply because of its attention to the Cossack leader. Pushkin’s poem was not published until 1881. Razin’s slaying of the Persian princess remained a popular poetic theme into the twentieth century and was the subject of works by, for example, Marina Tsvetaeva (1892–1941), Velimir Khlebnikov (1885–1922), and Aleksandr Shiriaevets (pseudonym of Aleksandr Abramov, 1887–1924). Te relationship between the princess and Razin is central to Tsvetaeva’s “Sten’ka Razin” (1917). In her version the ataman avenges himself upon the beautiful Persian for her pained response to his physical attentions: “Ne poladila ty s nasheiu postel’iu— / Tak polad’, sobaka, s nasheiu kupel’iu!” (You didn’t get along with our bed—So get along with our ecclesiastical font, dog!). Te sarcastic reference to the riverbed as an ecclesiastical font preserves in an unusual way the sense of the mystical relationship between Razin and the Volga familiar from the folkloric narrative. Tsvetaeva’s poem ends with a sense of extreme loss, however, when Razin dreams of the dead princess, and her bracelets tinkle: “Zatonulo ty, Stepanovo schast’e!” (You have drowned, Stepan’s happiness!).36 In Khlebnikov’s “Ustrug Razina” (Razin’s boat, 1922), the Cossacks explicitly enunciate the Volga’s desire for sacrifcial nourishment and demand that he toss the princess overboard. Razin obliges, explaining his debt to the river in social terms: “Golubaia Volga— 74  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

na! Ty boiarami obolgana!” (Here you are, blue Volga! You have been slandered by the boyars [medieval Russian nobility]!).37 Shiriaevets’s “Razin i kniazhna” (Razin and the princess) and “Pesnia kniazhny” (Song of the princess), both part of a cycle of poems entitled “Sten’ka Razin” (1923), focus on the bond between the ataman and his men. Te Cossacks complain loudly about their leader’s shif in attention, and the princess clearly senses impending disaster. Razin is flled with passion, but ultimately his commitment to his men prevails, and the narrator asks the princess: Знала ли ты, что тебе суждено, что закинет рука дорогая на глубокое, мертвое дно? (Did you know that it was fated that your darling’s arm would toss you onto the deep, dead river bottom?)38

In Shiriaevets’s rationalized version, which follows Kostomarov’s interpretation in its emphasis on the bond between Razin and his men, there is no anthropomorphizing of the Volga, no sense that Razin feels a sense of obligation to the river; it is only a murder site. While popular, especially in its musical version, the evocative episode involving the Persian princess was not the most productive component of the Razin story for nineteenth- and twentieth-century Russian poetry. Above all, it was Razin’s symbolic status as a seeker of freedom for the oppressed common people that poets repeatedly evoked. Ironically, one of the earliest and most successful such works was penned by a convinced monarchist and government bureaucrat, Aleksandr Navrotskii (1839–1914).39 On a vacation trip down the Volga, Navrotskii heard lengthy stories about Razin’s accomplishments and aspirations. Such narratives were ofen linked to specifc legendary sites along the river. Navrotskii adapted the story of a particular craggy clif associated with Razin, according to which the ataman was the only one who ever succeeded in climbing to the top, where he enunciated great thoughts and can still be heard by anyone daring enough to climb the clif. In Navrotskii’s poem “Utes Sten’ki Razina” (Sten’ka Razin’s clif, 1864), the gap between ofcial condemnation and popular acclaim is almost immediately acknowledged: И хотя каждый год по церквам на Руси Человека того проклинают, Но приволжский народ о нем песни поет Te Volga · 75

И с почетом его вспоминает.” (Although every year in churches throughout Rus’ the man is anathematized, the common people of the Volga sing songs about him and remember him with respect.)40

Razin failed in his ambitions, but the clif still retains his sacred thoughts and sometimes reminisces with the Volga about the bold ataman. Navrotskii’s poem was set to music in 1896 and in that form became a standard of popular protest.41 What Navrotskii seemingly inadvertently evoked, others deliberately alluded to with varying degrees of nostalgia and incitement. Korinfskii, a native of Simbirsk whose literary career took place largely in Petersburg, had a lifelong interest in ethnographic material from the Volga region. In “Zhiguli” (1896), the poet recalls the clifs and mounds of the Zhiguli region, including the spot where Razin supposedly thought his great thoughts and правил свой суд, Где о воле родной Бури песню поют (ruled over his court, where the storms sing a song of native freedom).42

In “Volzhskie legendy” (Volga legends, 1898), Stepan Petrov (1869–1941), who used the pseudonym Skitalets (Wanderer), provides a historical overview of notorious river bandits that concludes with a lengthy section on Razin. Skitalets repeats a legend according to which Razin is buried alive beneath a hill on the Volga, condemned to be torn apart every night by wild animals, only to be revived every morning. For Skitalets, Razin’s fate serves as a metaphor for the wretched lot of the common people under tsarism: Не так же ли и ты, народ, Томился в жизненной пещере И за дела минувших лет Тебя тоски терзали звери? Не так же ли душа твоя Горячей кровью истекала, Жизнь замиравшую тая, И снова чудом оживала? (Did you not thus, people, languish in life’s cave and the beasts of anguish 76  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

torment you because of the deeds of bygone years? Did your soul not thus pour out hot blood, harboring dying life, and again miraculously come to life?)43

Razin also fgured prominently in poems so politically provocative that they could only be published abroad, by, for example, the expatriate writer Nikolai Ogarev (1813–1877) and the radical Populist Sergei Sinegub (1851– 1907), who was eventually arrested and sent to hard labor in Siberia. Sinegub’s narrative poem “Sten’ka Razin” was mentioned repeatedly during the investigation of his supposed iniquities.44 In the immediate prerevolutionary period the Cossack leader also made his way into visual art, most famously in a painting by Vasilii Surikov, Stepan Razin (1907). Surikov’s anti-autocratic sympathies were well known and magnifcently expressed in an entire series of paintings on historical themes, such as Utro streletskoi kazni (Te morning of the execution of the streltsy, 1881) and Boiarynia Morozova (1887). Viewers of these paintings could easily imagine that they contained allusions to traumatic current events.45 In the decades afer the Revolutions of 1917, Razin was hailed as a hero, a kind of “Bolshevik prototype,” and celebrated in prose, poetry, music, ballet, painting, and sculpture.46 As early as May 1919, a statue of Razin was erected at the site on Red Square where his death sentence had been pronounced. Vladimir Lenin himself made a brief speech at the unveiling of the monument, praising the role that Razin had played in “the battle for freedom.”47 Given the rationalist tenor of the times, the ataman’s quasi-mystical relationship with the Volga receded in favor of plodding explorations of his supposed political mission, but poetic echoes of a special synergy occasionally remain. For Sergei Gorodetskii (1884–1967), the Volga is “Sten’ki Razina reka” (the river of Stenka Razin).48 For Shiriaevets, the spirit of Razin haunts the Volga; when the people come onto the shore in springtime, the sight of the Zhiguli Mountains evokes the question “Net li Stepana vdali?” (Isn’t that Stepan in the distance?).49 In Shiriaevets’s short narrative poem “Klich” (Te call, 1923), Razin repeatedly declares, “Ne dam narod v obidu ia! / Aida tiagat’sia s krivdoiu!” (I will stick up for the people! Let’s go fght against injustice!).50 Te Volga responds by foaming up more strongly, ready to carry Razin far away. In keeping with folkloric traditions, Shiriaevets is certain that the Cossack leader has not truly died. Indeed in an earlier poem titled “Sten’ka Razin,” the poet had confdently declared that Razin and his men were on their way to another river, the Neva, to participate in the Revolution. Te Volga · 77

Te Barge Haulers and the Merchants Te folklore surrounding Stenka Razin acquired a particular popularity among the infamously downtrodden burlaki (barge haulers), whose labor enabled successful commercial transport on the Volga before the advent of steamships. Best known as a cultural symbol from Il’ia Repin’s (1844–1930) painting, Burlaki na Volge (Barge haulers on the Volga, 1870–73), the barge haulers literally dragged boats up and down the river where conditions did not permit easy navigation. Horses were also used to haul boats, but in some spots only human beings could make their way along the rough terrain of the river shore, slowly pulling boats using ropes and straps, harnessed together in a most tedious and exhausting form of physical labor. Like many other kinds of hired labor involved in shipping on the Volga, the barge haulers appeared early on, but their presence grew in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and reached its peak in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth.51 Te barge haulers were generally of peasant origin, migrant laborers driven by the conditions of rural poverty or labor redundancy to seek seasonal work along the river. (For several months of the year the Volga was frozen and shipping came to a halt.) In addition to the obvious difculties associated with sailing against the current on trips to the north, the Volga ofered serious navigational challenges in the form of shoals and sandbanks, which sometimes necessitated transferal of goods to smaller craf. Large ships might require the aid of hundreds of barge haulers, and it is estimated that by the frst quarter of the nineteenth century their number had reached 650,000.52 Teir number declined rapidly in the middle of the century with the growth of steamboat use. Before 1861 there were both “free” (vol’nye) and serf barge haulers. Te former were ofen hired in a group as an artel, or cooperative labor association. Whatever their technical status, working conditions for the barge haulers were miserable, their compensation poor. Backbreaking labor, physical abuse, poor diet, unpredictable unpaid work stoppages due to weather conditions—the exploitation of these men was a highly visible eyesore all along the Volga. Small wonder that at times of rural unrest, such as characterized the uprisings led by Stenka Razin and later others, the barge haulers were enthusiastic participants. Russian folklore includes many compositions, especially songs, both by and about the barge haulers and is a rich source for determining their atti78  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

tudes toward the Volga. Te labor of the barge haulers was ofen accompanied by song, not because they were inspired to express themselves in joyful outburst but because singing served the practical function of helping establish a rhythm that facilitated their work. Te act of singing simple monosyllabic refrains could also provide a bit of physical or emotional relief. Tere were songs geared to particular types of work, such as dragging a ship of a shoal or struggling against a strong opposing wind.53 Subsequently collected by ethnographers and musicologists, many such songs became part of the musical repertoire of gifed Russian vocalists, like Fedor Shaliapin. Perhaps the most famous was “Ei, ukhnem!” (Yo, heave ho!), also known as “Dubinushka” (Little club), which actually originated as a song about uprooting trees but was adapted by the barge haulers to describe their own activity: Эй, ухнем, эй, ухнем! Еще разик, еще раз! . . . Разовьем мы березу, Разовьем мы кудряву. . . . Мы по бережку идем, Песню солнышку поем. . . . Эй, эй, тяни канат сильней! Песню солнышку поем. . . . Эх ты, Волга, мать-река, Широка и глубока . . . Эй, что нам всего милей, Волга, Волга, мать-река. (Yo, heave ho, heave ho! . . . We will uproot the birch tree, we will uproot the leafy tree. . . . We go along the shore, we sing a song to the sun. . . . Hey, hey, pull the rope harder! We sing our song to the sun. . . . Oh, you, Volga, mother river, wide and deep . . . Oh, you who are dearer than everything to us, Volga, Volga, mother river.)54

Te familiar notion here of the river as a mother that is “dearer than everything” refects an almost pagan anthropomorphism of the site of the barge haulers’ travails. Other songs bore more explicit witness to the physical hardships of the barge haulers but continued to invoke the Volga as a kind of patron goddess of their labor: Волга, моя матушка, Te Volga · 79

Русская река, Пожалей, родимая, Силы бурлака! . . . Ех, устали ноженьки, Лямка тянет грудь, Прикажи, родимая, Ветержку подуть. . . . Волга, моя матушка, Грустная река, Не забудь, кормилица, Старого бурлака. (Volga, my little mother, Russian river, spare the strength of a barge hauler, my dear! . . . Ekh, my legs are tired, the strap is tight on my chest, order the wind to blow, my dear. . . . Volga, my little mother, sorrowful river, my benefactress, don’t forget an old barge hauler.)55

Te hard lot of the barge haulers was recognized by members of the liberal intelligentsia, who viewed the labor of the barge haulers as an ugly symbol of Russian backwardness. Repin’s Barge Haulers was mentioned earlier. Repin was a prominent member of the group of artists known as the Peredvizhniki (Wanderers), whose artistic goal in part was to bring a variety of social issues to the attention of the Russian public. Repin’s painting was inspired by actual Volga (and Neva) sights and his specifc fgures by people he had encountered in his travels. Dressed in rags, Repin’s barge haulers strain mightily as they drag a ship upstream across a barren summer landscape. Te Barge Haulers on the Volga conveys a sense of both despair and resilience. Ironically, the painting was purchased by one of the sons of Alexander II. It was widely exhibited in Western Europe and eventually found a permanent home at the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg. Te nineteenth-century writer whose treatment of the backbreaking and humiliating labor of the barge haulers gained the most attention was Nikolai Nekrasov (1821–1878), a poet and publisher whose civic poetry focused above all on the lot of the Russian peasants both before and afer the emancipation of the serfs in 1861. Born into an impoverished noble family, as a young man Nekrasov himself sufered from years of hunger and malnutrition when his father cut him of fnancially for wanting to enter the university in Petersburg instead of the military. Nekrasov was admired by Russian radicals for his sympathetic attention to the deplorable existence of 80  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

the peasantry but was sometimes scorned by others because of a perceived lack of aesthetic quality in his verse. In the unfnished narrative poem “Na Volge (Detstvo Valezhnikova)” (On the Volga [Valezhnikov’s childhood], 1860), the poet ofers a painfully detailed treatment of the life of the barge haulers and the narrator’s anguished reaction to what he witnesses. At the beginning of “On the Volga,” the narrator returns to the Volga region where he grew up. Te initial description of the river landscape is idyllic: rustling reeds, the calls of sandpipers, focks of seagulls on the banks, mountains and endless forest in the background. Disappointed by life and his own meager accomplishments, the narrator is struck by the river’s lasting grandeur: “Uzh ia ne tot, no ty svetla / I velichava, kak byla” (I am no longer the same, but you are as bright and stately as you were).56 Out on the river, a young man chases and loudly kisses a young woman on the deck of a rasshiva, a large fat-bottomed sailing boat. Such kisses, thinks the narrator, are not to be heard in cities. Tis charming pastoral scene is abruptly interrupted by the sound of moans, and on the shore the narrator witnesses a scene such as Repin was to paint a decade later, a scene with a traumatic aural component: Почти пригнувшись головой К ногам, обвитым бечевой, Обутым в лапти, вдоль реки Ползли гурьбою бурлаки, И был невыносимо дик И страшно ясен в тишине Их мерный похоронный крик— И сердце дрогнуло во мне. (Teir heads bent almost to their legs, wound round by a towing rope, shod in bast sandals, barge haulers crawled along the river in a crowd, and their measured funereal cry was unbearably wild and terribly clear in the silence—and my heart was chilled.)

Now memories of the frst time he heard such sounds as a young boy overcome the narrator. Te pathos of the scene is underscored by Nekrasov’s inclusion of dialogue among the barge haulers that concentrates on their exhaustion and sense that death might be preferable to their painful existence. Te dreadful sight and almost incomprehensible words completely alter the boy’s perception of his beloved river: Te Volga · 81

О, горько, горько я рыдал, Когда в то утро я стоял На берегу родной реки, И в первый раз ее назвал Рекою рабства и тоски! (Oh, bitterly, bitterly I wept, when I stood that morning on the shore of my native river and for the frst time called her a river of slavery and anguish!)57

And now? Te narrator declares that nothing has changed for the barge haulers; their labor is the same, their lot as pitiful. Tis is Nekrasov, the voice of social protest, at his most moving. As Dorothy Zeisler-Vralsted observes, “To Nekrasov, the Volga is nurturing, sustaining the imagery of ‘Mother Volga,’ but also part of the tyranny associated with Imperial Russia.”58 Te perception of the river as familial and beloved that is sometimes expressed in the recorded songs of the barge haulers yields in “On the Volga” to unmitigated despair. A younger writer with a social conscience whose commitment matched that of Nekrasov was Vladimir Giliarovskii (1853–1935). Te son of an ofce worker from the Vologda region, Giliarovskii set out for the Volga at the age of eighteen with the idealistic intention of serving the common people, a sentiment typical of the Populism of the 1870s. He worked briefy in a variety of occupations, including as a barge hauler and a stevedore. Giliarovskii’s stories and poems explored the hard lives of poor laborers in relentless detail. His poem “Burlaki” (Barge haulers) looks back from a time when steamships have made the labor of barge haulers completely superfuous, when “vytesnil par chelovecheskii trud” (steam has displaced human labor).59 Te bulk of Giliarovskii’s lengthy poem describes the labor of the barge haulers with painful exactness. For Giliarovskii, the songs of the barge haulers are the forced product of bondage, a sorrowful expression of a bitter lot. As the very reason in a sense for all of this travail, Giliarovskii’s Volga is complicit in the fate of the barge haulers: “Volga! Ty zhizn’ ne odnu skorotala” (Volga! You shortened more than one life).60 Like Nekrasov, Giliarovskii seems to dismiss the barge haulers’ own acknowledgment, at least in folklore, of the river as a caring mother. Te members of Russian society who most directly and obviously exploited the barge haulers, the stevedores, the poor sailors, and all the other unfortunates involved in the lucrative Volga river trade were the merchants. Merchants constituted a signifcant and infuential portion of the popula82  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

tion in towns all along the Volga. Notoriously conservative, ofen scorned by both the Russian nobility and the intelligentsia, and distrusted by the peasantry, the merchant class espoused very traditional, even reactionary attitudes toward religion (many were Old Believers) and the family. One of the frst Russian writers to set works in the milieu inhabited by the Russian merchantry was the playwright Aleksandr Ostrovskii (1823– 1886), himself the son of a successful Moscow lawyer. In 1856 Ostrovskii, who had already evoked a certain amount of tsarist suspicion for his too critical dramatic treatment of the Moscow business world, was nonetheless invited to participate in an endeavor the impetus for which originated with Alexander II’s brother, the Grand Prince Konstantin Nikolaevich. Te grand prince hoped to improve the quality of the Russian navy by impressing recruits from areas of the country actually involved in shipping and sailing. He conceived the plan of sending young writers to various river and sea regions to study the local populations. Ostrovskii was enlisted to explore the area encompassing the upper reaches of the Volga as far south as Nizhnii Novgorod.61 During lengthy trips in 1856 and 1857 the playwright acquired a wealth of information about the river, the history of the region, boats, navigation, and the lives and culture of both the barge haulers and their employers. He considered composing a series of plays entitled Nochi na Volge (Nights on the Volga). Although this intention was not realized, Ostrovskii’s impressions did inform several of the plays he wrote over the next twenty years. Some of these were historical, such as Koz’ma Zakhar’ich Minin, Sukhoruk (Kozma Zakharich Minin, withered arm, 1862), dedicated to one of the much admired defenders of Russian interests during the Time of Troubles, and Voevoda (Son na Volge) (Te Voivode commander [A dream on the Volga], 1865), whose plot was implicitly infuenced by legends about Stepan Razin. Other plays are contemporary in setting, like Groza (Te thunderstorm, 1860) and Bespridannitsa (Woman without a dowry, 1878). Of these, by far the best known is Te Tunderstorm, which was later used as the basis for his opera Katya Kabanova (1921) by the Czech composer Leoš Janáček. Te radical Russian critic Nikolai Dobroliubov (1836–1861) coined the term “Temnoe tsartsvo” (Kingdom of Darkness) to describe the merchant milieu explored by Ostrovskii in Te Tunderstorm and other plays from the 1850s. A central and destructive role in these works is played by a samodur, or petty domestic tyrant. Te Tunderstorm features two such personalities: Katerina’s mother-in-law, Marfa Kabanova (Kabanikha), and Te Volga · 83

Savel Dikoi, the uncle of Katerina’s lover, Boris. Kabanikha and Dikoi are both wealthy merchants who mercilessly dominate and torment younger members of their families. Toward the end of the play Katerina, in a hysterical ft of guilt, confesses her adultery in the presence of her weak-willed husband and tyrannical mother-in-law. Boris is sent away by his uncle and Katerina commits suicide by hurling herself into the Volga. Te Volga is an important part of Te Tunderstorm both physically and symbolically. It lies in the background for much of the play and is frequently mentioned by the characters. Katerina dreams of escaping her miserable existence, perhaps by sailing away on a boat on the river, but by her own admission she lacks the psychological strength to do so. Instead an old lady warns her, gesturing toward the Volga, that her beauty will lead her not to happiness but into a maelstrom. Katerina herself recalls that as a child, taking ofense for some reason, she set of in a boat on the river but was found and returned home the next morning. For Katerina, this failed expedition serves as a prescient metaphor for her inability to escape the current conditions of her life. Te Volga becomes not a route to freedom but a means of self-destruction. Pavel Mel’nikov (1818–1883), who used the pseudonym Andrei Pecherskii, performed more extensive service for the tsarist government in the Volga region. His special area of expertise was the Old Believer communities of the Nizhnii Novgorod region. Te extent to which Mel’nikov may have actively persecuted the Old Believers remains a matter of much controversy.62 Te literary works that were one of the products of his ethnographic research ofen reveal a certain sympathy for the very traditional social and family values of the schismatics. In his lengthy two-part epic, V lesakh (In the forests, 1871–74) and Na gorakh (On the hills, 1875–81), set in the early 1850s, Mel’nikov explores Old Believer existence among the well-to-do peasantry, the merchantry, and monastic religious communities. In the Forests takes place on the lef bank, On the Hills on the right bank of the Volga. Several characters appear in both novels. Te Volga does not fgure directly in In the Forests to the extent that it does in On the Hills but is evoked in folklore incorporated into the novel. A major character in the novel, the wealthy peasant entrepreneur Patap Chapurin, is lured into seeking deposits of gold in the wooded wilds east of the Volga. In the course of his adventures he comes into contact with a group of lumbermen, one of whom, Artemii, regales Patap in regional idiom (Mel’nikov’s forte) with tales of a golden age in the Volga region before the 84  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

merchants acquired a position of dominance: “Uneducated people lived in unrestricted freedom [na vol’noi voliushke], they ate well, they drank well, they wore colorful clothing—life was very daring [razudaloe] and very merry.”63 Artemii tells Patap tales of Cossack seizures of merchants’ goods. Patap considers this robbery, but Artemii objects: “In your opinion, robbers, but in ours, fne captains and free Cossacks.”64 He sings songs about Stenka Razin for Patap and excites his cupidity with tales of buried treasure. Artemii’s narrative as a whole conforms to a traditional perception of Razin and his cohort as heroes and advocates for the poor. On the Hills also incorporates folklore and legends about the Volga. Te novel begins with a lengthy authorial disquisition on Russian settlement of the right bank of the Volga and gradual disenfranchisement of the indigenous peoples. Mel’nikov describes the Russians as inveterate enemies of the forest, rapaciously intent on turning wooded areas into agricultural land. He expresses a clear preference for the mores and life of the trans-Volgan peasants and condemns the labor of barge haulers as a “difcult and harmful business” to which steamships have thankfully put an end.65 Later in the novel Mel’nikov quotes a barge hauler song at length. Such inclusions sometimes evince a kind of ethnographic nostalgia that is at odds with the author’s avowed desire for progressive change: “In the lap of the mighty river, instead of melancholy melodies about Lazarus, instead of bold songs about the ataman father Stenka Razin, instead of the barge haulers’ moan about a little club, all that is heard now is the unremitting noise of water under wheels and the abrupt whistles of steamships.”66 A large segment of On the Hills takes place at the annual Nizhnii Novgorod fair, familiarly known as Makar’ev, because it originally took place in the vicinity of the Makar’ev Monastery, south of Nizhnii Novgorod.67 One of the novel’s major characters, the merchant Marko Smolokurov, takes his daughter, Dunia, there in hopes of fnding a broader selection of possible suitors for her than at their backwoods home. Teir stay at the fair includes a sailing excursion on the river and complex machinations involving the sale of seal fat. Mel’nikov provides detailed descriptions of the workings of the market and clarifes its signifcance for the Russian economy. Within the novel, however, the contemporary, as opposed to legendary, Volga plays an essentially mercantile role as a trade artery; whatever romance it once had has been subsumed to the desires and goals of Russian merchants. Perhaps the strongest critic of the Volga merchants was Maksim Gorky. Long before extolling the virtues of the Dneprostroi Dam, Gorky was proTe Volga · 85

ducing harsh literary indictments of tsarist Russian society set in Volga towns, most especially Nizhnii Novgorod, where the writer was born and spent much of his youth. From a petty merchant family whose fortunes were declining, Gorky grew up in an atmosphere marked by domestic violence, child abuse, and a virtual dearth of spiritual and intellectual values. As an adolescent, he worked as a dishwasher on a steamship and gained broad exposure to the seamy side of life on and along the Volga. Gorky’s early novel Foma Gordeev (1899) charts the growing disafection of a wealthy young merchant. Foma’s father, Ignat, is a gruf, physically powerful, successful businessman flled with admiration for his beloved Volga, which seems to match his own character in its casual ruthlessness. When one of his ships is destroyed by ice breaking up in the spring, Ignat is impressed rather than depressed: “Look how the Volga works! Splendid, isn’t it? Te little mother can smash up the entire earth, like cottage cheese with a knife,—look!”68 When Foma is old enough, his father takes him along on one of his river trips, and the boy is likewise captivated by the magnifcent river: Te beautiful and strong Ermak, the steam tug of the merchant Gordeev, is quickly borne downstream, and on both sides the shores of the Volga move slowly to meet her,—the lef bank, entirely bathed in sunlight, reaches right up to the edge of the skies like a luxuriant green carpet, while the right bank waves its forest-covered clifs to the sky, frozen in stern rest. Between the banks the broad-breasted river stretched out majestically; its waters fow noiselessly, solemnly, and unhurriedly; the hilly bank is refected in them like a dark shadow, and on the lef the river is decorated with gold and green velvet by the sandy borders of the shoals and the broad meadows.69

Te boy Foma feels that he is truly on his way to fairy tale kingdoms to meet with knights and wizards. When he is older, Foma gains respect for the hard physical labor performed by the stevedores, productive work that stands in marked contrast to what he perceives as his own indolence. Afer his father’s death, Foma comes increasingly to detest his grasping and petty godfather and guardian, the merchant Maiakin, and the mercenary values embraced by the merchantry. Te climactic scene of the novel takes place at a celebration on one 86  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

of Maiakin’s ships. Maiakin delivers a lengthy diatribe on the importance of the merchant class, their work ethic and accomplishments, claiming that they embody a conception of culture as labor. Te Volga is directly implicated in Maiakin’s vision: “And here, Messieurs merchants, is an example of our culture,—of our love for business,—the Volga! Here she is, our dear mother! She can afrm our honor with every drop of water and refute criticism of us. . . . Only a hundred years have passed, sirs, since Peter the Great sent sailing-boats onto this river, and now thousands of steamships sail along the river. . . . Everything here is ours, everything is the fruit of our wits, our Russian gumption and great love of business!”70 Maiakin’s appropriation of the Volga and of true culture is too much for Foma, who bursts into a drunken tirade against the merchants that only leads to their abuse and mockery of him. As will be seen, for Gorky, the authentic realization of the Volga’s capacities came only later, in the wake of the Russian Revolution.

Beauty, Tourism, and Environmental Degradation Tere is another literary Volga, a beauteous space uncontaminated by venal commercial interests, undisturbed by violent social upheaval. Tis Volga emerged in the eighteenth century, brought to life by poets who embraced the Westernizing vision of Peter the Great and his successors and regarded the Volga as a ftting symbol for Russian greatness.71 Aleksandr Sumarokov (1718–1777), an avid supporter of the tsarist regime who worked assiduously to introduce a variety of Western European poetic genres into Russian literature, produced a brief ode on the Volga, “Oda” (1760), in which he draws a comparison between the geographical expanse and diversity embraced by the Volga basin and the challenge of the imperial mission pursued by contemporary Russia: Век видит наш тому подобно Различные в пути следы: То время к радости способно, Другое нам дает беды. В Каспийские валы впадаешь, Преславна мати многих рек, И тамо в море пропадаешь,— Во вечности и наш так век. ( Just as our age sees various signs on its path, some cause for happiness, others Te Volga · 87

giving misfortune. You fall into the Caspian waves, most glorious mother of many rivers. And there you vanish into the sea, like our age in eternity.)72

At the end of the century, the historian and writer Nikolai Karamzin (1766–1826), whose historical researches fueled his acute sense of Russian greatness, produced a more efusive paean to the river, “Volga” (1793). Karamzin, considered by some “‘the founder’ of the Volga theme in Russian poetry,”73 calls the Volga quite simply “Reka sviashchenneishaia v mire, / Kristal’nykh vod tsaritsa, mat’!” (Te most holy river in the world, tsaritsa of crystal waters, mother!).74 Te poet rejoices that the region is now in Russian hands, no longer in the grasp of the Golden Horde. In its majesty, the Volga fows, “Rossiiu ukrashaia” (adorning Russia).75 A close associate of Karamzin, the poet Ivan Dmitriev (1760–1837), was similarly adulatory. In “K Volge” (To the Volga, 1794) he addresses the river in fulsome terms: “O Volga! rek, ozer krasa, / Glava, tsaritsa, chest’ i slava” (O Volga! Beauty of rivers and lakes, head, tsaritsa, honor and glory).76 Like Karamzin, Dmitriev celebrates the Russifcation of the Volga, especially the defeat of the Tatars under Ivan IV. For this poet, the Volga is greater than the Ganges, the Euphrates, and the Nile. A patriotic tenor characterized many poems about the Volga produced in the nineteenth century. In “Rossiiskie reki” (Russian rivers, 1813), the philologist and poet Aleksandr Vostokov (1781–1864) imagines a conversation between the Volga and her daughter rivers, “reki sviatoi Rusi” (rivers of holy Russia), in which the Volga assures her progeny, “Ne pridet uzh liutyi vrag nashu vodu pit’: / Vy slavian poite, leleete!” (A cruel enemy will not come to drink our water: you feed and cherish the Slavs).77 In “Vecher na Volge” (Evening on the Volga, 1815 or 1816), the critic and poet Petr Viazemskii (1792–1878) declares that he loves to listen to the “Glas poeticheskii tvoikh sviashchennykh voln; / V nikh otzyvaetsia Rossii drevnei slava” (Te poetic voice of your sacred waves; the glory of ancient Russia speaks within them).78 Russians who traveled abroad and witnessed the grandeur of other rivers remained unimpressed, or so they claimed. In “K Reinu” (To the Rhine, 1840), Nikolai Iazykov (1803–1847) proudly declares: Я волжанин: тебе приветы Волги нашей Принес я. Слышал ты об ней? Велик, прекрасен ты! Но Волга больше, краше, Великолепнее, пышней, И глубже, быстрая, и шире, голубая! 88  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

(I am a native of the Volga region: I have brought you greetings from our Volga. Have you heard about her? You are great and fne! But the Volga is bigger, more beautiful, more magnifcent, more splendid, and deeper, swif, and wider, and blue!)79

By the mid-nineteenth century, poetic descriptions of this magnifcent Volga had begun to acquire contented residents working in harmony with the river. In his narrative poem “Brodiaga” (Te tramp, 1848), the longtime government bureaucrat and poet Ivan Aksakov (1823–1886) describes an idyllic scene of joyous and productive labor: Пристань речная, людна и шумна. С криком и с бранью—и с дружным призывом До свету вставший трудится народ, Пестрым отвсюду нахлынув приливом. . . . Всем им работу река задает! Всем ты кормилица, матушка Волга! (A river wharf, crowded and noisy. With shouting and swearing, and friendly calls, the people, who arose before dawn, labor, surging from everywhere in a variegated food. . . . Te river gives them all work! You feed everyone, Little Mother Volga!)80

No rags or moans here, but something evocative of the happy socialist work ethic of the century to follow. Aksakov was not alone in his representation of the river as a lavish benefactress presiding over cheerful abundance. In “Istok Volgi” (Te source of the Volga), Navrotskii matches Aksakov in his enthusiasm: Эх, ты Волга-старица! Вечная красавица! Богатырь река! Матерью-кормилицей Ты народу русскому Годы и века. (Ah, you, Old Lady Volga! Eternal beauty! A knight of a river! You have been a mother and feeder of the Russian people for years and centuries.)81

Other poets who struck a positive note include the self-taught poet Spiridon Drozhzhin (1848–1930), who confdently declared in “Rodina” (Motherland, 1871), “Gde Volga mnogovodnaia— / Tam rodina moia” Te Volga · 89

(Where the high-watered Volga is, there is my motherland), and the sometime civil servant Konstantin Sluchevskii (1837–1904), who in “Na Volge” (On the Volga, 1881) waxed eloquent about the supposedly harmonious multiculturalism of the Volga population.82 A somewhat later exponent of a Volgan wonderland was the amateur ethnographer Nikolai Danarov (one of several pseudonyms of Nikolai Derzhavin, 1888–1928), who asserted in “Velikoi reke” (To a great river) that the Volga was superior to all other rivers and was “Velikaia reka velikogo naroda” (the great river of a great people).83 Even Konstantin Bal’mont (1867–1942), better known for his Symbolist decadence, was infected by Volga fever: Волга, Волга, воспетая тысячи раз . . . Ты, царица всех рек, полновластно красива. (Volga, Volga, sung of thousands of times . . . you, tsaritsa of all rivers, are sovereignly beautiful.)84

Te strategic and symbolic importance for Russia of the Volga was long recognized by Russian rulers. From Catherine the Great on, the tsars and members of their immediate families communicated this recognition through a series of personal cruises down the river.85 In the nineteenth century the tsarist government very deliberately attempted to make the Volga a more popular destination in general for upper-class Russians in search of touristic excitement. Te inculcation of patriotic feelings called for an appreciation of domestic rivers, which thus needed to be represented as worthy competitors of the much touted rivers of Western Europe. In the late 1830s the Ministry of the Imperial Palace commissioned the brothers and painters Nikanor and Grigorii Chernetsov to sail down the Volga, all the while capturing picturesque scenes on paper and canvas.86 Te fnal product of this expedition was a huge cyclorama that the Chernetsovs “displayed . . . in a room in St. Petersburg decorated to resemble a shipboard cabin, to which they added sound to simulate the efect of river travel.”87 Tis was part of a much larger “process by which the image of Russian rural landscape was invented and reinvented until it achieved its standard aesthetic form and special emotional force within Russian culture.”88 Te extensive development of Volga tourism was not truly viable, however, until the advent of steamships enabled speedier, more reliable, and 90  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

more comfortable river travel.89 Te growth of such tourism was accompanied and encouraged by the publication between 1850 and 1900 of dozens of travel guides and journals.90 As is typical of travel guides from any time and place, such works ofen included a potpourri of folkloric, historical, and ethnographic information calculated to whet the appetite of the potential traveler. One of the most infuential such works devoted to the Volga was published in 1877 by the journalist and writer Vasilii NemirovichDanchenko (1844 or 1845–1936), brother of Vladimir, the noted director of plays by Anton Chekhov at the Moscow Art Teater.91 Nemirovich-Danchenko’s Po Volge (Along the Volga) is a chatty compendium of cultural information. He retells legends and discusses Stenka Razin and sites traditionally associated with him. Nekrasov’s poetic opinions on the miserable lot of the barge haulers are cited, as are Mel’nikov-Pecherskii’s detailed accounts of schismatic ways. Barge hauler songs like “Little Club” are mentioned. Te venality of the Russian merchant class is denounced in the context of a description of Nizhnii Novgorod: “Te kingdom of the copper half-kopeck rules freely here. . . . Tere are no interests except commercial ones; there is also no other activity.”92 Te central focus of Along the Volga is the beauty of the river and the landscapes that border it. Rapturous descriptions, with strident nationalistic undertones, abound. Te river, frequently anthropomorphized as a “beauty of a river” (krasavitsa reka), is praised for its grandeur, majestic calm, and size. At times Nemirovich-Danchenko confesses to being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task of conveying the river’s beauty: “You feel a complete impotence in describing the beauty of the Volga. . . . Te Volga is an endless poetic song, an endless epic poem.”93 Nor does the journalist doubt that it is preeminently a Russian river, and the other ethnic groups who reside beside the Volga are invariably described in a dismissive manner or with outright contempt. Nemirovich-Danchenko’s attitude refects what Tricia Cusack has characterized as a key component in the construction of Russian national identity, “the symbolic elision of the large resident ethnic and religious minorities, including those living alongside the Volga, in favor of Orthodoxy and authentic Russianness.”94 With all this at home, who needs Western Europe, thinks Nemirovich-Danchenko: “Tere is such beauty close at hand here, breadth, space, expanse—and we go to the Germans on the Rhine, to the Rhine, which wouldn’t even serve as a tributary for the majestic Volga.”95 The insistent and at times downright jingoistic late nineteenth-cenTe Volga · 91

tury Russian harping on the beauty of the Volga, and the implicit superiority of Russia, may have had at least an indirect impact on artistic representation of the river.96 The stark misery of Repin’s Barge Haulers on the Volga yielded to idyllic vistas by Isaak Levitan, Mikhail Nesterov, and other landscape painters. In his choice of subjects, Nesterov was much influenced by the writings of Mel’nikov-Pecherskii.97 Many of his Volga paintings, like Na Volge (On the Volga, 1906), Za Volgoi (Beyond the Volga, 1905), and Vecher na Volge. Odinochestvo (Evening on the Volga. Solitude, 1932), include human figures evocative of Old Believer traditionalism. Levitan’s paintings, like Volga s vysokogo berega (The Volga from the high shore, 1887), Svezhii vecher. Volga (A fresh evening. The Volga, 1895), Barzhi. Volga (Barges. The Volga, 1889), and Nad vechnym pokoem (Over eternal rest, 1894), capture the kind of grandeur and expanse about which Nemirovich-Danchenko and others wrote with such enthusiasm. At the turn of the twentieth century, the only obvious impediment to the construct of a gorgeous Russian river was the incipient specter of environmental degradation. Both the deforestation along the banks of the river and the dirtying of its waters linked to the rise in steamship trafc attracted increasing concern. In Navrotskii’s “Na Volge” (On the Volga), the river itself laments the cutting of the forests and its own pollution: А теперь черный дым надо мною ползет; Буравами терзают мне грудь; И какая-то слизь, расплываясь, гнетет, Не дает мне свободно вздохнуть. (But now black smoke crawls over me; my breast is tortured by augers; and some sort of slime oppresses me as it spreads and won’t let me breathe freely.)98

In Shiriaevets’s “Volge” (To the Volga), a personifed river presents a woeful spectacle of despoiled feminine beauty: Тускнеет твой венец алмазный. . . . Все больше пятен нефти грязной,— Плевки Горынычей стальных . . . Глядишь, старея и дряхлея, Как пароходы с ревом прут, И голубую телогрею Чернит без устали мазут. 92  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

(Your diamond crown is growing dull. . . . Tere are more and more spots of dirty oil,—the spittle of steel Gorynyches [mythological Slavic dragons] . . . Aging and growing decrepit, you watch as steamships make their way with a roar, and fuel oil untiringly blackens your blue jacket.)99

None of this boded well for “the beauty of rivers.”

Te Sovietization of the Volga In the afermath of the Revolution, it seemed culturally essential to lay claim to the Volga as Soviet space and to redefne the nature of that space. Gorodetskii’s hailing of the Volga as “the river of Stenka Razin” is an implicit nod to the identifcation of the Volga with a popular drive toward freedom. Gorodetskii celebrates the frm stand of the river and its cities against the Whites during the Russian Civil War. For this writer, industrial activity on the river is an unequivocally positive and progressive phenomenon: В глыбких баржах день и ночь Начала ты нефть волочь, На субботник вечный свой Мир сзывая трудовой. (You have begun to haul petroleum in barges day and night, summoning the laboring world to your eternal subbotnik [voluntary unpaid work].)100

In “Vesna nam raskovala vody” (Spring unchained the waters for us, 1919), Mikhail Gerasimov (1889–1939) likewise celebrates the proletarianization and industrialization of the Volga. Gone, apparently, are any worries about pollution. Te dominant Soviet narrative throughout the 1920s and 1930s was the actualization of the Volga as a locus of socialist modernity. In “Po Soiuzu Sovetov” (Around the Union of Soviets, 1929), Gorky describes a trip on the Volga and revels in the transformations taking place on the banks of the river, especially in regard to industrialization. For Gorky, the primary task of the working class refects a familiar theme, the need “to transform the blind and tempestuous forces of nature into its rational servants.”101 Te Volga is one of the centerpieces of this transformation. K. I. Dvoretskova, the compiler of Volga v pesniakh i skazaniiakh (Te Volga in songs and tales, 1937), sums up the nearly miraculous results: “Te Volga has become a great route of industrialization. In her waters are refected automobile, aviation, tractor, and other plants created by the Revolution. Te moans that marked Te Volga · 93

capitalism have given way under socialism to the sound of planes, automobiles, tractors, combines, to the sound of new harvests on sovkhoz and kolkhoz [state and collective farm] felds.”102 Films like the popular musical comedy Volga, Volga! (1938), with its “Pesnia o Volge” (Song of the Volga), celebrated this new, glorious, and distinctively Soviet river.103 As happened with the Dnieper, economic development on and along the Volga came to an abrupt and violent halt with the outbreak of the Second World War. In the summer of 1941 the German invaders swept rapidly east in a wide swath from north to south across the Soviet Union. Tey advanced to the outskirts of Moscow and Leningrad and cut a relentless path of destruction across Ukraine. In the summer of 1942 they overran the Don Basin and advanced on Stalingrad from the south, west, and northwest.104 Te capture of Stalingrad and control of the Volga were key to German desires for access to the Caspian Sea and the rich oilfelds to its south. Te struggle over Stalingrad that took place in the fall and winter of 1942–43 was extraordinarily destructive of the city’s infrastructure and horrifcally costly in terms of human lives. At its nadir, Soviet forces controlled only small bridgeheads inside Stalingrad along the river. German planes dominated the air, but the lef bank remained in Soviet hands and served as a lifeline for forces on the right bank. Civilians and the wounded were evacuated across the river in one direction, while fresh troops were ferried across in the other direction, ofen under heavy strafng by German planes. In the end, Soviet forces encircled and defeated German forces inside Stalingrad, and the long Soviet push west toward Berlin began. Troughout this period, the image of Mother Volga was constantly invoked, visually and in writing, to exhort and encourage the Soviet forces and civilians.105 Tere are innumerable journalistic, memoiristic, historical, fctional, and poetic works devoted to the Battle of Stalingrad. One of the frst writers to react to the German invasion was Evgenii Dolmatovskii (1915–1994). In “Razgovor Volgi s Donom” (Conversation of the Volga with the Don, 1942), the poet overhears a conversation between the two rivers in which they plot revenge on the invaders. Te Volga assures the Don: Не уйдут пришельцы из кольца. Будет здесь положено начало Вражьего конца. (Te strangers will not escape the ring. Te enemy’s end will begin here.)106

As the major Soviet route to and from the city in the fall and winter of 94  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

1942–43, the Volga fgures prominently in all types of writings and there are countless scenes of crossing the river in one direction or the other under heavy German fre. In addition to the representation of the river as a site of immense strategic importance, it is ofen depicted in symbolic terms consistent with the sniper Zaitsev’s assertion that there was no land beyond the Volga. Te young ofcers who fgure as the major protagonists in fction dealing with Stalingrad ofen perceive the Volga as primally, essentially Russian. In Dni i nochi (Days and nights, 1944) by Konstantin Simonov (1915–1979), who worked as a correspondent during the war, Captain Saburov is overcome with emotion when he frst drinks water from the Volga: “He was drinking water from the Volga, and at the same time he was at war. Tese two conceptions—the war and the Volga—despite all evidence somehow weren’t in keeping with each other. From childhood, from school, for his whole life the Volga had been for him so profound, so infnitely Russian, that now that he was standing on the shore of the Volga and drinking water from it, while on the other shore there were Germans, seemed to him absurd and incredible.”107 At the end of the novel, when the Soviet assault against the Germans begins, Saburov is once again overcome, this time with a feeling of incomparable happiness, despite the fact that the Germans have gotten to within eight hundred meters of the Volga and that he himself is sitting in a dugout practically beside the river. In Volga-russkaia reka (Te Volga is a Russian river, 1970), a novel by Gennadii Goncharenko (1921–), Colonel Kanashov perceives the river as a mighty knight. Te novel’s title is taken from an old Russian song, which both Russian and German soldiers repeatedly sing or hum in the course of the narrative: “Volga, Volga, mat’ rodnaia, / Volga—russkaia reka” (Volga, Volga, dear mother, the Volga is a Russian river).” When the Germans approach the river in August 1942 and are confdent of impending victory, they mockingly alter the words of the song: “Vol’ga, Vol’ga, mat rodnaia, / Vol’ga—doichliand reka” (Volga, Volga, dear mother, the Volga is a German river).108 Goncharenko’s Russians are equally confdent of victory, however, and even the wounded sing the same song. A nurse who hears them is heartened beyond measure: “Te Germans would not overcome the doggedness of our troops defending themselves in the city and would never force a crossing of the Volga. It was and would forever be a Russian river, the beauty and pride of the people.”109 In V okopakh Stalingrada (In the trenches of Stalingrad, 1946), a novel by Viktor Nekrasov (1911–1987), the symbolic importance of the Volga is evoked at the end of the novel when a Russian sergeant leading a line of Te Volga · 95

German prisoners toward the river sarcastically announces to passing comrades, “I’m leading tourists. . . . Tey want to see the Volga.”110 With the end of the Second World War, it was possible to return to implementing the Big Volga project, a plan for a series of huge dams along the river that would facilitate massive industrial growth and the spread of electric power. Te terrible destruction wreaked across the western Soviet Union during the war gave added impetus to the project. As elsewhere in the world in the mid-twentieth century, massive dams and hydroelectric power appeared to ofer the potential for an incomparable and speedy boost to economic progress. Tis was the era of the iconic infuence of the Tennessee Valley Authority, “widely regarded as a paradigm for ‘world reconstruction.’”111 As with the Dnieper, the possibility of damming the Volga at various points had been considered, and resisted, since well before the Revolution. In an encomium to Soviet dam construction, Power Giants on the Rivers (1965), Vladimir Sinedubsky cites a letter written in 1910 from the bishop of Samara and Stavropol to a landowner and member of the nobility regarding a possible dam project for the Zhiguli Mountains area: “Schemers from the Samara Technical Society, headed by the apostate engineer Krzhizhanovsky, are planning to build a dam and big electric station on your hereditary family possessions. We implore you to return home with all haste and help preserve the peace of God in the Zhiguli domains and destroy sedition at its very inception.”112 Afer the Revolution Gleb Krzhizhanovsky, the engineer denounced by the bishop, was almost immediately asked by Lenin to develop an ambitious plan for Soviet electrifcation.113 Hydroelectricity was to play a central role in this process. Te Big Volga cascade of dams was erected from the upper reaches of the Volga down. Dam construction was complemented by the digging of large canals, among them the Volga-Moscow and Volga-Don canals. Te former, which was celebrated by Dolmatovskii in a second “Razgovor Volgi s Donom” (Conversation of the Volga with the Don, 1951), bore great symbolic value. As Zeisler-Vralsted points out, “Te canal became a symbol of Moscow’s success as a socialist city and not just a success because of the technology or expertise required. Instead, the canal was a symbol of the virtues of central planning in the service of a nation’s citizens.”114 Te opening of the Volga-Don canal in 1952 meant the linkage of all of the seas of European Russia into a single water transport system.115 Along the Volga, hydroelectric dams began to be constructed in the 96  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

1930s at Ivankovo, Uglich, and Rybinsk. Te Ivankovo hydroelectric dam north of Moscow created a vast reservoir known as the Moscow Sea. From there the Moscow-Volga canal constructed in the same period led through a series of dams and locks to the capital’s own Moscow River.116 Te dam at Rybinsk was put into operation in late 1941, afer the war had begun. A giant statue of Mother Volga overlooks the reservoir. In the 1950s even larger dams were erected. Such developments were of course not limited to the Soviet Union and have continued worldwide. As one recent analyst of the ecology and politics of large dams contends, “Most of the world’s major river basins are now girdled with dams; many great rivers are now little more than staircases of reservoirs.”117 As with the canals, in the Soviet Union prison labor ofen played an unacknowledged role in these projects. Boris Komarov, a bitter opponent of Soviet dam construction because of its negative environmental impact, claims, “Tere is far more important information about the history of hydroelectric construction in the USSR in Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago than in all the textbooks on hydraulic engineering.”118 Tousands of villages and towns and immense areas of farmland and forest were fooded. Hundreds of thousands of Soviet citizens were relocated. Tese were huge dams, sometimes three miles long. Tere was a clear sense of competition with hydroelectric development in the United States, and the fact that, in contrast to Dneprostroi, the gigantic dams on the middle and lower Volga were entirely the product of domestic construction was a tremendous source of pride.119 As with Dneprostroi, the building of large dams on the Volga seemed to call for sprawling, tendentious novels. In the 1950s Fedor Panferov (1896– 1960), a Soviet writer of peasant origin best known for his multivolume saga of collectivization, Bruski (1928–37), produced the trilogy Volga—Matushka reka (Little Mother Volga), consisting of the novels Udar (Te blow, 1953), Razdum’e (Meditation, 1958), and Vo imia molodogo (In the name of the young, 1960). Like Bruski, Little Mother Volga concerns the trials and tribulations of the collective farm experience but devotes much attention to the Big Volga project and its implications for agriculture along the lower Volga. Te hero of the piece is a local Communist Party secretary, the middle-aged Akim Morev, who has for decades dedicated himself to fostering the goal of collectivized labor. At the beginning of Little Mother Volga, when Morev is on his way to his new assignment, he meets the agronomist Ivan Bakharev, who is headed to Te Volga · 97

the same area and convinces Morev to sail with him from Gorky (Nizhnii Novgorod) to Astrakhan. Bakharev serves as Morev’s, and the reader’s, initial guide to the imminent wonders of hydroelectric power. For Bakharev, nature is, in familiar terms, “an angry enemy” that “conceals within itself evil forces, with which we will have to fght and fght.”120 He believes that canal, dam, and irrigation system construction will transform the steppes bordering the lower Volga into a productive agricultural wonderland. Soon, Bakharev tells Morev, even more marvels will come to pass: “We will change the courses of the rivers of Siberia from the North, we’ll inundate the gigantic Barabin steppes. . . . We’ll connect all the rivers.”121 Bakharev is a fanatical believer in the limitless potential of hydropower. For the collective farmers of Little Mother Volga, it is, however, agricultural abundance, even more than ease of transportation and hydroelectric power for industry, that will constitute the greatest beneft provided by dams and canals. Morev talks enthusiastically to his charges of the need to “destroy the desert’s breath, or, using the terminology of agronomists, to liquidate the language of the desert, in other words, to change the climate of the Volga region and transform Little Mother Volga into a real feeder of the country.”122 Nature does not always fall obediently into line in Little Mother Volga. Te challenge of an underground river that brings unwanted and vast quantities of mud to the surface, a challenge unanticipated by an overconfdent young engineer, threatens to derail irrigation plans. Te collective farm workers and other volunteers come to the rescue, though. Ultimately tens of thousands of happy people are present at the joyous opening ceremonies for a new canal. “We have conquered,” exults Morev.123 Te dedicated Communist would undoubtedly have sympathized with David Lilienthal’s rhapsodizing in TVA: Democracy on the March: “It is a tale of a wandering and inconstant river now become a chain of broad and lovely lakes which people enjoy, and on which they can depend . . . for the movement of the barges of commerce that now nourish their business enterprises. It is a story of how waters once wasted and destructive have been controlled and now work, night and day, creating electric energy to lighten the burden of human drudgery.”124 Morev and his companions did not foresee that the longed-for reservoirs would become massively silted and swampy, their shores crumble, innumerable fsh die, and much of the Volga be turned into a series of stagnant lakes.125 Te allure of gigantic dam and canal projects long persisted; 98  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

a proposal for a second Volga-Don canal was abandoned only in 1991.126 Environmental concerns were increasingly raised, though, especially during Perestroika and afer the collapse of the Soviet Union. Vasilii Rozanov’s “Russkii Nil” (Russian Nile, 1907), an encomium to the Volga’s pivotal role in Russian culture, was mentioned in the frst chapter. When “Te Russian Nile” was republished in 1989, it appeared with a short companion piece by the literary critic Marietta Chudakova. In “Plyvushchii korabl’” (Sailing ship), the author reminisces about a trip she took in 1967 from Astrakhan to Moscow. She describes her horrifed reaction to her frst sight of a large reservoir: Te shores disappeared. We were no longer sailing along a river, but along a strange, boundless, smooth surface, neither maritime nor riverine. . . . Of course I knew about the dam and the reservoir, but for some reason I hadn’t expected such a harsh impression. I well remember that the feeling that arose was not exhausted by bitterness, but to a much greater extent it was a powerless anger. . . . We were sailing along a river that had been taken away from a great people, and it was impossible to rid oneself of the excruciating sense that no one would ever be able to look at what was drifing by, at the invisible shores, with the eyes of those who gazed at them 60, 100, 200, and 300 years ago. I couldn’t manage to rid myself of this feeling—too much had been taken away, and somehow shamelessly, in an impersonal way.127

Other Russian intellectuals and writers have expressed similarly grim assessments of the environmental conditions of the Volga. In 1990 a collection of essays by Russian writers entitled Stony Volgi (Moans of the Volga) was published. Te Mother Volga who appears here is neither proud nor imposing but instead weeps and begs for mercy. “If you have a conscience and sense of civic responsibility, you must not, you do not have the right to be silent about what you have seen with your own eyes,” she tells Viktor Drobotov.128 Today’s rivers, claims Aleksandr Tsukanov in the same volume, do not engender poetry because “a smooth watery surface with the tops of pines or birch trees sticking out of it does not inspire.”129 For Tsukanov, the salvation of rivers is bound up with the salvation of humanity: “Te Volga is not a toilet, not a bottomless barrel, and not a streetwalker, but one’s mother. . . . On her health depend the health and life of an entire nation.”130 In a reversal of mid-twentieth-century aspirations, Te Volga · 99

modernization coincides here with exploitation, environmentalism with nationalism. Nikolai Pal’kin, author of a fulsome book on the Volga referred to earlier in this chapter, was a contributor to another volume of essays on the Russian ecological crisis that appeared in 1990, Ekologicheskaia al’ternativa (Te ecological alternative). Pal’kin shares dark thoughts about the current condition of the Volga: “And if I write about the Volga again, then it’s not like yesterday. Not only with admiration, but also with alarm. Not only with delight, but also with spiritual pain. I catch myself with the thought, or more precisely, the feeling that to speak about the great river as we spoke not long ago at all is to be cunning, or worse than that, to speak a half-truth. It’s the same as talking about the health of one’s mother while concealing her serious illness.”131 Pal’kin’s poetic assessment of the situation is even more pessimistic: Пожалуй, и ждать-то недолго, Когда успокоится мать. И будем в печали над Волгой Мы все, как над гробом, стоять. (Perhaps we don’t have long to wait until our mother is laid to rest. And we will stand in sadness over the Volga as if over a grave.)132

Tsukanov’s and Pal’kin’s Mother Volga is not the patron saint of dam construction and industrialization suggested by the gigantic statue overlooking the Rybinsk Reservoir, but a pathetic victim. Some younger Russian writers have taken a wildly diferent tack in discussing Russia’s iconic river. In 2010 Eduard Abubakirov, Evgenii Strelkov, and Vadim Filippov published an alternative history-guidebook to the Volga region titled Vyshe, dal’she, nizhe: Noveishie opyty kraevedeniia Povolzh’ia (Higher, farther, lower: Te latest experiments in the study of the local lore and history of the Volga region). In brief sections devoted to the major cities along the Volga, Higher, Farther, Lower combines fact and fantasy in a hilarious blend of the sublime and the ridiculous. A self-taught Nizhnii Novgorod inventor dreams of replacing steam-driven locomotion with barge-hauler labor. Gorky writes an ode titled “Na dne” (On the bottom, the title of a famous play by the author about the lives of the dregs of society), in which he compares a fooded Nizhnii to the legendary Kitezh. Tsaritsyn (Stalingrad, Volgograd) is called the birthplace of Russian femi100  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

nism, and recent archaeological fnds in the depths of the Volga confrm that it was near Tsaritsyn that Stenka Razin drowned his Persian princess lover. Te intended construction of two Volga-Don canals turns out to be the result of a Masonic plan and is flled with appropriate symbolism: “Te locks themselves symbolize steps, which in Masonry signify ‘trials and purifcation by the elements when undergoing initiation.’”133 Sergei Trunev, the Saratov University instructor who penned the aferword to Higher, Farther, Lower, writes, “If there is no reality, it’s worth inventing it.”134 In an overview of the Volga’s cultural signifcance published in 2002, T. N. Kozhina and N. V. Lekomtseva conclude, “Te Volga River symbolizes the might and beauty of Russia itself.”135 Signifcantly, the title of their article, “‘Rek, ozer krasa, glava, tsaritsa . . .’: Volga kak pretsedentyi znak russkoi kul’tury” (“Beauty of rivers and lakes, head, tsaritsa . . .”: Te Volga as a precedential sign of Russian culture), quotes from the eighteenth-century poem by Ivan Dmitriev mentioned earlier in this chapter. Te image of the Volga has in its essence remained remarkably consistent over time, although it has been associated at various times with seemingly disparate notions. Te river has been closely linked with the kind of elemental drive for personal and social freedom personifed by Stenka Razin. It has also been associated with the wretched servitude of benighted laborers like the barge haulers and the venal strivings of grasping merchants, and presented as a symbolic locus of systemic tsarist evil. It has represented a defnitive and sacred barrier against invaders from both the west and the east. Under the Soviet regime, the Volga partook in the mystical embrace of modernization and industrialization to which many rivers everywhere seemed especially prone in the twentieth century and a keen cultivation of which was meant to represent the basic inclinations of the Russian populace. Troughout all these manifestations, however, the Volga has for Russians of every era remained at base the Russian river par excellence. As such, it is bigger and better than other rivers, and it is the nurturer of the Russian people. Today there exist widespread concerns about the worsening pollution of the river. Nonetheless “Little Mother Volga” remains a nationalistic term of endearment, a diminutive in no sense intended to diminish. As the Volga fows, it bears with it the hopes, dreams, and travails of the Russians who have, they believe, made it forever their own. Te exigencies of nationalism make Zaitsev’s rallying call no less appropriate today than seventy years ago.

Te Volga · 101

3 Te Neva

4 Mention of the Dnieper or Volga River may call to mind personalities like Prince Vladimir I of Kiev or the rebel Stepan Razin, but not so quickly and consistently as an allusion to the Neva evokes the names of Tsar Peter the Great (1672–1725) and the poet Aleksandr Pushkin (1799–1837). Even the link with the charismatic fgure of Prince Aleksandr Nevskii (1220–1263), whose sobriquet is derived from the name of the river, does not undermine the preeminent position of Peter and Pushkin in the popular imagination in regard to the Neva. In 1922 Nikolai Antsiferov, one of the most astute and sensitive chroniclers of Petersburg culture, observed, “Pushkin is to the same extent the creator of the image of Petersburg as Peter the Great is the builder of the city itself.”1 Te Neva is not Petersburg of course, but just as Peter and Pushkin are linked, the river and the city are inextricably bound, like Paris and the Seine or London and the Tames.2 A short river, the Neva runs through Petersburg for more than half its length and, for the most part, played a peripheral role in Russian history and culture until the founding of the city in 1703. Te literary and artistic apprehension of the Neva across the past three centuries has ofen drawn upon an assessment of Peter’s achievement (or lack thereof ) and the meaning and validity of Pushkin’s ambivalent and ambiguous representation of that achievement. Lively controversy about what Peter and Petersburg meant and mean for Russia combined with an almost universal Russian perception of Pushkin as the archetypal Petersburg poet haunts the background of diverse literary productions. Te attempt to defne the image of the Neva winds through eighteenth-century encomia, nineteenth-century 102

fctional and poetic endorsements and denunciations, and twentieth-century nostalgic and patriotic efusions. Te Neva occupies a prominent position in the Russian literary imagination within what has been called the “Petersburg text,” a position very distinct from that of its fellow rivers.3

Geography and Early History Te Neva fows west from Lake Ladoga, the largest lake in Europe, to the Gulf of Finland in the Baltic Sea. Although only forty-six miles in length, the Neva is one of the most impressive rivers in Europe in terms of the quantity of its discharge, which is as much as that of the Don and Dnieper combined.4 Geologically speaking it is a surprisingly young river, younger even than its now tributaries the Okhta and Tosna, having been formed perhaps as recently as a little over two thousand years ago.5 Te name Neva may ultimately derive from a Swedish word meaning “new.”6 Te geologic processes responsible for the formation of the Neva involved a combination of glacial melt and local rise in the level of the earth’s surface. Te river may have originated as a strait that eventually became a river, and it is possible that earthquakes, which have occurred in the region even in historical times, played a role in its creation.7 Te Neva delta and the many islands dotting the surface of the river, whose number has risen dramatically over the past three centuries, developed not as a result of alluvial drif, as deltas ofen do, but because of uplif.8 Te propensity of the Neva to fooding was documented in historical chronicles as early as the eleventh century.9 What is less commonly recognized is the primary cause of this fooding, which is the result of a complex intermingling of water surging inland from the Baltic Sea during severe storms and the lower reaches of the Neva itself. Floods upstream may also occur because of temporary obstruction by ice foes in the spring.10 Despite engineering eforts from the early eighteenth century on to contain the river so as to prevent fooding, there have been hundreds of foods in historical memory, the worst two in November 1824 and September 1924. Tis centenary coincidence did not go unnoticed. Attempts over the centuries to reduce the threat of fooding have included the construction of an elaborate network of granite embankments, canals, drainage ponds, and deliberate raising of the ground level. Most recently, a dam built outside Petersburg has succeeded in preventing foods or lessening their potential imTe Neva · 103

pact, although not without some of the negative ecological consequences connected with damming.11 Te Neva has always been navigable throughout its entire length, which has given it great strategic signifcance, both as a transportation route and as a means of military access to the sea. It is the only river linking Lake Ladoga with the Baltic. Rivers fowing into Lake Ladoga from the south and east include the Volkhov and the Svir. Since at least the eighth century, the Neva has served as the starting point for two major international water 104  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

routes, one providing access to the Caspian and Central Asia by means of the Volga, the other, the famed “route from the Varangians to the Greeks,” to the Black Sea by way of the Dnieper. An indication of the signifcance and reach of this trade is provided by the caches of Arab coins dating to the ninth and tenth centuries that have been found on Vasil’evskii Island, now part of the center of Petersburg.12 Te Neva also served as an important conduit for trade to the West. From early on convenient access to the Neva enabled Novgorod, located on the upper reaches of the Volkhov, to reap the benefts of participation in the Baltic Hanseatic League. By the thirteenth century an international market settlement, Nevskoe Ust’e (literally, mouth of the Neva), existed on the lower Neva on a promontory at the confuence of the Neva and the Okhta.13 Tere are traces of human habitation in the area of the Neva from the late Neolithic Age on.14 Finno-Ugric peoples like the Votes and Izhorians interacted with Slavic tribes in the region for many centuries. Because of its key location, by the late eleventh century the Neva had become a bone of contention between the Swedes and the Russians. In the thirteenth century the Teutonic Knights also manifested territorial and missionary pretensions in the region. In 1240 the Novgorod prince Aleksandr Iaroslavovich gained fame and the name Nevskii by leading the Russian forces that defeated the Swedes in a battle at the confuence of the Izhora and the Neva, where the Swedes had sought to establish a convenient transit settlement. Two years later Aleksandr Nevskii defeated the Teutonic Knights in the famous “battle on the ice” on Lake Peipus, west of Novgorod on the border between present-day Estonia and Russia. Multiple Russian princes were interested in securing Russian rights to the waterways leading from the Baltic into the interior. In the fourteenth century the Muscovite prince Iurii Danilovich built the fortress of Oreshek on an island at the head of the Neva at Lake Ladoga. Command of this position was key to controlling trade in both directions, important in the context of Hanseatic connections. Te Russians and the Swedes concluded an “eternal peace” establishing a border between Swedish and Novgorodian possessions that remained largely in force until the end of the sixteenth century.15 Novgorodian ambitions were subsumed to those of Moscow, however, when Novgorod came under defnitive Muscovite control in the late ffeenth century during the reign of Ivan III. To foster ease in collection of tribute from former Novgorodian lands, the area was divided into ffhs (piatiny), each of which was further subdivided into administrative units Te Neva · 105

called uezdy and then even smaller units termed pogosty. An inventory document from 1500 provides a detailed listing of the settlements and swamps suitable for hunting in the precise area that later became the site where St. Petersburg was founded.16 As many commentators have noted, the myth that later developed and was assiduously cultivated that the city was founded on unoccupied virgin land, a common colonialist and imperialist conceit regarding territorial expansion, and one powered by poetic statements by Pushkin and others, does not correspond to historical reality.17 Te seventeenth was in many ways a Swedish century. Early in the century, Russia, weakened by internal strife during the so-called Time of Troubles (1598–1613), lost control of the Neva region to Sweden as a result of the Ingrian War (1610–17). In 1617 the Treaty of Stolbova deprived Russia of access to the Baltic and gave Sweden the province of Ingria, which comprised much of the Neva basin and included the fortress of Oreshek, called Nöteborg by the Swedes. Both the Russian and the Swedish name allude to the nut-like shape of the island on which the fortress is located. Russia’s fortunes changed, however, afer Peter the Great’s accession to the throne. Peter became the sole ruler of Russia in 1689 when he conclusively squelched the ambitions of his older sister, Sofa. Almost a decade later, when the tsar was on his way back to Moscow from an extended Western European tour, the new Polish king, Augustus of Saxony (also known as Augustus the Strong), broached the possibility of joining forces to attack Swedish territories on the lower Baltic; the accession to the Swedish throne of the adolescent Charles XII suggested a tempting vulnerability.18 Peter formally committed to such a plan at the turn of the century and, afer signing an armistice with the Turks in the summer of 1700, was in a position to pursue matters. Te Russians hoped to retrieve Ingria and the neighboring province of Karelia and in late 1700 launched an attack on the Swedish-held fortress of Narva, an Estonian town on the border of Ingria. While the Russians were besieging Narva, Charles arrived with a Swedish army. Despite being greatly outnumbered by the Russians, the Swedes decisively routed the motley Russian forces. Peter, who had lef Narva the night before the battle, and Russia were humiliated, while Charles was touted throughout Europe for his frst major victory. Peter was determined to rebuild and reform his army and to provide Russian forces with more and better weapons. For Russian Orthodox believers, a scandalous part of this efort involved melting down and recasting as cannon many Russian church bells. Tis single-minded approach to mil106  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

itary development paid of. Within two years, Russian forces were able to force the Swedish fortress of Nöteborg (Oreshek) to surrender, thus gaining control of Lake Ladoga and hopes of reacquiring access to the Baltic from the Neva. As a symbolic indication of the strategic importance of Oreshek, Peter had the surrendered key to the fortress afxed to one of its bastions and renamed the settlement Shlisselburg, from a corruption of the German word for “key.” Less than a year later the Russians were able to seize the Swedish settlement of Nyenshantz (formerly Nevskoe Ust’e), only a few miles up the Neva from the Gulf of Finland, and regain access to the Baltic. In recognition of the restoration of Ingria to Russia and in consequence of his long-standing desire to have a Russian port with easy access to the West, almost immediately afer the victory at Nyenshantz Peter founded the city of St. Petersburg, several miles downstream. Given the unprepossessing swampiness, susceptibility to fooding, and lack of resources of this location, it seems unlikely that the tsar already imagined the grandiose establishment that St. Petersburg would become, but the eforts expended on the city’s construction were rapid and dramatic, despite the fact that the Swedish threat persisted for several years. Te Fortress of Saints Peter and Paul on Hare Island was the frst large structure to be built. Peter worked tirelessly to encourage foreign ships to come to the city for purposes of trade and established a shipyard across from the fortress. Te labor involved in the construction of St. Petersburg rapidly assumed mythic proportions. Wood and stone were imported, sometimes from a great distance. Te presence of workers, skilled and unskilled, from all over Russia was demanded for many years. In Petersburg they lived, and died, in wretched conditions. It was widely believed at the time that 100,000 men perished during the construction of the city. His supposed responsibility for a city “built on bones” fed conservative Russian fears that Peter was the Antichrist and long served as an argument against the construction of Petersburg. In fact, ever lower estimates based on actual data culminated relatively recently in a fgure of about two thousand deaths of transient workers between 1703 and 1715.19 Yet the myth of even more horrifc human costs persists and is dutifully repeated. Construction along the banks of the Neva continued throughout the eighteenth century, as did fooding, which interrupted construction only two months afer the founding of Petersburg and caused inconvenience, property damage, and death on many occasions during Peter’s reign and those of his successors. Initially built of wood, from the middle of the eighTe Neva · 107

teenth century on embankments constructed of granite helped reduce the threat of fooding. Randall Dills, whose dissertation, “Te River Neva and the Imperial Façade: Culture and Environment in Nineteenth Century St. Petersburg Russia” (2010), focuses on patterns of river usage and tsarist efforts at food control, comments on the material and symbolic signifcance of the embankments: “Te embankments not only reinforced the riverbanks, but also the idea of safety.”20 Bridges also began to be built, despite the initial opposition of Peter, who envisaged an environment in which the city’s inhabitants would rely heavily on boat transportation. Tis did not prove practicable.

Eighteenth-Century Literary Representations of the Neva In his provocative essay “Chto takoe sotsialisticheskii realizm” (On socialist realism, 1959), the dissident critic and satirist Andrei Siniavskii (1925– 1997) famously compared Soviet socialist realism with eighteenth-century Russian classicism, pointing to the common reliance of the two styles on formulae, a weakness for pompous rhetoric utterly devoid of irony, and a frequent and extreme propagandistic bent. One might argue that the terms of the comparison are in some ways unfair to both parties, but Siniavskii’s observations are certainly astute. Much of eighteenth-century Russian literature was aggressively agenda-driven and stylistically derivative. Petrine desires to Europeanize Russia meant Westernizing its culture as well as its infrastructure and the behavior of its citizens. Tis included creating a modern Russian literary language that could serve as a vehicle for celebrating Russian triumphs and accomplishments in a manner consistent in genre and imagery with Western European classicism. Peter’s military victories and transformative eforts were celebrated by writers like the Ukrainian archbishop Feofan Prokopovich (1681–1736), the poet and prince Antiokh Kantemir (1708–1744), the translator and theoretician of Russian versifcation Vasilii Trediakovskii (1703–1769), the scientist and rhetorician Mikhail Lomonosov (1711–1765), and the dramatist and critic Aleksandr Sumarokov (1718–1777). Te tsar and Petersburg fgure prominently in the writings of these authors, who spent much of their creative lives in or near the city and were committed to the tsar’s Westernizing project. In their representation, the achievements of Peter’s successors derived much of their glory from an association with or imitation of the mighty tsar him-

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self. Vladimir Toporov has aptly termed the resulting body of literature an odopis’ (“odicle,” as in ode, by analogy with chronicle, letopis’).21 Te Neva appears frequently in eighteenth-century compositions, as an essential geographic referent in enthusiastic descriptions of the city and as a poetic personality in its own right. Kantemir’s unfnished panegyric about Peter the Great, “Petrida” (Te Petriad, 1731), composed a few years afer the tsar’s death, celebrates Petersburg as a site calculated to impress and intimidate other nationalities. Te Neva fows swifly through the city, and on its banks are structures that make it clear that “khot’ nov grad, nichem khuzhdshi davnym” (although the city is new, it is in no way inferior to ancient ones). Peter’s modest dwelling stands right beside the Neva, and there the tsar thinks his great thoughts, unburdened by trivial desires for luxury: “Chto vneshna pyshnost’ tomu, kto velik dushoiu?” (What is external magnifcence to one who is great in soul?).22 Te river thus fows right through the symbolic heart of the Petrine achievement, the place that Peter himself called quite simply “Paradise.” Lomonosov mentions the Neva repeatedly in the series of odes he composed at midcentury in celebration of such events as the arrival of Peter’s daughter, Tsaritsa Elizabeth (1709–1762), in Petersburg afer her coronation in Moscow in 1741 and subsequent anniversaries of her accession to the throne. Lomonosov easily and implicitly attributes Russian nationality to the Neva and hence a partisan attitude to Russian military and other successes. In the poet’s ffh ode, composed in 1742 but not published until 1751, the growth of Elizabeth’s glory evokes joy in a personifed Neva, anxiety in other waters: “Brega Nevy rukami pleshchut, / Brega Botniiskikh vod trepeshchut” (Te shores of the Neva splash their hands [an infelicitous metaphor], the shores of the Bothnian waters tremble [the Bothnian Sea lies between Sweden and Finland]).23 Later in the ode, the Neva is urged to participate directly in the intimidation of the Swedes: О чистый Невский ток и ясный, Счастливейший всех вод земных! . . . Стремись, шуми, теки обильно И быстриной твоей насильно Промчись до Шведских берегов И больше устраши врагов. (O pure and clear Neva current, happiest of all earthly waters! . . . Rush,

Te Neva · 109

resound, fow abundantly and in your rapidity rush forcefully to the Swedish shores and frighten our enemies even more).24

In his tenth ode, composed fve years later, Lomonosov adopted a retrospective approach, summarizing not only the military but cultural accomplishments of Peter and his successors. Here the personifed Neva is amazed and impressed by the city that has suddenly arisen on her banks: В стенах внезапно укрепленна И зданиями окруженна, Сомненная Нева рекла: “Или я ныне позабылась И с оного пути склонилась, Которым прежде я текла?” (Suddenly strengthened by walls and surrounded by buildings, the dubious Neva declared: “Have I forgotten myself today and strayed from the path along which I formerly fowed?”)25

Te river’s unmitigated joy at the sight of its new surroundings is assumed. Lomonosov was concerned with Russia’s intellectual and cultural development. He regrets that Peter died the very year that the infant Russian Academy of Sciences was opened. He consoles himself with praise of Catherine I (1684–1727), Peter’s widow, who reigned from 1725 to 1727, and alludes to the potential cultural triumph of Petersburg over Paris, incorporating an invidious comparison of the Seine with the Neva that uses the rivers as metonymic referents for the two cities: Ах если б жизнь ее продлилась, Давно б Секвана постыдилась С своим искусством пред Невой! (If only her [Catherine’s] life had continued, the Sekvana [ancient name for the Seine] with its arts would long ago have been put to shame before the Neva.)26

In his eleventh ode, composed in honor of the 1748 anniversary of Elizabeth’s accession to the throne, Lomonosov celebrates the vast geographic extent of the Russian Empire, in part by reference to its many rivers, including the Volga, Dnieper, Neva, Don, Lena, Ob, and Enisei. Te Neva reigns happily over this watery cast: В стенах Петровых протекает 110  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

Полна веселья там Нева, Венцем, порфирою блистает, Покрыта лаврами глава. (Within Peter’s walls the Neva fows full of happiness, she shines with her crown and royal purple, her head covered with laurels.)27

In another ode Lomonosov calls the Neva “vladychitse rossiiskikh vod” (the sovereign of Russian waters).28 Te image of the river that emerges from these various references is that of a purely Russian entity intimately concerned with the fortunes of the empire and itself a liquid realization of imperial ambitions. Lomonosov’s peers and sometime literary competitors, Trediakovskii and Sumarokov, also penned odes celebrating Peter and Petersburg. Trediakovskii’s “Pokhvala Izherskoi zemle i tsartsvuiushchemu gradu Sanktpeterburgu” (Encomium to the land of Izhorsk and the reigning city St. Petersburg, 1752) was composed in celebration of the ffieth anniversary of the founding of the city. Trediakovskii has only praise for the pure streams of the Neva, the drained marshes that border it, and the impressive city so quickly constructed there. In a word: “Sei rai stal, gde bylo pusto” (Where it was empty has become a paradise).29 For Trediakovskii, as for Lomonosov, the Neva outdoes other rivers, in this instance Homer’s Skamander. In Te Iliad the latter runs red with blood during the battle at Troy, but the Neva at the time of Aleksandr Nevskii’s victory over the Swedes is even more impressively dark, declares Trediakovskii: “Tam pochernil bagrianu tok Skamandru” (Te stream [of the Neva] shamed [literally, blackened] the crimson Skamander).30 In his odes, Sumarokov apostrophizes the Neva and sounds a similar note of Russian superiority. In “Ditiramb” (Dithyramb, 1755), the poet praises both Peter and his accomplishments as he imagines unending glory for Petersburg: Рассыпается богатство По твоим, Нева, брегам. Бедны, пред России оком, Запад с Югом и Востоком. (Wealth spreads along your shores, Neva. In the eyes of Russia, the West, South, and East are poor.)31

In “Oda goratsiianskaia” (A Horatian ode, 1758), so called because in it he attempts to employ a tonic version of the Alcaic meter, a classical meter Te Neva · 111

used by Horace, among others, Sumarokov invites the Neva to join him in rejoicing over the birth of Peter Fedorovich’s (later Peter III) son Pavel (later Paul I) in September 1754: Скажи свое веселье, Нева, ты мне, Что сталося за счастие сей стране? . . . Глашу по всем местам, разнося трубой Вселенной нову весть, о Нева, с тобой: Простерлося Петрово племя, Россам продлится блаженно время. (Relate to me your joy, Neva, what kind of good fortune has happened to this country? . . . I announce the news everywhere with you, o Neva, trumpeting to the universe: Peter’s tribe extends, a blessed age for Russians will be prolonged.)32

Te Neva here is the poet’s intimate interlocutor (note the familiar you [ty]), an explicitly partisan witness to Russia’s joys. Te partnership between country and river is, moreover, mutually benefcial. In one of his later satires, “O khudykh rifmotvortsakh” (On bad rhyme-makers, 1771– 74), Sumarokov describes how much the Neva’s shores have benefted from imperial attention: “Breg nevskii, kamenem tverdeishim ukrashennyi / I navodneniem uzhe ne ustrashennyi” (Te shores of the Neva, adorned with hardest stone and no longer frightened by foods).33 Ironically this assertion was made only a few years before the third worst food in the history of the city, in 1777, an event that poets at the time chose to overlook.34 Perhaps this was because by the late eighteenth century the triumph of tsarism over the elements was a cultural given, no matter evidence to the contrary. One of the last Russian poems written in the eighteenth century that gave detailed attention to the Neva was “Bogine Nevy” (To the goddess of the Neva, 1794) by Mikhail Murav’ev (1757–1807), who served, among other capacities, as tutor to the future Alexander I (1777–1825) and his brother Constantine. “To the Goddess of the Neva” features a “gordelivaia” (proud) river that fows “spokoino, plavno” (calmly, smoothly).35 It sits at the center of a mighty network, a destination for myriad ships from throughout the world, whose signifcance is implicitly underscored by the nearby presence of the ashes of Peter the Great. Crowds of people stroll the banks of the river, whose mists provide a shelter for amorous dalliances. Te most famous image in Murav’ev’s poem occurs at the very end, when 112  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

he describes his enthused poetic self spending a sleepless night contemplating the Neva while leaning against one of the renowned granite embankments. Tis image gained fame because of Pushkin’s adaptation and footnoting of it in his novel in verse, Evgenii Onegin (1833), in which the jaded young man-about-town Eugene, flled with obscure regrets, in similarly thoughtful fashion leans against an embankment. Murav’ev was infuenced by late eighteenth-century literary trends like Sentimentalism and Ossianism. In the context of a discussion of Russian literary representations of the Neva his pensive image is signifcant because of its very personal character. Such intimacy constitutes a departure from eighteenth-century perceptions of the river as predominantly a public, imperial space. In the course of the nineteenth century the possibilities for personalized refection aforded by the river, especially concerning a generalized angst or the pains of love, assumed increasing importance. Te centennial of the founding of St. Petersburg naturally provoked congratulatory commentary, a quintessential expression of which was a lengthy poem composed by Semen Bobrov (1763–1810), “Torzhestvennyi den’ stoletiia ot osnovaniia grada sv. Petra maiia 16 dnia 1803” (Te ceremonial day of a century from the founding of the city of St. Peter, 16 May 1803). Bobrov’s poem is in true eighteenth-century fashion above all a celebration of Peter and his accomplishments. In giving credit to the tsar for the construction of St. Petersburg, Bobrov compares Peter to Hercules. Te Neva, as imagined by the poet, is so impressed by the embankments within which it now fnds itself that it literally wants to fow backward to take a second look. From out of the depths of the river a green-browed genius loci rises to comment at length on the magnitude of Peter’s achievements. Where formerly there were only pines and frs, there are now magnifcent structures. Where simple fshermen sailed small craf, there is now a commercial shipping center. Where wild landscapes dominated the scene, one now fnds educational institutions, the triumph of culture over nature. Such contrasts are in keeping with what Lev Pumpianskii identifed as key formulae in eighteenth-century representations of the city: “where formerly . . . now,” “a hundred years passed,” and “from the darkness of the forests, from the bog of the swamps.”36 Bobrov’s river spirit is convinced that an afnity exists between Peter and the Neva: А ты—урок дал естеству, Как ты подобен божеству; Te Neva · 113

Ты пройдешь целу славы вечность, Подобно как Нева меж рек. (You gave a lesson to nature, that you are like a divinity; you will fow through an entire eternity of glory, like the Neva will among rivers.)37

Once again an absolute commonality of interests among the river, the city, and the tsar is unquestioned. A similarly afrmative note was sounded in one of the early poems of Petr Viazemskii (1792–1878), “Peterburg” (1818). Like Bobrov, Viazemskii revels in the perceived triumph over nature and refuge for enlightenment (the writer was horrifed by the French Revolution) that Petersburg represents. He praises the accomplishments not only of Peter but also of his successors Elizabeth and Catherine II. Once more the Neva is the symbolic heart of all of this grandeur: Чей повелительный, назло природе, глас Содвинул и повлек из дикия пустыни Громады вечных скал, чтоб разостлать твердыни По берегам твоим, рек северных глава, Великолепная и светлая Нева? (Whose imperious voice, to spite nature, brought forth from the wilderness masses of eternal clifs so as to lay strongholds along your shores, chief of northern rivers, splendid and bright Neva?)38

Note once again the characteristic apostrophization and implicit national appropriation of the river. A decade later the critic and poet Stepan Shevyrev (1806–1864) took up the same theme of vanquished nature in “Petrograd” (1829). In this poem the sea and Peter dispute the tsar’s right to build St. Petersburg. “Khlynet spiat’ moia Neva” (My Neva will gush forth again), boasts the sea.39 Yet ultimately it is Peter who triumphs. Te elements are conquered, wealth and commerce come to the city, magnificent structures are raised, and enlightenment and freedom hold sway. Te sea attempts once more to wreak vengeance with the severe fooding of 1824, but fails: Ополчается Нева, Но от твердого гранита, Не отъяв свои права, Удаляется сердита. 114  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

(Te Neva takes up arms, but withdraws angrily from the frm granite without having taken back its rights.)40

Shevyrev does depart here from mainstream tradition by casting the Neva as an opponent, part of the maritime enemy forces, rather than an admiring participant in the triumph of St. Petersburg, a shif in perspective that suggests the potential for a more ominous artistic role for the river. Tis was precisely the role that would be developed in the course of the nineteenth century. In Shevyrev’s poem, however, this unsettling suggestion is shortly undercut by the fact that the tsarist victory over nature is represented as complete. In the fnal line Peter’s statue mockingly asks the sea, “Kto zh iz nas moguchei v spore?” (So which of us is the more powerful in this argument?).41 Such confdence in the human ability to dominate nature foreshadows Soviet attitudes toward Russian rivers.

Nineteenth-Century Anxieties It has been convincingly argued that literary historians have at times exaggerated the monolithic character of eighteenth-century treatments of Petersburg.42 Nonetheless the dominant trend in the poetic representation of the Neva throughout the eighteenth and into the early nineteenth century was positive, confdent, even smug and broadly civic. Te river lay at the symbolic center of what was touted as the Petrine miracle, a benefciary of and participant in imperial glory, a space for jubilation and self-congratulation. Tere were, however, incipient cracks in this image. As mentioned, Murav’ev’s solitary sleepless poet in “To the Goddess of the Neva” constituted a new fgure on the Petersburg landscape. In the early decades of the nineteenth century such fgures became more common. Te wretched fate of Ivan Kozlov (1789–1840), paralyzed and blinded as a very young man, was mentioned in the discussion of the Dnieper. Kozlov was apparently partial to brooding beside rivers. In a poem he composed in honor of the return from abroad in 1822 of his friend, the poet Vasilii Zhukovskii (1783– 1852), Kozlov describes how he himself was wont to sit beside the Neva in a melancholy frame of mind until late at night or even dawn.43 In “K moei bogine” (To my goddess, 1826), Dmitrii Venevitinov (1805–1827) writes of wandering, gloomy and solitary, beside the Neva. Te sense of alienation and pensiveness suggested by the solitary wanderer or viewer at the river’s edge is at odds with the spirit of civic enthusiasm conveyed by many eighTe Neva · 115

teenth-century poetic treatments of the Neva. Tis novel stance is particularly explicit in “Bal” (Te ball, 1825), a Gothic condemnation of Petersburg society by the poet and Decembrist Aleksandr Odoevskii (1802–1839). Te lyric persona describes attending a ball in a building beside the Neva. Tired and hot, he gazes out a window at the river: “Ona pokoilas’, dremala / V svoikh granitnykh beregakh” (It lay slumbering within its granite shores).44 Signifcantly, the verb pokoit’sia is ofen used of the dead. When the poet turns from the window, he discovers that the hall behind him is flled with dancing skeletons, symbols of a doomed society and refective of the “impotence of love and status.”45 It was only in the nineteenth century that the very real danger of fooding by the Neva began to be explicitly acknowledged in Russian poetry. In a short poem composed in reaction to a food on September 27, 1802, Ivan Born (late 1770s–1851), one of a group of young writers infuenced at the very beginning of the nineteenth century by the critical thought of Aleksandr Radishchev (1749–1802), a vocal opponent of serfdom and advocate for revolution, uses the classical imagery so beloved of the eighteenth century to express an uncharacteristic anxiety: “Skazhi, zachem, o gnevnyi Posidon! / Idesh’ na bran’?” (Tell us, angry Poseidon, why are you going to battle?).46 Petersburg is no Ilium forgetful of tribute, the poet declares. He asks the sea god whether he hears the moans and sees the tears of the food’s despairing victims. In this grim situation the poet calls upon Apollo, the god of the sun, to provide the comfort of sunlight. Te damage to Petersburg by the food of November 7, 1824 was so tremendous that it could not be ignored, despite initial ofcial eforts to the contrary. For the frst few days afer the event no references to the food were allowed in print, but from November 13 on it was discussed in newspaper and journal accounts.47 Te food was a frequent topic in private correspondence of the period. In 1826 the Russian naval historian Vasilii Berkh (1781–1834) published a short compilation of pieces entitled Podrobnoe istoricheskoe izvestie o vsekh navodneniiakh, byvshikh v Sankt-Peterburge (A detailed historical account of all the foods that have occurred in St. Petersburg), which included a report on the 1824 food by the notoriously reactionary journalist and novelist Faddei Bulgarin (1789–1859). Te latter sought to downplay the consequences of the fooding and to emphasize the swifness and success of eforts by tsarist authorities to cope with the situation. Tis account was extensively mined by Pushkin when he composed his narrative poem “Mednyi vsadnik” (Te bronze horseman, 1833). 116  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

Te most rapid poetic response to the food came from Count Dmitrii Khvostov (1757–1835), whose plodding literary productions were ofen the object of mockery by his contemporaries.48 “Poslanie k NN o navodnenii Petropolia, byvshem 1824 goda 7 noiabria” (Epistle to NN on the fooding of Petropolis that occurred on 7 November 1824, 1824) had already been approved by the tsarist censors by December 4, 1824.49 Khvostov, who styled himself a “singer of the Neva,” had written previously about the threat of fooding.50 Like Bulgarin, he clearly sought to cast the best possible light on a disastrous event. Tings begin badly in Khvostov’s poem. Te waters of the Neva evoke a greedy wolf with a troop of vicious ofspring. Te river escapes its channel and, allied with the storm winds, rages through the city. An old man wanders about vainly seeking his wife and children. Te destruction is ultimately attributed to divine wrath, but the deity’s motives are complex, not to say confused: Хотел могущий Бог нас гневом посетить, И в то же время зло щедротой прекратить; Водами ополчаясь по беспредельной власти, Он сердце людям дал ценить других напасти. Все кинулись к судам, все, окрылясь, бегут, Все жизнь, жизнь ближнего, как жизнь свою брегут: Текут с стихией в брань, призвав на помощь Бога. (Almighty God wished to visit anger upon us, and at the same time to put an end to evil with generosity; taking up watery arms in limitless power, he made people’s hearts appreciate the misfortunes of others. Everyone rushed to the boats, everyone ran as if winged, everyone looked afer the life of his neighbor as if it were his own: calling upon God’s help, they rushed into battle with the elements.)51

Alexander I himself directs rescue eforts from a lofy perch at the Winter Palace. Te city’s recovery from the disaster is truly miraculous. Order is quickly restored and the damage repaired. Visitors from abroad are amazed. What matters most to Khvostov is the generosity of Russian spirit attested to by the nearly miraculous restoration of the urban space and the comfort provided the victims: “Sredi Petropolia ot iarosti zlykh vod / Pust’ est’ pogibshie,—no verno net sirot” (Tere may be those who have perished Te Neva · 117

in Petropolis because of the rage of the evil waters, but certainly there are no orphans.)52 For Russia, it is indeed an ill wind that blows no good, and Khvostov’s sanctimonious assertions are intended to reassure. Pushkin was not in Petersburg at the time of the 1824 food (he was in internal exile at his family estate), but like his compatriots, he was shaken and impressed by the magnitude of the disaster. Te poet was familiar with Bulgarin’s and Khvostov’s treatments of events, as well as with other contemporary accounts, including personal correspondence. “Te Bronze Horseman” was completed in 1833 and frst appeared in print posthumously in 1837 but was not published in its unbowdlerized entirety until the twentieth century.53 Te poem consists of two sections, a prologue that serves in a sense as a culmination and summary of the encomiastic tradition of the eighteenth century and a two-part narrative about the futile rebellion and descent into insanity of Evgenii, a petty civil servant who loses his beloved to the food. Evgenii becomes convinced that Peter, as embodied in the famous statue by the French Rococo sculptor Étienne Falconet (1716–1791) commissioned by Catherine the Great (1729–1796) that overlooks the Neva in the center of Petersburg, is the author of his and the city’s misfortunes. In its exploitation of a mass of historic and poetic material, the poem has been lauded as a creative mosaic.54 Te prologue presents the Neva as a majestic presence, broad and powerful, clad in granite, an integral component of the glory that is Petersburg. Tis image shifs dramatically in the narrative that follows. In the second section of the poem the river frst appears in a pathological state, personifed but not intimately apostrophized and no longer the riverine embodiment of imperial grandeur: Плеская шумною волной В края своей ограды стройной, Нева металась, как больной В своей постеле беспокойной. (Splashing with loud waves against the edges of its well-proportioned fence, the Neva tossed like a sick person in its uneasy bed.)55

No longer clothed and now confned, as the metaphor of the fence suggests, in the presence of the storm the Neva is ailing and agitated, “an anthropomorphized model of . . . violent disorder.”56 As “essential imperial symbols,” the embankments have been subverted.57 When the river succumbs to the 118  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

onslaught of the Baltic storm, it assumes the guise frst of a frenzied beast that attacks the city and then of a thief that crawls in through windows with malevolent intentions. Te metaphor of the thief is developed at the beginning of the second part of the narrative, when the Neva, sated, exhausted, and yet enraptured by its own destructiveness, too careless even to retain its spoils, retreats to its customary shores, like a band of robbers to their village. Such purposeless violence against the population of Petersburg evokes the peasant revolts so feared by upper-class Russians, most particularly the late eighteenth-century rampages led by the Cossack Emel’ian Pugachev (1726–1775).58 Te river has become alien, no longer an integral part of the imperial project but an unthinking vandal. It has lost its sense of mission and breathes heavily, like a horse that has returned from battle, an uncomprehending participant in destruction. Te Neva is a fgurative steed at this point in the poem. A year later, when the river becomes turbulent again because of another storm, the attention of the narrative and Evgenii shifs from fgurative steed to actual bronze horse and its rider. Te unhinged civil servant incoherently threatens Peter: “Dobro, stroitel’ chudotvornyi! . . . Uzho tebe!” (Fine, miracle-working builder! . . . Just you wait!).59 It seems to Evgenii that the statue slightly turns its face toward him and, panicked, he takes of running. Te tsar here is described as “groznyi” (threatening), an adjective associated above all, not with Peter, the quintessential builder, but with Ivan IV, known as the Terrible (Ivan Groznyi), who was remembered for his unleashing of the destructive forces of his shock troops, the oprichniki. Evgenii never recovers from a traumatic night of pursuit by the bronze horseman and is eventually found dead on the outskirts of the city. Pushkin did not invent the growing anxiety and hostility that surrounded the Petrine achievement, but he captured it in masterful fashion, and, as Dills expresses it, “ofered the framework for subsequent remembrances of the food throughout the nineteenth century.”60 In “Te Bronze Horseman,” Peter’s image is undermined and problematized. As for the Neva, one is lef with the image of a battle horse, but one that wages war not on behalf of Petersburg but against it. Gone is the serene sovereign riverine presence that could be engaged in intimate discourse about a shared civilizing project. Te alienation is complete. “Te Bronze Horseman” by no means marked an abrupt literary volteface. As has ofen been noted, the poem is highly ambivalent, and one Te Neva · 119

cannot draw easy conclusions, indeed perhaps any defnitive conclusions, about its ultimate implications. Similarly, poems about Petersburg, and the Neva, that were produced up until the very end of the tsarist period in 1917 exhibited a wide range of perspectives. While there were dire popular interpretations of the 1824 food as a sign of the coming destruction of autocratic Petersburg, the river was still perceived by some as grand and benefcent.61 Te popular poet and ofcial Vladimir Benediktov (1807–1873) was alternately applauded and mocked for his luxuriant imagery. In both “Zanevskii krai” (Te country beyond the Neva, 1837) and “Noch’” (Night, 1840), he constructs an image of the river consistent with splendiferous eighteenth-century conceptions. “Te Country beyond the Neva” opens with a lyrical apostrophe: Нева, красавица Нева! Как прежде, ты передо мною Блестишь свободной шириной, Чиста, роскошна и резва. (Neva, Neva the Beauty! As formerly, you shine before me in your free breadth, pure, luxuriant, and sportive.)62

Te river is equally imperious in “Night”: “S otlivom purpurnym, podvizhna i svetla, / Neva krasuetsia v svoikh granitnykh ramakh” (Shot with purple, agile and bright, the Neva faunts its beauty in its granite frame).63 In “Petr” (Peter, 1858), Platon Kuskov (1839–1909) speaks of the “tsarstvennoi Neve” (regal Neva).64 Only a few years earlier Ivan Turgenev (1818–1883) had produced one of the most rapturous nineteenth-century descriptions of the river in the opening to “Neva” (1843), his speculative treatment of feminine fdelity and betrayal: Нет, никогда передо мной, Ни в час полудня, в летний зной, Ни в тихий час перед зарею, Не водворялся над Невою Такой торжественный покой. Глубоким пламенем заката Земля и небо всё объято. . . . . . . неслася река, Покрыта вся румяным блеском, И кораблям, с небрежным плеском, 120  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

Лобзала темные бока. (No, never before me, not at midday in the summer heat, or in the quiet hour before dawn, had such a triumphant calm settled above the Neva. Te earth and the sky—everything was embraced by sunset’s deep fame. . . . And I looked: the river fowed, entirely covered by a rosy brilliance, and kissed the dark hulls of ships with casual splashing.)65

Turgenev ofers a panorama of resplendent empire here—the ships, a sign of commercial success and trade centrality, and the river wrapped in brightness and calm, a symbol of power and security. His Neva is awesome but civilized, implicitly in harmony with the city on its banks; river and city are united in a coherent imperial project. Turgenev’s lyric persona is imagined standing motionless by the river, and later in the poem there are intimations of personal sorrow and failed romance, but the poem is not dominated by the sensibility of the narrator. In contrast, other poetic images of the river from the middle and late nineteenth century echo those of Murav’ev, Zhukovskii, and Venevitinov in their preoccupation with a pensive lyric persona and his trials and tribulations. Two poems by the great nature poet Fedor Tiutchev (1803–1873), “Gliadel ia, stoia nad Neva” (I gazed, standing above the Neva, 1844) and “Opiat’ stoiu ia nad Nevoi” (Again I stand above the Neva, 1868), exploit the river scene as an occasion for personal and very melancholy refection. Tiutchev spent much of his less than brilliantly successful diplomatic career and voluntary expatriate years in Western Europe. “I Gazed, Standing above the Neva” captures the poet’s nostalgic longing for southern European warmth. Te icy Neva in its deathly calm is viewed at night by a mournfully quiet persona who dreams of sunny Italy and wishes some passing spirit would carry him there. “Again I Stand above the Neva” was composed a quarter of a century later, when Tiutchev had returned to Russia. Once more the setting is nocturnal, but on this occasion the moonlight is refected in the “dremliushchie vody” (slumbering waters) of the “zadumchivoi Neve” (pensive Neva).66 Te quiet melancholy of the scene assumes a painful intimacy when the poet remembers viewing the same sight with his deceased lover. (Tiutchev’s longtime mistress, Elena Denisova, whom he called his “last love,” had died in 1864.) Te destructive threat embodied by the Neva persisted in fact and fancy but was not widely addressed in the oppressive Russia of Nicholas I (1796–1855). A signifcant exception to the general silence on the topic Te Neva · 121

occurs in “Iumor” (Humor, 1840–41), an unfnished poem by Nikolai Ogarev (1813–1877), the activist and close associate of the liberal socialist and infuential émigré publicist Aleksandr Herzen (1812–1870). Ogarev lef Russia permanently in 1856 and devoted himself to editorial work and sociopolitical writings. “Humor” circulated for many years in manuscript and frst appeared in print in London in 1857. A denunciation of the perversion of the Petrine project, of its abuses against freedom as symbolized by the prison of the Peter and Paul Fortress, “Humor” ofers a picture of the Neva as dangerous and disafected: Ложилась ночь, росла волна, И льдины проносились с треском; Седою пеною полна, Подернута свинцовым блеском, Нева казалась страшна, Стуча в гранит сердитым плеском. (Night fell, the waves grew, and the ice foes rushed past with a crackling; flled with gray foam, coated with a leaden brilliance, the Neva seemed frightening, knocking against the granite with an angry splashing.)67

Later the poet describes the river as the only source of sound in an ominously quiet night scene: “U nog moikh Neva odna / Shumela, iarosti polna” (At my feet the Neva alone resounded, flled with fury).68 Like the Neva of many eighteenth-century compositions, this river exists in tandem with the city on its banks, but in this instance the relationship is discordant rather than harmonious. For Ogarev, as for many other disafected Russian intellectuals, the Petrine project was considered no longer a dream, but a nightmare. More than any other river discussed in this study, the Neva’s literary presence is poetic rather than folkloric or prosaic. In the second half of the nineteenth century, however, the impact of prose, particularly of the writings of Nikolai Gogol (1809–1852) and Fedor Dostoevsky (1821–1881), on the poetic representation of the Neva was immense, if indirect. As Antsiferov expresses it, “Poets of the end of the nineteenth century who treat Petersburg look at it through the prism of Dostoevsky.”69 Te Petersburg of Gogol and Dostoevsky is not the serene and confdent imperial capital of yore, but a danger zone marked by demonic intrusions, personal torment, deprivation, and vice. Te Neva is mentioned explicitly in the works 122  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

of the two authors relatively infrequently, but in its tightly and tortuously symbiotic relationship with the city, it lurks as an important presence in the background of Gogol’s Petersburg Tales, such as “Nevskii prospekt” (Nevsky Prospect, 1834) and “Nos” (Te nose, 1835–36), and Dostoevsky’s stories and novels set in Petersburg, most especially Prestuplenie i nakazanie (Crime and punishment, 1866). In “Nevsky Prospect,” Gogol’s narrator contrasts the productions of Russian artists in Petersburg unfavorably with the achievements of Italian painters: “He draws the vista of his room, in which there is all sorts of artistic nonsense: plaster-of-Paris hands and feet, made cofee-colored by time and dust, broken easels, an overturned palette, a friend playing the guitar, walls soiled with paint, with an open window through which twinkles the pale Neva and poor fshermen in red shirts. Almost everything of theirs always has a grayish, turbid coloring—the indelible imprint of the north.”70 An unprepossessing image, to put it mildly, one redolent of multifarious deprivation. In “Te Nose,” Gogol’s famous story in which a civil servant’s nose temporarily assumes a separate identity, the Neva is briefy introduced into the fantastic narrative. When the barber Ivan Iakovlevich fnds the nose of one of his customers in a morning loaf of bread, he decides to dispose of this potentially damning evidence in the Neva. Unfortunately for the barber, a police ofcer catches sight of him engaged in this suspicious act. One of Dostoevsky’s characters also thinks of disposing of incriminating evidence in the Neva. In Crime and Punishment, shortly afer his murder of an elderly pawnbroker, young Rodion Raskolnikov panics about having several pieces of her merchandise in his possession. He frst considers throwing them into a canal, then into the Neva, but in the end buries them under a rock. On his way home, Raskolnikov pauses on the Isaakievskii Bridge, a now demolished pontoon bridge that connected St. Isaac’s Square and Vasil’evskii Island. Te Isaakievskii was the frst bridge to be constructed in Petersburg and the very same bridge where Gogol’s barber had disposed of the ofending nose. Te scene holds no charm for Raskolnikov: “When he was attending the university . . . he would stop at this very place to gaze at the truly magnifcent panorama and almost each time to be surprised by his vague and insoluble impression. An inexplicable chill always blew on him from that magnifcent panorama; for him the splendid picture was flled with a mute and deaf spirit.” It is at this moment that Raskolnikov hurls into the water a twenty-kopeck piece just handed to him by an elderly woman who has mistaken him for a beggar and attempted to make him the Te Neva · 123

object of a small act of charity. Te murderer’s sense of alienation is now complete: “He felt as if at that moment he had cut himself of from everything and everyone with shears.”71 Te Neva, Petersburg, and Raskolnikov’s crime and consequent loss of access to the human community all coalesce. Dostoevsky’s distrust of and distaste for Petersburg are well known. It was famously the author’s Underground Man who termed the city the most abstract and premeditated in the world, a terse denunciation of its perceived lack of organic vitality. For Dostoevsky, Petersburg epitomized alienation from salvifc spiritual values. In his novels, the city is above all a site of sordid poverty and vicious depravity. It is symbolically appropriate that Raskolnikov’s extreme moment of rupture with humanity is linked with the Neva and that when he overlooks the river he most acutely senses the deaf and voiceless spirit that has the city in its grip. Poets in the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth century efectively conjured a river and a city that matched Dostoevsky’s in bleakness and lack of humanity, a place that was rapidly becoming “a wan, sick, tedious city of barracks, slush, and fog.”72 In the poems of Nikolai Nekrasov, the unrelenting social critic whose portrayals of the miserable existence of the Volga boat haulers were discussed in the preceding chapter, the representation of Petersburg is so negative as to verge on bathos. “Utrenniaia progulka” (Morning walk), the frst of three poems in the cycle “O pogode: Ulichnye vpechatleniia” (On the weather: Street impressions, 1859), opens with a scene of general relief at catastrophe averted: Слава Богу, стрелять перестали! Ни минуты мы нынче не спали, И едва ли кто в городе спал: Ночью пушечный гром грохотал Не до сна! Вся столица молилась, Чтоб Нева в берега воротилась. (Tank God, the shooting has stopped! We didn’t sleep a moment last night, and scarcely anyone in the city slept: in the night cannon thunder rumbled— who felt like sleep! Te entire capital prayed that the Neva would return to its banks.)73

Nekrasov’s scene captures the anxiety that feeds like a worm at the core of Petersburg’s existence, the continual threat of fooding. When this threat subsides, it yields to a safer but still ugly day—windy, dark, and dirty. Te 124  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

narrator goes for a walk and immediately happens upon the funeral of an indigent ofce worker. A lengthy narrative of almost unspeakable gloom follows. Te Neva is mentioned in passing as “groznoi” (threatening) in the third poem in Nekrasov’s “On the Weather” cycle, “Sumerki” (Dusk), in another account of poverty and bad weather.74 In a poem written a few years later, “Komu kholodno, komu zharko” (Some are cold, others hot, 1865), the industrialized urban spectacle is equally depressing. Te Neva and its architectural setting ofer the viewer a sight that can evoke only angst: Пусть с какой-то тоской безотрадной Месяц с ясного неба глядит На Неву, что гробницей громадной В берегах освещенных лежит, И на шпиль, за угрюмой Невою, Перед длинной стеной крепостною, Наводящей унынье и сплин. (Let the moon with a kind of joyless melancholy look from the bright sky at the Neva, which lies within illuminated shores like a huge tomb, and at the spire, beyond the gloomy Neva, in front of the long fortress wall, that foods one with depression and spleen.)75

Pushkin’s feverish patient seems here to have expired. Te combined sight of the Peter and Paul Fortress, by now in many circles a byword for tsarist oppression and arbitrary incarceration and execution, and the funereal Neva evoke only death and despair. A few years later, afer the assassination of Alexander II in 1881, Sergei Andreevskii (1847–1918) produced “Petropavlovskaia krepost’” (Te Peter and Paul Fortress, 1881), which could not be published until afer the October Revolution but which the poet read aloud at various gatherings.76 For Andreevskii as for Nekrasov, the river and the fortress merge in an oppressive image. Te reactionary Petersburg of Alexander III (1845–1894) evoked the hostility of many radical Russian writers. In “Skazochnyi gorod” (Fairy-tale city, 1883), Petr Iakubovich (1860–1911) confesses to a twisted love of unfortunate Petersburg, “gorod tumanov, / Gorod kholoda, mgly i tosky” (city of fog, city of cold, gloom, and angst), which he portrays as both the cradle of Russian revolutionary aspirations and a graveyard for the best of his contemporaries.77 Iakubovich’s haughty Neva splashes threatenTe Neva · 125

ingly within its granite walls and in the winter appears to be shackled in chains. Tis negative poetic chorus continued unabated until 1917. Te Neva may be a victim or an implicit accomplice, but Petersburg itself is increasingly represented as a malevolent entity. In “Pesni o gorode” (Songs about the city, 1908–11), Apollon Korinfskii, whose poems about Stepan Razin were mentioned in the treatment of the Volga, condemned the city’s deleterious impact on the natural world: Как будто смертный бой природе объявив, Громадный город-спрут пьет из нее все соки, В объятьях каменных безжалостно обвив Могучую реку и все ее притоки. (As if having declared mortal battle on nature, the colossal octopus-city drinks from it all its juices, having pitilessly entwined in its stone embrace the powerful river and all her tributaries.)78

In “Peterburg” (1910), the Symbolist Innokentii Annenskii (1856–1909) denounced Peter the Great’s aspirations as a failure. Te dominant color in Annenskii’s poem is an unhealthy yellow that infects even the Neva: Только камни нам дал чародей, Да Неву буро-желтого света, Да пустыни немых площадей, Где казнили людей до рассвета. (Te wizard gave us only stones, and the brownish-yellow Neva, and the deserts of mute squares, where people were executed before dawn.)79

Pushkin’s miracle worker has devolved into an unholy wizard, and paradise into a place of execution. In “Sankt-Peterburg” (1916), Aleksei Lozina-Lozinskii (1886–1916) describes the view of the city from the spire of St. Isaac’s Cathedral. Lozina-Lozinskii’s Petersburg is a dirty industrial space and the river a malignant presence: “I gorod popolam zmeeiu rvet Neva” (And the Neva tears the city in half like a snake).80 For Anna Akhmatova (1889–1966), prerevolutionary Petersburg, while very much her home, is nonetheless “temnyi gorod u groznoi reki” (a dark city by a threatening river).81 In poems like “V poslednii raz my vstretelis’ togda” (We met then for the last time, 1914) and “Stikhi o Peterburge” (Verses about Petersburg, 1913) the river, dark or threatening to food, serves as the backdrop for bitter emotional encounters. 126  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

Some of the most signifcant turn-of-the-century works of prose that feature Petersburg and the Neva are novels by Dmitrii Merezhkovskii (1865–1941) and Andrei Belyi (1880–1934). Te third novel in Merezhkovskii’s trilogy Christ and Antichrist is the disturbing Petr i Aleksei (Peter and Alexis, 1905), which treats in painful and ofen gruesome detail the tormented relationship between Peter the Great and his son Alexis, who perished in the Peter and Paul Fortress in 1718 under obscure circumstances afer having been convicted of treason against his father. One of the novel’s chapters is titled “Navodnenie” (Te food) and describes a food that occurred in 1715. Merezhkovskii portrays Peter’s obsession with Petersburg as a willful rejection of the site’s obvious vulnerability to periodic catastrophic fooding. Peter refuses to allow even talk of fooding, denouncing the fear of water as a contemptible prejudice, an indication of cultural backwardness. Despite clear indications of imminent danger, plans for a party proceed. For Alexis, his father’s refusal to acknowledge the threat of fooding is symbolically linked to his assault on traditional Russian religious values: “Te tsarevich listened, and it seemed to him that in this discussion the same thing was going on with thoughts that went on with the snow during a Petersburg thaw: everything comes unraveled, melts, decays, turns into slush and flth under the infuence of the rotten western wind. Questioning of everything, denial of everything, without caution, without restraint, grew like the water in the Neva that was obstructed by the wind and threatening fooding.”82 When the fooding occurs, the Neva assumes a truly apocalyptic appearance: “Motley, like the skin on a snake’s belly, yellow, brown, black, with white fecks, weary but still turbulent, frightening under the frightening, low sky, which was dark like the earth.”83 Peter hurls himself into the battle against the fooding, inspiring others to successful struggle against the elements. Alexis remains unheartened and wonders whether Peter’s commitment to Petersburg ultimately represents a triumph of God or a demon over nature. In Aleksandr I (1913), Merezhkovskii ofers a detailed account of the 1824 food from the perspective of Elizabeth Alexeevna, wife of Alexander I. Once again the river assumes a bestial guise: “Te waves were rising, huge, lead-gray, iron-black, like evil monsters whose fur was rubbed the wrong way—and they bristled.”84 Unlike Peter, this tsar is helpless, capable only of pity and tears, reminding the tsarina of a sacrifcial lamb. For one of Alexander I’s ministers, the stormy devastation suggests the ominous possibility of popular rebellion. Te Neva · 127

For Belyi too Petersburg is a potentially apocalyptic site. Peterburg (1916), a surrealistic family drama set in the fall of 1905 and played out against a backdrop of nearly demented revolutionary activity, ofers the reader the spectacle of a city whose physical contours and unstable inhabitants owe much to the narratives and imagery of Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoevsky, and many other nineteenth-century writers. Autumn in Belyi’s Petersburg seems to promise the resurgence of primeval and primitive chaotic forces. Te Neva fgures prominently in this pathological landscape: “And the Neva seethed and cried despairingly. . . . It smashed its watery, steel shields against the stone piers; it licked the granite; and with the onslaught of cold Neva winds it tore of caps, umbrellas, raincoats, and hats.”85 Like Merezhkovskii’s river, Belyi’s Neva is animalistic and violent, an emblematic component of a doomed space, and appropriately the place where one of the characters considers ridding himself of a homemade bomb.

Te Soviet Neva Afer the Revolutions of 1917 and the Russian Civil War, the increasingly nightmarish representation of the Neva that had marked the late nineteenth and early twentieth century largely vanished. For those Russians who chose to emigrate, the Neva, and Petersburg, ofen became objects of nostalgia and pity. At the end of her memoirs of cultural life in prerevolutionary Petersburg, the novelist Irina Odoevtseva (1895–1990), who lef Russia in 1922, describes her feelings on her last night in Petersburg: “I feel, I know, that I will never be as happy anywhere as I am here on the shores of the Neva.”86 In the introduction to Peterburg v poezii russkoi emigratsii (Petersburg in the poetry of the Russian emigration, 2006), Roman Timenchuk and Vladimir Khazan give several examples of how, for members of the Russian diaspora, rivers everywhere—the Hudson, Seine, Tames, Tiber, and Sungari—remind the poetic viewers of their beloved Neva.87 In “Zavetnye slova” (Cherished words, 1934), Sergei Sergin (1910–1934) captures the anguish of the displaced Russian: Россия. Петербург. Нева. Как ни зови их, смысл все тот же. Душа забудет все слова, Но этих позабыть не сможет. (Russia. Petersburg. Neva. No matter how you call them, the meaning is the same. Te soul will forget all words, but it will not be able to forget these.)88 128  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

For those who had lef Petersburg forever, the prerevolutionary past of the city and the river were no longer the object of ambivalent assessment but of unconditional love. In “Grad Petra” (Te city of Peter), Vasilii Sumbatov (1893–1977) proudly summarizes the accomplishments of Petersburg: Два века роста, пышного цветенья,— Архитектуры праздник над Невой, Расцвет искусств, науки, просвещенья, Поэзии и чести боевой! Два века славы, блеска и покоя, Немногих перемен, недолгих гроз! Жизнь, как Нева, не ведала застоя, Ты, град Петра, всё украшаясь, рос. (Two centuries of growth, of splendid fowering,—a festival of architecture above the Neva, a fourishing of the arts, science, enlightenment, poetry, and fghting honor! Two centuries of glory, brilliance, and peace, few changes, brief threats! Life, like the Neva, did not know stagnation, you, city of Peter, kept on growing and being adorned.)89

Te nostalgia for the accomplishments of empire expressed here is appropriately linked to the river that most explicitly symbolized the imperial project. For those Russians who remained in their homeland, the river gradually assumed a new, Soviet identity, a part of a progressive venture in which even the Bronze Horseman may participate. Te proletarian poet Mikhail Gerasimov (1889–1939) captured this reconceived juxtaposition in a poem from 1923: Следи, мой друг, как ночью бледной В гранитах движется Нева, Как вдохновенно всадник медный Над ней рванул на острова. Он, не застывший, окрыленный, Безмерно устремлен вперед, Как мой народ освобожденный, Как мой проснувшийся народ. (Watch, my friend, how the Neva moves within the granite in the pale night, how the inspired bronze horseman rushes toward the islands. Not frozen, but Te Neva · 129

winged, he is totally directed forward, like my emancipated people, like my people that has awakened.)90

On September 23, 1924, the Neva again fooded; twenty-seven square miles were covered with water.91 Tis was, and remains, the second worst food since the founding of St. Petersburg. In the introduction to his chronicle of Petersburg foods from 1703 to 1997, Kim Pomeranets quotes from verses composed shortly afer the event by contemporary writers sympathetic to the Soviet regime, among them Mikhail Zenkevich (1886–1973), Ivan Gruzdev (1892–1960), and one Nikolai Semenov. For these poets, defeat by the elements was not an option. “Zdes’ gorod Lenina, a ne Petra!” (Tis is the city of Lenin, not Peter), declares Zenkevich. Gruzdev describes how the Soviet authorities battle the wounded wolf-like storm: “Spokoino, s soznaniem dolga, / So stikhiei borolsia Sovet” (Calmly, with a consciousness of duty, the Soviet struggled with the elements). One is reminded here of the confdence of superiority so ofen expressed by eighteenth-century writers. In much the same vein Semenov asserts, “Ne strashna mne Neva ozverelaia. / Uboitsia li ee strana moia krasnotelaia?” (Te brutal Neva is not frightening to me. Will my red-bodied country be afraid of it?).92 In the land of the Soviets, Semenov’s question is purely rhetorical. Such self-assured reactions to the food stand in marked contrast to émigré perceptions. For Vadim Gardner (1880–1956), the food of 1924 represents a legitimate punishment of the Soviet regime. Te Bronze Horseman urges the Neva on in “Navodnenie 1924 g.” (Flood of 1924, 1928): Ты бушуй, красавица-царица, Гневом обуянная Нева, Покарай потомков ошалелых! Ты в отмщении своем права. (Rage on, you beauty of a tsarina, Neva seized by anger, chastise my crazed descendants! You are righteous in your vengeance.)93

As Polina Barskova observes in a discussion of the food, “Connecting the renaming and the food, ‘traditionalists’ interpreted the latter as apocalyptic retribution for the city’s break with historical continuity and meaning.”94 During the Second World War, Leningrad endured a brutal siege by German forces from September 1941 to January 1943. Poems from the war period by Sergei Gorodetskii (1884–1967), Nikolai Novoselov (1921–1969), Sergei Narovchatov (1919–1981), Vasilii Lebedev-Kumach (1898–1949), 130  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

and other poets evoke the Neva in purely patriotic terms. For Gorodetskii, no amount of shelling can dim the river’s beauty, and for Novoselov, it remains “velikoi russkoi Nevoi” (the great Russian Neva).95 For Narovchatov and Lebedev-Kumach, the city and the river form an unvanquishable whole. Lebedev-Kumach, best known as the author of the Soviet national anthem, proudly proclaims in “Leningrad” (1945): Город мужества суровый Над прославленной Невой, Весь в огне, в пурге свинцовой Ты стоял, как часовой. (Stern city of courage above the celebrated Neva, in the midst of fre and leaden blizzard, you stood like a sentry.)96

Afer the war, Leningrad and the Neva were able to fulfll their socialist promise, a part of which was implicitly a progressive proletarian industrialization. In the characteristically optimistically entitled “S dobrym utrom!” (Good morning!, 1948), Mikhail Dudin (1916–1993) outlines in loving detail the postwar commercial activity on the Neva, the bustle of activity in shoreside factories, and the building of the metro. Te river here appears to exist to serve the “rabochemu utru” (morning of the workers).97 Aleksandr Churkin (1903–1971) sounds a similar note of triumphant industrialization at the beginning of “Vecherniaia pesnia” (Evening song, 1957): “Gorod nad vol’noi Nevoi, / Gorod nashei slavy trudovoi” (City over the free Neva, city of our laboring glory).98 It was not all patriotism and nostalgia. In 1963 the young Leningrad poet Aleksandr Kushner (b. 1936) produced one of the most moving poems about the Neva ever written. “Dva navodneniia” (Two foods) explores the possible existential signifcance of the coincidence of two severe foods taking place almost exactly a century apart. Kushner alludes extensively to Pushkin’s “Bronze Horseman” and points out both similarities and diferences between the 1824 and 1924 situations. He refers almost in passing to events, mundane and cataclysmic, that occurred in the intervening century: “Bumagi zhgli, na balakh tantsevali, / V Sibir’ plelis’ i svergnuli tsaria” (Tey burned papers, danced at balls, trudged to Siberia, and overthrew the tsar).99 In the end, though, for Kushner it is the eternal consistency of nature, not human trivialities, that is paramount: “Vot kto geroi! Ne Petr i ne Evgenii. / No vetr. No mrak. No vetrenaia noch’” (Here’s who is the Te Neva · 131

hero! Not Peter and not Evgenii. But the wind. But the mist. But the windy night).100 Te river and the storm transcend and diminish any apparent human meaning. In a poem written in 1945, Samuil Marshak (1887–1964), best known for his charming compositions and other eforts in the area of children’s literature, expressed existential views radically diferent from those of Kushner. “Vse to, chego kosnetsia chelovek, / Priobretaet nechto chelovech’e” (Everything that man touches acquires something human), begins Marshak’s poem.101 In the Leningrad imagined by Marshak, objects, buildings, and places speak in the language of those who have spoken about them or in their presence. As for the Neva, declares Marshak, “Davno stikhami govorit Neva” (Te Neva has spoken in verse for a long time).102 Marshak’s claim could serve as a succinct summary of Russian literary representation of the Neva. If the Neva were longer, like the Volga, and fowed lazily or turbulently on and on through the Russian countryside, it might have acquired a more independent cultural personality. In its brevity, though, and despite its liquid force, the Neva entered the Russian literary scene as an integral component of Russian national aspirations and so remained. A quintessentially urban river in its representation, the Neva has been regarded at various times as an inseparable part of Petersburg, Petrograd, Leningrad, and again Petersburg. Eighteenth-century poets argued that the river was the handmaiden of an imperial project, delighted to be arrayed in granite and to celebrate the achievements of one Romanov ruler afer another. Floods, though regrettable, could be ignored or construed as opportunities for demonstrations of tsarist authority and magnanimity. In the nineteenth century in some quarters the possible brittleness or outright falsity of the grandeur of both the Neva and Petersburg began to be acknowledged. Perhaps, thought some, the city was not really paradise but hell. Te river that ran through Petersburg was untrustworthy, even vicious, and the most appropriately symbolic structure that sat on the banks of the Neva was not Falconet’s statue but the Peter and Paul Fortress, focal point of decrepit repression. With the advent of the Soviet regime, the Neva emerged for some as a symbol of an imagined paradise truly lost, for others as part of a freshly conceived patriotism. Once again the river partook in the blessings, and challenges, of empire, but now it was a Soviet, not a tsarist empire. Unlike Mother Volga or Father Don, the Neva was generally not construed in familial terms. Lomonosov’s appellation of the river as vladychitsa 132  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

is telling. Vladychitsa may be translated as “mistress” or “sovereign.” Te noun’s root is vlast’ (power). While the term is sometimes applied to the Mother of God, it is decidedly lacking in the cozy overtones of matushka. As Dostoevsky’s Underground Man suggests, Petersburg is abstract and premeditated in the sense that it is very much a planned city. Unlike older Russian cities, there is nothing organic about the development of Petersburg, in contrast, say, to the “big village” image of Moscow. Similarly, the Russian literary relationship with Petersburg has always been mediated through the lens of various writers’ reactions to the political regime occupying its banks. Te Neva lacks a strong personality independent of the city through which it fows.

Te Neva · 133

4 Te Don

4 Dozens of proverbs extol directly or indirectly the martial strength of the inhabitants of the Don River region: “Woe to whoever muddies the waters of the Don”; “Where the waters of the Don splash, the enemy trembles”; “Te Don is quiet until the command comes: ‘To your horses!’”; “Even the tsar would not speak to the Don in a rude tone.”1 Te implicit agents of this aggressive militaristic stance were the Don Cossacks, once the largest of several Cossack voiska (hosts) spread across the borderlands of Ukraine and Russia and engaged in the simultaneous defense of the Russian Empire and maintenance of their own freewheeling ways. More than any other Russian river, the Don has ofen been associated in the popular imagination with a single group defned not simply by its ethnicity but by its social practices. Symbolically the river has repeatedly been linked to regional resistance to central authority and simultaneous readiness to take on any and all enemies of Russia. Te equation of river and region is so intense that it is sometimes unclear whether “the Don” refers to the river, the region, or both. Te history of the area has been marked by centuries-long struggle and cultivation of heroic values. Tese have been refected in historical narratives, folklore, song, and literature, both prose and poetry. Te story of the Don is in many ways one of slow decline of vaunted independence. In recent years, however, ancient traditions have made a comeback, and Don batiushka (Little Father Don) has once more stirred the hearts of those proud of their Cossack blood. In 2013 a sculpture of the personifed river was erected on the embankment in the city of Rostov-naDonu. Dressed like a bearded Cossack, wearing a large cross, and holding 134

a sword, with a knife in his belt, the fgure testifes to the perceived afnity between an indomitable people and the river.

Geography and Early History Te Don basin occupies the central part of the southern half of the sprawling Russian plain.2 It lies between the basins of the Dnieper and the Volga, the only two longer rivers in European Russia. Te river rises not far from the city of Tula south of Moscow, in roughly the same Valdai Hills area where the Dnieper and the Volga originate. It fows southeast and then southwest for 1,220 miles to the Sea of Azov, a small sea connected and slightly to the northeast of the Black Sea. Much of the forest and steppe land through which it fows is agriculturally rich, and the river itself was once famed for its abundance of fsh, while its banks teemed with avian and mammal life. As with the Dnieper, the Volga, and many other European Russian rivers, the right bank of the Don is generally higher and steeper than the lef. Te river is navigable for most of its length. Today a large portion of the lower reaches of the river, at the point where it cuts a large arc to the east, close to the Volga, is occupied by the huge Tsimliansk Reservoir, constructed in the early 1950s as part of the Volga-Don canal project. Tis accomplishment, one that many diferent individuals, from Turkish sultans to Russian tsars, had dreamed of across the centuries, made Moscow, the Soviets proudly declared, the port of fve seas: the Baltic, White, Black, Azov, and Caspian. Ancient Greek and Roman geographers like Herodotus and Ptolemy, who were familiar only with the river’s lower reaches, considered that the Don, known to them as the Tanais, marked the border, always arbitrary, between Europe and Asia. Te Russian name for the river, which appeared many centuries later, derived from the Scytho-Sarmatian word used for river or water. Perhaps because, as a river of the plains with a remarkably slight slope, the Don fowed very slowly in many areas, it acquired the sobriquet tikhii (quiet).3 For the Russians, the Don provided a link from the interior to the Azov and Black seas and, because of its proximity to the Volga, also to the Caspian, the Urals, and Siberia. Te Cossacks did not acquire a distinct identity until the sixteenth century. Well before that the Don gained cultural fame as the site of an important confrontation between the Russians and the Mongols of the Golden Horde (usually referred to in their local aggregate as Tatars by the Russians) that took place in September 1380 on Kulikovo Field, near the Te Don · 135

source of the Don and the confuence of the Don and Nepriadva rivers. Although in recent years the purported political signifcance of the Battle of Kulikovo Field has sometimes been called into question, it has resonated through the centuries as a symbol of successful Russian resistance to the Tatars and, by extension, to malevolent foreigners in general. Te Musco136  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

vite prince Dmitrii Ivanovich, who commanded the coalition of Russian and other forces, subsequently became known as Dmitrii Donskoi (of the Don), much as Prince Aleksandr Iaroslavovich of Novgorod had won the sobriquet Nevskii (of the Neva) afer defeating the Swedes in 1240 at the confuence of the Neva and the Izhora. Like Aleksandr Nevskii, Dmitrii Donskoi was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church for his eforts on behalf of the Russian patrimony. By 1380 the Russian lands had been under Mongol domination for almost a century and a half, the so-called Tatar Yoke that lasted until the late ffeenth century. Te many Russian principalities paid tribute to the Mongols, who had established their western center of power on the lower Volga. Te princes struggled among themselves for regional preeminence, ofen willingly allying with their Mongol overlords against their fellow princes in a search for greater power. Moscow, not even mentioned in the medieval Russian chronicles until the mid-twelfh century, gradually acquired territory and infuence. Meanwhile the power of the Golden Horde was slowly but steadily declining, in part as a result of internal Mongol dissension. Khan Mamai and Prince Dmitrii came into confict over Moscow’s territorial pretensions. Mamai enlisted both Lithuanian and Russian help, from Prince Oleg of Riazan near Kulikovo, against Dmitrii and his allies. Te khan and his army set up camp south of the Don River, anticipating the arrival of their Russian enemies and their Lithuanian and Russian allies. Te Russian allies did not arrive in time to participate in the battle, and the Lithuanians turned back on hearing news of the Mongol defeat. Dmitrii and his allies, from the ancient cities of Serpukhov, Suzdal, Iaroslavl, and Murom, assembled at Kolomna, north of Kulikovo Field on the Oka River. Te Russian forces were outnumbered but made some wise tactical moves. Most important, instead of remaining on the northern, lef bank of the Don, they crossed to the southern, right bank to Kulikovo Field, which was bounded by rivers on the north, east, and west. Tis guaranteed an efective containment of the Mongol cavalry, always a formidable element in Mongol attacks. Te location also prohibited outfanking by the Mongol forces. Contemporary sources give credit for the decision to cross the Don to various parties, but the weight of patriotism generally ascribes it to Dmitrii himself. Te Russian eforts were blessed in advance by Sergii of Radonezh, abbot of the Holy Trinity Monastery outside Moscow and one of Russia’s most famous saints. As a further sign of support, Sergii dispatched monks to participate in the upcoming campaign. Te Don · 137

Te night before the battle, Dmitrii ordered the construction of temporary bridges across the Don. Early in the morning of September 8 the Russian forces crossed the river. A thick fog shielded their activities. According to medieval protocol, the battle was initiated by a possibly legendary single combat between a Mongol knight and Aleksandr Peresvet, a monk from the Holy Trinity Monastery. Both perished and the battle commenced. Several hours later, afer massive losses on both sides, the Mongols fed with the Russians in pursuit. Mamai escaped to Genoese Cafa in the Crimea, only to be murdered by the city’s inhabitants. Two years later another khan, Tokhtamysh, attacked and burned Moscow, but Mongol power remained in eclipse. In 1480 the domination of the Russian lands by the Golden Horde came to a formal end, in Russian historical perception, in a battle on another river between the Mongols and the Russians known as the Great Stand on the Ugra River. Te Battle of Kulikovo Field was commemorated soon afer it took place in chronicle accounts and in a lyrical narrative work known as the Slovo Sofoniia riazantsa (Zadonshchina) (Tale of Sofonii of Riazan [Zadonshchina]). A few years later the Skazanie o Mamaevom poboishche (Te story of Mamai’s slaughter), which drew on both earlier chronicle accounts and the Zadonshchina, was composed. Te Skazanie survived in many more manuscript copies than the Zadonshchina, but the latter, which is to a great extent modeled on the controversial twelfh-century Slovo o polku Igoreve (Tale of Igor’s campaign), an account of Russian defeat by Polovtsians in 1185, is generally considered of greater literary merit. Te medieval compositional attention paid to the Battle of Kulikovo Field marks it as the single most treated event in several centuries of Russian history. A major propagandistic focus of these works is the ideological importance of Russian unity under the aegis of Christianity; for many centuries commentators had been concerned about the negative impact of internal princely dissension, which was believed to have permitted the Mongols to overrun the Russian lands in the frst place. Troughout the Zadonshchina and the Skazanie biblical allusions are combined with folkloric imagery to exalt Russian accomplishments. In the Zadonshchina, the Don is frmly cast as a Russian river that shares in the magnifcence of the Tatar defeat. Called “great” the frst time it is mentioned, the river locale ofers an opportunity for the expression of heroism. One of Dmitrii’s Lithuanian allies (the Lithuanians too played both sides of the street) urges action (not that the Muscovite prince really needs convincing) in images borrowed from the Tale of Igor’s Campaign: “Let us 138  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

mount our swif steeds, let us gaze upon the swif Don, let us drink water, brother, with our helmets from the swif Don, let us try our Lithuanian swords against the Tatar shields and our German lances against the armor of the infdels.”4 Unconcerned by the absence of dangerous cataracts on the Don and the fact that the Turkic Cumans (Polovtsians) had long ago been defeated and absorbed by the Tatars, from the walls of Moscow a Russian army commander’s wife echoes an appeal made to the Dnieper by Princess Efrosiniia Iaroslavna, wife of Igor, in the Tale of Igor’s Campaign: “Don, Don, swif river, you breached the stone mountains [the rapids], you fow to the land of the Polovtsians, bring my lord to me across the waves.”5 Afer the battle, Dmitrii declares that it was terrible to see Christian corpses lying on the feld like bales of hay, while the Don fowed with blood for three days. Te prince consoles the dead: “Brothers and boyars, young princes, for you, brothers, the place of judgment was between the Don and the Dnieper, on Kulikovo Field, on the Nepriadva River, you laid down your heads for the Russian land and the Christian faith.”6 Te Skazanie gives greater attention than the Zadonshchina to the details of the events leading up to the battle and to the battle itself. It also further emphasizes the religious tenor in its account of events. When Dmitrii confers with his allies about whether to cross the Don to engage with the Tatars, they tell him, “Order that the Don be crossed, and let no one have a single thought of retreat. . . . Iaroslav crossed a river and defeated Sviatopolk and your great-grandfather, Grand Prince Aleksandr, crossed the Neva and defeated the king, and thus it behooves you . . . to do the same.”7 Te frst reference here is to the defeat by Prince Iaroslav Vladimirovich of Kiev, one of the sons of Vladimir I, the saintly Christianizer of medieval Rus’, of his brother Sviatopolk, known in Russian history as “the damned.” Te latter earned this unfortunate sobriquet by having two other brothers, Boris and Gleb, murdered during the dynastic struggles that followed Vladimir’s death in 1015. (Boris and Gleb were shortly canonized as martyrs for the faith.) Te second reference is to Aleksandr Nevskii’s defeat of the Swedes in 1240. Te author of the Skazanie thus casts the river crossing in terms of an archetypal pattern of virtuous and divinely sanctioned Russian defeat of infdel enemies. In later centuries Dmitrii Donskoi was frequently invoked as a role model during Russian confrontations with a wide range of enemies. Te Battle of Kulikovo Field was a popular subject for manuscript miniatures during the medieval era. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries various moments Te Don · 139

from the battle were memorialized in paintings by Orest Kiprenskii (1782– 1836), Vasilii Sazonov (1789–1870), Viktor Vasnetsov (1848–1926), Aleksandr Novoskol’tsev (1853–1919), Mikhail Avilov (1882–1954), Aleksandr Bubnov (1908–1964), Vasilii Krivoruchko (1919–1994), Il’ia Glazunov (b. 1930), and Iurii Raksha (1937–1980).8 In several of these compositions the Don fows through the landscape in the background. In the nineteenth century the poets and playwrights Vladislav Ozerov (1769–1816), Kondratii Ryleev (1795–1826), Nikolai Iazykov (1803–1847), Vasilii Grigor’ev (1803–1876), Vasilii Krasov (1810–1854), and Dmitrii Averkiev (1836–1906) took up the topic of the Battle of Kulikovo Field, and the composer Anton Rubinstein (1829–1894) produced an opera. In the twentieth century the battle was treated in multiple historical novels by Sergei Borodin (1902–1974), Mikhail Rapov (1912–1978), and Dmitrii Balashov (1927–2000). Perhaps the most signifcant modern literary work to commemorate the battle is a cycle of poems composed in 1908 by the prominent Symbolist poet Aleksandr Blok (1880–1921) entitled “Na pole Kulikovom” (On Kulikovo Field). Like many members of the Russian intelligentsia, Blok was profoundly shaken by the Revolution of 1905, with its strikes, violence-ridden protests, mutinies, uprisings, and general unrest that persisted to some extent until the summer of 1907. Te frst poem in the cycle opens with an emotion-infused description of the Don: “Reka raskinulas’. Techet, grustit lenivo / I moet berega” (Te river stretched out. It lazily fows and grieves and washes the shores).9 For Blok Kulikovo Field is emblematic of Russia’s historical fate, a steppelinked story of unending battle and anguish. In 1912 he wrote, “Te Battle of Kulikovo belongs . . . to the symbolic events of Russian history. A return is predestined for such events. Teir solution is still in the future.”10 Te Don, described in another poem in the cycle as “temnym i zloveshchim” (dark and sinister), does not foretell an easy and bright fate for Russia, but the Russian cause is as holy in Blok’s rendering as it is in the medieval Zadonshchina and Skazanie. Now a new Kulikovo is imminent, declares the poet: Опять над полем Куликовым Взошла и расточилась мгла, И, словно облаком суровым, Грядущий день заволокла. (Once again a mist has descended and spread out over Kulikovo Field, and the coming day has been obscured as if by a bleak cloud.)11 140  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

Te inherent ominousness of the situation is underscored by an epigraph taken from Vladimir Solov’ev’s poem “Drakon” (Te dragon, 1900): “I mgloiu bed neotrazimykh / Griadushchii den’ zavoloklo” (And the coming day has been obscured by a mist of irresistible misfortunes).12 Like many Russian intellectuals of the time, Solov’ev was fearful of the threat to Russian civilization that he believed the Japanese defeat of the Russians in 1905 at Port Arthur represented. Te last line of Blok’s poem, the ffh and fnal poem in the cycle, calls for prayer in the face of the coming battle against whatever cataclysms are in store for Russia. Years later, in 1939, on the eve of another cataclysm, the composer Iurii Shaporin (1887–1966) and the poet and renowned translator Mikhail Lozinskii (1886–1955) produced a symphony-cantata loosely based on Blok’s poems.13

Te Cossacks Claim the Don Afer the Battle of Kulikovo Field the Russians, according to the Skazanie, spent a week separating the bodies of the Russian dead from those of the Mongols, burying the former and leaving the latter to the depredations of the beasts and the birds. Dmitrii returned home, where he died in 1389, bequeathing a stronger Moscow to his heirs, despite Tokhtamysh’s attack in 1382. Te Don retreated into comparative cultural obscurity, its largely uninhabited environs infringed upon by Russians, Tatars, and later Turks, but not really held by any nation. Over the next two centuries, the motley crew known as the Cossacks began to stake their claim to the lower reaches of the river they would call “Little Father” or, equally afectionately and respectfully, “Don Ivanovich.” Te patronymic Ivanovich, meaning “son of Ivan,” refers to Ivan-Ozero, a small lake popularly considered to be the source of the Don. Tere is much that is mysterious about the origins of the Cossacks.14 Drawn to the lower reaches of the Dnieper and the Don in large part because of the opportunities for raiding the Turks aforded by proximity to the Black Sea, Cossack communities initially comprised renegades, runaways, and free spirits from various ethnic groups, both Slavic and Turkic. With the growth of centralized Muscovite power and the entrenchment of serfdom, escape to the unregulated wilds of the lower Don ofered much appeal to some. Long exclusively male communities, the frst Cossack strongholds were on river islands, which aforded the best natural defenses against enemy assault but which were also susceptible to spring fooding. Te Don · 141

Troughout the frst millennium and half of the second, the banks of the lower Don had been occupied in turn by Sarmatians, Huns, Avars, Khazars, Slavs, Pechenegs, Polovtsians, Mongols, and Tatars. Ofen desolate, this steppe region was known to the Slavs as Dikoe pole (the Wild Field). When Cossack communities began to form, they soon took up mercenary activity in addition to simple marauding; the boundary between the two forms of activity was far from clear. First mentioned in Russian chronicle sources in the mid-sixteenth century, Cossacks from the Don area took part in the Russian seizure in the early 1550s of the Tatar Volga cities of Kazan and Astrakhan. While fghting, fshing, and hunting were deemed suitably masculine activities, the Cossacks long opposed any kind of agriculture or organized animal husbandry. As late as the end of the seventeenth century, attempts to engage in agriculture encountered extreme hostility. An ofcial Don Cossack document from 1690 declared that anyone caught plowing and sowing grain should be beaten to death.15 Indeed production of any type was frowned upon. Not surprisingly, such attitudes meant that the Cossacks were in constant need of grain, all sorts of military supplies (gunpowder, bullets, etc.), and their beloved alcohol. Despite ofcial denials, these commodities were supplied by the Russian tsars as a regular form of compensation in return for mercenary services. When the Turks, Tatars, and others complained to Ivan IV about the depredations of the Don Cossacks, he claimed that they were beyond Muscovite control.16 Such disavowals became increasingly tenuous, although it was true that Muscovite authorities possessed only limited infuence in Cossack realms, where the Cossacks boasted, “We don’t intend evil to Rus’. Rule, tsar, in stone Moscow, and we Cossacks will rule on the quiet Don.”17 As the societies that surrounded them became increasingly centralized and formidable and they themselves less transient occupants of the area, it proved impossible for the Don Cossacks to sustain an exclusively masculine martial existence. Women, some stolen or purchased, were permitted to stay, and family life developed. Increased adoption of Russian Orthodoxy had a certain socializing efect. In the early eighteenth century agriculture began to be tolerated. Tis led to increased Cossack occupation of the sparsely settled north and the middle reaches of the Don and to the establishment of many small village settlements known as khutora (larger settlements were called stanitsy), whose major focus was agricultural but whose men regularly lef to serve for long periods in support of Russian 142  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

imperial ambitions. Te river was still so rich in fsh that Cossack farmers could ofen aford to feed fsh even to their pigs.18 In contrast to many of their Russian peers, especially the serfs of central Russia, the Cossacks had a good life. Conscious of their comparatively privileged existence, the Cossacks were displeased when from the mid-seventeenth century on, with the harshening and expansion of serfdom and a massively disruptive schism in the Russian Orthodox Church, increasing numbers of runaway serfs and religious dissidents began to seek sanctuary on the upper, northern Don, exciting the attention of government authorities. A north-south divide that would eventually have crucial social and political ramifcations began to emerge. Well-to-do hereditary Cossacks tended to live in the south, near the mouth of the river, poorer individuals in the north. Even without unwanted attention from the tsarist government because of fugitives in or near their territory, the independence of the Cossacks was in decline. In the late seventeenth century the Don Cossacks had afer much resistance taken an oath of allegiance to the tsar. Rebellions by leaders like Stepan Razin and Emel’ian Pugachev were in part a symptom of Cossack distress at the erosion of their traditional privileges and increased absorption into the fabric of the Russian Empire. Tis process was enhanced in the eighteenth century during the reigns of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great especially. While the Don Cossacks retained extensive territory along the river, with a capital city frst in Cherkassk and later on the higher, less vulnerable ground of nearby Novocherkassk, the tsarist government assumed growing control of the Cossack government bureaucracy, including the right to appoint a supreme ataman, or leader. Te Cossacks were to a large extent becoming a domesticated force within the Russian Empire. Such developments continued until the end of the empire, by which time many Russians viewed the Cossacks with a mixture of contempt and fear, as a kind of personal police force of the tsars. By the mid-nineteenth century the Don host was the largest of the Cossack hosts, numbering more than half a million people and constituting roughly a quarter of all Cossacks in the Russian Empire.19 Not all of the inhabitants of the Don Cossack region were actually Cossacks. Te Cossack elders carefully and jealously controlled access to formal membership in the Don host. In the mid-nineteenth century about a third of the population were so-called inogorodnie (non-Cossack peasants living in Cossack communities). Te Cossacks were anxious to preserve their declining status, but Te Don · 143

this was a losing battle. Te environmental degradation that plagued much of European Russia further exacerbated the situation. Tere were fewer fsh, birds, and other forms of wildlife. Earning a livelihood from the land became more difcult and Cossack dependence on tsarist largesse more pronounced.

Te Don in Russian and Soviet Folklore Until the nineteenth century the Don Cossacks were not the belletristic type, to put it mildly. Tis does not mean that they were lacking in creative impulses. Te body of folklore—proverbs, songs, and tales—that emerged from the Don region and was later recorded in extensive detail, ofen by educated and devoted inhabitants of the area, is extraordinarily rich. Te river is a central actor in this folklore, playing many roles, including that of beloved source of nourishment and focal point for the cultivation of a martial spirit. Te Don Cossacks adored their river, and their image of themselves was inextricably bound up with their representation of its watery ways. While reminiscent of Russian attitudes toward Little Mother Volga because of the use of familial metaphors, perception of the Don ofen assumed a more partisan tone. Like some other regions of Russia, the Don area proved to be rich in its own versions of the byliny, short oral epic compositions with dim origins in the early medieval period. Many of the byliny focus on the exploits of knights connected with the court of Prince Vladimir of Kiev (father of Sviatopolk and company), who functioned within the Kievan bylina cycle as a kind of King Arthur fgure. Of the byliny transmitted in the Don area, many were collected over a half-century of activity by the dedicated local ethnomusicologist Aleksandr Listopadov. Te Kievan cycle proved to be the most popular in the region, particularly those byliny associated with its three central fgures, the knights Il’ia Muromets, Dobrynia Nikitich, and Alesha Popovich. It has long been argued that the popularity among the Don Cossacks of narratives about the exploits of this trio, who are in varying degrees selfessly devoted to Russian Orthodoxy and the defense of the Russian lands against historical and mythological enemies, refects the afnity of the knights for the Cossack ethos, with its emphasis on constant martial readiness and commitment to defense of the homeland. Scholars point as well to a diminution of supernatural and hyperbolic elements in the Don versions of many byliny and an increase in concrete and mundane 144  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

detail familiar from a Cossack context, including much attention to the heroes’ trusty steeds.20 It has also been claimed that the most popular of the three knights is not the one most typically central, Il’ia Muromets, a monklike, devout strongman ofen referred to in the byliny as “the old Cossack,” but instead Dobrynia Nikitich, a somewhat more articulate and cultured fghter devoted to his mother and wife who, according to some bylina narratives, spent signifcant time fghting near the Don. In Don versions of the byliny, Dobrynia even acquired the sobriquet Donchak (“the Donster”).21 Within the Don Cossack milieu, certain byliny thus found a congenial home. Te Don River, however, received the most explicit folkloric attention in indigenous martial and lyric songs. Te region was proudly and repeatedly called the home of “liudi vol’nye” (free people). In songs about Cossack military activities, the Don ofen fgures as a kind of tutelary spirit that oversees the martial undertakings of the Cossacks. Tere exist multiple versions of the following song, which is thought to have arisen at the time of the Napoleonic campaigns and provides a good example of the central role that the Don is represented as playing in the Cossack world:22 Как ты, батюшка славный тихий Дон, Ты, кормилец наш, Дон Иванович! Про тебя лежит слава добрая, Слава добрая, речь хорошая, Как, бывало, ты все быстер бежишь, Ты быстер бежишь, все чистехонек; А теперь ты, кормилец, все мутен течешь, Помултился ты, Дон, с верху до низу! Речь возговорит славный тихий Дон: “Уж как-то мне все мутну не быть? Распустил я своих ясных соколов, Ясных соколов донских казаков; Размываются без них мои круты бережки, Высыпаются без них косы желтым песком!” (Glorious father quiet Don, you, our benefactor [literally, nourisher or feeder], Don Ivanovich! Tere is great glory, great glory about you, and good talk, you always fow quickly, you fow quickly, and are always pure; but now you, benefactor, you fow turbulently, you have become turbulent from your upper to your lower reaches! Te glorious quiet Don pronounces a speech: “How can I not be completely turbulent? I have dispersed my bright falcons, the Don Te Don · 145

Cossacks; without them my steep shores are washed away, without them my spits spill yellow sand!”)23

As with the designation of the Volga as Little Mother, the designation of the Don as Little Father and benefactor and the use of the equally personalized appellation Don Ivanovich create an immediate and anthropomorphized sense of intimacy. Te Don’s glory and that of the Cossacks are implicitly linked, and when the Cossacks are called to battle, the river cannot help but react with watery turbulence. Such turbulence is a commonplace, a typical folkloric pathetic fallacy. Te fact that the river responds verbally to Cossack observations about its appearance heightens its anthropomorphized status and underscores its emotional reaction to the departure of the Cossacks on campaign. Te Don’s sense of responsibility for the Cossacks suggests a close, almost biological relationship. A century later, Mikhail Sholokhov used lines from this song as one of the epigraphs to his epic novel Tikhii Don (Te Quiet Don, 1928–40). Te Don reacts emotionally not just when the Cossacks depart on campaigns but also when they return home from battle. In another song, which begins “Za kurganom piki bleshchut” (Te lances shine beyond the burial mound), the Cossacks anxiously solicit the river’s approval afer a long absence: “Здравствуй, наш отец родной, Чтой-то, кормилец Дон, сердишься? Или нас ты позабыл, Или в нас ты не взглядишься, Или нас ты разлюбил?” “Не сержусь я на вас, дети”;— Шумно Дон проговорил,— “А я рад, что Бог вас, дети, Поздорову воротил.” (“Hello, our dear father. Benefactor Don, are you angry? Have you forgotten us, why won’t you look at us, have you stopped loving us?” “I am not angry at you, children,” the Don noisily replied, “I am happy, children, that God has returned you safely.”)24

In Cossack songs, not only the Don but also horses speak, and they too are sensitive to the symbolic importance of the river. In a typical song, a young

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Cossack lies dying from a battle wound far from home. His horse attempts to rouse him: “Ty sadis’ na menia, slugu vernago, / Ponesu ia tebia da na Tikhii Don” (Sit on me, your faithful servant, and I will carry you to the Quiet Don).25 Te Cossack cannot rise, however, and tells his horse to go without him to the Don and inform his family of his death. Much attention is paid throughout the corpus of Don songs to the omnipresent possibility of death in battle and its bitter familial consequences. One of the most famous Don Cossack folk songs, numerous versions of which exist, poignantly captures both the martial dedication of the Cossacks and the sad results of their military adventures: Чем-то наша славная земелюшка распахана? Не сохами-то славная земелюшка распахана, не плугами. Распахана наша земелюшка лошадиными копытами: А засеяна славная земелюшка казацкими головами. . . . Чем-то наш батюшка славный тихий Дон украшен? Украшен-то наш тихий Дон молодыми вдовами. Чем-то наш батюшка славный тихий Дон цветен? Цветен наш батюшка славный тихий Дон сиротами. Чем-то во славном тихом Дону волна наполнена? Наполнена волна в тихом Дону отцовскими, матерными слезами. (What is our glorious land sown with? Our glorious land is sown not with wooden plows, not with metal plows. Our glorious land is plowed up by horses’ hooves: And our glorious land is sown with Cossack heads. . . . What is our little father, the glorious quiet Don, adorned with? Our quiet Don is adorned with young widows. What does our little father, the glorious quiet Don, blossom with? Our little father, the glorious quiet Don, blossoms with orphans. What are the waves in the glorious quiet Don flled with? Te waves in the quiet Don are flled with the tears of fathers and mothers.)26

Te pathos of this imagery, which captures the essence of the Cossack ethos and its commitment to violent martial engagement, graphically underscores the close relationship between the river and the warriors who live beside it. Sholokhov used lines from this song too as one of the epigraphs to Te Quiet Don. In some songs the Don fgures not as a location for the expression of warm family feelings but as a site of retribution and violence. In 1707 Peter the Great sent one of his subordinates, Prince Iurii Dolgorukii, to the Don region to try Te Don · 147

to enforce tsarist regulations about the return of fugitive serfs. Angered by this attempt at interference in what they regarded as their internal afairs, the Cossacks seized and killed Dolgorukii. In a song composed to commemorate this event, Dolgorukii sets out for “the quiet Don Ivanovich” to assert tsarist authority over the Cossacks, but is instead himself slain and thrown into the river. Afer the Revolution and Civil War an initially dismissive attitude toward folklore on the part of the Soviet authorities during the 1920s yielded in the following decade to a keen appreciation of its potential for galvanizing popular support for a variety of enterprises.27 For Don Cossack folklore, this resulted in new twists for old compositions and new compositions couched in traditional style. Te “Lances Shine beyond the Burial Mound,” for example, acquired a new fnal verse: Знайте, знайте, супостаты, Что казачество в бою За советскую оно границу, Ой да, отдаст голову оно свою! (Know, know, foes, that in battle for the Soviet border the Cossacks will give up their heads.)28

Other songs celebrate the activities of pro-Bolshevik Cossack leaders during the Russian Civil War, like Fedor Podtelkov, head of the regional Soviet Cossack Committee, who was captured and hanged by White forces in 1918. In “Pesnia o Podtelkove” (Song about Podtelkov), the Don is unabashedly partisan and invigorated by Podtelkov’s actions: Как отец большого дома, Дон сынов своих созвал, Председателем ревкома Он Подтелкова избрал. По всей области обширной Он Советы объявил, Чтобы старый Дон, ковыльный, Вольно, радостно зажил. (Like the father of a large home, the Don called its sons together and elected Podtelkov as chairman of the Revolutionary Committee. Podtelkov declared Soviets throughout the entire vast district, so that the old feather-grass Don would begin to live freely and happily.)29 148  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

Another Civil War hero celebrated in new Soviet Cossack folklore was Semen Budennyi, commander of the First Cavalry Army, who, unlike Podtelkov, survived the war. In “Pesnia pro Budennogo” (Song about Budennyi), Budennyi’s fortunes are frmly linked to those of the Don and the Cossacks: Знаем, знаем, где Буденный, Знаем, знаем, где его сыскать, Знаем, Дон течет откуда, Знаем, чем украшен Дон: Дон украшен славой русской— Сам собой Буденный доказал. Сам собою доказал, Казакам приказ отдал: “Вы злодеев не щадите, Мои верные донцы, Дону верно послужите, Послужите, молодцы!” (We know, we know where Budennyi is, we know, we know where to fnd him, we know from whence the Don fows, we know what the Don is decorated with: the Don is decorated with Russian glory—Budennyi proved it of his own accord. He proved it of his own accord, he gave the Cossacks an order: “Do not have mercy on scoundrels, my faithful Donsters, serve the Don faithfully, my fne fellows!”)30

According to the dominant and carefully crafed Soviet folkloric narrative, the Don wholeheartedly took the Bolshevik political side and rapidly and enthusiastically adapted to new socioeconomic developments, much as the Neva embraced industrialization in the hands of some Soviet poets. In “Pomnim zamysly vragov” (We remember the schemes of the enemies), it is described as a “kolkhoznaia reka” (kolkhoz [collectivized] river) that the Cossacks will defend against the fascists.31 During the Second World War, the Don literally rose to the occasion. Te song “Bez pobedy zhizni net” (Tere is no life without victory) opens with the declaration: Дон могучею волною Берега свои размыл, Крепко наш казачий корпус Вражью свору насмерть бил. Te Don · 149

(Te Don washed away its banks with a powerful wave, our Cossack corps soundly beat the enemy gang to death.)32

In “Pod Rostovom my stoiali” (We stood frm at Rostov), the boastful Germans, like Prince Dolgorukii under Peter, are doomed to rest at the bottom of the river. And, as in the past, the Don still talks. In the song “Oi ty, Don, ty nasha Rodina” (O, Don, you are our homeland), the river has once again grown turbulent, a state it explains in traditional fashion: “Ottogo ia pomutilsia, / Chto ne vizhu ia synov” (I have grown turbid because I cannot see my sons).33 Te Cossacks console the river for their absence with the news that they are of in the land of the fascists beating the hateful enemy. Soviet folklore has long been the object of both controversy and derision. Regardless of one’s opinion of its aesthetic integrity, such newly created folklore provides testimony to the persistence of admired images and cultural fxations. From this point of view, modern Don Cossack folklore suggests that the deliberately Sovietized incarnation of the Don continued to serve as an emotional fashpoint for popular patriotic feelings about the region. Don Ivanovich may have been heavily and awkwardly manipulated in the hands of would-be continuators of a zombie-like folkloric tradition, but he remained a viable cultural persona.

Te Don in Prerevolutionary and Wartime Poetry In contrast to the Neva and the Volga, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the contemporary Don, in its guise as the archetypal Cossack homeland, did not attract much poetic attention from non-Cossack Russian writers in other parts of the empire. Tere are a few notable exceptions, for example, a section of Vasilii Zhukovskii’s “K Voeikovu” (To Voeikov, 1814) and Aleksandr Pushkin’s “Don” (1829). Both poems convey a sense of the Don as a timeless locus of martial values eminently consistent with its representation in folklore. Aleksandr Voeikov (1779–1839) was a military veteran, satirist, and journalist. He married a niece of Zhukovskii. Voeikov had just made an extended tour of the Caucasus and neighboring regions and visited Zhukovskii when the latter composed a lengthy poem celebrating his relative’s travels. Zhukovskii himself had not seen these areas and relied to a great extent on generalized received images of an exotic domestic landscape: 150  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

Ты видел Дона берега; Ты зрел, как он поил шелковы Необозримые луга, Одушевленны табунами; Ты видел, как тихими водами Меж виноградными садами Он, зеленея, протекал И ясной влагой отражал Брега, покрытые стадами, Ряды стеснившихся стругов И на склонении холмов Донских богатырей станицы; Ты часто слушал, как певицы Родимый прославляют Дон, Спокойствие станиц счастливых, Вождей и коней их ретивых. (You saw the shores of the Don; you saw how it watered the boundless silken meadows animated by herds of horses; you saw how it fowed, green, with quiet waters through vineyards and in its clear liquid refected the shores covered with livestock, the rows of crowded boats and on the slopes of the hills the stanitsy of Don knights; you ofen heard singers glorify their native Don, the tranquillity of happy stanitsy, their leaders, and ardent steeds.)34

In Zhukovskii’s rendering, the Don becomes the epicenter of an Arcadian landscape inhabited by knights of old. Beauty, agricultural bounty, and bravery all merge in a place that shows little connection with the harsh realities of the tsarist empire. Te poet appears to have absorbed enthusiastically and uncritically the commonplaces associated with an idealized Cossack milieu. Pushkin’s “Don” was fueled by more direct personal exposure to the places mentioned in the poem than was Zhukovskii’s “To Voeikov,” but it shares a similarly rose-tinted view of both the Don and the Cossacks. The background to Pushkin’s poem involves the decades-long war that the tsarist government waged in the nineteenth century against Caucasian mountaineers in an attempt to extend the borders of the Russian Empire to the south and create a buffer zone against the Turks and the Persians. Various Cossack forces, including the Don Host, were heavily engaged in these efforts. Pushkin’s poem imagines a moment at which Te Don · 151

battle-weary Cossacks long to return home from the Caucasus to their beloved Don: Блеща средь полей широких, Вон он льется! . . . Здравствуй, Дон! От сынов твоих далеких Я привез тебе поклон. Как прославленного брата, Реки знают тихий Дон; От Аракса и Еврата Я привез тебе поклон. Отдохнув от злой погони, Чуя родину свою, Пьют уже донские кони Арпачайскую струю. Приготовь же, Дон заветный, Для наездников лихих Сок кипучий, искрометный Виноградников твоих. (Shining among wide felds, there it fows! . . . Hello, Don! I bow to you from your distant sons. Like a glorifed brother, rivers know of the quiet Don. I bow to you from the Aras and the Euphrates. Resting from the dangerous chase, scenting their homeland, the Don horses are already drinking from the Arkhurian stream [river in the south Caucasus]. Cherished Don, prepare foaming, sparkling juice from your vineyards for your dashing horsemen.)35

Horsemen and horses form a harmonious unit here, while the river invites repose and celebration. In the nineteenth century educated Cossacks, like the historian and poet Evgraf Savel’ev, began to produce literary versions of traditional folk songs and new compositions that made extensive use of traditional imagery and themes and thus reinforced conventional stereotypes. In 1866 Savel’ev published Sbornik donskikh pesen, which Sholokhov later made use of in writing Te Quiet Don.36 Te most infuential of such works from this period was a composition by F. I. Anisimov, “Vskolykhnulsia, vzvolnovalsia pravoslavnyi tikhii Don” (Te Orthodox Quiet Don was roused and agitated, 1853). Written during the ultimately humiliating (for Russia) Crimean War, Anisimov’s exhortatory composition became a popular song. In the fateful 152  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

year 1918 the words were updated to refect contemporary conditions and the song was made the ofcial hymn of the Don Cossack Host. With the breakup of the Soviet Union and the resurgence of regional pride, ofcial recognition of the song was reconfrmed in 1990.37 Te lyrics exploit in exalted fashion a heroic image of the river and the Cossacks: Всколыхнулся, взволновался Православный Тихий Дон, И послушно отозвался На призыв свободы он. . . . Дон детей своих сзывает, В Круг Державный Войсковой, Атаман выбирает Всенародною душой. . . . Славься, Дон, и в наши годы, В память вольной старины, В час невзгоды честь свободы Отстоят твои сыны. (Te Orthodox Quiet Don was roused and agitated, and obediently responded to the summons of freedom. . . . Te Don summons its children to the Sovereign Cossack Assembly and chooses an ataman by general consensus. . . . Revel in glory, Don, even in our years, in memory of free times of old, in an hour of adversity your sons stand up for the honor of freedom.)38

In this version of the song the original words “na prizyv monarkha” (to the summons of the monarch) were replaced by the neutral and vague “to the summons of freedom”; the monarch was gone. At the same time, the continued emphasis here on Orthodoxy and liberty enabled by a fatherly Don evokes time-honored tradition. It speaks to a proud and patriotic conception of conservative Cossackdom. One of the most prolific and successful Cossack writers in the late nineteenth century was Fedor Kriukov (1870–1920), son of a local Cossack leader who spent much of his adult life outside the Don region but wrote many stories rich in detail about Cossack existence, the most famous of which is “Kazachka” (A Cossack woman, 1896), a tale of adultery and its unhappy consequences. Liberal members of the Russian intelligentsia greeted Kriukov’s writings with enthusiasm. Although he was a populist who spent a brief period in prison in 1907 because of his Te Don · 153

commitment to progressive beliefs, Kriukov eventually gave his heartfelt support to Cossack opponents of the Bolshevik government. His poem “Za tikhii Don, vpered!” (Forward for the quiet Don, 1918–19) was composed at about the same time the Don Cossacks adopted “The Quiet Don Was Roused and Agitated” as their official hymn. Like the latter, “Forward for the Quiet Don” includes many conventional military images familiar from Cossack folklore, but it strikes a more somber note that suggests the painful cataclysm the Russian Civil War represented for the Don region: О чем поется в песнях прежних лучших дней? О ратных подвигах воинственного Дона, Про славу витязей донских богатырей. . . . Донские рыцари! Сыны родного Дона! Ужель теперь, в годину тяжких бед, Постыдно дрогнем мы, и рухнет оборона, И не исполним мы священный свой завет? . . . Как кротко смотрит небо голубое, Вы слышите протяжный чей-то стон И в шелесте травы и рокоте прибоя? То стонет наш отец, седой родимый Дон. Вперед за Тихий Дон, за родину святую. (What is sung about in songs of former better days? About the feats of arms of the warlike Don, about the glory of the Don knights. . . . Knights of the Don! Sons of your native Don! Will we really now, in a time of serious misfortunes, shamefully falter, and will the defenses collapse, and will we not fulfll our sacred vow? . . . As the blue sky meekly watches, do you hear someone’s drawn-out moan in the rustling of the grass and the roar of the breakers? It is our father, the dear gray Don, that moans. Forward for the Quiet Don, for the sacred homeland.)39

In Kriukov’s representation, the Don Cossacks remain knights, and the Don still constitutes the epitome of martial spirit, but there is a new note in this poem that hints at the unfamiliar agony of internecine confict. Te moaning of the river suggests a particular pathos and stands in marked contrast to the boisterous tones in which the folkloric Don typically voices its sentiments. Kriukov could not know but may have anticipated that the Civil War would wreak havoc on the Don region, 154  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

turning Cossack against Cossack, brother against brother, in a novel and awful manner. Te Don region was one of the areas of Russia most devastated by the Civil War.40 Afer the February Revolution of 1917 the Don once again became an autonomous province within Russia. Te Cossack Assembly was restored, with the popular and talented Gen. Aleksei Kaledin as ataman. Afer the October Revolution Kaledin refused to recognize the new government headed by Vladimir Lenin. Sharp divisions in political attitudes among Cossacks of various classes as well as among those gradually returning from the First World War front, where Cossack troops had played a major role, contributed to a volatile and unstable situation. As mentioned earlier, a Soviet Cossack Committee was quickly established, with Fedor Podtelkov as its head, in direct opposition to the conservative Cossack Assembly. His position increasingly untenable, Kaledin resigned and committed suicide in January 1918. Soon aferward Red Guard forces took major cities in the Don region and Soviet power was proclaimed. Te frst Don Soviet Republic lasted only a month, in part because of bitter disputes among Cossacks and non-Cossacks in the region over questions of landownership. In May 1918 Cossack forces led by Gen. Petr Krasnov managed to defeat Soviet forces. A new entity, the All-Great Don Host, was created. It was at this time that “Te Quiet Don Was Roused and Agitated” became the ofcial hymn for conservative Cossacks. Brutal reprisals were taken against pro-Bolshevik Cossacks and support was provided to another reactionary entity, the White Volunteer Army under the command of Gen. Anton Denikin, in its campaign in the Kuban region southeast of the Don. Into the fall of 1918 the Whites had limited success, but the Bolsheviks remained determined to destroy what they considered a “Russian Vendée” on the Don. (Te reference was to the famous center of opposition within eighteenth-century France to the French Revolution.) Improvements in organization and growth in the Red Army’s strength, combined with battle fatigue, a yearning to return home, and widespread switching of sides by disafected Cossacks, contributed to renewed Bolshevik victories in the Don region. An initially extreme policy of de-Cossackization (fanatics wanted to dispense with even the word “Cossack”) and massive repression of perceived hostile elements made an already fraught situation worse. Uprisings followed, and Cossacks killed Cossacks with merciless abandon in a horrifc bloodbath that shifed back and forth across the Don. By 1920 Red forces had won control of the Don region, and many CosTe Don · 155

sacks, together with the remnants of Denikin’s army, retreated through the Crimea into emigration; some later returned. Te Soviet government pronounced the Cossacks an integral part of the Russian people, and the Don and its inhabitants lost any kind of special status within Russia such as they had enjoyed during tsarist times. In the years immediately preceding and during the Second World War, ofcial hostility to pretensions to Cossack identity was somewhat relaxed in recognition of the possible benefts that might be derived from controlled cultivation of a Cossack martial spirit. Meanwhile the large contingent of White Cossacks in emigration remained widely convinced of the sanctity of their cause and kept the fames of devotion to their vision of Little Father Don burning for decades afer the Civil War had ended. Te willingness of some White Cossacks during the Second World War to fght on the German side tarnished the image of Cossackdom both in Russia and abroad but did not completely destroy it. Te perspective of the White forces engaged in fghting their ultimately losing battles in the Don region during the Civil War found passionate poetic expression in the writings of Marina Tsvetaeva, one of the preeminent Russian poets of the twentieth century, and the émigré Cossack poet Nikolai Turoverov (1899–1972). Tsvetaeva’s husband, Sergei Efron, was a White Army ofcer and himself a minor writer. Turoverov was a White ofcer in a Cossack Guards regiment. In their poems, both Tsvetaeva and Turoverov seek to endow the eforts of the Whites in the Don region with an aura of hallowed commitment and to paint their losses in tragic tones. At the beginning of the Civil War Tsvetaeva was trapped in Moscow with her young daughters while Efron fought with the Whites. In 1922 she was able to leave Russia and rejoin her husband in Western Europe. Ironically, in the 1930s Efron secretly took up the Soviet cause and returned to Russia when his involvement in pro-Soviet assassinations in France was exposed. Tsvetaeva too returned. Efron perished in a labor camp, and Tsvetaeva committed suicide in 1941. Tsvetaeva’s major creative efforts from the Civil War period formed a kind of running poetic commentary on events. The sixty-odd pieces were collected under the title Lebedinyi stan (The swans’ camp). The swans are the Whites. Three of the poems in The Swans’ Camp, all composed in the spring of 1918, deal specifically with the Don campaign. Throughout, the White Guard is exalted; explicitly described as holy, its cause is godly. In casting the Whites as swans, a traditional image of purity and nobility, Tsvetaeva makes use of the kind of neg156  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

ative comparison beloved of medieval Russian byliny (“That is not a flock of swans but . . .”). The river becomes part of an equation linking virtue and opposition in a tragic defeat of the forces of good, a true swan song. “Molodost’—Doblest’—Vandeia—Don” (Youth—valor— Vendée—Don), declares Tsvetaeva at the conclusion of the first of the three poems.41 In the second poem she links duty to Don in a way that suggests a lasting memorial to the sacrifice of the Whites: “I v slovare zadumchivye vnuki / Za slovom: dolg napishut slovo: Don” (In a dictionary, beside the word duty, pensive grandsons will write the word Don).42 The third poem makes use of specifically riverine imagery to describe the final doom awaiting the Whites: “Tronulsia Don.—Pogibaem.—Tonem” (The ice on the Don has begun to break.—We are perishing.—We are drowning ).43 Still, though, the poet insists that these unfortunate events will be remembered and honored for all time. Turoverov was too young to fght in the First World War, a circumstance about which he expressed regret in one of his poems, but in his late teens at the outbreak of the Civil War he participated actively and enthusiastically in the trials and tribulations of the White forces. Many of his poems about the Civil War were written decades later in emigration, but Turoverov retained all his life a keen sense of himself as a onetime native and partisan of the Don. “Moia reka” (My river), he calls the Don in “Na solntse” (In the sunlight).44 Like many of Turoverov’s poems, “In the Sunlight” provides a loosely historical and idealized account of medieval Cossack ways. In the longer narrative poem “Novocherkassk,” prerevolutionary Cossack life assumes the contours of a pastoral idyll: Степная быль дышала сонно, Был тверд загар казачьих лиц, Как воды медленного Дона, Текла простая жизнь станиц. (Steppe existence breathed sleepily, the tan of Cossack faces was frm, the simple life of the Cossack villages fowed like the waters of the slow Don.)45

Life was good on the Don, and the ways of the Cossacks existed in harmony with the river. Tis is not so very diferent from Zhukovskii’s efusions a century earlier. Turoverov’s Don ofers the viewer a multitude of beautiful vistas. In “Byl vlazhnyi veter” (Tere was a damp wind, 1947), the poet describes the Te Don · 157

Don, again referred to as “my river,” as it appears in the sunshine afer a rainstorm, with a rainbow shining over it. Turoverov is so overwhelmed by the sight that he cannot catch his breath. In a similar mood, in “Deti sladko spiat” (Children sleep sweetly) the poet calls the Don, in this instance unnamed but unmistakable, “schastliveishei reki” (most happy river) and refers to its “raiskikh beregov” (paradisal shores).46 Tis is reminiscent of eighteenth-century poetic encomia of the Neva. In both instances, there is an implicit endorsement of the society that occupies the river’s banks. As in folkloric depictions, in Turoverov’s presentation the Don may assume character traits traditionally evocative of admired Cossack values. In “Ser’gi” (Earrings), a poem dedicated to his wife, Turoverov imagines at length the possible history of a pair of antique emerald earrings. He assumes that they were once a part of Cossack booty seized from Tatars, Turks, or Persians. Te earrings were carried back to shine, forgetful of their origins, “na razboinom, na vol’nom Donu” (on the free, robber Don).47 Most of all, though, for Turoverov thoughts of the Don evoke melancholy regret for the cultural milieu lost by the Whites as a result of the Civil War. In “Znamia” (Banner, 1949), the poet recalls his stormy youth and the sad retreat to the Crimea. Borne south by “vody proshchal’nye Dona” (the farewell waters of the Don), the Cossacks carry alof icons of the Mother of God, a tacit symbol of the sanctity of their lost cause.48 For Turoverov, one senses, participation in the struggles on the Don during the Civil War constituted the defning moment of his existence, memories of which no amount of time spent among the charms of Paris could dull.

Sholokhov and Afer More than any other Russian folkloric or literary work, Sholokhov’s monumental epic, Te Quiet Don, helped foster worldwide cultural renown for the Don. Sholokhov (1905–1984) was not himself a Cossack by birth but was born in and spent much of his life in small communities in the Upper Don region. An adolescent during the Civil War, he witnessed many important events at close hand. A Bolshevik enthusiast from early on, Sholokhov became a Communist Party member in 1932. In the 1920s he drew on his experiences during the Civil War in composing frst stories and then Te Quiet Don. A later novel, Podniataia tselina (Virgin soil upturned, 1932– 60), dealt with the collectivization of agriculture in the Don region. In 1965 Sholokhov became the frst orthodox Soviet writer to receive the Nobel 158  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

Prize for Literature. (Boris Pasternak had been awarded but was forced to reject the Nobel Prize in 1958.) Sholokhov’s receipt of the award occasioned bitter international controversy about the authorship of Te Quiet Don. Tis was not the frst time that Te Quiet Don had attracted controversy. Doubts and questions about Sholokhov’s authorship of the novel had arisen as early as the publication of the frst volume in 1928. Ironically these largely derived from the obvious artistic quality of the work. Sholokhov was in his early twenties when the novel began to appear, and some readers were skeptical about the capacity of the young writer to produce such a mature work. Doubts were compounded by the fact that, while Sholokhov was himself thoroughly pro-Bolshevik, Te Quiet Don is unusually sympathetic to the White Cossack perspective. Te novel’s major protagonist, Grigorii Melekhov, becomes increasingly anti-Bolshevik in his attitudes. Tis apparent creative contradiction fueled suspicions that Sholokhov was not the real author of the novel, that perhaps he had pilfered it from the deceased Fedor Kriukov or stolen it from the body of an unidentifed White ofcer—who knows? Such accusations resurfaced in the 1960s, embraced by prominent dissident Soviet intellectuals like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Extensive stylistic and historical assessment, including computer-generated statistical analysis, by an international set of eminent literary scholars supported the idea that, like it or not, Sholokhov was the author of the novel.49 Tere are still those who refuse to accept these conclusions, fnding Sholokhov’s authorship of the powerful epic ideologically ofensive. Te events described in the more than a thousand pages of Te Quiet Don take place roughly in the decade between 1912 and 1922. Much of the novel is set in the Cossack village of Tatarsk and centers on members of the Melekhov family, Cossacks of middling economic status with a farmstead beside the Don. Like all young adult male Cossacks of the time, the Melekhov brothers, Grigorii and Petro, and their neighbors periodically depart to fulfll military obligations to the tsarist government. When the First World War breaks out, Grigorii and many other Cossacks are sent to the Russo-Austrian front, where they experience all the horrors and contradictions of war. Grigorii is eventually seriously wounded. Troughout the war the Cossack soldiers are exposed to a range of political viewpoints, and for many of them, including Grigorii, their previously unquestioned faith in the tsarist system begins to waver. Afer the October Revolution, although initially sympathetic to the Bolshevik cause and willing to fght for pro-Bolshevik Cossack forces under Podtelkov, Grigorii soon sufers Te Don · 159

doubts, in part because of vicious reprisals taken by the Reds against White prisoners. (Other scenes in the novel describe equally abusive treatment of Reds by Whites.) For Grigorii, as for many other Cossacks, Bolshevik pretensions to Cossack land holdings are also unwelcome. He eventually turns against Podtelkov, but his pro-Bolshevik past means that many of the White Cossacks never completely trust him, and he is constantly vulnerable to attack by both Red and White authorities. Te bloodbath that submerged the Don region during the Civil War and the massive destruction inficted on Cossack settlements, small and large, are described in graphic and unforgiving detail in Te Quiet Don. Character afer character perishes. Embittered and hardened by his own and his family’s experiences, Grigorii fghts for the Whites and engages in merciless slaughter of Reds. Eventually he attempts to withdraw from the confict and return to a quiet existence on the land, but that proves impossible. At the end of the novel, having lost almost everyone and everything, he goes home, where inevitable arrest awaits him. Te Quiet Don provides an intimate account of the Civil War. It also tells the powerful love story of Grigorii and his neighbor’s wife, Aksin’ia. Teir doomed romance, which takes place over the entire decade described in the novel, is marked by passion, infdelity, long separations, anguish, and ultimately death. Te personal relations of the novel’s other characters, both major and minor, are also subject to turmoil and unhappiness, sometimes self-inficted but in many ways a function of the tumultuous times in which they live. Te Don River plays many roles within the novel. It is very much a part of the plot and subplots from beginning to end. Most obviously the Civil War rages back and forth across the river, which is also an important component in the experiences of individuals. Grigorii attempts to firt with Aksin’ia in a chance encounter beside the river. Some time later, afer an action-packed fshing expedition on the Don during a thunderstorm, the two experience a strong mutual physical attraction. Afer their afair has begun, and Grigorii’s father decides to marry him of to another woman, Aksin’ia in desperation seeks a magical release from her passion from an old woman in the village. Early in the morning the two women perform a ceremony at the river involving water, salt, incantations, and Christian ritual elements. Years later, at a moment when Aksin’ia’s estranged husband, Stepan, hopes for reconciliation with her, he ponders his intentions while gazing at the Don. Even later, afer a separation of several years, Aksin’ia and Grigorii 160  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

meet again by chance by the river and speak of their continuing love. Tey resume their relationship soon afer. Grigorii’s sister-in-law, Dar’ia, muses aloud by the Don about her unfortunate life when she discovers that she has incurable syphilis. She later drowns herself in the river.50 Sholokhov has ofen been admired for the many and beautifully detailed descriptions of nature in Te Quiet Don.51 Tere are numerous passages devoted to the river as it appears in all seasons and kinds of weather. Some of these include similes or metaphors that serve to anthropomorphize the river and endow it with an idealized Cossack-like personality. In the frst volume of the novel, the contours of the river near the stanitsa of Veshenskaia are outlined in vivid fashion: “Opposite the stanitsa the Don bends like a Tatar bow, turns as though to the right, and by the village of Bazka again majestically straightens out. It carries its greenish waters shot through with blue past the chalky spurs of the hills on the right bank, past the continuous villages on the right, past the rare stanitsy on the lef to the sea, the blue Azov.”52 Te river is very much an active agent here, seeming to determine its own route in masterful fashion. Te reference to a Tatar weapon enhances the martial aura of the description. A similar spirit of bold command informs the description of the Don in the early spring, when its icy surface has begun to break up: “Te joyous, deep, liberated Don carried its icy bondage toward the Sea of Azov.”53 In another description, unusual for the typically male-gendered Don, the breaking up of the spring ice evokes the image of a massive woman: “On the Don there was a liquid rustling, crunching, and crackling, as if . . . a powerful, dressed-up woman as tall as a poplar were going by, invisibly rustling the hem of her skirt.”54 One can easily imagine here the passage of a mighty female pagan deity like the ancient Slavic Moist Mother Earth. Te Cossacks in Sholokhov’s novel implicitly love their river and very occasionally voice their feelings. When circumstances force Grigorii and Aksin’ia to leave the village temporarily, Grigorii tells his brother, “I miss the Don, you don’t see fowing water here. It’s a tedious place.”55 For such Cossacks, the river represents life itself. In Te Quiet Don, as in Cossack folklore, the Don, like the other rivers considered in this study, is sometimes personifed. At the same time, life in its myriad patterns may resemble the river and the emotions of the characters call to mind riverine behaviors. Te blossoming of Aksin’ia’s passion for Grigorii has all the tension of a walk across thinning ice: “Te new feeling that flled her was frightening and in her thoughts she groped her way, cautiously, as if crossing the Don on spongy March ice.”56 River images may also capture the Te Don · 161

impact of rapidly shifing political developments. Te unceasing anxiety that marks the period of the First World War is expressed with a watery reference: “During these years life went to a low ebb, like food water in the Don. Tedious days languished and followed one another imperceptibly, in a constant crush, in work, in little needs and small joys, and in a great, vigilant anxiety for those who were away at war.”57 When the old order begins to break down, before the full eruption of the Civil War, the past seems evanescent, the future completely unclear: “Everything was as if in a dream. And it passed, like a passing fog over the Don.”58 As events assume a more active and violent character, such comparisons become more ominous. A description of the violent emergence of the river’s water from a too narrow channel through a deep opening calls to mind the divided loyalties of the Cossacks: “Life was collapsing toward an aperture. Te Upper Don district was beginning to boil.”59 In a powerful and very literal merging of the Don and events of the Civil War, Ivan Alekseevich Kotliarov, a landless Cossack and committed revolutionary, is a member of a group of prisoners taken on a death march through the region. Driven briefy into the river to wash of the blood from wounds inficted through beatings, Kotliarov scoops up in his hands and drinks water mixed with his own blood, a compelling image of the violence that has come to the Don. Sholokhov greatly admired Don Cossack songs as an authentic description of popular feelings and encyclopedia of traditional life.60 Te wellknown folkloric epigraphs to Te Quiet Don evoke the novel’s representation of the Cossacks as a nation of fghters doomed to sufer personal hardships and rampant destruction. Cossack heads fall, widows and orphans abound, and many tears are shed. Lines from versions of the song in which the Don is questioned about its turbulence are used twice as epigraphs, once at the very beginning of the novel and a second time at the opening of the second book. In the frst instance the Don enigmatically responds: Ах, как мне, тиху Дону, не мутну течи! Со дна меня, тиха Дона, студены ключи бьют. Посередь меня, тиха Дона, бела рыбица мутит. (How should I, the quiet Don, not fow turbulently! From the bottom of me, the quiet Don, ice-cold streams gush out. In the midst of me, the quiet Don, white fsh stir up the waters.)61

Te images employed here suggest the relatively peaceful rhythms of daily existence that mark Cossack life at the beginning of the novel, but the riv162  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

er’s turbulence contains an implicit threat to stable existence. Te threat is realized in the song’s second citation as an epigraph, when the Don explains its turbulence very diferently, using imagery familiar from Don Cossack folklore: “How can I not be completely turbulent? I have dispersed my bright falcons, my bright falcons, the Don Cossacks. Without them my steep shores are washed away, without them my spits spill yellow sand.”62 In the context of Te Quiet Don, with its profoundly ironic title, the words from the song point to the maelstrom that the region became during the Civil War. Sholokhov’s treatment of the Don dominated the twentieth-century Soviet literary landscape. Other Russian writers continued to laud the region, however. One of the most prolifc was Anatolii Sofronov (1911–1990), secretary of the Union of Soviet Writers from 1948 to 1953 and notorious for his indefatigable assaults on fellow writers out of favor with the regime. From the late 1930s to the mid-1950s Sofronov produced several poems in which he recast traditional Cossack values in updated Soviet terms, in a manner reminiscent of Soviet-era Cossack folklore. In “Bakhchevnik” (Te melon grower, 1937), “Kazaki” (Te Cossacks, 1937), and “Teplaia voda” (Warm water, 1938), Sofronov provides poetic snapshots of a productive riverside, where Cossacks still ride horses and sing about traditional martial themes, but where their loyalties have taken a positive new direction: “Razveem my vragov po vetru, / Za nash sovetskii vol’nyi krai” (We scatter enemies to the wind for our free Soviet land).63 In several poems written at the height of the Second World War, such as “Kazach’ia slava” (Cossack glory, 1942), “Pis’mo na iug” (Letter to the South, 1942), “Kazach’ia krugovaia” (Te Cossack Assembly, 1942), “Zemlia tvoia” (Your land, 1943), and “Don” (1944), Sofronov invokes a fervent desire to defend “kazachii bereg, tikhii Don” (the Cossack shore, the quiet Don).64 Te river plays an important role now, as in the past, in the encouragement of Cossack readiness for battle: “Ei silu davala v surovykh srazhen’iakh / Rodimogo Dona krutaia volna” (Te stern waves of its native Don gave [Cossack glory] strength in ferce battles).65 Te German invasion causes the Don to become salty from tears and red with the blood of orphans and children, but the poet remains confdent of ultimate victory: Вперед на немцев! Казнить врагов—казачий наш удел. Чтоб негде было на Дону им деться, Te Don · 163

Чтоб Дон от вражьей крови помутнел.”(Forward against the Germans! To slaughter enemies is our Cossack destiny. So that there will be nowhere on the Don for them to disappear, so that the Don will grow turbid from enemy blood.)66

Tere will be glory once again: “I slava o Done o sinem, tovarishch, / Proidet za toboi po zemle” (And the glory of the blue Don, comrade, will accompany you through the land).67 Te Don, for Sofronov, is still the invincible Don Ivanovich: А Дон все так же величаво Течет меж светлых берегов, В себя вбирая честь и славу Советских смелых казаков. . . . Мой тихий Дон, ты, Дон Иваныч, И от меня прими поклон! (Te Don still fows as majestically between bright shores, absorbing the honor and glory of brave Soviet Cossacks. . . . My quiet Don, you, Don Ivanovich, receive a bow from me also).68

Sofronov’s Don is unabashedly Communist in its contemporary political orientation. Decades later another Soviet Russian writer, Vladimir Firsov (1937– 2011), composed a retrospective cycle of poems, Ogon’ nad Tikhim Donom (Fire over the quiet Don, 1975), in which the wartime Don, and Sholokhov, are centrally featured. Te cycle as a whole constitutes a poetic biography of Sholokhov. In “Meteli” (Snowstorms), Firsov imagines a baby Sholokhov in his cradle who is unaware that one day he will bring the Don to the attention of the world: Расскажет всей планете он, Что кровь людская не водица, Что ею переполнен Дон. (He will tell the entire planet that people’s blood is not water, that the Don is flled to overfowing with it.)69

Two of the poems in the cycle imagine the attempted German bombing of Sholokhov’s home in Veshenskaia during the Second World War. Another links the Volga and the Don in an image of Soviet refusal to permit defeat: 164  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

Мы гордо вдруг произнесли: —За Волгой нет земли! При этом, За Доном тоже нет земли. (We suddenly proudly pronounced: “Tere is no land beyond the Volga! Moreover, there is also no land beyond the Don.”)70

Once again, the Don is synonymous with martial valor.

Post-Soviet Revival With the collapse of the Soviet government and the resurgence of Russian nationalism, the image of the Don and the Don Cossacks has enjoyed a true renaissance. In the past two decades many new historical studies and folkloric anthologies have been published and old publications reprinted, most appearing in regional centers like Rostov-na-Donu. Cossack traditions are a major focus of study at universities in the area. Te Whites are now regarded with open favor in many circles in Russia. Turoverov, for example, was prominently featured in an adulatory anthology of White Guard poetry published in Moscow in 2008. Tere are online blogs and discussion groups that cater to those who wish to reassert their Cossack identity or admire the famous Cossack spirit. And Sholokhov’s literary accomplishments are still being called into question. In 2010 two poems devoted to the Don appeared on Russian websites that ofer amateur authors the opportunity to post their literary eforts and receive commentary from other readers and writers. A site called Stikhi dlia liudei (Verse for people) featured a poem entitled “Don” by Iurii Trofmov and a site called Stikhi.ru (Verse.ru) a poem entitled “Don-reka” (Te Don river) by Irina Miroliubova. Miroliubova’s poem is a paean to the wondrous beauty of the river and the fabulous existence one may lead there. Te poem concludes: И живут там люди вольно, Пашут, сеют и поют! Весело живут, раздольно, Просто сказочно живут! (And people live there at liberty, they plow, sow, and sing! Tey live merrily, freely, really as if in a fairytale.)71 Te Don · 165

Te references to freedom echo hallowed stereotypes, and the claim that living on the Don is like a fairytale is a logical, if improbable, extension of suggestions made in some of the works discussed in this chapter. Trofmov’s poem takes a more martial tack. “Ty kazach’im dukhom skroen!” (You were cut with the Cossack spirit), the poet tells the river in the frst line. He implicitly expands on this idea a few lines later: Твой характер горделивый Заставляет уважать. Ты Река с мужской силой, Среди рек российских—знать! (Your proud character compels respect. You are a River with masculine strength, a noble among Russian rivers!)72

Trofmov’s sentiments too evoke a very familiar conception of the Don. Te cultural image of the Don across time draws from two major sources, a historical moment and an existential mode. Te historical moment, the Battle of Kulikovo Field, which took place beside the far Upper Don, provided fame for Prince Dmitrii Donskoi, hope for fourteenth-century Russians that it might indeed be possible to shake of the Tatar yoke, and a lasting symbol for principled and organized resistance to foreign invaders. To state the obvious, the Battle of Kulikovo did not involve the Cossacks, who had not yet entered the historical stage. One suspects, however, that, had it been possible, Dmitrii Donskoi, like his descendant Ivan IV, would have welcomed Cossack aid with enthusiasm and that the Don Ivanovich of Cossack folklore would have made appropriately encouraging noises to support the Russian struggle against Mamai and company. Te existential mode connected to the Don derives very directly from Cossack history and mythology. As actual and self-styled warriors par excellence, the Cossacks settled beside the Don and used it as route for their bold enterprises, but they also appropriated the river as a kind of guardian angel, an anthropomorphized fgure who shared their values and emphasis on freedom—freedom to fght, freedom to rob, freedom to carouse, freedom just to be free. Tis relatively narrowly construed image proved remarkably resilient. Born in Don Cossack folklore, it moved into the literate consciousness of Cossacks and other Russians alike. It survived both the Russian Civil War and the Second World War. Te long-term cultural 166  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

treatment of the Don may lack the depth and breadth of, for example, the complex associations generated by the Volga, but the Quiet Don is certainly durable. Like the recently erected statue of the personifed river in Rostovna-Donu, the Don-centered chat rooms of the twenty-frst century reveal as great an admiration for a simplistic icon of martial valor as the Cossack campaign songs of two centuries ago. Don Ivanovich is alive and well.

Te Don · 167

5 Te Angara

4 Te Angara, a major eastern Siberian river that fows out of Lake Baikal and into the Enisei River, awed and amazed Russians from their earliest encounters with its rapidly fowing and impressive waters. By the mid-seventeenth century Russian forces had constructed ostrogi (small fortresses) at key points along the Angara as part of their eastward drive across Siberia toward the Pacifc. Te native peoples sparsely settled on its densely forested banks could ofer little resistance to this relentless combination of imperialism and brutal subjugation. A treasure house of natural resources, Siberia ofered space galore for agricultural development. It also provided a convenient dumping ground for troublesome criminal, political, and religious elements. Exiles began to be sent to the Angara in the seventeenth century; they continued to arrive until well into the twentieth. Teir stories inform the history and culture of the Angara region in multiple ways. Te potential power of the waters of the Angara captured the imagination of Russians well before the Soviet era. Dreams of hydraulic bounty were realized with a vengeance during the regimes of Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev. In terms of the cultural efusions it generated, the Bratsk Hydroelectric Station, opened in 1967, was second only to the Dnieper’s Dneprostroi. Both prominent and lesser known Soviet writers of the mid-twentieth century celebrated the victory over nature and triumph of Communist ideology that Bratsk was believed to represent. Others were less sanguine, however, and within only a few years the immense constructions on the Angara (Bratsk was just one of a cascade of dams) were denounced in some quarters as destructive of both the natural envi168

ronment and human culture. Te tale of the Angara as it emerged in historical documents, folklore, poetry, and fction is one of hubris, violence, shame, and ultimately disappointment. From exile to industrialization to ecological devastation, the literary Angara captures much of the essence of the Siberian experience across time.

Geography, Early History, and Folklore Lake Baikal in southeastern Siberia is the world’s deepest lake (5,315 feet) and one of its oldest. It contains more than 20 percent of the world’s unfrozen fresh water. Nearly four hundred miles long and almost ffy miles wide at its widest point, it covers an area of more than twelve thousand square miles. Te lake and its banks boast a wide variety of wildlife, including many fsh and other animals found nowhere else in the world. Tree hundred thirty-six rivers, small and large, fow into Lake Baikal, but only one, the Angara, emerges from it. Te Angara is 1,105 miles long. It fows north past the cities of Irkutsk, Angarsk, Bratsk, and Ust-Ilimsk and then west into the Enisei, which is the largest river in Russia by water volume and the fourth largest in the world (exceeded only by the Amazon, Congo, and Yangtze).1 Both the Angara and the Enisei belong to the Arctic Ocean basin, which covers more than half of Russia. In addition to the Angara and the Enisei, the Arctic basin incorporates immense but ofen little known rivers like the Ob, Lena, Kolyma, and Indigirka. Te rivers of eastern Siberia cut through a massive plateau and especially in their upper, southern headwaters ofen exhibit a steep incline and a proliferation of gorges and rapids. Between Baikal and the Enisei, the Angara falls by 1,246 feet, in marked contrast to, for example, the Volga, which throughout its entire length of over two thousand miles falls by only 839 feet.2 Downstream, much further north, Siberian rivers open up into less dramatic valley confgurations. Tis occurs with the Angara past the point where the Ilim River enters into it. Te etymology of the river’s name, which derives from the Buryat angar, meaning “clef,” refects its upstream geological characteristic of rocky gorges lined by steep clifs on the lef bank. In the Angara’s middle reaches, where the Oka enters it, the river begins to exhibit a topographical mix. It widens dramatically, taking on a lake-like appearance, but continues occasionally to narrow precipitously and is then transformed into an impressively stormy and swif current; at some points the fow speed before any dams were built exceeded thirteen Te Angara · 169

feet per second. Somewhat confusingly, the lower reaches of the Angara were at times referred to as the Upper Tunguska (in contradistinction to the Lower Tunguska, which enters the Enisei further north). Although the Angara was not continuously navigable, even before the construction of today’s immense dams it could be traversed for great lengths with the judicious use of portages. What made the Angara a particularly attractive object of hydroelectric desire was the fact that, because of its origin in Lake Baikal, its fow rate was both large and unusually steady throughout the year, in contrast to a more typical riverine origin pattern of gradual 170  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

buildup from small streams and spring ice melt. In the case of the Angara, there was no need for the construction of a large artifcial reservoir to feed its hydroelectric stations because the large, deep Baikal was already there. “Baikal and the Angara are a Siberian marvel, the pearl of Soviet hydroenergy,” wrote a prominent Soviet hydrologist.3 Discussing the signifcance of Siberia as a new frontier, an American enthusiast declared, “Te Angara is probably the most ideal river for hydroelectrical development anywhere in the world.”4 Te river’s very rocky and thus stable bottom also made it highly suitable for dam building. Russians did not begin to expand into the Angara region until the seventeenth century. Before that, the banks of the river were sparsely inhabited by a variety of nomadic and seminomadic peoples. It is one of the ironies of the region’s history that despite its apparent isolation, there are signs of at least transient habitation along the riverbanks and on many islands dating back to the early paleolithic period.5 Te frst of these settlements was discovered in the Irkutsk area in the late nineteenth century. Other sites along the upper Angara, near Lake Baikal, began to be excavated in the twentieth century. Tey revealed remains of buildings constructed using mammoth bones and reindeer antlers as a supporting framework. Later Neolithic burial sites on the Angara produced pottery ware, arrowheads, knives, and parts of bows, as well as artistic representations of animals and human fgures. Te greater Baikal Neolithic culture was dependent upon hunting and fshing. Tis remained for millennia the defning cultural pattern of the area. Eventually a type of nomadic pastoralism involving horses, cows, or reindeer assumed importance. A wide variety of peoples migrated across eastern Siberia, most ofen from west to east and south to north. Tey spoke a number of related Turkic, Mongolic, and Tungusic languages. At the time of the Russian arrival in the upper Angara region, the most locally prominent of these peoples were the Tungusic Evenks and the Mongolic Buryats. As with other Siberian peoples, there had already been much intermingling between these two groups. Te Evenks, once known as, among other names, Tungus (just as the Angara used to be called the upper Tunguska), were few in number but widely dispersed throughout eastern Siberia. Tey were related to the much more numerous Manchus living mainly in China. Te Evenks frst encountered Russian Cossacks at the very beginning of the seventeenth century as the Cossacks made their way east and south up the Angara from the Enisei. Te Angara · 171

Te Evenks traded with the Russians and were forced, like other Siberian peoples, to pay the tax Russians collected in fur, called the iasak. Tey were Christianized, with only superfcial success, by Orthodox missionaries. Like most indigenous Siberians, the Evenks long retained a commitment to animistic beliefs and shamanistic practices. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, some of the Evenks were absorbed by the Russian populace and by other Siberian peoples. Others lef the Angara region and migrated east. By the twentieth century the Evenks, never numerous, were no longer a signifcant presence along the Angara. Today their entire population within Russia does not reach forty thousand. (Slightly fewer live in China.) Indeed less than 10 percent of the native population of Siberia speaks Tungusic languages. Te Buryats were and remained more numerous than the Evenks. At the time of the Russian arrival in the greater Baikal area, there were several distinct Buryat tribes. One of the largest was the Bulagats, who lived on the Angara and its tributaries.6 Referred to by the Cossacks as “brothers” (the name Buryat was very similar to the word for “brother” in Russian, brat), the Buryats were nomadic pastoralists, although as elsewhere in Siberia, migration possibilities were increasingly constrained by Russian agricultural and other development. Animists and shamanists, like the Evenks, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the Buryats were infuenced by Lamaist Buddhist teachings spreading into the area from the south, from Tibet and Mongolia. In contrast to the Evenks, the Buryats remain even today a noticeable presence around Lake Baikal and on the Angara. Tey constitute the largest of the indigenous peoples of Siberia, with a population of close to half a million. Altogether, though, only about a quarter of the native population of Siberia speaks Mongolic languages; more than half speak a variety of Turkic tongues, which refects the movement over many centuries of Turkic tribes into the area.7 Te Buryats were responsible for the creation of a charming legend regarding the confuence of the Angara and the Enisei and the explanation as to why the Angara is the sole river to fow out of Baikal. According to this tale, Angara was the beautiful daughter of her powerful and wealthy father, Baikal. Baikal wished to marry Angara to the young knight Irkut (the Irkut River is a tributary of the Angara) and promised Irkut that he would arrange this. Angara, however, was indiferent to Irkut’s charms and captivated by another young knight, Enisei. Resisting Baikal’s demands that she marry Irkut, Angara ran away to join Enisei. Baikal was enraged by his 172  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

daughter’s defance and hurled a huge rock afer her. Te rock supposedly thrown by Baikal is still visible in the water at the point where the Angara emerges from Lake Baikal. It is known as Shaman’s Rock. Te legend of the Angara was incorporated into the repertoire of many Siberian folktale tellers and became very popular in its Russian version with children’s writers and tellers, such as the Irkutsk native Vasilii Starodumov (1908–1996). In the mid-twentieth century the tale formed the basis for the most famous classical Buryat ballet, Krasavitsa Angara (Angara the beauty, 1959), with music by the Russian composer Lev Knipper (1888–1974) and the Buryat composer Bau Iampilov (1916–1989) and a libretto by the Buryat playwright Namzhi Baldano (1907–1994). Te ballet made use of Buryat folk melodies and dances. Angara the Beauty has been performed hundreds of times, most recently in 2016, locally and in Moscow. In 1972 it won the prestigious Russian Federation Mikhail Glinka Prize.

Russian Colonization and Siberian Exile Russian progress across Siberia in the seventeenth century was rapid, if often thin on the ground. It had been preceded, centuries earlier, by exploration from Novgorod that approached the vastness of Siberia from the northwest, by sea route. Te incursion traditionally defned as the opening event in the so-called conquest of Siberia that began at the end of the sixteenth century was a Russian victory over the trans-Ural Siberian khanate, one of the Tatar successor states constituted afer the breakup of the Golden Horde in the ffeenth century. Te invasion was led by the Cossack leader Ermak with the encouragement of the powerful merchant family of the Stroganovs, who were interested in the furs Siberia had to ofer; in the seventeenth century furs played a huge role in Russian economic growth and many economies worldwide. Ermak’s adventures were celebrated in oral Cossack literature and imperial Russian culture. One of the most famous cultural productions devoted to Ermak’s accomplishments was a massive painting by Vasilii Surikov, Pokorenie Siberi Ermakom Timofeevichem (Te conquest of Siberia by Ermak Timofeevich, 1895), which depicts in dramatic and nationalistic manner the Russian battle with the forces of Khan Kuchum on the Irtysh River in 1582. Kuchum abandoned his capital of Isker (known to the Russians as Sibir’) to the victorious Cossacks. Te Russian victory did not hold. Repeated skirmishes with the natives led to gradual attrition of Cossack numbers. In 1585 Ermak drowned, in the Te Angara · 173

same Irtysh and supposedly wearing a heavy suit of mail given to him by Ivan IV, during a nighttime attack by Kuchum’s forces. Isker was evacuated and abandoned by the Russians, and Kuchum himself survived until the end of the century. Te abandonment of Isker represented only a temporary setback for the Russians, however. Tey were soon back, but with a diferent strategy: “Instead of rash thrusts into the country, the government adopted a method of slow, cautious advance based on seizure of control over the river routes. Te instructions to the ofcers sent to establish Russian authority there contained detailed directions as to how to choose a site for a new town, how to build fortifcations, how to maintain military preparedness, how to treat the natives, how to provide the garrisons with military supplies and food, how to settle Russian colonists, and how to collect tribute.”8 Not that it was all smooth going. Te Russians fought with the natives, wrangled with each other, pitted natives against natives, ofen overreached themselves, engaged in chaotic acts of slaughter and almost constant violence, and were easily distracted by rumors of silver and more and better furs. A relative paucity of Russian women on the Siberian frontier and difculties ensuring adequate food supplies exacerbated the volatility of the situation. As in North America, repeated thoughtless exhaustion of fur supplies in a particular area spurred movement to another. In the frst two decades of the seventeenth century, the massive political upheaval of the so-called Time of Troubles (1598–1613) diverted attention and resources from the Siberian colonization project. Nonetheless by 1648 Russians had reached the Pacifc, and trade with China became increasingly important to Siberian economic development. Te rivers of Siberia were key to Russian conquest of Siberia, just as the rivers of European Russia had proved essential for earlier Russian expansion. Te ecclesiastical author of an early Russian work, the Esipovskaia letopis’ (Esipov chronicle, 1636), gushed about all that the Siberian rivers had to ofer: “Te rivers are wide and very beautiful, their waters are very sweet and there is a multitude of various fshes; on the banks of these rivers there is wilderness fertile for harvest and many places suitable for feeding livestock.”9 A dense network of rivers in Siberia meant that portages were generally relatively short in length. Travel by river was swif, and both fur-bearing animals and the natives who could be forced to deliver furs as tribute tended to live near the rivers. Te cities that grew up in Siberia originated in forts established on rivers. Lake Baikal, which was not discovered by Russians until 1643, was initially almost incidental to Russian progress across 174  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

Siberia. A Russian government decision in the early seventeenth century to restrict access to Siberia from northern waters because of fear of foreign competition for furs rendered inland waterways even more important. Russian military forces, traders, and later colonists approached the Angara from the Enisei. In 1619 Eniseisk, which, like the majority of Siberian towns, was initially founded as a fort, was established slightly north of the confuence of the Angara and the Enisei. In 1631 Bratsk (from Brat or Buryat) was founded near the confuence of the Angara and the Oka, between the powerful Shaman and Padun rapids, which were later to be exploited for hydroelectrical gain. Irkutsk was established in 1661 on the right bank of the Angara at the confuence of the Angara and the Irkut and close to where the Angara fows out of Lake Baikal. Irkutsk soon became one of the most important cities in Siberia. All along the Angara, the Russians who came to the region in the seventeenth century engaged frst with the Evenks and further south with the Buryats. Russian dealings with both peoples were ofen violent. Te Buryats especially did not respond well to exploitation and abuse. Te indigenous population of Siberia was, however, small in number and ill-prepared to resist Russian guns, which ofen gave their bearers a tremendous military advantage. Te parallels with westward movement in North America by Euro-Americans are obvious. By the end of the seventeenth century, the Russian population of Siberia already exceeded that of all of its indigenous peoples combined.10 Today the latter comprise less than 10 percent of Siberia’s total population of roughly 40 million. Te initial Russian population of Siberia was and remained a striking mix. Tere were Cossacks, military personnel of various types, bureaucrats, traders, hunters, peasants, clerics, merchants, artisans, religious dissidents, religious, criminal, and political exiles, and just plain vagabonds. Te Muscovite government encouraged “free” migration by peasants. It also engaged in compulsory settlement of peasants. A driving concern was the need to plant grain and produce food supplies to support military expansion. Te middle courses of the Angara played an important role in the seventeenth-century development of agriculture in eastern Siberia.11 Religious schismatics deliberately fed in groups deep into Siberia. In later centuries they were ofen forcibly settled there. Te most famous seventeenth-century Russian to come to the Angara region was Archpriest Avvakum Petrovich (1620?–1682). Avvakum began his ecclesiastical career as a priest in a small town on the Volga. A member Te Angara · 175

of a dedicated group of parish priests called the Zealots of the Ancient Piety, Avvakum was obsessed with combating moral laxity among his Russian Orthodox fock. He exhibited little enthusiasm, though, for the growing movement within the Orthodox Church to emend Russian texts and ritual in accordance with Byzantine Greek exemplars and practices, thought by some to refect a more accurate understanding of true Christianity. Tis soon brought the young priest into confict with reform-minded Muscovite authorities. For Avvakum and his coreligionists, the stakes were very high. Reform along Greek lines was associated with the machinations of the Antichrist and would, they were certain, lead to damnation. Avvakum’s commitment to the Old Belief, as it came to be known, eventually culminated in his probable burning at the stake in 1682. Many of the trials and tribulations that marked his route to this sorry end were described by the archpriest in his extraordinarily infuential autobiography, Zhitie protopopa Avvakuma im samim napisannoe (Life of Archpriest Avvakum written by himself, 1669–75), composed in exile in isolated northern Pustozersk. Te archpriest’s vivid and tendentious account of his experiences was much admired by later Russian readers, including many writers, as an early example of vernacular Russian speech in written form. Te autobiography also served as what has been called “a prototype in the long, dismal repertoire of Siberian prison and exile literature.”12 One of Avvakum’s frst descriptions of an incident related to a Russian river involves the Volga and, like so much of what Avvakum discusses, is marked by confict and violence. Afer an encounter with traveling performers and their trained bears in which Avvakum attacked both the performers and the bears, a prominent local ofcial took retaliatory measures: “Because of all this Vasilij Petrovič Šeremetev, who was sailing along the Volga to his governorship in Kazan, took me onto his boat, and blistering me plenty he commanded that his shaven-faced son Matvej be blessed. But I, seeing that lechery-loving countenance, I did not bless but rebuked him from Holy Writ. Te Boyar, being mightily angered, ordered me thrown into the Volga; and aficting me much they shoved me overboard.”13 Tis incident is emblematic of Avvakum’s multiple confrontations with secular and ecclesiastical ofcials. Te archpriest was both principled and ostentatiously self-righteous. (Tact and subtle persuasion were, it seems, un-Christian.) Representatives of intolerant Muscovite authority responded in kind, ofen without particular calculation but with great savagery. In 1653 Avvakum was banished to Siberia by patriarchal decree because 176  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

of his opposition to the ecclesiastical reform movement. Te intercession of Tsar Alexis (1629–1676), father of Peter the Great, meant that initially the archpriest and his family were sent to Tobol’sk, a relatively new town founded in 1597 on the Irtysh River in western Siberia, instead of the true eastern wilds. During his eighteen months in Tobol’sk, Avvakum soon and predictably came into confict with a corrupt lay ofcial. Afer several denunciations and beatings inside and outside churches by all parties concerned, Avvakum was ordered sent much further east, to the new town of Yakutsk on the Lena River. Up and down various Siberian rivers he and his family went. In Eniseisk, the archpriest was once again reassigned, this time to accompany Afanasii Pashkov, the former voevoda (governor) of Eniseisk who had been named commander of an exploratory expedition to Dauria, an area east of Lake Baikal later designated Zabaikal’e (Transbaikal). In an era marked by routine violence, Pashkov was distinguished by his brutality. Avvakum’s exact status in Pashkov’s mission was profoundly ambiguous.14 Pashkov’s force of about four hundred set out along the Angara in the summer of 1656. Tey soon encountered violent storms on the river, his salvation from which Avvakum was certain was due to God’s will. At the Shaman Rapids Avvakum evoked the anger of the volatile Pashkov by interfering in the latter’s attempt to marry of two elderly widows who wished to enter a convent. (Te dearth of Russian women in Siberia was a constant impediment to permanent settlement.) At another set of rapids Pashkov forced Avvakum of his boat, claiming that his presence was interfering with the expedition’s progress: “Because of you,” he says, “the prame [a type of fat-bottomed boat] don’t go right! You’re a heretic! Go walk through the mountains, you’re not going with Cossacks!” Ah, misery came my way! Te mountains were high, the forests dense, the clifs of stone, standing like a wall— you’d crick your neck looking up! In those mountains are found great snakes; geese and ducklings with red plumage, black ravens, and grey jackdaws also live there. In those mountains are eagles and falcons and gerfalcons and mountain pheasants and pelicans and swans and other wild fowl, an endless abundance, birds of many kinds. In those mountains wander many wild beasts, goats and deer, Siberian stags and elk, wild boars, wolves, wild sheep—you’ll lay your eyes on them but never your hands! Paškov drove me out into those mountains to live with the beasts and the snakes and the birds.15 Te Angara · 177

Te archpriest’s detailed catalogue of features of the wildlife and landscape along the Angara has been termed “the frst description in Russian literature of the Siberian wilderness.”16 It stands in remarkable contrast to the bulk of Avvakum’s narrative, which in general focuses on the interactions of human beings, with scant attention to nature. Avvakum’s reaction to being driven into the wilds along the Angara was to write an angry letter to Pashkov in which he broadly implied an afnity between the commander and the devil. Pashkov reacted as one might expect. He had his critic dragged before him, beat him mercilessly, and lef him overnight in cold, pouring rain. Te next day the trip was resumed. Te expedition soon reached the Padun Rapids, site of today’s Bratsk Hydroelectric Dam: “Tree cascades run across the whole river, fearfully steep; fnd the gates or your boat will be kindling! Down came the rain and snow, and only a poor little kafan had been tossed across my shoulders. Te water poured down my belly and back, terrible was my need. Tey dragged me out of the boat, then dragged me in chains across the rocks and around the rapids. Almighty miserable it was, but sweet for my soul!”17 Following these misadventures, the archpriest arrived at the Bratsk Fortress. He spent the winter in fetters healing from his wounds. His companions in misery included some unidentifed indigenous hostages. In the spring Pashkov’s expedition continued. It would be several years before Avvakum sailed back down the Angara to return to Moscow. Te wooden tower of the Bratsk Fortress in which Avvakum was supposedly imprisoned in the early winter of 1656 survived until the twentieth century. In 1959 it was removed from its original site to make way for fooding waters unleashed by the construction of the Bratsk Dam. Today the tower may be viewed, and Avvakum’s tumultuous career pondered, at a well-known open-air museum of old Russian architecture in the village of Kolomenskoe near Moscow, thousands of miles from the Angara. Another tower from the fortress remained in the Angara region; it was removed to an open-air museum near Bratsk. Te signifcance of river routes for Russian colonization of Siberia declined in the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In the late seventeenth century, Peter the Great decreed the construction of an overland Siberian route known as the Moscow or Great Highway, which was intended to link European Russia to China, with all its desirable trade products, especially tea. Te highway began in Moscow and proceeded east to, among other towns, Kazan, Tobol’sk, Eniseisk, and Irkutsk. In the early nineteenth century Irkutsk became the administrative center of East Sibe178  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

ria. A wealthy city whose culture was dominated by successful merchants, Irkutsk was also a key transit point for the transfer of exiles, many of whom passed through on their way to less savory destinations further east. More than a century afer Avvakum, Aleksandr Radishchev (1749–1802), an equally famous exile to Siberia, arrived in Irkutsk. Radishchev was the author of Puteshestvie iz Peterburga v Moskvu (A journey from Petersburg to Moscow), published anonymously in 1790. A powerful and infuential denunciation of the system of serfdom, A Journey fom Petersburg to Moscow was perceived by Catherine the Great as a subversive summons to the overthrow of tsarism. Radishchev was banished to Siberia but allowed to return to European Russia in 1797 by the government of Tsar Paul, who hated his mother and reversed many of her actions. Radishchev spent three months in Irkutsk in late 1791 before being sent north to Ilimsk, a small town on the Ilim River, a tributary of the Angara. Te writer was impressed by the possibilities aforded by Irkutsk’s geographical situation and later wrote that the city was “destined by its location to be the head of a strong and vast province [oblasti].”18 Almost two centuries later, the Siberian poet Mark Sergeev (1926–1997) used Radishchev’s words as the epigraph to his inspirational poem “Aleksandr Radishchev.” Te poem depicts Radishchev’s arrival in Irkutsk in the midst of a blizzard. Despite its great distance from Petersburg, the Siberian city houses many sycophantic tsarist bureaucrats. Te situation is not entirely hopeless, however. Sergeev uses the metaphor of the unfrozen Angara to suggest the possibility of some future brighter day for Russia: Крутой мороз. Но Ангара не стала— лишь белый пар от вздувшейся реки. Встречай, Иркутск, бунтующего сына, предрекшего иные времена. Идет щуга. Но то не просто льдины— То с глаз людских спадает пелена. (Tere is a hard frost. But the Angara has not frozen over—there is only white steam from the swelling river. Irkutsk, greet the rebellious son, who has foretold diferent times. Te sludge ice is moving. But it is not simply ice-foes, scales will fall from people’s eyes.)19

Troughout the nineteenth century, waves of educated upper-class and intelligentsia opponents of the tsarist regime followed in Radishchev’s footTe Angara · 179

steps. Afer the abortive Decembrist uprising in 1825, in which a number of disafected, primarily aristocratic ofcers attempted to block Nicholas I’s accession to the throne, hoping to replace the autocratic government with a more liberal system, dozens of exiles passed through Irkutsk, ofen on their way to the mines of Nerchinsk on the Chinese border. Years later, many of the survivors were permitted to take up residence in Irkutsk. Te homes of Sergei Volkonskii and Sergei Trubetskoi especially became important centers of progressive Irkutsk social life. In the early 1850s some of the exiles connected with the Petrashevtsy Circle, a group of ambitious young radicals whose most famous member was Fedor Dostoevsky, arrived in the area. As with the Decembrists, afer a few years some of the Petrashevtsy were permitted to live in Irkutsk. In the comparatively more politically relaxed conditions typical of the government of Alexander II, Nicholas I’s successor, some of the Petrashevtsy were able to participate in the publication of the relatively progressive newspaper Irkutskie gubernskie vedomosti (Irkutsk Province gazette). In 1864 the radical literary critic, publicist, and writer Nikolai Chernyshevskii (1828–1889) passed through Irkutsk. At the turn of the century came the Bolsheviks. Sergei Kirov (1886– 1934), whose assassination in 1934 when he was the Communist Party leader in Leningrad played an ambiguous role in the so-called Great Terror, came to Irkutsk from prison in the summer of 1908. During his time in the Siberian city, Kirov worked actively to develop the revolutionary inclinations of the local proletariat.20 At about the same time, another famous Bolshevik revolutionary and exile, the Georgian Sergei Ordzhonikidze (1886–1937), spent the summer of 1909 living in villages on the Angara and exhorting exiles over a large area along the river to engage in meaningful study and agitation.21 Ordzhonikidze escaped from exile on the Angara in August 1909 and made his way back to the Caucasus. Te activities of exiles like Ordzhonikidze and Kirov were later glorifed by Soviet historians: “Te peasants [in the Angara region] lived with the exiles in friendship and eagerly associated with them. Te exiles ofen gathered young people together and read them newspapers, journals, and books, and told them a lot about the life of the capitals. . . . Te exiles exerted a great infuence on the principal mass of the peasantry. . . . Te ideas propagandized by them fell on fertile soil and produced palpable results.”22

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Te Sovietization of the Angara Afer the Revolutions of 1917, Siberia became a major battleground in the Russian Civil War. Irkutsk was the site of the last stand of the White admiral and sometime Arctic explorer Aleksandr Kolchak, whose retreat across Siberia ended with his execution by Red forces. Afer he was shot at dawn on February 7, 1920, the admiral’s corpse was dumped through a hole in the ice on the Angara. Tis scene is graphically represented in the 2008 Russian flm Admiral. Like their tsarist predecessors, the Communists soon discovered that Siberia could serve as an excellent disposal point for enemies, real and perceived, of all kinds. Tis included peasants of various ethnicities subject to internal deportation in the wake of the ofen violent collectivization of agriculture initiated by the Soviet government in 1929. Some of those caught up in this process were Tatars living in areas along the southern reaches of the Volga. In 2015 the young Tatar novelist Guzel’ Iakhina (b. 1977), born and raised in Kazan, published the prize-winning novel Zuleikha otkryvaet glaza (Zuleikha opens her eyes), which draws in part on her grandmother’s experiences in Siberia. Zuleikha Opens Her Eyes has excited much controversy, hailed as one of the latest examples of the great Russian novel and criticized as an expression of latter-day Orientalism.23 Zuleikha Valieva of the novel’s title is a young woman who has led an insulated, backbreaking, and emotionally unsatisfying existence in a small Tatar community. Early in the novel, afer her elderly and abusive husband has been shot by Communist authorities, Zuleikha and many of her neighbors are deported. Tey are taken frst to Kazan and from there, together with a handful of suspect intellectuals and professionals from Leningrad and Kazan, on a strenuous multimonth train trip across Siberia to the city of Krasnoyarsk on the Enisei River. From there they are transported by boat up the Angara to an isolated riverside location where they are supposed to start a new life. Te GPU ofcer in charge of this group is Ivan Ignatov, a young man committed to the Soviet regime, whose integrity is constantly tested by the unheroic circumstances in which he fnds himself. In Siberia, Zuleikha soon gives birth to a son, the child of her deceased husband. Eventually Zuleikha and Ivan fall in love. Years later, afer the Second World War, Ivan enables Zuleikha’s now teenage son to escape down the Angara carrying false papers. Te Angara does not appear in a propitious guise in Zuleikha Opens Her Te Angara · 181

Eyes: “For days they dragged themselves downstream along the Enisei. In the morning they entered the Angara and began to rattle upstream. Again the day was hot and humid. By the afernoon it was unbearable.”24 Ignatov asks one of the sailors if he has been on the Angara before. Te sailor’s response is ominous: “My grandfather said that there was nothing on earth more beautiful than the Angara. And also more perfdious. . . . Te Angara is truly like . . . a mother to some, a sister to some, and a stepmother to others. And to some a grave. . . . My grandfather himself drowned here.”25 Te sailor’s dire forebodings are confrmed when a severe storm blows up. Te boat sinks and the vast majority of Ignatov’s charges, trapped below deck, drown, despite his desperate eforts to save them. Ignatov and Zuleikha are among the few survivors. Tey are later joined by a handful of deportees who arrive on a second boat. Lacking any kind of provisions, Ignatov rapidly becomes sarcastic about the new settlement’s prospects, telling his superior, Kuznets, “You want to put a dot on the map? . . . Te opening up of the shores of the great Angara? And the people—the devil with them, new ones will be born?” 26 Ignatov feels that he and the deportees have been abandoned in the middle of an uninhabited wilderness. In contrast to the Enisei, he has noticed no settlements at all along the Angara, and indeed throughout the novel’s description of years of difcult existence there is never a mention of any other human beings on the river. As time passes, the deportees, under Ignatov’s leadership, come to terms with their lot. One of the peasants, Lukka, communes with the Angara in his own mystical way and begins to provide the settlement with fsh. Afer a difcult winter, the ice fnally breaks up and the river becomes as “blue and sparkling” as it had been when they arrived the previous summer.27 But the river gradually acquires an ambivalent aspect. It is a source of water and food and ofen a scene of great natural beauty, but it is also a barrier. For Ignatov, no less trapped than his charges, the Angara is eventually the cause of his having to have a leg amputated, the result of an accident that occurs when he tells Kuznets in a ft of hysteria that he can no longer tolerate his assignment and leaps into the water afer his superior’s departing craf. Ultimately, however, Ignatov develops an afection of sorts for Siberia and the Angara: “How did it happen that in the course of the years he had become attached to this unfriendly and severe land? To this dangerous river, crafy in its eternal inconstancy, possessing thousands of shades of color and smell?”28 For Zuleikha’s son, Iusuf, the river is simultaneously a barrier and a 182  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

source of fascination: “He loved to sit on the shore and gaze into its inconstant depths: the cold, heavy water harbored within itself all shades of blue and gray, and like a forest, all shades of green, and like a fre in a stove, all shades of red and yellow.”29 Iusuf early exhibits great artistic talent. Views of the Angara feed his spirit and his ambitions. Nighttime fshing expeditions with Lukka are particularly inspiring: “Te nocturnal Angara was completely diferent—calm and silent. Te waves splashed against the side of the boat tenderly and delicately. . . . Te vault of heaven was refected in the black mirror of the water; the boat sailed, barely rocking, between two starry cupolas. . . . In the morning Iusuf would try to draw from memory what he had seen at night, but he never liked what turned out.”30 In order to realize his talent, Iusuf must leave the Angara, presumably headed, with his false papers, to Leningrad. Zuleikha last glimpses her son as he departs alone in the small boat lef to him by the deceased Lukka: “Zuleikha could not contain the pain inside her, and the pain splashed out, it fooded everything around it—the shining Angara water, the malachite green of the shores and hills, the clif on which Zuleikha stood. . . . Iusuf ’s oars thrashed the river, carrying him beyond the horizon—that was painful. To watch this was painful. Even to breathe was painful.”31 Zuleikha Opens Her Eyes is a story of love—maternal and romantic. As the site where this story unfolds, the Angara plays an important role. Like the lives of the novel’s protagonists, the river is harsh and yet rewarding, delivering both pain and beauty. At about the same time that the fctional Zuleikha and company were eking out their difcult existence on the Angara, other Soviet citizens were planning how to harness the river’s immense hydroelectric potential. Even before the revolution various experts were sensitive to what the Angara might mean for the development of eastern Siberia. Immediately afer the Revolution, systematic study of the river’s resources was initiated.32 Te overarching governmental agency in charge of hydroelectric development was GOELRO (State Commission for the Electrifcation of Russia), which was founded by Lenin in early 1920. In a report produced already in May 1920, the eminent engineer A. A. Vel’ner wrote in detail about the Angara’s potential. Similarly enthusiastic assessments followed throughout the decade. By the early 1930s specifc plans for the construction of a cascade of dams along the Angara, the frst near Irkutsk, were being outlined. Te Second World War put a temporary halt to hydroelectric development, but at the same time the transfer of many industrial operations as well as people to Siberia during the war gave even greater urgency to the desire to exploit Te Angara · 183

the resources of the Angara. Shortly afer the war discussion of dam construction was resumed. Actual construction of the frst dam, forty miles from Lake Baikal, began in 1950. Brigades of construction workers who had participated in the building of dams on the Volga and the Don focked to the Angara, as well as many enthusiastic young people for whom this was their frst experience with dams. By 1958 the Irkutsk or Baikal Hydroelectric Station was operating at full power, producing more electrical energy than all the power stations of prerevolutionary Russia combined.33 From the 1930s on, poetic responses followed quickly on the heels of the development of engineering plans for the Angara. An early composition that lauded hydroelectric intentions was Vasilii Nepomniashchikh’s “Stikhi ob Angarstroe” (Verses about Angarstroi, 1932): И вот, распоров вековую скалу, напориста и быстра, Туга, как тунгуская тетива, звенит в шиверах Ангара. Подобной реки ни за что не найдешь— всю земли исколеси, Такого напора, такой быстроты в миллион лошадиных сил! И песня моя на высокий лад, на самый мажорный строй, Про светлый, встающий из планов и смет гигантский Ангарстрой. (And here, ripping apart the age-old crag, energetic and swif, taut, like a Tungus bow- string, the Angara rings in the shoals. Even if you travel over the entire land, you will not fnd a river of such pressure, such speed—equal to a million horsepower! And my song is in high harmony, in the most major pitch, about the bright gigantic Angarstroi that is rising from the plans and estimates.)34

A better known writer and lover of dams, Maksim Gorky, was also enthralled by the promise of the Angara: “Capturing the imagination with their grandeur, fairytale pictures unfold of a future Siberia that will be created by the elemental force of the Angara when it has been made meek and mastered by the laboring energy of the people.”35 In 1957 the novel Angara appeared. Its author, the journalist Frants Taurin (1911–1995), had served as editor of the Irkutsk dam construction site 184  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

newspaper, the Fires of Communism. Angara was composed frmly in keeping with the conventions of Soviet production novels. Hundreds of pages long, flled with many technical details to which Taurin was exposed during his editorship of the Fires of Communism, the novel boasts innumerable major and minor characters, some who are dedicated Communists from the beginning, others who acquire political maturity in the course of the novel, and a handful of unredeemable bad apples. Tere are multiple love interests, a few tragic deaths, some satisfying exposures of selfsh and un-Soviet behavior, and at the center of the narrative the spectacular engineering achievement of the dam. Te Angara is represented as unique from the opening paragraphs of the novel. While there are thousands of rivers, each with its own features, the Angara is diferent, the narrator tells us: Te pearl of Siberia—the Angara—is diferent from all rivers. Having broken out of the stone ring of the Baikal mountains, it is born powerful right away; it combines the high water of a river of the plains with the swifness of a mountain stream. Te proud force of the Angara is in keeping with a gigantic region. No wonder the Siberians love it so much. Te Angara is like the soul of a Siberian—indomitable and brave, severe and pure. Every river has its fate and its time. And now the time of the Angara has arrived.36

All of those who work at the dam construction site recognize the force of the Angara, but they are also keenly aware, sometimes in embarrassingly self-important terms, of their own worth as Soviet citizens and the significance of their involvement in a hydroelectric project. Teir bureaucratic superiors are equally insensitive to bombast. Te head of the central directorate responsible for dam construction declares, “Te Angara is fowing into the future! Te energy of the Angara is the foundation, the backbone of the new, most powerful industrial base of the Soviet state. Within a few years East Siberia will rank with the Donbass, the Urals, and the Kuzbass, and we, the hydro-builders, will be pioneers in the mastery of its innumerable natural riches!”37 Like ofcials in many Soviet construction novels, the head of the directorate recognizes that this project is not simply an engineering efort but a socialist endeavor as well. Instructing a subordinate on the need for proper living conditions for the workers on the site, he insists, “You are not building the pyramid of Cheops, but a hydroelecTe Angara · 185

tric station in the Soviet Union.”38 Soviet dams are a qualitatively diferent form of waterworks. Troughout Angara, repeated observations underscore the signifcance of the related themes of the unique power of the Angara and the inestimable importance of the dam project for the Soviet economy. As the novel progresses, the theme of dam construction as a battle between insensate nature and intentional humanity is also highlighted. In this battle human beings are implicitly superior to nature. In discussing details of changing the Angara’s fow, one engineer observes, “We are changing [the motion of the river], but while the river itself laid out a course for itself over many thousands of years, we have been allotted only ten months for this matter.”39 Hence the continual sense of urgency that drives the actions of all of the novel’s characters, who frequently fantasize about the great future of the Angara and Siberia, a future they are attempting to realize as quickly as possible. Te very speed with which they are working is symbolic of human superiority to nature. Te climax of the novel comes with the actual moment of the damming of the Angara. Tis event is preceded by much discussion, study, tales by old-timers of damming other rivers, and viewing of documentary flms chronicling previous accomplishments. Te sense of a great battle between human beings and nature becomes ever stronger. An awareness of the beauty of the river yields to a recognition of its hostility: “Rozhnov wasn’t thinking about the [river’s] beauty now. Before him was an opponent, threatening in its frenzied force and merciless to the least confusion and mistake.”40 Angara the beauty has become Angara the beast, but only temporarily. When the damming process is complete, the dam’s toothy crest gradually becomes visible, evoking an unexpected metaphor: “It really seemed that it was the teeth of a gigantic comb with which the obstinate beauty Angara was combing her blue-green braids.”41 Now the Angara is ready “to serve devotedly and industriously the people who have subdued it.”42 Te anthropomorphosis of the river here seems to suggest that the Angara has become yet another Soviet citizen and member of the working class. Its Sovietization is complete. As Paul Josephson and his fellow authors observe in An Environmental History of Russia, “Nature itself, in many ways, came to be viewed as an enemy to be subjugated to the positive forces of the Communist Party to reshape it in a socialist fashion. Rivers and forests would operate according to plan.”43 Aleksandr Tvardovskii (1910–1971) provided a poetic response to the 186  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

Irkutsk hydroelectric project. Tvardovskii had gained popularity during the Second World War because of his serially published epic poem Vasilii Terkin (1942–1945), whose ordinary soldier protagonist commanded the afection of many Soviet readers during difcult times. In his epic poem Za dal’iu dal’ (Distance beyond distance, 1950–60), Tvardovskii uses the device of a trip to Siberia to explore a range of historical and political questions. In the section of the poem entitled “Na Angare” (On the Angara), he focuses on the moment of the damming of the river at Irkutsk. Te human triumph over nature is prominently featured. Te wild Angara will be forced to follow the example of other Russian rivers: эти воды, Подобно волжским и иным, Уже не дар, а дань природы— Войдут в назначенный режим. (Tese waters, like the Volga’s and others, are no longer a gif but a tribute of nature—they will enter into a prescribed regimen.)44

Tvardovskii also invokes the metaphor of a battle, so frequently employed in Soviet and other literary descriptions of dam construction. For Tvardovskii, as for Taurin in Angara, the eforts involved in the fnal storming of the river assume a specifcally socialist character. Participants of a wide variety of nationalities, from Ukrainians to Buryats, are linked in one laboring family; political beliefs transcend ethnic identity. Te poet’s rapture knows no bounds, but he retains a pleasing sense of modesty about his artistic role in events: Начальник подошел. Ну, как? Поэма будет? Чем не тема! И я, понятно, не простак, Ответил: Вот она, поэма! Он усмехнулся: Так-то так. (Te chief came up to me. “Well, what about it? Will there be a poem? What better theme!” And I of course, not a simpleton, answered, “Here it is, the poem!” He grinned: “Tat’s as it may be.”)45 Te Angara · 187

At the climactic moment two bulldozer drivers shake hands: “Kak budto, smiav voiska blokady, / Vstrechalis’ bratskie voiska” (As if, having crushed the armies of the blockade, fraternal armies met).46 Perhaps not quite the meeting of Soviet and American troops on the Elbe in 1945, but a major victory nonetheless. Te Irkutsk or Baikal Hydroelectric Dam was only the frst in a series of dams that eventually marked the Angara. Of the fve dams built in subsequent years, the one that garnered the most attention was the largest in the Angara cascade, the massive Bratsk Hydroelectric Center, located just below the Padun Rapids, 414 miles from Lake Baikal, at a point where the river narrows to 2,500 to 3,600 feet wide and forces its way through clifs 245 to 260 feet high high. Te major dam in the Bratsk complex is 3,030 feet along its crest and reaches a maximum height of 410 feet. Railroad tracks and a highway run across the dam.47 Te technological and ideological meaning of Bratsk was later defned by Brezhnev: “Today, where there was once dense taiga, the Bratsk hydroelectric station, the greatest in the world, has arisen and the new city of Bratsk has grown up. It has become a symbol of the revolutionary maturity and courage of Soviet youth of the sixties.”48 If Baikal was the father of Angara, Bratsk, it was said, was Baikal’s grandson.49 In keeping with Soviet tradition, a stream of writers visited the Bratsk construction site and attempted to capture its signifcance in deathless prose or verse. One of the frst to do so was Tvardovskii in “Razgovor s Padunom” (A conversation with Padun, 1958), a dialogue between the poet and the Padun Rapids, cast here as a crotchety old man proud of his strength and contemptuous of petty human beings. Padun is convinced that nothing can threaten his status, but the poet argues that persistent human eforts can eventually triumph over great odds. As an example he cites the Second World War Soviet victory over the Germans at Berlin, a reference with immense emotional resonance. People, says the poet, are clever, and at the Irkutsk hydroelectric site they have already “protiv Angary / poslali Angaru” (sent the Angara against the Angara).50 You’ve got yours coming, Padun, declares Tvardovskii, and you will be forced into silence beneath the water. Other more or less famous poets captured a variety of moments and sentiments connected with Bratsk. In “Poezd v Bratsk” (Train to Bratsk, 1955), the Siberian native Anatolii Prelovskii (1934–2008) describes a multiethnic mass of young people on their way to the construction site. Tey do not care that no tickets remain and, despite the conductors’ objections, 188  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

crowd onto the train anyway. In the popular song “Angara” (1955), Edmund Iodkovskii (1932–1994) describes the camaraderie and commitment of the young workers. “Ty naveki nam stala blizkoiu, / velichavaia Angara” (You have become close to us forever, majestic Angara), he declares. He and his peers intend to fulfll a promise to the forward-thinking Lenin: Нет, с Сибирью мы не расстанемся, вера юности горяча: в золотых огнях гидростанций пусть живет мечта Ильича. (No, we will not part with Siberia, the faith of youth is ardent: let the dream of Il’ich [Lenin] live in the golden fres of the hydroelectric station.)51

Anatolii Pristavkin (1931–2008), another writer who worked at Bratsk of and on for several years, said of this song, “Many songs were written about Angara. . . . Tis one is the most dear, the most one’s own perhaps. Its words weighed on the soul.”52 One Valerii Kuznetsov expressed sentiments similar to those of Iodkovskii in “Pesnia molodykh stroitelei Bratskoi GES” (Song of the young builders of the Bratsk Hydroelectric Station): Мы Ангару скуем плотиной, На то сердца у нас стучат. И где веками жгли лучину, Там вспыхнут лампы Ильича. (We are containing the Angara with a dam, that’s what our hearts are pounding about. And where for centuries they burned torches, Il’ich’s lamps [Lenin’s lightbulbs] will blaze.)53

Several poets sounded the familiar themes of triumph over nature and the marvel of industrialization. In “U Paduna” (By Padun, 1959), Tvardovskii describes the fnal damming at Bratsk using metaphors of battle and captivity. In “Liudi i reka” (People and the river), Mark Sergeev is confdent that “sud’ba reki i v samom dele / vsegda zavisela ot nas” (in fact the fate of the river was always dependent upon us).54 When he visited Bratsk, the established poet Aleksandr Prokof ’ev (1900–1971) declared in a poem that begins “Ne znaiu ravnoi ei po sile” (I do not know its equal in strength), “Nigde ne videl ia podobnoi / Industrial’noi krasoty” (I never saw such industrial beauty anywhere).55 Pristavkin, best known in the West for his moving novel about the deportation of the Chechens during the Second World War, Nochevala tuchka Te Angara · 189

zolotaia (A golden cloud spent the night, 1987), produced multiple short stories and a lengthy memoir, Angara-reka (Te Angara River, 1958–77), that drew on his experience at Bratsk. Like many of the poets mentioned in this chapter, in Te Angara River Pristavkin returns repeatedly to the theme of the confict between elemental nature and human reason. For Pristavkin, the river, whose very appearance evokes energy and force, is destined to be “a river of electricity.”56 His Angara is a worthy opponent. Te writer contrasts it with the Enisei: “Both rivers are beautiful in their own way, but the Enisei is a little happier (if one may say that about a taiga river) and simple-hearted. . . . In its traits the Angara possesses a tougher contour, she is capricious, willful, and sometimes even cruel.”57 Te river’s ultimate future is clear to Pristavkin: “She will go, my dear, darling Angara, a beautiful, wild northern river, along a path that for now exists only on paper. . . . Houses, cities, settlements, a dam, industrial complexes, new factories . . . Tere will be everything, everything!”58 In “Zapiski moego sovremennika” (Notes of my contemporary, 1967), Pristavkin describes even more explicitly the Angara’s socialist destiny: “Te wild waters of the Angara will hit against the wall of the 120-meter dam, they will die down for a moment, as if in amazement, and blinded, will rush inside in a frenzy in order to smash all this, to warp and carry it away. But the waters will be smashed to bits against the blades of the turbines, in order that they may slowly comprehend their laboring purpose and get used to working.”59 Once again, the river, it seems, will assume a working-class identity and the duties of Soviet citizenship. By far the best known literary composition that emerged from the excitement surrounding Bratsk was the narrative poem Bratskaia GES (Bratsk Hydroelectric Station, 1965) by the controversial young poet Evgenii Evtushenko (1933–2017). Bratsk Hydroelectric Station consists in part of a dialogue between an anthropomorphized Egyptian pyramid and the dam. Te juxtaposition calls to mind the comment about the pyramid of Cheops made in Taurin’s Angara, with its implication that a Soviet hydroelectric dam is a construction qualitatively diferent from an Egyptian pyramid because of labor diferences. Te pyramid is convinced that there is nothing new under the sun and that what exists is dreadful: Все до ужаса в мире не новое тот же древний Египет . . . Та же подлость в ее оголтении. Те же тюрьмы . . . 190  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

То же самое угнетение. (Everything in the world is so terribly not new—the same ancient Egypt . . . Te same unbridled baseness. Te same prisons . . . Te same oppression.)60

In its mysterious UFO-like wandering over the earth, the pyramid comes upon a snowbound site in Russia teeming with workers, writers, bureaucrats, and soldiers. Te pyramid is convinced that what it sees is a familiar instance of slave labor on a massive scale. When it encounters the sentient Bratsk Hydroelectric Station, it regales the dam with a long rant about how bad things were and still are. Man, the pyramid is certain, is by nature a slave. Te dam responds with a lengthy overview of Russian history flled with grim details of the horrors of tsarism and attempts over the centuries to change the system by brave souls like Stepan Razin, the Decembrists, the Petrashevtsy, Chernyshevskii, and, most important, Lenin. Ultimately silenced by the dam’s account and convinced of the truth of the repeated refrain “nikogda kommunary ne budut rabami” (Communards will never be slaves), the pyramid disappears. Te pyramid’s departure is followed by a series of vignettes focusing primarily on various construction workers at the Bratsk site, their backgrounds, motivations, and dedication to the dam project. One vignette concerns an old woman who lives near the site and declares: Вы строите, что вам хочется, лишь только б не для зла. Моя избушка под воду уйдет, ну и уйдет, лишь только б люди подлые не мучили народ. (Build what you want, just not for evil’s sake. My hut will go under the water, well, let it go, just as long as base people don’t torment the populace.)61

A young woman, unmarried and pregnant, thinks of drowning herself, but is restrained by the sight of “her” Bratsk: “I krichala moia derevushka, / i krichala moia Angara: ‘Kak ty mozhezh’ takoe, Niushka!” (And my hamlet cried out and my Angara cried out: “How can you do such a thing, Niushka!”).62 Te old Bolshevik Kartsev had been imprisoned as an enemy of the people and forced to work on the postwar construction of a dam on the Volga, but the river comforted him, whispering, “Eshche nedolgo” ( Just Te Angara · 191

a little bit longer).63 And indeed Kartsev got his Party card back and went of, flled with enthusiasm, to work on the Bratsk Dam: “Posmotri v okno: tam est’ plotina! / I, zhachit, ia na svete tozhe est’” (Look out the window: there is a dam there! And that means that I am in the world, too).64 In the fnal section of the poem, Evtushenko describes his own tour of the inner workings of the dam, rhapsodizes about an excursion on the Angara and the delights of nature, and ruminates on the importance of art and political commitment. His exalted thoughts culminate in a mystical vision of the signifcance of Bratsk: и было сылшно мне, как ГЭС гремит в осмысленном величии—над ложным бессмысленном величьем пирамид И, как самой России повеленье не променять идею на слова, глядели Пушкин, и Толстой, и Ленин, и Стенькина шальная голова. . . . Мне в Братской ГЭС мерцающе раскрылся, Россия, материнский образ твой. (And I heard the hydroelectric plant resound in its intelligent greatness over the false, senseless greatness of the pyramids. And Pushkin, and Tolstoi, and Lenin, and the mad head of Sten’ka [Razin] heeded the command of Russia itself not to trade an idea for words. . . . In the Bratsk Hydroelectric Station, Russia, your maternal image was glimmeringly revealed to me.)65

It is difcult to imagine a more exalted poetic endorsement of a dam than this.

Te Dream Becomes a Nightmare: Valentin Rasputin’s Angara Cracks in the confdence about the unmitigated rewards to be gained from hydroelectric projects became ever wider worldwide as the twentieth century wore on. Ofen both the fnancial and environmental costs of dam construction and the complications of resettlement of large populations were grossly underestimated. Te Bratsk Dam took several years longer to complete than originally planned. Even so, while hundreds of thousands of acres of forest along the Angara were supposed to provide useful lumber, in the end there were inadequate roads along which to remove the lumber and 192  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

insufcient time even to cut down much of the forest before the fooding took place. Te result was inaccessible shores, treacherous sailing conditions, and an excess of decaying plant matter in the water. Tis in turn had a negative impact on fsh populations. “Nature reconstructs itself agonizingly slowly when we decisively change its appearance over vast spaces,” commented the travel writer Miroslav Buzhkevich.66 Losses due to the fooding of rich agricultural land could never be recouped.67 Tere were also serious concerns about pollution from the various kinds of factories being built beside the new reservoirs. Te Pravda correspondent A. Merkulov asked, “Is contaminating the Angara and turning it into a sewage canal really a measure without cost?”68 Eventually the Angara, with its great quantities of chlorides, sulfates, and nitrates, was declared by Western scholars to have become “an aqueduct for poisons.”69 What happened to the river is comparable to the process Marc Cioc has described in relation to the industrial pollution of the Rhine: “Behind all of this devastation was the driving need to harness the river entirely to human purposes, and the willingness to accept water pollution and food-plain destruction as an unavoidable consequence of industrial and agricultural development. Aiding and abetting this destruction was the ideology of hydraulic engineering.”70 Te Russian writer who in the late twentieth century most eloquently voiced doubts about the benefts of dams and the desirable modernization they ostensibly represented was Valentin Rasputin (1937–2015). A Siberian native who spent his childhood in a village on the middle reaches of the Angara in an area later submerged by the Bratsk Dam, Rasputin exhibited a lifelong commitment to traditional rural values and skepticism of industrialization and campaigned vigorously on behalf of an idealized Siberia. Rasputin was a key representative of the conservative late Soviet literary trend known as derevenskaia proza (country or village prose).71 Unlike Evtushenko’s enthusiastic old woman, the ofen elderly Siberian villagers who populate Rasputin’s writings are generally bewildered and demoralized by economic development. Tree of Rasputin’s major works, “Vniz i verkh po techeniiu” (Downstream and upstream, 1972), Proshchanie s Materoi (Farewell to Matyora, 1976), and “Pozhar” (Te fre, 1985), examine the existential disruption caused by hydroelectric projects on the Angara in increasingly explicit and pessimistic terms. “Downstream and Upstream” describes a visit to his hometown afer a fve-year absence by the young writer Viktor, a typical representative of the rootless and disafected intellectuals who haunt much of late twentieth-cenTe Angara · 193

tury Russian fction. Viktor returns home hoping for psychic rejuvenation. Instead he discovers, as so many fctional characters have, that you can never really go home again. In Viktor’s case, this discovery is complicated and intensifed by the fact that the former site of his hometown has ceased to exist because it has been submerged beneath an unnamed river that is clearly meant to be the Angara. Tis adds an extra layer of alienation to Viktor’s experience, an alienation compounded by the obvious destabilization that has occurred in the lives of his family and former neighbors as a result of environmental and social changes. Viktor’s love for the river goes back to his early childhood and is characterized by a peculiar anxiety: “His memories connected with the river lived in him separately from others, and lived with a heartfelt spiritual sadness, beside which he ofen warmed himself and rested before moving further. . . . Te taiga did not worry and torment Viktor like the river; the taiga remained and had to remain in place, while the river could disappear, sail away, end, revealing in memory of itself a bare, rocky channel along which dogs would run.”72 As Viktor travels downstream on a large passenger ship, the landscape gradually changes. Initially the river is heartbreakingly beautiful. In the early evening “it shone as if from within, from its depths, and from end to end, in a play of colors it sparkled like a deep blue ribbon, mysterious and coldly fairytale-like, above which a pale and transparent radiance rose into the air.”73 Viktor is lulled into a comforting sense of nostalgia, until he suddenly remembers that the river islands of his youth no longer exist. Now he recalls unhappy impressions from his last visit home, immediately before the dammed waters fooded his hometown, or, “more precisely, it was torn to pieces.”74 Viktor realizes that he has been deceiving himself, that when he planned to go home, he was remembering his old village, not wishing to acknowledge that it no longer exists. In keeping with Viktor’s melancholy thoughts, the riverscape loses its visual charm. Viktor is awakened in the morning by a strange sound caused by the ship scraping against trees that still stand in the fooded area. Te scene is fantastic and nightmarish: It was unclear what was more surprising and improbable: whether to consider the ship, crawling among the trees, a gigantic prehistoric monster or to look at the trees growing out of the water as if it were a fantastic painting. But was it fantastic? Te trees were naked and pitiful, leafess, with 194  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

sparse, furled needles, with slimy branches swollen from the water, with black catkins resembling caterpillars on the birches. Some trees were still standing straight, others were already bent over, they were being slowly washed away. Te waves, bobbing up and down, rode up on them, and then the trees shook with a sniveling moan.75

Now the river becomes a lake, but an unnatural one with gray and motionless water. Te marvelous play of colors, constant motion, tinkling sounds, and islands—all have disappeared. Tis is a vista of stagnation and death, a pathological landscape. More horrors await when Viktor arrives at the new site of his former village. Te most edible fsh have lef in search of pure, fowing water and the fesh of those that remain is tough and tastes of slime. Te water along the shore is ofen red, clayey, and undrinkable. For fresh water, one must sail far out from the shore. Swimmers risk impaling themselves on submerged trees. Many of Viktor’s relatives and former neighbors clearly long for the life they have lost. Needless to say, Viktor himself does not fnd the solace he had hoped for when he set of down the river. Afer only a few days of restless disorientation, he returns upstream. Farewell to Matyora treats an earlier moment in the epic of the Angara, the eve of the fooding by dam waters of the island and village of Matyora. At the center of the novel is the character of Dar’ia, an old woman of great integrity and strength of character. Te narrative action focuses on the last summer of the island’s existence, a period when the few remaining inhabitants are the elderly or young children and all of the built structures on the island are gradually being dismantled, sometimes violently. Te opening lines of the novel evoke a sense of rupture, of destruction of a timeless natural order: “And again spring arrived, in its own way in its own never-ending series, but the last one for Matyora, for the island and the village that bore the same name. Again the ice broke with a crash and passion, piling up mounds of ice on the banks, and the Angara opened up in liberation, stretching out in a powerful, sparkling fow. Again the water at the upper promontory began to resound animatedly.”76 Te repetition of “again” underscores nature’s cyclical essence, but the declaration that this is Matyora’s “last” spring sounds like a death sentence. Rasputin portrays existence on the island as Edenic. Summertime brings a sense of harmony that renders the community’s imminent end unthinkable: “In the evenings . . . such grace set in all around, such calm and peace. Te Angara · 195

. . . Everything seemed so stable and eternal that one didn’t believe in anything—not the removal, not the fooding, and not the parting.”77 Te name Matyora evokes the Russian word for mother (mat’), and the narrator suggests that the name may stem from the island’s possession of everything necessary for existence: “From shore to shore it had enough expanse, and riches, and beauty, and wildness, and all sorts and kinds of people. . . . Wasn’t that why it had been named with the fne-sounding Matyora?”78 Te beauty of the island transcends the purely material and assumes an intensely mystical quality. Links to the supernatural are embodied in the mysterious Master, a small nocturnal creature who functions as the island’s guardian spirit. Te Master realizes that everything is about to change so catastrophically that he will no longer be the Master and is in fact the fnal Master of the island. Unlike his human compatriots, however, the Master has made his peace with the imminent destruction of his patrimony. Te emotions of the human inhabitants of the island are directly related to their generational afliation. Te old people are sad, frightened, uncomprehending. Dar’ia’s middle-aged son, Pavel, feels an intense sense of loss, but looks forward to the day when the loss will be complete, when he will no longer have to “consume himself with Matyora, compare one thing with another, go here and there, upset and pull at his soul endlessly.”79 Dar’ia’s grandson and Pavel’s son, Andrei, sufers no such anguish and is excited about the opportunities aforded by the radical changes that are occurring. When Dar’ia explains to Andrei her sense that the land belongs not only to its present inhabitants but to its past and future occupants, that individuals are only temporary caretakers of the land, Andrei responds with the quintessential twentieth-century apperception “Man is the tsar of nature.”80 In the context of the poignant ode to tradition and continuity that Farewell to Matyora represents, Andrei’s declaration rings hollow. Farewell to Matyora ends ambiguously, with a fog surrounding the island, the few remaining old people alone on the island, Pavel and a couple of other men on their way to transport the old people to their new home lost in the fog on the river (and in life?), and the Master giving a fnal howl. We never learn whether Dar’ia adjusts to existence elsewhere. A decade later, however, Rasputin, who by then had gone further down the road of narrowminded and xenophobic nationalism, described in a shorter work, “Te Fire,” how an older version of a character reminiscent of Pavel has adapted to his new existence. “Te Fire” takes place in a period of twenty-four hours but includes 196  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

many ruminations spanning decades by the protagonist, who is known, in traditional and respectful manner, by his frst name and patronymic, Ivan Petrovich. Ivan Petrovich now lives in the village of Sosnovka. Twenty years earlier, he and his neighbors were resettled in Sosnovka when their home village of Egorovka was fooded. Ivan Petrovich’s status as the representative of tradition is emphasized by the link between the name of the former village and his surname, Egorov. Te economic focus of Sosnovka is lespromkhoz, an abbreviation for lesnoe promyshlennoe khoziaistvo ([state] timber industry enterprise), an excellent example of the kind of linguistic Russian Sovietese scorned by Solzhenitsyn and others. Ivan Petrovich believes that the timber industry itself, as a kind of sanctioned destruction, is the source of much of the social disorder he observes around him: “Cutting down a forest is not the same as sowing grain, when the same tasks and concerns are repeated from season to season. . . . Once you’ve hauled out the timber, it will be decades and decades before there’s new forest.”81 Te implicit consequences include the disappearance not only of an awareness of stewardship of the land, but of a sense of community and responsibility to the community. Ivan Petrovich misses Egorovka every day and ofen gazes at the space on the water beneath which the old village now lies. “Te Fire” of the story’s title is a fre at the village warehouses that climaxes in massive looting, evidence of a clear breakdown of communal social values. Te epigraph to “Te Fire” is taken from a folk song: “Gorit selo, gorit rodnoe. . . . / Gorit vsia rodina moia” (Te village is burning, what is dear is burning. . . . My entire homeland is burning).82 Tese lyrics capture the sense of terrible loss that Rasputin forcefully conveys in “Te Fire.” What was once touted as a promise—of electrifcation, industrialization, modernization—now appears to have been a curse.83 Te Angara is an extraordinary river. Emerging in full force from Lake Baikal, it enjoys (or at least enjoyed) an unmistakable and dramatic presence from its source to its outlet into the Enisei. As a Siberian river, it traced a very diferent path across the Russian cultural landscape from that of its watery European peers. Te Angara came comparatively late to Russian attention and was initially attractive largely for the riches that might be seized from it and its environs. Te river’s isolation and distance from Moscow and Petersburg fostered its development as a destination or transit for exiles. Avvakum was only the frst in a long line of unfortunates. Te Angara · 197

In the twentieth century the Angara came into its hydraulic own. Touted for decades as an ideal site for hydroelectric development, its dams, especially Bratsk, generated not only electricity but a large body of enthusiastic poetry and prose by both budding and established writers. Bratsk became, as Brezhnev said, the symbol of a generation and a literal monument to Soviet achievements. Yet in the wake of disappointed hopes for the wonderful new existence that the dams on the Angara, like those on so many rivers worldwide, were meant to ensure, the river has lost its glow, its sparkle. In part because of the compelling literary eforts of Rasputin, the Angara today serves as a powerful symbol of the price of progress and the arrogance of many human endeavors. Angara the daughter escaped father Baikal long ago, but she no longer fows in beauty and instead stagnates in flth.

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Of all the shapes that water takes, only rivers have consistently been personalized. Perhaps the ancients were right to ascribe distinct identities and personalities to rivers. Te folklore and literature associated with the rivers discussed in this study certainly support such an approach. A restless and brooding Dnieper presiding over a watery home for supernatural beings, Mother Volga providing nourishment for her Russian children, Father Don basking in the glow of his Cossack ofspring’s military exploits, the Neva proudly embracing imperial glory, and Angara the Beauty rushing swifly toward her beloved Enisei—all these images are specifc and unique. Te personae of these rivers most ofen emerged long ago from folklore, but they did not relinquish their aura of personifcation even during the staunchly anti-animistic Soviet period. More than other topographical features, rivers seem to be particularly susceptible to anthropomorphosis. As with iconic portrayals of early Christian saints, it would not overly tax the imagination to create a set of easily recognizable visual representations of the Dnieper, Volga, Don, Neva, and Angara. Te statue of the Don recently erected in Rostov-na-Donu and the statue of Mother Volga overlooking the Rybinsk Dam reservoir attest to this. In Imagining the Nation in Nature: Landscape Preservation and German Identity, 1885–1945 (2004), Tomas Lekan comments that “one of the most powerful rhetorical means for grounding identities in modern Europe [is] the assertion that there is an organic link between a people and its landscape.”1 Te fuvial biographies traced in this study bear out the validity of Lekan’s observation and simultaneously reveal that such a link may assume 199

very diverse forms. Te Dnieper, for example, entered modern Russian literature as an ostentatiously Romantic site—foggy, with thickly forested banks, and inhabited by a host of rusalki. One of several riverine havens for the freedom-loving Cossacks, the Dnieper also acquired, by extension, an association with Ukrainian aspirations to political independence. In the Soviet era, the Dnieper was an early subject for narratives of modernization. Te Volga also gained literary fame through its Cossack associations, specifcally with the fgure of Stenka Razin, who became a kind of tutelary spirit for the common people’s desire for freedom. Later the Volga was associated with tsarist exploitation of unskilled labor, most obviously the barge haulers, and the narrowminded conservatism of the merchant class. At the same time the Volga assumed the position of the national Russian river, a worthy competitor in both beauty and political signifcance to the likes of the Rhine and the Tames. Like the Dnieper, in the Soviet era the Volga eventually became an exemplar of industrialization, but only afer serving as a metonymic embodiment of Mother Russia during the Second World War. Te Neva was early cast as an imperial river, which could be construed positively, in pompous and grandiloquent terms, or negatively, as a pathological companion to repression and madness. In the afermath of the Revolutions of 1917, the image of the Neva, and Petersburg, bifurcated. For émigrés, the Neva was a locus of nostalgia for a lost world, while for dedicated Soviet writers, it became an enthusiastic participant in the Bolshevik project. Te Don was the preeminent Cossack river, and, as such, it became a site for the cultivation of martial values. As with the Neva, afer the Revolutions of 1917 the image of the Don split into the doomed site of Cossack resistance to Bolshevism and a militant opponent of enemies of the Soviet Union. As an icon of valor, the Don is now entering a new phase, of post-Soviet regional afrmation. Te Angara, once a place of exile, became in the second half of the twentieth century a poster child, frst for hydroelectric development and then for environmental degradation. Te rivers discussed in this study have inspired many poignant and memorable literary evocations of their natural beauty. Tey have also provoked many moving expressions of anguish and despair. Tey have repeatedly been represented as opponents in the human struggle to dominate the physical environment. Tsarist attempts to contain the fooding of the Neva especially yielded to Soviet schemes to make rivers work for society by harnessing their power with dams, one of the most ambitious realizations of technological and industrial potential. Such eforts resulted in the produc200  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

tion of some of the most bombastic of Soviet literary compositions, only to be followed eventually by bitter or melancholy ruminations on riverine vulnerability. In his study of rivers in English literature, Wyman Herendeen astutely observes, “Conventions tend to be the discoveries of critics more than patterns followed consciously by writers. Tat, however, does not mean that they did not (or do not) exist.”2 As we have seen, the literary character of each of the rivers discussed in this study resulted in the production of many conventions. Tus references to the Dnieper’s gloomy mists, the Volga’s donor status, the Neva’s granite embankments, the Don’s turbulent loquaciousness, and the Angara’s intimidating fow abound. Te admiration and rapture invited by Russian rivers as aesthetic objects have sometimes been conveyed in trite fashion. Te distinct representational character of each of these rivers should not obscure the many commonalities they share, or the conventions associated with those commonalities. As pathways of national expansion, these rivers have at diferent times and in various ways served to delineate the borders and suggest the might of Russia. Te symbolic importance rivers may have in defning military success was indicated in the Middle Ages by the sobriquets of Aleksandr Nevskii and Dmitrii Donskoi. In the twentieth century, the defant Soviet sniper’s claim that there was no land beyond the Volga bore witness to a keenly nationalistic conception of riverine signifcance. Te seizure by Russians of cities and settlements established on river banks by enemy powers, from the Tatars and the Swedes to the Germans, and the construction of Russian forts beside rivers and on islands to defend their political interests as they made their way north and east were always central to Russian development. Such eforts were frequently matched in literature by an insistence on the assumed partisanship of these rivers. A consistent pattern is also refected in the process whereby rivers become closely associated with particular groups or peoples or certain individuals who travel them at one time or another. As Christopher Ely has observed in regard to landscape in general, “perceptions of the natural world are culturally constructed.”3 In regard to rivers, in addition to the creation of a range of conventions, this had led to the development of perceived afnities. Te Cossacks and the Dnieper, the Volga, and the Don; political exiles and the Angara; Prince Vladimir I of Kiev and the Dnieper; Stepan Razin and the Volga; Peter the Great and the Neva; and Archpriest Avvakum and the Angara constitute widely recognized partnerings. Sometimes Conclusion · 201

such afnities assume a markedly socioeconomic character, as, for example, with the Volga and Russian merchants and the wretched barge haulers who enabled their success. Literary and artistic treatment of rivers by particular writers, painters, and composers may result in another kind of perceived afnity. Just as in American literature Mark Twain is forever linked to the Mississippi, so Gogol is bound to the Dnieper; Pushkin to the Neva; Ostrovskii, Nekrasov, and Gorky to the Volga; Sholokhov to the Don; and Evtushenko and Rasputin to the Angara. Tese writers helped refect and create lasting images of the rivers they depicted in prose or verse. At times some Russian writers served as propagandists for riverine development, for the tsarist or the Soviet empire. As with the Bonneville Power Administration and Woody Guthrie, bureaucrats everywhere have long recognized that writers can assist in convincing the public of the virtues of state endeavors. What Lomonosov and Sumarokov did for the Neva, Tvardovskii and Evtushenko tried to do for the Angara. At other times, Russian writers broke with tradition to express criticism of the powers that be. Pushkin, for example, helped redefne the image of the Neva as a partner in tsarist crime rather than a laudable and complacent sovereign of Russian rivers. More recently, Rasputin provided a model for the fctional discussion of riverine pollution and degradation that will, I am certain, garner twenty-frst-century emulators. Today Russians, like many other peoples around the world, are intensely concerned about their rivers, and with good cause. Murray Feshbach and Alfred Friendly Jr., the authors of Ecocide in the USSR (1992), warn in their introduction, “Untreated, waterborne agricultural, industrial and human wastes together threaten to kill the Sea of Azov, the Black Sea and the Caspian and have turned giant rivers, including the Volga, the Dniepr and the Don, into open sewers.”4 In Troubled Lands: Te Legacy of Soviet Environmental Destruction (1993), D. J. Peterson points out, for example, that in 1990 almost one-third of all of the documented raw or partially treated waste in the Soviet Union was discharged into the Volga.5 In An Environmental History of Russia (2013), Paul Josephson and his fellow authors bluntly declare that already by the late 1960s “the Volga River was a sewer. With 6 percent of the nation’s total river fow, it carried half of the country’s industrial wastes into the Caspian Sea.”6 Russian assessments of this lamentable situation difer from those of foreign observers only in their greater emotionalism.

202  ·  Rivers in Russian Literature

As we saw in the introduction, rivers could inspire even the driest of Soviet commentators to rhapsodic efusions. Te Dnieper, the Volga, the Neva, the Don, and the Angara have for centuries evoked afection, awe, and pride, and even when they have inspired hostility, it has been coupled with grudging admiration. Tese rivers have served as focal points for the expression of patriotism, a belief in the supernatural, a desire for freedom, the embrace or condemnation of a range of political systems, and a call for environmental awareness. Today they are severely threatened by the negative consequences of modernization: pollution, stagnation, and even gradual disappearance. One can only hope that the eforts of ecologically minded Russian citizens will preserve these waterways in a state at least somewhat reminiscent of their original beauty, so that it will remain possible to say, as Henry David Toreau did in A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), “He who hears the rippling of rivers in these degenerate days will not utterly despair.”7 And, one hopes, Russian writers will continue to wax eloquent about their rivers in prose and verse.

Conclusion · 203


Introduction 1. Classen, Water in Medieval Literature, xxxiii. 2. Cless and Hahn, introduction, 9. 3. Eliade, Te Sacred and the Profane, 131. 4. Strang, Te Meaning of Water, 96. In Water: A Spiritual History, Ian Bradley also focuses on England but provides a broad introductory overview of the spiritual signifcance of water in the major world religions from antiquity to the present. Bradley identifes multiple ways in which water fgures in various religions, including, among others, as a locus for human encounters with the divine, a source of life, a source of wisdom, and a healing agent. In Mysterium Wasser, Robert H. W. Wolf examines specifcally religious usage of water in the classical and Christian traditions. 5. Sedlak, Water 4.0, 1. 6. In “A Maritime Response to the Crisis in Area Studies,” the Geographical Review editors Martin W. Lewis and Kären Wigen argue for greater attention within area studies to geography and specifcally to maritime basins as zones of cultural contact and confict. 7. Abulafa, Te Great Sea, xxvi. 8. Zamyatin, “Daemon loci,” 65. 9. Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha, trans. Sherab Chödzin Kohn (Boston: Shambhala, 2002), 112. 10. For a general treatment of this topic, see Brittain, Rivers, Man and Myths. Te geographer Nick Middleton’s Rivers: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012) is a recent example of the growing body of work on this topic. 11. Tsunts, Rasskaz o Bol’shoi Volge, 5. 12. Kliuchevskii, Polnyi kurs lektsii v trekh knigakh, 1:55. 13. Ibid., 1:52. 14. McCully, Silenced Rivers, 22. 15. Kerner, Te Urge to the Sea, 5. 16. Te discussion of river development in Russia and the Soviet Union draws from Davydov and Tsunts, Rasskaz o velikikh rekakh; Ganeizer, Reki nashei strany; Josephson et al., An Environmental History of Russia; Josephson, Industrialized Nature; Kuznetsov, Sokrovishcha nashikh rek; L’vovich, Reki SSSR; Obedientova, Veka i reki; Plashchev and Chekmarev, Gidrografia SSSR. 205

17. Cited in Ganeizer, Reki nashei strany, 15. 18. On Frederick the Great and the Oder, see, for example, Blackbourn, “‘Time Is a Violent Torrent,’” 13–14. 19. Kuznetsov, Sokrovishcha nashikh rek, 78. 20. Davydov and Tsunts, Rasskaz o velikikh rekakh, 102. 21. Cited in Tsunts, Rasskaz o Bol’shoi Volge, 145. 22. Kuznetsov, Sokrovishcha nashikh rek, 148. 23. On the negative impact of the expansion of hydroelectric power, see, for example, Josephson, Industrialized Nature; Komarov, Te Destruction of Nature in the Soviet Union; McCully, Silenced Rivers. 24. Campbell, Rivers and the Power of Ancient Rome, 150–52. 25. Ibid., 21. 26. Ibid., 124; Jones, Reading Rivers in Roman Literature and Culture, 84. 27. Ackroyd, Tames, 316. 28. Cusack, Riverscapes and National Identities, 1. 29. Wardi, Water and Afican American Memory, 12. 30. Te title refers to the French historian Pierre Nora’s concept of lieu de mémoire (realm of memory) in his benchmark Les lieux de mémoire collections (Paris: Gallimard, 1984–92). In English, these volumes were published as Realms of Memory: Te Construction of the French Past, 3 volumes, under the direction of Pierre Nora, ed. Lawrence D. Kritzman, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996–98), and Rethinking France, under the direction of Pierre Nora, trans. Mary Trouille (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001–6). 31. Zamiatin, V serdtse vozdukha, 154. 32. Ibid., 229. 33. Lavrenova, Geografcheskoe prostranstvo v russkoi poezii XVIII–nachala XX vv., 33. 34. Miller, “Anytime the Ground Is Uneven,” 15. 35. Herendeen, From Landscape to Literature, 5. 36. Coates, A Story of Six Rivers, 10. 37. Herendeen, From Landscape to Literature, 146. 38. Campbell, Rivers and the Power of Ancient Rome, 31; Cusack, Riverscapes and National Identities, 11.

1. The Dnieper 1. Cholom tobi, Slavutichu / Poklon tebe, Slavuta / Paklon tabe, Slavutsich, 2nd ed. (Dnepropetrovsk: Promin’, 1977), 3. 2. Bilenky, Romantic Nationalism in Eastern Europe; Miller, Te Ukrainian Question; Pelenski, Te Contest for the Legacy of Kievan Rus’; Plokhy, Te Origins of the Slavic Nations; Plokhy, Ukraine and Russia; Velychenko, National History as Cultural Process; Wilson, Te Ukrainians. 3. On the signifcance of the Valdai Hills, see Kerner, Te Urge to the Sea, 4–5. 4. On various names for the Dnieper, see Laponogov, Dnepr, 112. 206  ·  Notes to Pages 10–28

5. Herodotus, Te Histories, trans. Aubrey de Sélincourt, revised by A. R. Burn (New York: Penguin Books, 1972), 288. 6. On the Vikings in the Russian lands, see Peter Heather, Empires and Barbarians: Te Fall of Rome and the Birth of Europe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 465–81. 7. Constantine Porphyrogenitus, De Administrando Imperio, trans. R. J. H. Jenkins, 2nd rev. ed. (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks, 1967), 59–63. 8. Cross and Sherbowitz-Wetzor, Te Russian Primary Chronicle, 54. 9. On this controversy, see Rapov, “Oftsial’noe kreshchenie Rusi v kontse X v.” 10. Cited in Velychenko, National History as Cultural Process, 49. 11. Vernadsky, Kievan Russia, 76. It is worth noting that Vernadsky speaks of dividing “Russia.” 12. Stelletskii, Slovo o polku Igoreve, 48–49 (Church Slavonic), 68–69 (Russian). 13. Vernadsky, Kievan Russia, 77. 14. Ibid., 216. 15. On Khortitsa, see Novitskii, Ostrov Khortitsa na Dnepre. 16. On the complexities of the interrelationship between Little Russian and All-Russian identities, see Miller, Te Ukrainian Question, 31–33. 17. On this topic, see especially Grabowicz, “Ukrainian-Russian Literary Relations,” 214–44. Grabowicz astutely observes that its linguistic basis is not necessarily the ultimate determinant of a national literature (221). 18. On representations of the Dnieper in Russian literature in the early nineteenth century, see especially Marchukov, Ukraina v russkom soznanii, 163–65. 19. Shkandrij, Russia and Ukraine, 90. 20. Koropeckyj and Romanchuk, “Ukraine in Blackface.” 21. Semenko, Zhizn’ i poeziia Zhukovskogo, 174. 22. Zhukovskii, “Dvenadtsat’ spiashchikh dev,” 168. 23. I. I. Kozlov, Stikhotvoreniia (St. Petersburg: A. Glazunov, 1906), 309. 24. Kozlov, “Chernets,” 288. 25. Ibid., 287. 26. Kozlov, “Kiev,” 23. 27. Ibid., 24. 28. Mersereau, Orest Somov, 74. 29. Marchukov, Ukraina v russkom soznanii, 101. 30. Somov, “Rusalka,” 138. 31. Ibid., 141. 32. Markevich, “Solntse utoplennikov,” 26. 33. On the Dnieper in “Strashnaia mest’,” see Bojanowska, Nikolai Gogol, 51–52; Marchukov, Ukraina v russkom soznanii, 165–68; Peace, Te Enigma of Gogol, 18–23. 34. Gogol’, “Strashnaia mest’,” 1:151. 35. Ibid., 1:160. 36. Ibid., 1:178. 37. Ibid., 1:173. Notes to Pages 28–40   ·  207

38. Ibid. 39. Gogol’, Taras Bul’ba, 1:259. 40. Shevchenko, “Prychynna,” 1:29. 41. Shevchenko, “Haidamaki,” 1:120. 42. Shevchenko, “Hamaliia,” 1:201. 43. Shevchenko, “Y vyris ia na chuzhyni,” 2:114. 44. Fet, “Na Dnepre v polovod’e,” 258. 45. Ibid. 46. Tolstoi, “Kniaz’ Rostislav,” 150. 47. Ibid., 151. 48. Tolstoi, Polnoe sobranie stikhotvorenii i poem, 622. 49. Miller, Te Ukrainian Question, 259. 50. Cf. Grabowicz, “Ukrainian-Russian Literary Relations,” 226. 51. Leskinen, “‘Volga—russkaia reka,’” 3–4. 52. Scott, Seeing Like a State, 4. Cf. Harvey, Te Condition of Postmodernity, 35. 53. Cf. Scott, Seeing Like a State, 88. 54. Zeisler-Vralsted, Rivers, Memory and Nation-Building, 147. See also Dorothy Zeisler-Vralsted, “Te Cultural and Hydrological Development of the Mississippi and Volga Rivers,” in Rivers in History: Perspectives on Waterways in Europe and North America, ed. Christof Mauch and Tomas Zeller (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008), 63–77, 64. 55. McCully, Silenced Rivers, 1. 56. Coates, A Story of Six Rivers, 20. 57. Klingensmith, “One Valley and a Tousand,” 2. 58. Ibid., 277. 59. William Starr Myers and Walter H. Newton, eds., Te Hoover Administration: A Documented Narrative (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1936), 524, cited in Billington and Jackson, Big Dams of the New Deal Era, 146. 60. Turpin, Dam, 100. 61. I rely greatly here on the very accessible discussion of dam construction in Billington and Jackson, Big Dams of the New Deal Era and on McCully, Silenced Rivers. 62. An overview of these plans is provided in Nesteruk, Razvitie gidro-energetiki SSSR, 32–35. 63. Scott, Seeing Like a State, 166. 64. L. Trotskii, Sochineniia (Moscow, 1925–27), 21:437, cited in Isaac Deutscher, Te Prophet Unarmed: Trotsky: 1921–1929 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1959), 211. 65. Nesteruk, Razvitie gidro-energetiki SSSR, 75–76. 66. Rassweiler, Te Generation of Power, 188. On the history of Dneprostroi, see also Saslavsky, Dnieprostroi. Saslavsky denounced what he termed the “bourgeoise [sic!] romanticism” that had previously surrounded the Dnieper (40). 67. Zeisler-Vralsted, Rivers, Memory and Nation-Building, 83. 68. Klingensmith, “One Valley and a Tousand,” 213. 69. Palmer, Endangered Rivers and the Conservation Movement, 260. 208  ·  Notes to Pages 40–50

70. Maksim Gor’kii, Po Soiuzu Sovetov, in Delo Artamonovykh. Po Soiuzu Sovetov. V. I. Lenin (Moscow: Izdatel’stvo Izvestiia, 1964), 261–384, 335. 71. Ibid., 339. 72. Ibid., 342. 73. Maiakovskii, “Dolg Ukraine,” 7:229. 74. Bednyi, “Porogi,” 4:104. Te word for “lapwing” in Russian may be used fguratively to refer to an unattractive, undersized person. 75. Bezymenskii, Tragediinaia noch’, 73. 76. Ibid., 122. 77. Pushkin, “Exegi monumentum,” 3:340. 78. Bezymenskii, Tragediinaia noch’, 130–31. 79. Ibid., 191. 80. Ibid., 275. 81. An interesting comparison may be drawn between Gladkov’s Energy and Zane Grey’s Boulder Dam (1963). In Boulder Dam, evil Communists plot to ruin the dam. 82. Gladkov, Energiia 2:47. 83. Ibid., 2:75. 84. Bash, Goriachie chuvstva, 40–41. 85. Ibid., 54. As Christof Mauch and Tomas Zeller suggest in the introduction to their edited collection, Rivers in History: Perspectives on Waterways in Europe and North America (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008), the use of martial analogies in reference to river development projects like dams is a commonplace (3). In her study of the Rhône, Confuence: Te Nature of Technology and the Remaking of the Rhône, Sara B. Pritchard alludes to the signifcance of the “battle against nature” motif (60). 86. Bash, Goriachie chuvstva, 108. 87. Ibid., 119. 88. Ibid., 303. 89. Ibid., 325. 90. Gonchar, Chelovek i oruzhie, 164. 91. Ibid., 230–31. 92. Ibid., 239. 93. Ibid., 256. 94. Ibid., 267. 95. I have been unable to discover any biographical details about Khudiakov. 96. For the entire poem, see Dolmatovskii, “Pesnia o Dnepre.” 97. Khudiakov, Za ridni berehy / Za rodnye berega, 11. 98. Ibid., 15. 99. Ibid., 22. 100. Tychyna, “Nad Dneprom,” translated from the Ukrainian by M. Komissarova, 43. 101. Ibid., 44. 102. Nekhoda, “Dnepr-Slavutich,” translated from the Ukrainian by T. Volgina, 84. Notes to Pages 51–60   ·  209

103. Panchenko, “Kievu,” translated from the Belarusian by I. Vasilevskii, 112. 104. Volynskaia and Kashcheev, Ved’mino nasledstvo, 337. 105. Novitskii, Ostrov Khortitsa na Dnepre, 25–26. 106. Volynskaia and Kashcheev, Ved’mino nasledstvo, 342. 107. Ibid., 341.

2. Te Volga 1. Davydov and Tsunts, Rasskaz o velikikh rekakh, 41. 2. Ibid., 44. 3. On the Big Volga project, see ibid., 47 and 55. 4. Dubov, Velikii volzhskii put’, 17. 5. Pal’kin, O, Volga!, 8. 6. Dubov, Velikii volzhskii put’, 16. 7. Parker, An Historical Geography of Russia, 72. 8. Peter Hajdu, Finno-Ugrian Languages and Peoples, translated by G. F. Cushing (London: Andre Deutsch, 1975), 159, 166. 9. Ibid., 169, 173. 10. Ibid., 175–76. 11. Berezin, “Obitateli srednego Povolzh’ia,” 30–31. 12. Ibid., 35–36. 13. Trepavlov, “Volga-matushka=Ana Idel’,” 14–37, 29. 14. Ibid., 30. 15. Morokhin, Morokhin, and Pavlov, Legendy i predaniia Volgi-reki, 383. See also Vardugin, Mify drevnei Volgi, 410. 16. Morokhin, Morokhin, and Pavlov, Legendy i predaniia Volgi-reki, 321–22. 17. Vardugin, Mify drevnei Volgi, 392. 18. Ibid., 404–5. 19. Ibid., 400–402. 20. On the legendary Ivan the Terrible, see Perrie, Te Image of Ivan the Terrible in Russian Folklore. 21. Legendy i predaniia Volgi-reki, 323–24. See also Vardugin, Mify drevnei Volgi, 417–18. 22. On Stenka Razin and the broader cultural context, I have drawn especially on Avrich, Russian Rebels, 50–122, and Chistiakova and Solov’ev, Sten’ka Razin i ego soratniki. 23. Avrich, Russian Rebels, 70. 24. Chistiakova and Solov’ev, Sten’ka Razin, 78. 25. Ignatov, Russkie istoricheskie pesni, 32–33. On Sten’ka Razin as a Robin Hood fgure, see Krafcik, “Sten’ka Razin in Russian Historical Folksongs.” 26. On this topic, cf. Sidel’nikov and Krupianskaia, Volzhskii fol’klor, 9. 27. On the signifcance of Kostomarov’s work, see especially Hausmann, Mütterchen Wolga, 338–43.

210  ·  Notes to Pages 60–71

28. Legendy i predaniia Volgi-reki, 246–47, 258–59; Sidel’nikov and Krupianskaia, Volzhskii fol’klor, 76–80; Ignatov, Russkie istoricheskie pesni, 143–60. 29. Aleksandr Pushkin, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii v desiati tomakh, 10 vols. (Leningrad: Izdatel’stvo Nauka, 1977–79), 10:86. 30. Pushkin, “Pesni o Sten’ke Razine,” 2:300. 31. On Pushkin’s possible sources for material on Stenka Razin, see Fomichev, “‘Pesni o Sten’ke Razine’ Pushkina.“ 32. Avrich, Russian Rebels, 75. 33. See V. Iu. Krupianskaia, ed., Pevets Volgi D. N. Sadovnikov: Izbrannye proizvedeniia i zapisi (Kuibyshev: Kuibyshevskoe izdatel’stvo, 1940), 150. 34. Cf. Ibid., 18. 35. Sadovnikov, “Iz-za ostrova na strezhen’,” 28. 36. Tsvetaeva, “Sten’ka Razin,” 93. 37. Khlebnikov, “Ustrug Razina,” 369. 38. Shiriaevets, “Sten’ka Razin,” 78. 39. Chistiakova and Solov’ev, Sten’ka Razin, 86–89. 40. Navrotskii, “Utes Sten’ki Razina,” 197. 41. Chistiakova and Solov’ev, Sten’ka Razin, 87, 89. 42. Korinfskii, “Zhiguli,” 94. 43. Skitalets, “Volzhskie legendy,” 65. 44. Chistiakova and Solov’ev, Sten’ka Razin, 84–86. 45. Ibid., 90–92. 46. For a discussion of these various works, see especially ibid., 94–110. Te phrase “Bolshevik prototype” to describe Razin is used by Judith Deutsch Kornblatt in Te Cossack Hero in Russian Literature, 104. 47. V. I. Lenin, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, 38:326, cited in Chistiakova and Solov’ev, Sten’ka Razin, 96. 48. Gorodetskii, “Volga,” 77. 49. Shiriaevets, “Vesna,” 56. 50. Shiriaevets, “Klich,” 75–76. 51. On the barge haulers, see especially Rodin, Burlachestvo v Rossii. Robert E. Jones discusses the barge haulers in the chapter on transportation in his Bread upon the Waters. 52. Rodin, Burlachestvo v Rossii, 219. 53. Ibid., 209–10. 54. “Ei, ukhnem,” in Volga-matushka reka, 15–18. 55. Dvoretskova, Volga v pesniakh i skazaniiakh, 85. 56. Nekrasov, “Na Volge,” 2:88. 57. Ibid., 2:91. 58. Zeisler-Vralsted, Rivers, Memory and Nation-Building, 69. 59. Vl. Giliarovskii, “Burlaki,” 1:290. 60. Ibid. 61. On this expedition, see Lakshin, A. N. Ostrovskii, 425–40.

Notes to Pages 71–83   ·  211

62. See, for example, Gnevkovskaia, Masterstvo romanista P. I. Mel’nikova–Andreia Pecherskogo, 108–12. 63. Mel’nikov, V lesakh, 256. 64. Ibid., 257. 65. Mel’nikov, Na gorakh, 35. 66. Ibid., 234. 67. On the economic importance of the fair, see Fitzpatrick, Te Great Russian Fair. 68. Gor’kii, Foma Gordeev, 4. 69. Ibid., 22. 70. Ibid., 239–40. 71. Cf. Ely, Tis Meager Nature, 35. 72. Sumarokov, “Oda,” 9–10. 73. Leskinen, “‘Volga—russkaia reka,’” 4. 74. Karamzin, “Volga,” 11. 75. Ibid.. 76. Dmitriev, “K Volge,” 15. 77. Vostokov, “Rossiiskie reki,” 20. 78. Viazemskii, “Vecher na Volge,” 22. 79. Iazykov, “K Reinu,” 367–68. 80. Aksakov, “Brodiaga.” 81. Navrotskii, “Istok Volgi,” 318. 82. Drozhzhin, “Rodina,” 50. 83. Danarov, “Velikoi reke.” 84. Bal’mont, “Ia videl vsiu Volgu vo vremia razliva,” 74–75. 85. Hausmann, Mütterchen Wolga, 193. 86. Te topic of Volga tourism is explored at length in Ely, “Te Origins of Russian Scenery,” and in Hausmann, Mütterchen Wolga, 350–423. Te Chernetsov brothers are discussed in Hausmann on 364–67. 87. Ely, “Te Origins of Russian Scenery,” 668. 88. Ely, Tis Meager Nature, 5. 89. On the development of Volga steamship transport, see Haywood, “Te Development of Steamboats on the Volga River and Its Tributaries.” 90. Ely, “Te Origins of Russian Scenery,” 670. 91. Ibid., 673. 92. Nemirovich-Danchenko, Po Volge, 22. 93. Ibid., 85. 94. Cusack, Riverscapes and National Identities, 127. 95. Nemirovich-Danchenko, Po Volge, 81. 96. Cf. Ely, “Te Origins of Russian Scenery,” 678. 97. On this topic, see Gunn, Ocharovannaia Rus’, 58–61; Durylin, Nesterov v zhizni i tvorchestve, 71–72. 98. Navrotskii, “Na Volge,” 349. 99. Shiriaevets, “Volge,” 63. 212  ·  Notes to Pages 84–93

100. Gorodetskii, “Volga,” 79. 101. Gor’kii, Delo Artamonovykh, 300. 102. Dvoretskova, Volga v pesniakh i skazaniiakh, 5. 103. Cf. Riabov, “‘Otstoim Volgu-matushku!’” 104. For a detailed account of the Battle of Stalingrad, see Werth, Russia at War, 411–521. 105. On this topic, see Riabov, “‘Otstoim Volgu-matushku!’” 106. Dolmatovskii, “Razgovor Volgi s Donom,” 282. 107. Simonov, Dni i nochi, 17. 108. Goncharenko, Volga, 327. 109. Ibid., 357. 110. Nekrasov, V okopakh Stalingrada, 336. 111. Klingensmith, “One Valley and a Tousand,” 6. 112. Cited in Sinedubsky, Power Giants on the Rivers, 55. 113. Josephson, Industrialized Nature, 19. 114. Zeisler-Vralsted, Rivers, Memory and Nation-Building, 117. 115. Nesteruk, Razvitie gidro-energetiki SSSR, 115. 116. On this project, see especially Zeisler-Vralsted, Rivers, Memory and Nation-Building, 101–24. 117. McCully, Silenced Rivers, 22. 118. Komarov, Te Destruction of Nature in the Soviet Union, 59. 119. Nesteruk, Razvitie gidro-energetiki SSSR, 140. 120. Panferov, Volga matushka-reka, 1:11. 121. Ibid., 1:118. 122. Ibid., 1:240. 123. Ibid., 2:452. 124. Lilienthal, TVA, 1. 125. Cf. Komarov, Te Destruction of Nature in the Soviet Union, 57; McCully, Silenced Rivers, 18. 126. Josephson, Industrialized Nature, 38. 127. Chudakova, “Plyvushchii korabl’,” 231. 128. Drobotov, “Stony Volgi,” 42. 129. Tsukanov, “Pochemu oni pobedili?,” 88. 130. Ibid., 124. 131. Pal’kin, “O Volge s nadezhdoi i bol’iu,” 219. 132. Ibid., 238. 133. Abubakirov, Strelkov, and Filippov, Vyshe, dal’she, nizhe, 116. 134. Ibid., 153. 135. Kozhina and Lekomtseva, “‘Rek, ozer krasa, glava, tsaritsa.’”

3. Te Neva 1. Antsiferov, Dusha Peterburga, 62. 2. On this kind of city-river rapport, cf. Coates, A Story of Six Rivers, 88. In regard Notes to Pages 93–102   ·  213

to the construction of St. Petersburg, Peter the Great may be fruitfully compared to Frederick the Great of Prussia and his settlement of colonists on land reclaimed from the Oder Rover swamps. Cf. Blackbourn, Te Conquest of Nature, 35. 3. Toporov, “Peterburg i ‘Peterburgskii tekst,” 259–367. 4. Evgen’ev, Iz Leningrada k Valaamskomu arkhipelagu, 15. 5. Ibid., 12; Ocherki istorii Leningrada, 13. 6. Ocherki istorii Leningrada, 13. 7. Stolpianskii, Peterburg, 14–15. 8. Ocherki istorii Leningrada, 13. 9. Pomeranets, Navodneniia v Peterburge, 63. 10. Evgen’ev, Iz Leningrada k Valaamskomu arkhipelagu, 15. 11. George and George, St. Petersburg, 540. 12. Ocherki istorii Leningrada, 14. 13. Sorokin, Landskrona, Nevskoe ust’e, Nienshants, 119–20. 14. Ocherki istorii Leningrada, 14. 15. Ibid., 20. 16. Stolpianskii, Peterburg, 18. 17. Cf. Sindalovskii, Legendy i mify Sankt-Peterburga, 12–13; Stolpianskii, Peterburg, 19–20. 18. On this meeting, see Massie, Peter the Great, 295–97. 19. George and George, St. Petersburg, 36. 20. Dills, “Te River Neva and the Imperial Façade,” 50. 21. Toporov, “Peterburg i ‘Peterburgskii tekst,’” 261. 22. Kantemir, “Petrida,” 246. 23. Lomonosov, “Oda #5,” 88. 24. Ibid., 96. 25. Lomonosov, “Oda #10,” 123. 26. Ibid., 124. 27. Lomonosov, “Oda #11,” 133. 28. Lomonosov, “Oda #12,” 136. 29. Trediakovskii, “Oda #4,” 181. 30. Ibid., 180. 31. Sumarokov, “Ditiramb,” 96. 32. Sumarokov, “Oda goratsianskaia,” 100. 33. Sumarokov, “O khudykh rifmotvortsakh,” 201–2. 34. Cf. Pumpianskii, “‘Mednyi vsadnik’ i poeticheskaia traditsiia XVIII veka,” 106. 35. Murav’ev, “Bogine Nevy,” 234. 36. Pumpianskii, “‘Mednyi vsadnik’ i poeticheskaia traditsiia XVIII veka,” 98. 37. Bobrov, “Torzhestvennyi den’ stoletiia ot osnovaniia grada sv. Petra maiia 16 dnia 1803,” 39. 38. Viazemskii, “Peterburg,” 86. 39. Shevyrev, “Petrograd,” 96. 40. Ibid., 98. 41. Ibid. 214  ·  Notes to Pages 103–15

42. Buckler, Mapping St. Petersburg, 67. 43. Kozlov, “K drugu V[asiliiu] A[ndreevichu] Zh[ukovskomu] po vozvrashcheniiu ego iz puteshestviia.” 44. Odoevskii, “Bal,” 58. 45. Dills, “Te River Neva and the Imperial Façade,” 39. 46. Born, “Na sluchai navodneniia 27 sentiabria 1802 goda, v nochi,” 194. 47. Izmailov, A. S. Pushkin, 103. 48. Maksim Amelin, ed., Izbrannye sochineniia grafa Khvostova (Moscow: Sovpadenie, 1997), 5–6; Dmitrii Ivanovich Khvostov, Sochineniia (Moscow: Intrada, 1999), 191–210. 49. Otradin, Peterburg v russkoi poezii XVIII–nachala XX veka, 335. 50. Khvostov, Sochineniia, 44. 51. Khvostov, “Poslanie k NN o navodnenii Petropolia,” 49. 52. Ibid., 51. 53. Te most comprehensive study of the composition and publication of “Mednyi vsadnik” is Izmailov, A. S. Pushkin. 54. Lednicki, Pushkin’s Bronze Horseman, 19. Lednicki calls the prologue “a brilliant synthesis of an optimistic conception of Petersburg—the capital of triumphant imperialism” (48). 55. Pushkin, “Mednyi vsadnik,” 12. 56. Rosenshield, Pushkin and the Genres of Madness, 131. 57. Dills, “Cracks in the Granite,” 480. 58. Cf. Izmailov, A. S. Pushkin, 261. 59. Ibid., 22. 60. Dills, “Te River Neva and the Imperial Façade,” 33. 61. Cf. Izmailov, A. S. Pushkin, 244–45. 62. Benediktov, “Zanevskii krai,” 121. 63. Benediktov, “Noch’,” 123. 64. Kuskov, “Petr,” 178. 65. Turgenev, “Neva,” 114. 66. Tiutchev, “Opiat’ stoiu ia nad Nevoi,” 212. 67. Ogarev, “Iumor,” 109. 68. Ibid., 111. 69. Antsiferov, Dusha Peterburga, 153. 70. Gogol’, “Nevskii prospekt,” 1:442. 71. Dostoevskii, Prestuplenie i nakazanie, 6:90. 72. Antsiferov, Dusha Peterburga, 96. 73. Nekrasov, “Utrenniaia progulka,” 1:197–98. 74. Nekrasov, “Sumerki,” 1:209. 75. Nekrasov, “Komu kholodno, komu zharko,” 1:357. 76. Bialyi, Dolgopolov, and Nikolaeva, Poety 1880–1890kh godov, 265, 669. 77. Iakubovich, “Skazochnyi gorod,” 183. 78. Korinfskii, “Pesni o gorode,” 190. 79. Annenskii, “Peterburg,” 152. Notes to Pages 115–26   ·  215

80. Lozina-Lozinskii, “Sankt-Peterburg,” 208. 81. Akhmatova, “Byl blazhennoi moei kolybel’iu,” 87. 82. Merezhkovskii, Antikhrist, 204. 83. Ibid., 210. 84. Merezhkovskii, Aleksandr I i dekabristy, 215. 85. Belyi, Peterburg, 52. 86. Odoevtseva, Na beregakh Nevy, 491. 87. Timenchuk and Khazan, Peterburg v poezii russkoi emigratsii, 46–49. Vasilii Sumbatov, for example, declares, ”V struiakh Tibra mne vidiatsia volny Nevy” (In the streams of the Tiber the waves of the Neva appear) (48); Nikolai Nadezhdin writes, “Gliazhu na Temzu,—i Nevu / Ia vizhu vnov’, kak naiavu (I gaze at the Tames, and I see the Neva again as if in reality) (48). 88. Sergin, “Zavetnye slova,” 424. 89. Sumbatov, “Grad Petra,” 489. 90. Gerasimov, “Sledi, moi drug, kak noch’iu blednoi,” 253. 91. Evgen’ev, Iz Leningrada k Valaamskomu arkhipelagu, 15. 92. Pomeranets, Navodneniia v Peterburge, 60–61. 93. Gardner, “Navodnenie 1924 g.,” 199. 94. Barskova, “Celebrating the Return of the Flood,” 160. 95. Novoselov, “Ty—soldat Leningrada,” 332. 96. Lebedev-Kumach, “Leningrad,” 358. 97. Dudin, “S dobrym utrom!,” 372. 98. Churkin, “Vecherniaia pesnia,” 383. 99. Kushner, “Dva navodneniia,” 45. 100. Ibid., 45. 101. Marshak, “Vse to, chego kosnetsia chelovek,” 369. 102. Ibid..

4. Te Don 1. Donskoi fol’klor, 187–89. 2. My discussion of the geography of the Don draws on Istomina, Vodnye puti Rossii, 213–19; L’vovich, Reki SSSR, 49–53; Plashchev and Chekmarev, Gidrografia SSSR, 104–7. 3. Istomina, Vodnye puti Rossii, 214. 4. Slovo Sofoniia riazantsa (Zadonshchina), trans. V. F. Rzhiga, in Tikhomirov, Rzhiga, and Dmitriev, Povesti o Kulikovskoi bitve, 213. 5. Ibid., 215. 6. Ibid., 219. 7. Skazanie o Mamaevom poboishche (Osnovnaia redaktsiia), trans. M. N. Tikhomirov, in Tikhomirov, Rzhiga, and Dmitriev, Povesti o Kulikovskoi bitve, 261. 8. Te most extensive treatment of the cultural impact of the Battle of Kulikovo is Amel’kin and Seleznev, Kulikovskaia bitva. 9. Blok, “Na pole Kulikovom,” 3:158. 216  ·  Notes to Pages 126–40

10. Cited in Blok, Sobranie sochinenii, 6:347. 11. Blok, “Na pole Kulikovom,” 3:161. 12. Ibid. 13. Amel’kin and Seleznev, Kulikovskaia bitva, 101. 14. Sources on Don Cossack history drawn on here include Astapenko, Donskie kazaki; Boeck, Imperial Boundaries; McNeal, Tsar and Cossack; O’Rourke, Warriors and Peasants; Skorik, Kazachii Don; Venkov, Istoriia kazachestva Rossii. 15. Astapenko, Donskie kazaki, 41. 16. Venkov, Istoriia kazachestva Rossii, 30. 17. Cited in ibid., 31. 18. Astapenko, Donskie kazaki, 43. 19. McNeal, Tsar and Cossack, 14. 20. Listopadov, Donskie byliny, 5–7. 21. Ibid., 6. 22. Gura, Kak sozdavalsia Tikhii Don, 265. 23. Sobolevskii, Velikorusskie narodnye pesni, 6:1. 24. Lashchilin, Donskie rodniki, 64. 25. Ekimov, Pesni donskikh kazakov, 121. 26. Sobolevskii, Velikorusskie narodnye pesni, 6:2. 27. On this topic, see Ziolkowski, Soviet Heroic Poetry in Context. 28. Domanovskii, Kak u Dona, 46. 29. Ibid., 24. 30. Ibid., 64. 31. Ibid., 98. 32. Ibid., 108. 33. Ibid., 129. 34. Zhukovskii, “K Voeikovu,” 51. 35. Pushkin, “Don,” 3:120. 36. Gura, Kak sozdavalsia Tikhii Don, 104. 37. Skorik, Kazachii Don, 2:81. 38. Ibid. 39. Kriukov, “Za tikhii Don, vpered!” 40. Te account here of Civil War events on the Don draws on Astapenko, Donskie kazaki, 130–39; Mawdsley, Te Russian Civil War; Skorik, Kazachii Don, 1:112–23. 41. Tsvetaeva, “Don,” 62. 42. Tsvetaeva, “Kto utselel—umret,” 64. 43. Tsvetaeva, “Voina i molodost’,” 66. 44. Turoverov, “Na solntse,” 45. 45. Turoverov, “Novocherkassk,” 40. 46. Turoverov, “Deti sladko spiat.” 47. Turoverov, “Ser’gi,” 83. 48. Turoverov, “Znamia,” 61. 49. Tere are many discussions of the controversy. One of the most detailed and thoughtful is found in Ermolaev, Mikhail Sholokhov and His Art. Notes to Pages 140–59   ·  217

50. On the importance of the river within the novel, see G. A. Frolov, “Mifologemy Dona i doma v romane M. Sholokova Tikhii Don,” in Priroda i chelovek v russkoi literature, ed. A. I. Smirnova (Volgograd: Izdatel’stvo Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta, 2000), 100–110, 106. 51. See, for example, Ermolaev, Mikhail Sholokhov and His Art, 82. 52. Sholokhov, Tikhii Don, 1:149. 53. Ibid., 1:187. 54. Ibid., 1:175. 55. Ibid., 1: 190. 56. Ibid., 1:46. 57. Ibid., 1:398 58. Ibid., 2:128. 59. Ibid., 2:143. 60. Gura, Kak sozdavalsia Tikhii Don, 231. 61. Sholokhov, Tikhii Don, 1:13. 62. Ibid., 2:9. 63. Sofronov, “Kazaki,” 1:57. 64. Sofronov, “Zemlia tvoia,” 1:152. 65. Sofronov, “Kazach’ia slava,” 1:109. 66. Sofronov, “Pis’mo na iug,” 1:122. 67. Sofronov, “Kazach’ia krugovaia,” 1:492. 68. Sofronov, “Don,” 1:204. 69. Firsov, Ogon’ nad tikhim Donom, 15. 70. Ibid., 55. 71. Miroliubova, “Don-reka.” 72. Trofmov, “Don.”

5. Te Angara 1. On the Angara, see Davydov and Tsunts, Rasskaz o velikikh rekakh; L’vovich, Reki SSSR; Plashchev and Chekmarev, Gidrografia SSSR. 2. Davydov and Tsunts, Rasskaz o velikikh rekakh, 163–64. 3. Cited in Plashchev and Chekmarev, Gidrografia, 264. 4. St. George, Siberia, 147. 5. On the ancient history of the Angara River region, I have drawn on Levin and Potapov, Te Peoples of Siberia. On the history of Siberia in general, I have also relied upon Gentes, Exile to Siberia; Lantzef and Pierce, Eastward to Empire; Lincoln, Te Conquest of a Continent; Saburova, Kul’tura i byt russkogo naseleniia Priangar’ia. 6. Levin and Potapov, Te Peoples of Siberia, 205. 7. Ibid., 2. 8. Lantzef and Pierce, Eastward to Empire, 112–13. 9. Polnoe sobranie russkikh letopisei (Moscow: Nauka, 1987), 36:44. 10. Levin and Potapov, Te Peoples of Siberia, 1. 11. Ibid., 125. 218  ·  Notes to Pages 161–75

12. Wood, “Avvakum’s Siberian Exile,” 11. 13. Brostrum, Archpriest Avvakum, 46. Te Russian text is found in Robinson, Zhizneopisaniia Avvakuma i Epifaniia, 139–78. 14. On the peculiarities of Avvakum’s situation, see Wood, “Avvakum’s Siberian Exile,” 25. 15. Brostrum, Archpriest Avvakum, 59. 16. Holl, “Avvakum and the Genesis of Siberian Literature,” 38. 17. Brostrum, Archpriest Avvakum, 61. 18. Radishchev, “[Pis’mo o kitaiskom torge],” 2:35. 19. Sergeev, “Aleksandr Radishchev,” 13. 20. Panov and Tiukavkin, Ocherki po istorii Irkutskoi oblasti, 100. 21. Ordzhonidze’s activities during his time in exile on the Angara are discussed in detail in V. S. Kirillov and A. Ia. Sverdlov, Grigorii Konstantinovich Ordzhonikidze (Sergo): Biografia, 2nd revised edition (Moscow: Izdatel’stvo politicheskoi literatury, 1986), 36–39. 22. Saburova, Kul’tura i byt russkogo naseleniia Priangar’ia, konets XIX–XX v., 239. 23. On the criticism and controversy surrounding Zuleikha otkryvaet glaza, see Pustovaia, “Bol’shoi roman s vishenkoi.” On the novel as an example of Orientalism, see Lipovetsky, “Te Formal Is Political,” 191. 24. Iakhina, Zuleikha otkryaet glaza, 217. 25. Ibid., 218. 26. Ibid., 227. 27. Ibid., 315. 28. Ibid., 494. 29. Ibid., 405. 30. Ibid., 485. 31. Ibid., 503. 32. On the development of early Soviet plans for the Angara, see especially Ivanov, Gidroenergetika Angary, 13–17. 33. Panov and Tiukavkin, Ocherki po istorii Irkutskoi oblasti, 225. 34. Cited in ibid., 178–79. 35. Cited in Buzhkevich, Ot Paduna do Strelki, 19. 36. Taurin, Angara, 1:18. 37. Ibid., 1:69. 38. Ibid., 1:72. 39. Ibid., 1:134. 40. Ibid., 1:492. 41. Ibid., 1:521–22. 42. Ibid., 1:523. 43. Josephson et al., An Environmental History of Russia, 74. 44. Tvardovskii, Za dal’iu dal’, 126. 45. Ibid., 140. 46. Ibid., 145. Notes to Pages 176–88   ·  219

47. Technical details regarding the Bratsk Hydroelectric Station are outlined in Ivanov, Gidroenergetika Angary, 32–38. 48. Cited in Enisherlov and Ivanov, Eto bylo na Angare, 9. 49. Buzhkevich, Ot Paduna do Strelki, 15. 50. Tvardovskii, “Razgovor s Padunom,” 74. 51. Iodkovskii, “Angara,” 41. 52. Pristavkin, Angara-reka, 316. 53. Kuznetsov, “Pesnia molodykh stroitelei Bratskoi GES,” 78. 54. Sergeev, “Liudi i reka,” 79. 55. Aleksandr Prokof ’ev, “Ne znaiu ravnoi ei po sile,” 107. 56. Pristavkin, Angara-reka, 44. 57. Ibid., 417. 58. Ibid., 446. 59. Pristavkin, “Zapiski moego sovremennika,” 140. 60. Evtushenko, Bratskaia GES, 84. 61. Ibid., 162. 62. Ibid., 180. 63. Ibid., 191. 64. Ibid., 192. 65. Ibid., 238. 66. Buzhkevich, Ot Paduna do Strelki, 13. 67. Ivanov, Gidroenergetika Angary, 121. 68. Cited in Weiner, A Little Corner of Freedom, 264. 69. Feshbach and Friendly, Ecocide in the USSR, 98. 70. Cioc, Te Rhine, 170. 71. On Rasputin’s importance as a derevenshchik, see, for example, Gillespie, Valentin Rasputin and Soviet Russian Village Prose, and Parthé, Russian Village Prose. 72. Rasputin, “Vniz i verkh po techeniiu,” 1:465. 73. Ibid., 1:469. 74. Ibid., 1:471. 75. Ibid., 1:478. 76. Rasputin, Proshchanie s Materoi, 1:171. 77. Ibid., 1:176. 78. Ibid., 1:200. 79. Ibid., 1:340. 80. Ibid., 1:266. 81. Rasputin, “Pozhar,” 1:365. 82. Ibid., 1:357. 83. Rasputin’s writings may be compared to fction produced worldwide that delineates the sorry consequences of population displacement due to dam construction. Examples include Haggag Hassan Oddoul’s Nights of Musk (2005) and Idris Ali’s Dongola (1998) and Poor (2007), which focus on the Nubians forced to move because of the construction of the Aswan High Dam on the Nile; Ishimure Michiko’s

220  ·  Notes to Pages 188–97

Lake of Heaven (2008), set in the mountains of Japan; and Li Mao Lovett’s In the Lap of the Gods (2010), which deals with the Tree Gorges Dam on the Yangtze.

Conclusion 1. Lekan, Imagining the Nation in Nature, 1. 2. Herendeen, From Landscape to Literature, 12. 3. Ely, Tis Meager Nature, 9. 4. Feshbach and Friendly, Ecocide in the USSR, 3. 5. Peterson, Troubled Lands, 75. 6. Josephson et al., An Environmental History of Russia, 222. 7. Toreau, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, 255.

Notes to Pages 199–203   ·  221

Selected Bibliography Literary Works The Angara Evtushenko, Evgenii. Bratskaia GES. In Bratskaia GES: Stikhi i poema. Moscow: Sovetskii pisatel’, 1967. 69–239. Iakhina, Guzel’. Zuleikha otkryvaet glaza. Moscow: Izdatel’stvo ACT, 2015. Iodkovskii, Edmund. “Angara.” In Veter Bratska: Sbornik stikhov, edited by Viktor Solomonovich Serbskii and Ekaterina Viktorovna Serbskaia. Bratsk: Bratskaia gorodskaia tipografia, 1995. 41. Kuznetsov, Valerii. “Pesnia molodykh stroitelei Bratskoi GES.” In Eto bylo na Angare, edited by V. Enisherlov and D. Ivanov. Moscow: Molodaia gvardiia, 1974. 78. Pristavkin, Anatolii. Angara-reka. Moscow: PROFIZDAT, 1977. Pristavkin, Anatolii. “Zapiski moego sovremennika.” In Sibirskie povesti. Novosibirsk: Zapadno-sibirskoe knizhnoe izdatel’stvo, 1967. 69–239. Prokof ’ev, Aleksandr. “Ne znaiu ravnoi ei po sile.” In Veter Bratska: Sbornik stikhov, edited by Viktor Solomonovich Serbskii and Ekaterina Viktorovna Serbskaia. Bratsk: Bratskaia gorodskaia tipografia, 1995. 107. Rasputin, Valentin. “Pozhar.” In Sobranie sochinenii. 3 vols. Moscow: Molodaia gvardiia, 1994. 1:357–415. Rasputin, Valentin. Proshchanie s Materoi. In Sobranie sochinenii. 3 vols. Moscow: Molodaia gvardiia, 1994. 1:171–354. Rasputin, Valentin. “Vniz i verkh po techeniiu.” In Sobranie sochinenii. 3 vols. Moscow: Molodaia gvardiia, 1994. 1:456–509. Sergeev, Mark. “Aleksandr Radishchev.” In Vechernie ptitsy. Moscow: Sovremennik, 1987. 13. Sergeev, Mark. “Liudi i reka.” In Veter Bratska: Sbornik stikhov, edited by Viktor Solomonovich Serbskii and Ekaterina Viktorovna Serbskaia. Bratsk: Bratskaia gorodskaia tipografia, 1995. 78–79. Taurin, Frants. Angara: Roman. In Izbrannye proizvedeniia v dvukh tomakh. 2 vols. Moscow: Khudozhestvennaia literature, 1983. 1:18–524. Tvardovskii, Aleksandr. “Razgovor s Padunom.” In Eto bylo na Angare, edited by V. Enisherlov and D. Ivanov. Moscow: Molodaia gvardiia, 1974. 72–74. Tvardovskii, Aleksandr. Za dal’iu dal’. Moscow: Sovetskii pisatel’, 1961. 223

The Dnieper Bash, Iakov. Goriachie chuvstva. Translated by Vladimir Iurezanskii. Moscow: Izdatel’stvo VtsSPS Profzdat, 1951. Bednyi, Dem’ian. “Porogi.” In Sobranie sochinenii v piati tomakh. 5 vols. Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel’stvo khudozhestvennoi literatury, 1954. 4:104–8. Bezymenskii, A. Tragediinaia noch’: Poema. Moscow: Sovetskii pisatel’, 1964. Dolmatovskii, Evgenii. “Pesnia o Dnepre.” In Cholom tobi, Slavutichu / Poklon tebe, Slavuta / Paklon tabe, Slavutsich. 2nd ed. Dnepropetrovsk: Promin’, 1977. 83–84. Fet, A. A. “Na Dnepre v polovod’e.” In Polnoe sobranie stikhotvorenii. Leningrad: Sovetskii pisatel’, 1959. 258. Gladkov, Fedor. Energiia. Vol. 2 of Sobranie sochinenii v piati tomakh. 5 vols. Moscow: Khudozhestvennaia literature, 1983–85. Gogol’, N. V. “Strashnaia mest’.” In Izbrannoe. 2 vols. Moscow: AO Priboi, 1994. 1:149–86. Gogol’, N. V. Taras Bul’ba. In Izbrannoe. 2 vols. Moscow: AO Priboi, 1994. 1:242–351. Gonchar, Oles’ Chelovek i oruzhie. Translated by M. Alekseev and I. Karabatenko. Moscow: Molodaia gvardiia, 1960. Khudiakov, Anatolii. Za ridni berehy / Za rodnye berega. Translated by A. M. Shkliar. Dnipropetrovsk: VAT Dniproknyga, 2005. Kozlov, I. I. “Chernets: Kievskaia povest’.” In Stikhotvoreniia. St. Petersburg: A. Glazunov, 1906. 287–306. Kozlov, I. I. “Kiev.” In Stikhotvoreniia. St. Petersburg: A. Glazunov, 1906. 23–24. Maiakovskii, Vladimir. “Dolg Ukraine.” In Polnoe sobranie sochinenii. 13 vols. Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel’stvo khudozhestvennoi literatury, 1955–61. 7:229– 31. Markevich, Nik. “Solntse utoplennikov.” In Ukrainskie melodii. Moscow: Tipografia Avgusta Semena, pri Imperatorskoi Med.-Khirurgicheskoi Akademii, 1831. 24–26. Nekhoda, Ivan. “Dnepr-Slavutich.” In Cholom tobi, Slavutichu / Poklon tebe, Slavuta / Paklon tabe, Slavutsich. 2nd ed. Dnepropetrovsk: Promin’, 1977. 84–85. Panchenko, Pimen. “Kievu.” In Cholom tobi, Slavutichu / Poklon tebe, Slavuta / Paklon tabe, Slavutsich. 2nd ed. Dnepropetrovsk: Promin’, 1977. 110–12. Pushkin, A. S. “Exegi monumentum.” In Polnoe sobranie sochinenii v desiati tomakh. 10 vols. Leningrad: Izdatel’stvo Nauka, 1977–79. 3:340. Shevchenko, Taras. “Haidamaki.” In Tvory v piaty tomakh. 5 vols. Kiev: Vydavnytstvo khudozhn’oi lyteratury “Dnipro,” 1978. 1:86–153. Shevchenko, Taras. “Hamaliia.” In Tvory v piaty tomakh. 5 vols. Kiev: Vydavnytstvo khudozhn’oi lyteratury “Dnipro,” 1978. 1:201–5. Shevchenko, Taras. “Prychynna.” In Tvory v piaty tomakh. 5 vols. Kiev: Vydavnytstvo khudozhn’oi lyteratury “Dnipro,” 1978. 1:29–34. Shevchenko, Taras. “Y vyris ia na chuzhyni.” In Tvory v piaty tomakh. 5 vols. Kiev: Vydavnytstvo khudozhn’oi lyteratury “Dnipro,” 1978. 2:114–15. Somov, O. M. “Rusalka: Malorossiiskoe predanie.” In Byli i nebylitsy. Moscow: Sovetskaia Rossiia, 1984. 136–43.

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The Don Blok, Aleksandr. “Na pole Kulikovom.” In Sobranie sochinenii. 6 vols. Moscow: Pravda, 1971. 3:158–62. Blok, Aleksandr. Sobranie sochinenii. 6 vols. Moscow: Pravda, 1971. Firsov, Vladimir. Ogon’ nad tikhim Donom: Poema. Moscow: Sovremennik, 1975. Kriukov, Fedor. “Za tikhii Don, vpered!” Accessed May 13, 2020. http://www.belousenko.com/wr_kryukov.htm. Miroliubova, Irina. “Don-reka.” Accessed May 13, 2020. https://www.stihi. ru/2010/09/23/2577. Pushkin, Aleksandr. “Don.” In Polnoe sobranie sochinenii v desiati tomakh. 10 vols. Leningrad: Izdatel’stvo Nauka, 1977–79. 3:120. Sholokhov, Mikhail. Tikhii Don. 2 vols. Moscow: Izdatel’stvo Sovetskaia Rossiia, 1978. Sofronov, Anatolii. “Don.” In Sobranie sochinenii. 5 vols. Moscow: Khudozhestvennaia literatura, 1971–72. 1:203–4. Sofronov, Anatolii. “Kazach’ia krugovaia.” In Sobranie sochinenii. 5 vols. Moscow: Khudozhestvennaia literatura, 1971–72. 1:492. Sofronov, Anatolii. “Kazach’ia slava.” In Sobranie sochinenii. 5 vols. Moscow: Khudozhestvennaia literatura, 1971–72. 1:109–10. Sofronov, Anatolii. “Kazaki.” In Sobranie sochinenii. 5 vols. Moscow: Khudozhestvennaia literatura, 1971–72. 1:56–57. Sofronov, Anatolii. “Pis’mo na iug.” In Sobranie sochinenii. 5 vols. Moscow: Khudozhestvennaia literatura, 1971–72. 1:121–22. Sofronov, Anatolii. “Zemlia tvoia.” In Sobranie sochinenii. 5 vols. Moscow: Khudozhestvennaia literatura, 1971–72. 1:151–52. Trofmov, Iurii. “Don.” Accessed May 13, 2020. http://www.zanimatika.narod.ru/ RF12_Don.htm. Tsvetaeva, Marina. “Don.” In Te Demesne of the Swans / Lebedinyi stan. Bilingual ed. Translated by Robin Kemball. Ann Arbor, MI: Ardis, 1980. 62. Tsvetaeva, Marian. “Kto utselel—umret.” In Te Demesne of the Swans / Lebedinyi stan. Bilingual ed. Translated by Robin Kemball. Ann Arbor, MI: Ardis, 1980. 64. Tsvetaeva, Marina. “Voina i molodost’.” In Te Demesne of the Swans / Lebedinyi stan. Bilingual ed. Translated by Robin Kemball. Ann Arbor, MI: Ardis, 1980. 66.

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The Neva Akhmatova, Anna. “Byl blazhennoi moei kolybel’iu.” In Lirika. Moscow: Khudozhestvennaia literatura, 1989. 87. Annenskii, Innokentii. “Peterburg.” In Izbrannye proizvedeniia. Leningrad: Khudozhestvennaia literatura, 1988. 152. Belyi, Andrei. Peterburg. Moscow: Eksmo, 2007. Benediktov, Vladimir. “Noch’.” In Peterburg v russkoi poezii XVIII–nachala XX veka, edited by M. V. Otradin. Leningrad: Izdatel’stvo Leningradskogo universiteta, 1988. 123–24. Benediktov, Vladimir. “Zanevskii krai.” In Peterburg v russkoi poezii XVIII–nachala XX veka, edited by M. V. Otradin. Leningrad: Izdatel’stvo Leningradskogo universiteta, 1988. 121–23. Bobrov, Semen. “Torzhestvennyi den’ stoletiia ot osnovaniia grada sv. Petra maiia 16 dnia 1803.” In Peterburg, Petrograd, Leningrad v russkoi poezii, edited by K. A. Afanas’ev, V. V. Zakharov, and V. V. Tomashevskii. Leningrad: Lenizdat, 1975. 37–40. Born, Ivan. “Na sluchai navodneniia 27 sentiabria 1802 goda, v nochi.” In Poety-Radishchevtsy, edited by Vl. Orlov. Leningrad: Sovetskii pisatel’, 1961. 194. Churkin, Aleksandr. “Vecherniaia pesnia.” In Peterburg, Petrograd, Leningrad v russkoi poezii, edited by K. A. Afanas’ev, V. V. Zakharov, and V. V. Tomashevskii. Leningrad: Lenizdat, 1975. 383. Dostoevskii, Fedor. Prestuplenie i nakazanie. In Polnoe sobranie sochinenii. 30 vols. Leningrad: Nauka, 1972–90. 6:5–422. Dudin, Mikhail. “S dobrym utrom!” In Peterburg, Petrograd, Leningrad v russkoi poezii, edited by K. A. Afanas’ev, V. V. Zakharov, and V. V. Tomashevskii. Leningrad: Lenizdat, 1975. 371–72. Gardner, Vadim. “Navodnenie 1924 g.” In Peterburg v poezii russkoi emigratsii (Pervaia i vtoraia volna), edited by Roman Timenchuk and Vladimir Khazan. St. Petersburg: Izdatel’stvo DNK, 2006. 46–49. Gerasimov, Mikhail. “Sledi, moi drug, kak noch’iu blednoi.” In Peterburg, Petrograd,

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Parker, W. H. An Historical Geography of Russia. London: University of London Press, 1968. Parthé, Kathleen F. Russian Village Prose: Te Radiant Past. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992. Peace, Richard. Te Enigma of Gogol. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981. Pelenski, Jaroslaw. Te Contest for the Legacy of Kievan Rus’. Boulder, CO: East European Monographs, 1998. Perrie, Maureen. Te Image of Ivan the Terrible in Russian Folklore. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987. Peterson, D. J. Troubled Lands: Te Legacy of Soviet Environmental Destruction. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1993. Plashchev, A. V., and V. A. Chekmarev. Gidrografia SSSR. Leningrad: Gidrometeorologicheskoe izdatel’stvo, 1967. Plokhy, Sergii. Te Origins of the Slavic Nations: Premodern Identities in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. Plokhy, Serhii. Ukraine and Russia: Representations of the Past. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008. Pomeranets, K. S. Navodneniia v Peterburge 1703–1997. St. Petersburg: TOO Kompaniia Baltrus, 1998. Pritchard, Sara B. Confuence: Te Nature of Technology and the Remaking of the Rhône. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011. Pumpianskii, L. V. “‘Mednyi vsadnik’ i poeticheskaia traditsiia XVIII veka.” Pushkin: Vremennik Pushkinskoi komissii 1939, nos. 4-5, 91–124. Pustovaia, Valeriia. “Bol’shoi roman s vishenkoi.” Voprosy literatury 2016, no. 3, 125– 38. Pye, Michael. Te Edge of the World: A Cultural History of the North Sea and the Transformation of Europe. London: Pegasus Books, 2013. Radishchev, A. N. “[Pis’mo o kitaiskom torge].” In Polnoe sobranie sochinenii. 3 vols. Moscow: Izdatel’stvo Akademii Nauk, 1938–41. 2:5–35. Rapov, O. M. “Oftsial’noe kreshchenie Rusi v konstse X V.” In Vvedenie khristianstva na Rusi, edited by A. D. Sukhov. Moscow: Mysl’, 1987. 108–11. Rassweiler, Anne D. Te Generation of Power: Te History of Dneprostroi. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988. Riabov, Oleg. “‘Mother Volga’ and ‘Mother Russia’: On the Role of the River in Gendering Russianness.” In Meanings and Values of Water in Russian Culture, edited by Jane Costlow and Arja Rosenholm. London: Routledge, 2017. 81–97. Riabov, Oleg. “‘Otstoim Volgu-matushku!’ Materinskii simvol reki v diskurse Stalingradskoi bitvy.” Accessed May 13, 2020. http://rapn.ru/in.php?part=7&gr=1654&d=5023. Robinson, A. N., ed. Zhizneopisaniia Avvakuma i Epifaniia: Issledovanie i teksty. Moscow: Izdatel’stvo Akademii nauk SSSR, 1963. Rodin, F. N. Burlachestvo v Rossii: Istoriko-sotsiologicheskii ocherk. Moscow: Mysl’, 1975.

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Tikhomirov, M. N., V. F. Rzhiga, and L. A. Dmitriev, eds. Povesti o Kulikovskoi bitve. Moscow: Izdatel’stvo Akademii nauk SSSR, 1959. Timenchuk, Roman, and Vladimir Khazan, eds. Peterburg v poezii russkoi emigratsii (Pervaia i vtoraia volna). St. Petersburg: Izdatel’stvo DNK, 2006. Toporov, V. N. “Peterburg i ‘Peterburgskii tekst russkoi literatury’ (Vvedenie v temu).” In Mif. Ritual. Simvol. Obraz: Issledovaniia v oblasti mifopoeticheskogo. Moscow: Progress, 1995. 259–367. Trepavlov, V. V. “Volga-matushka=Ana Idel’.” In Obrazy regionov v obshchestvennom soznanii i kul’ture Rossii (XVII–XIX vv.), edited by V. V. Trepavlov. Tula: Gri i K, 2011. 14–37. Tsukanov, Aleksandr. “Pochemu oni pobedili?” In Stony Volgi, edited by A. V. Kokshilov. Volgograd: Nizhne-volzhskoe knizhnoe izdatel’stvo, 1990. 85–124. Tsunts, Mikhail. Rasskaz o Bol’shoi Volge. Moscow: Sovetskaia Rossiia, 1964. Tümmers, Horst Johannes. Der Rhein: Ein europäischer Fluß und seine Geschichte. Munich: C. H. Beck, 1994. Turpin, Trevor. Dam. London: Reaktion Books, 2008. Vardugin, V. I., ed. Mify drevnei Volgi. Saratov: Nadezhda, 1996. Velychenko, Stephen. National History as Cultural Process: A Survey of the Interpretations of Ukraine’s Past in Polish, Russian, and Ukrainian Historical Writing fom the Earliest Times to 1914. Edmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Press, University of Alberta, 1992. Venkov, A. V., ed. Istoriia kazachestva Rossii. Rostov-na-Donu: Terra, 2005. Vernadsky, George. Kievan Russia. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1973. Volga-matushka reka: Russkie narodnye pesni. Moscow: Muzyka, 1977. Wardi, Anissa Janine. Water and Afican American Memory: An Ecocritical Perspective. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2011. Weiner, Douglas R. A Little Corner of Freedom: Russian Nature Production fom Stalin to Gorbachev. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999. Weithmann, Michael W. Die Donau: Ein europäischer Fluss und seine 3000-jährige Geschichte. Regensburg: Verlag Friedrich Pustet, 2000. Werth, Alexander. Russia at War 1941–1945. New York: Avon Books, 1964. White, Richard. Te Organic Machine. New York: Hill and Wang, 1995. Wilson, Andrew. Te Ukrainians: Unexpected Nation. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2000. Winchester, Simon. Te River at the Center of the World: A Journey Up the Yangtze, and Back in Chinese Time. New York: Picador, 2004. Wolf, Robert H. W. Mysterium Wasser: Eine Religionsgeschichte zum Wasser in Antike und Christentum. Gottingen: V & R Unipress, 2004. Wood, Alan. “Avvakum’s Siberian Exile: 1653–64.” In Te Development of Siberia: People and Resources, edited by Alan Wood and R. A. French. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989. 11–34. Zamiatin, D, N., and A. N. Zamiatin. Imperiia prostranstva: Khrestomatiia po geopolitike i geokul’ture Rossii. Moscow: Rossiiskaia politicheskaia entsiklopediia, 2003.

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240 · Selected Bibliography

Index Abubakirov, Eduard, 100 Abulafa, David, 3 Ackroyd, Peter, 17 Akhmatova, Anna, 126 Aksakov, Ivan, “Brodiaga” (Te tramp), 89 Aleksandr Nevskii, Prince, 105 Andreevskii, Sergei, 125 Anisimov, F. I., “Vskolykhnulsia, vzvolnovalsia pravoslavnyi tikhii Don” (Te Orthodox Quiet Don was roused and agitated), 152–53 Annenskii, Innokentii, “Peterburg,” 126 Antsiferov, Nikolai, 102 Avvakum Petrovich, Archpriest, 175–78 Bal’mont, Konstantin, 90 Barskova, Polina, 130 Bash, Iakov, Goriachie chuvstva (Warm Feelings), 55–57 Beattie, Andrew, 15 Bednyi, Dem’ian, “Porogi” (Rapids), 52–53 Belyi, Andrei. Peterburg, 128 Benediktov, Vladimir, “Noch’” (Night), 120; “Zanevskii krai” (Te country beyond the Neva), 120 Berkh, Vasilii, 116 Bezymenskii, Aleksandr, Tragediinaia noch’ (A Tragic Night), 53–54 Blok, Aleksandr, “Na pole Kulikovom” (On Kulikovo Field), 140–41 Bobrov, Semen, “Torzhestvennyi den’

stoletiia ot osnovaniia grada sv. Petra maiia 16 dnia 1803” (Te ceremonial day of a century from the founding of the city of St. Peter, 16 May 1803), 113–14 Born, Ivan, 116 Bozovic, Marijeta, 16 Bradley, Ian, 205n4 Braudel, Fernand, 3 Bulgarin, Faddei, 116 Buzhkevich, Miroslav, 193 Campbell, Brian, 13, 17, 23 Chamberlain, Lesley, 16 Chernetsov, Nikanor and Grigorii, 90 Chizhevskii, Dmitrii, 30 Chudakova, Marietta, 99 Churkin, Aleksandr, “Vecherniaia pesnia” (Evening song), 131 Cioc, Marc, 19, 193 Classen, Albrecht, 2 Cless, Karlheinz, 2 Coates, Peter, 19, 48 Collins, Robert O., 17 Cusack, Tricia, 14, 18, 23, 91 Danarov, N. [Nikolai Derzhavin], “Velikoi reke” (To a great river), 90 Darian, Steven G., 17 Davydov, M., 63 Dills, Randall, 108, 119 Dmitriev, Ivan, “K Volge” (To the Volga), 88


Dmitrii Donskoi, Prince, 137–38 Dolmatovskii, Evgenii, 96; “Pesnia o Dnepre” (A Song about the Dnieper), 59; “Razgovor Volgi s Donom” (Conversation of the Volga with the Don), 94–95 Dostoevskii, Fedor, 122; Prestuplenie i nakazanie (Crime and Punishment), 123–24 Drobotov, Viktor, 99 Drozhzhin, Spiridon, “Rodina” (Motherland), 89–90 Dudin, Mikhail, “S dobrym utrom!” (Good morning!), 131 Dvoretskova, K. I., 93–94 Eliade, Mircea, 2 Ely, Christopher, 20, 201 Esipovskaia letopis’ (Esipov chronicle), 174 Evtushenko, Evgenii, Bratskaia GES (Bratsk Hydroelectric Station), 190–92 Fagan, Brian M., 2 Feehan, John M., 15 Feshbach, Murray, 202 Fet, Afanasii, “Na Dnepre v polovod’e” (On the Dnieper at high water), 44–45 Filippov, Vadim, 100 Firsov, Vladimir, Ogon’ nad tikhim Donom (Fire over the quiet Don), 164–65 Fradkin, Philip L., 16 Friendly, Alfred, Jr., 202 Gardner, Vadim, “Navodnenie 1924 g.” (Flood of 1924), 130 Gerasimov, Mikhail, 93, 129 Giliarovskii, Vladimir, “Burlaki” (Barge haulers), 82 Gilroy, Paul, 3 Gladkov, Fedor, Energiia (Energy), 54–55 Gogol, Nikolai, 38, 122; “Nevskii prospekt” (Nevskii Prospect),

123; “Strashnaia mest’” (A terrible vengeance), 39–41; Taras Bul’ba, 41 Goncharenko, Gennadii, Volga— russkaia reka (Te Volga is a Russian river), 95 Gorky, Maksim, 50–51, 93, 184; Foma Gordeev, 86–87 Gorodetskii, Sergei, 77, 93, 131 Gruzdev, Ivan, 130 Guthrie, Woody, 49 Hahn, Hans Peter, 2 Hardyment, Christina, 18 Hausmann, Guido, 20 Herendeen, Wyman H., 18, 22, 23, 201 Honchar, Oles’, Chelovek i oruzhie (Men and arms), 57–59 Iakhina, Guzel’, Zuleikha otkryvaet glaza (Zuleikha opens her eyes), 181–83 Iakubovich, Petr, “Skazochnyi gorod” (Fairy-tale city), 125 Iazykov, Nikolai, “K Reinu” (To the Rhine), 88–89 Iodkovskii, Edmund, “Angara,” 189 Ivan IV, 68–69, 142 Jones, Prudence J., 13, 18 Josephson, Paul, 186, 202 Kantemir, Antiokh, “Petrida” (Te Petriad), 109 Karamzin, Nikolai, “Volga,” 88 Kashcheev, Kirill, 61 Kelman, Ari, 19 Kerner, Robert J., 9 Khazan, Vladimir, 128 Khlebnikov, Velimir, “Ustrug Razina” (Razin’s boat), 74–75 Khudiakov, Anatolii, Za ridni berehy/ Za rodnye berega (For native shores), 59 Khvostov, Dmitrii, “Poslanie k NN o navodnenii Petropolia, byvshem 1824 goda 7 noiabria” (Epistle to NN on the

242 · Index

fooding of Petropolis that occurred on 7 November 1824), 117–18 Klingensmith, Daniel, 50 Kliuchevskii, Vasilii, 7–8 Komarov, Boris, 97 Korinfskii, Apollon, “Pesni o gorode” (Songs about the city), 126; “Zhiguli,” 76 Kornblatt, Judith Deutsch, 211n46 Kostomarov, Nikolai, 71, 73 Kozhina, T. N., 101 Kozlov, Ivan, 115; “Chernets” (Te monk), 35–36; “Kiev,” 36 Krafcik, Patricia Ann, 210n25 Krasavitsa Angara (Angara the beauty), 173 Kriukov, Fedor, “Za tikhii Don, vpered!” (Forward for the quiet Don), 154 Khrushchev, Nikita, 11 Kushner, Aleksandr, “Dva navodneniia” (Two foods), 131 Kuskov, Platon, “Petr,” 120 Kuznetsov, N. K., 11 Kuznetsov, Valerii, “Pesnia molodykh stroitelei Bratskoi GES” (Song of the young builders of the Bratsk Hydroelectric Station), 189 Lavrenova, Ol’ga, 22 Lebedev-Kumach, Vasilii, “Leningrad,” 131 Lednicki, Wacław, 215n54 Lekan, Tomas M., 19, 199 Lekomtseva, N. V., 101 Lelewel, Joachim, 30–31 Lenin, Vladimir, 11, 77 Leskinen, Mariia, 21, 48 Levitan, Isaak, 92 Lewis, Martin W., 205n6 Lewis, Tom, 17 Listopadov, Aleksandr, 144 Lomonosov, Mikhail, 109–11 Lozina-Lozinskii, Aleksei, “SanktPeterburg,” 126 L’vovich, M. I.

MacLennan, Hugh, 16 Magris, Claudio, 16 Maiakovskii, Vladimir, “Dolg Ukraine” (Debt to Ukraine), 51–52 Markevich, Nikolai, “Dnepr,” 38; “Solntse utoplennikov” (Sun of the drowned), 37–38 Marshak, Samuil, 132 Mauch, Christof, 19 McCully, Patrick, 48 Mel’nikov, Pavel, Na gorakh (On the hills), 84–85; V lesakh (In the forests), 84–85 Merezhkovskii, Dmitrii, Aleksandr I, 127; Petr i Aleksei (Peter and Alexis), 127 Merkulov, A., 193 Miller, Jim Wayne, 22 Miller, Matthew D., 16 Miroliubova, Irina, “Don-reka” (Te Don river), 165–66 Morris, Christopher, 18 Murphy, Jeanie, 18 Murav’ev, Mikhail, “Bogine Nevy” (To the goddess of the Neva), 112–13 Nadezhdin, Nikolai, 216n87 Navrotskii, Aleksandr, “Istok Volgi” (Te source of the Volga), 89; “Na Volge” (On the Volga), 92; “Utes Sten’ki Razina” (Sten’ka Razin’s clif ), 75–76 Narovchatov, Sergei, 131 Nekhoda, Ivan, “Dnepr-Slavutich,” 60 Nekrasov, Nikolai, “Komu kholodno, komu zharko” (Some are cold, others hot), 125; “Na Volge” (On the Volga), 80–82; “O pogode” (On the weather), 124–25 Nekrasov, Viktor, V okopakh Stalingrada (In the trenches of Stalingrad), 95–96 Nemirovich-Danchenko, Vasilii, 91 Nepomniashchikh, Vasilii, “Stikhi ob Angarstroe” (Verses about Angarstroi), 184 Nesterov, Mikhail, 92

Index · 243

Nora, Pierre, 206n30 Novoselov, Nikolai, 131 Odoevskii, Aleksandr, “Bal” (Te ball), 116 Odoevtseva, Irina, 128 Ogarev, Nikolai, 77; “Iumor” (Humor), 122 Ostrovskii, Aleksandr, 83; “Groza” (Te thunderstorm), 83–84 Paine, Lincoln, 3 Pal’kin, Nikolai, 100 Palmer, Tim, 50 Panchenko, Pimen, “Kievu” (To Kiev), 60 Panferov, Fedor, Volga-matushka reka (Little Mother Volga), 97–98 Peter I (Peter the Great), 9–10, 106–107, 213n2 Peterson, D. J., 202 Pomeranets, Kim. 130 Povest’ vremennykh let (Tale of bygone years, or Primary chronicle), 28–29 Prelovskii, Anatolii, “Poezd v Bratsk” (Train to Bratsk), 188–89 Pristavkin, Anatolii, 189; Angara-reka (Te Angara River), 190; “Zapiski moego sovremennika” (Notes of my contemporary), 190 Pritchard, Sara B., 19 Prokof ’ev, Aleksandr, 189 Pumpianskii, Lev, 113 Pushkin, Aleksandr, 53; “Don,” 151–52; “Mednyi vsadnik,” (Te bronze horseman), 116, 118–20; “Pesni o Sten’ke Razine” (Songs about Stenka Razin), 72–73 Pye, Michael, 3 Rasputin, Valentin, 220n83; “Pozhar” (Te fre), 196–97; Proshchanie s Materoi (Farewell to Matyora), 195–96; “Vniz i verkh po techeniiu”

(Downstream and upstream), 193–95 Rassweiler, Anne D., 50 Razin, Stepan, 70–71 Repin, Il’ia, 78 Riabov, Oleg, 21 Rivero, Elizabeth G., 18 Rozanov, Vasilii, 20, 99 Sadovnikov, Dmitrii, “Iz-za ostrova na strezhen’” (From behind the island onto the mainstream), 73–74 Savel’ev, Evgraf, 152 Schilling, Peter, Jr., 18 Scott, James C., 48, 49 Sedlak, David, 3 Semenov, Nikolai, 130 Sergeev, Mark, “Aleksandr Radishchev,” 179; “Liudi i reka” (People and the river), 189 Sergin, Sergei, “Zavetnye slova” (Cherished words), 128 Shevchenko, Taras, 41, 43–44; “Haidamaki,” 42–43; “Hamaliia,” 43; Prychynna” (Te bewitched woman), 41–42; “Rusalka,” 42; “Zapovit” (Behest), 44 Shevyrev, Stepan, “Petrograd,” 114–15 Shiriavets, Aleksandr, “Klich” (Te call), 77; “Sten’ka Razin,” 75, 77; “Volge” (To the Volga), 92–93 Shkandrij, Myroslav, 33 Sholokhov, Mikhail, Tikhii Don (Te Quiet Don), 146, 147, 152, 158–63 Simonov, Konstantin, Dni i nochi (Days and nights), 95 Sinclair, Paul, 18 Sinedubsky, Vladimir, 96 Sinegub, Sergei, “Sten’ka Razin,” 77 Skazanie o Mamaevom poboishche (Te story of Mamai’s slaughter), 138–39 Skitalets [Stepan Petrov], “Volzhskie legendy” (Volga legends), 76–77

244 · Index

Slovo o polku Igoreve (Te tale of Igor’s campaign), 31, 138–39 Sluchevskii, Konstantin, “Na Volge” (On the Volga), 90 Smith, Tomas Ruys, 16 Sofronov, Anatolii, 163–64 Solov’ev, Vladimir, 141 Somov, Orest, “Rusalka,” 36–37 Strang, Veronica, 2 Strelkov, Evgenii, 100 Strong, Anna Louise, Wild River, 57 Sumarokov, Aleksandr, “Ditiramb” (Dithyramb), 111; “Oda” (Ode), 87–88; “Oda goratsianskaia” (A Horatian ode), 111–12; “O khudykh rifmotvortsakh” (On bad rhymemakers), 112 Sumbatov, Vasilii, “Grad Petra” (Te city of Peter), 129, 216n87 Taurin, Frants, Angara, 184–86 Toreau, Henry David, 203 Torpe, Nick, 15 Timenchuk, Roman, 128 Tiukavkin, V. G. Tiutchev, Fedor, 121; “Opiat’ stoiu ia nad Nevoi” (Again I stand above the Neva), 121 Tolstoi, Aleksei K., “Kniaz’ Rostislav” (Prince Rostislav), 45–46; “Pesnia o pokhode Vladimira na Korsun” (Song of Vladimir’s march to Kherson), 46 Toporov, Vladimir, 109 Trediakovskii, Vasilii, “Pokhvala Izherskoi zemle i tsartsvuiushchemu gradu Sanktpeterburgu” (Encomium to the land of Izhorsk and the reigning city St. Petersburg), 111 Trepavlov, Vadim, 21 Trofmov, Iurii, “Don,” 166 Trotsky, Leon, 49–50

Tsukanov, Aleksandr, 99 Tsunts, Mikhail, 63 Tsvetaeva, Marina, Lebedinyi stan (the swans’ camp),156–57; “Sten’ka Razin,” 74 Tümmers, Horst Johannes, 17 Turgenev, Ivan, “Neva,” 120–21 Turoverov, Nikolai, 157–58, 165 Tvardovskii, Aleksandr, 189; “Razgovor s Padunom” (A conversation with Padun), 188; Za dal’iu dal’ (Distance beyond distance), 187–88 Tychyna, Pavlo, 60 Venevitinov, Dmitrii, 115 Viazemskii, Petr, “Peterburg,” 114; “Vecher na Volge” (Evening on the Volga), 88 Vladimir I, Prince, 29 Volynskaia, Ilona, 61 Vostokhov, Aleksandr, “Rossiiskie reki” (Russian rivers), 88 Wardi, Anissa Janine, 17 Weithmann, Michael W., 17 White, Richard, 18 Wigen, Kren, 205n6 Winchester, Simon, 16 Wolf, Robert H. W., 205n4 Zadonshchina, 138–39 Zaitsev, Vasilii, 63 Zamiatin, Dmitrii, 3, 21 Zeisler-Vralsted, Dorothy, 20, 48, 50, 82, 96 Zeller, Tomas, 19 Zenkevich, Mikhail, 130 Zhukovskii, V. A. “Dvenadtsat’ spiashchikh dev” (Twelve sleeping maidens), 33–34; “K Voeikovu” (To Voeikov), 150–51

Index · 245