How close Lev Tolstoy and Konstantin Balmont in their worldview are? What creative connections and linguistic parallels can be seen in reviewing the artistic works of these authors? In modern philology is a subject which has been little explored. The present analysis thus seeks to shed some light on some issues.
«There are people and giants with human faces», so the legacy L. Tolstoy is chalracterised by K.D. Balmont. This kind of comparison involves both the properties of the sphinx and the colossus.
The legends of ancient Greece tell us about the Sphinks. It is a monster with a woman’s head, a lion’s body, a snake’s tail and eagle’s wings. The Sphinx was sent by the goddess Hera to punish the people of Thebes.
Every passing inhabitant of Thebes the monster asked a riddle, which taught it muses: «Which living beings walk on four feet in the morning, on two, and on three in the evening?» [10, P. 281]. Those who could not answer the question, the Sphinx ate. Oedipus gave the correct answer: «A Man». At this moment the monster jumped down from the mountain and crashed to death. The grateful Thebes elected Oedipus a king. However, the correct resolution of the mystery did not bring Oedipus emancipation: he could not prevent the tragedy of his own life.
The same muses, patrons of creativity, codemned a Ryssian writer and philosopher L. Tolstoy to spiritual torment. Like the Sphinx, he repeatedly asked mankind painful questions: "What was meant by being human? What were beauty and the truth?" And like Oedipus, he himself tried to give the correct answer, anticipating in advance what inner pain the resolution of the riddle would yield. Balmont’s introduction to the work of L. Tolstoy took place in his adolescence. The story «Three Deaths» caused a strong indignation, an opposition to the twelve-year-old boy: «There was neither a rabid horse in the steppe nor soft silver spills of turgenev’s word » [9, P. 336]. The original life stance of L. Tolstoy was so different from the one previously known that it gave rise, by Balmont’s own admission, to a feeling of cold.
Three years later the «Confession» [13, P. 94-160] appeared in print. This philosophical reflection of the 54-year-old L. Tolstoy gave birth to turbulent disputes in the youth environment at the beginning of the 20th century.
Balmont's youth friend, Engelgardt, also remembered that young people were «more or less affected by Tolstoy’s ideas» [1, P. 56]. There were those who agreed with the writer’s position and those who thought their world view was different. The attitude to the church, to the traditional for Russia orthodox and to other confessions, the definition of the purpose of life, the selection of the components for the system of values of a true person- these questions were mentioned in «Confession». Passionate about the general relationship, Balmont began to write off a copy of this essay for himself, but «having rewritten a few pages, has abandoned this work, because I thought it was foreign to my nature what I was rewriting» [9, P. 336].
K. Balmont experienced a sence of reaching after reading the «Kreutserоva sonata» [14, P. 132-212]. By this time he had published his first book of poems, which received low praise in criticism as well as in people close to him. The experience of literary failure was combined with difficulties in personal life.
Early marriage against the will of the parents to Larisa Mikhailovna Gorelina did not bring the expected family welfare. His wife’s constant jealousy, lack of money, illness and the tragic death of his first-born son damaged his mental health. He basically walked away from secular life, stopped talking to his friends, shut down his spiritual space.
«Kreutserоva sonata» by L. Tolstoy became the product that gave impetus to the change of the course of K. Balmont's life. The tragic world view conveyed by the narrative was firmly entrenched in his mind. A sense of reacing a deadlock, the horror of the vicious circle of which Pozdnyshev so insistently and convincingly spoke, led to the suicide attempt on March 13, 1890 by K. Balmont, aged 23, who jumped from the third floor window of a hotel, wishing to put an end to his life. The suicide attempt brought physical and mental suffering, but not death. Having survived the poet is fundamentally reconsidering his life stance. From that moment he decides to devote all his time to creative work. The life that brings joy and opens the world acquires the highest value. It is presented to the poet by a divine gift. To be worthy of this gift is the task of a thinking man.
Later in the essays in the artistic form, K. Balmont will return to the evaluation of the «Kreutzer sonata», will call it a cruel novel, a rough and cynical thing [2, P. 232]. The «revelation» of true love in the thoughts of Pozdnyshev, the denial of holiness in the relations between a man and a woman, do not find support in the views of Balmont. In the autobiographical novel «Under the new sickle of the moon» the conception of a child is equated with the sacredness: «A loving face gazes into a loving face, and when love crosses the edge, a new being emerges in mystery to create life, to love with fresh new love The Earth and Stars, the Sky and the Moon… Benevolent little life appeared over which magic love does»…» [6, P. 37].
Reflection on good and evil, beauty and ugliness, their embodiments in secular and spiritual life, occupies a significant place in the work of L.N. Tolstoy and, after him, of K. Balmont himself.
The result of long reflection and the search for true beauty, which could not bring evil to the world, was the discovery solemnly made in the creativity of both writers. Both L. Tolstoy and K. Balmont spoke in unison of the purity, sincerity and beauty of a child.
Lev Sobolev noted in his research of L. Tolstoy: «The writer’s interest in the child is not accidental. «In all centuries and in all people the child was presented as a model of innocence, sin-free, good, truth and beauty» – Tolstoy said in the article: «Who should learn to write from whom, peasant children from us or we from them?» A child's look is a measure of truth and childish in his heroes is a sign of children's closeness to the author» [11, P. 4]. And «The child – «the basic embodiment of harmony, truth, beauty and goodness». It is closest to nature» [11, P. 4]. Lev Sobolev repeats again and again that a characteristic feature of Tolstoy’s idea of a child is a special person: «Precious sense of fullness of being in harmony with all of the world» [11, P. 5].
The Sunny Child, the Demigod, the Little Star, the Little Grass – Balmont spoke in unison of the innocence, sincerity and beauty of a child. The child was presented as a model of innocence, sinlessness, truth and beauty, becomes «Savior of dark souls» [8, P. 281]. Revealing the great secret of childhood, Balmont echoes the Gospel: The one whose name was blessed by the endless millions, loved the presence of children as He loved flowers and birds, and, having placed a child in the middle of twelve of his chosen ones, hugged him. For he knew better than others that childhood was a complicated beautiful secret» [6, P. 97].
Any attempt of an adult to return to a past childhood state is futile. The memory of happy times, like a rainbow, melts, leaving behind only the feeling of past rain. Only children, according to the thought of K. Balmont, can see «in the magic mirror of their primary freshness deep truth of the World» [7, P. 293]. Childhood does not pass without a trace: «The light of the World Eucharist, which has experienced a happy childhood, shines on later life» [6, P. 98].
Creative distinctions of L. Tolstoy make him a part of artists and philosophers all over the world. «His name has always been wrapped in greatness» – acknowledged K. Balmont [9, P. 336]. L. Tolstoy is as great as Colossus of Rhodes, which according to the legend, «is created on the likeness of Helios, the shining god of the sun, which shines both to immortal gods, and to mortal people», [12, P. 36-37], «who rested his feet in two opposite harbour dams» [12, P. 37], thus connecting, Two parts of land separated by water.
K. Balmont thinks everyone in the world wants to understand Tolstoy’s thoughts: «The small Vasyutka, in a russian village bent over the fairy tale «What people are alive», the Italian girl, who with a beating heart reads about the fate of Anna Karenina, the Russian sect, the stubborn old man, who wants to know about Tolstoy’s words about truth and wrong life, A Japanese man who converted a bunch of flowers and berries from Yasnaya Polyana, a Hindu brahmin who is lost in thought about mental statements of a great Russian elder» [3, P. 334]. Balmont praised the feat of the Russian writer:»Isn’t it a radiant victory of the eternal human spirit over the oblique substance» [3, P. 334].
K. Balmont highly valued «Childhood and Adolescence», «Anna Karenina», «War and Peace», called them the best artistic works. But even more significant was the personal acquaintance with the hermit elder in Gaspre (Crimea) in 1901 [4, P. 418]. During their first meeting the poet was impressed by the voice, the manner of the conversation, the enormous inner spiritual power of Tolstoy: «The translucent beauty of a human soul being glad to meet another human soul. Simplicity, but simplicity of nature, where nothing is really simple, but everything is immeasurably complicated» [5, P. 531]. In the second meeting, a few days later, K. Balmont received the long-awaited – an opportunity to profess his life, his aspirations, and received an instruction – guiding words, prophetic: You will soon change. This will all pass through you» [5, P. 533].
The result of these meetings became the poet’s firm conviction that L. Tolstoy is the Great Chosen One, with a special talent, it seems to be a divine gift: «By one look, a simple question, Lev Tolstoy was able to induce the complete truth of another’s heart and to make it open instantly. To see this face full of inner light and not to love it was impossible. To listen to this voice and not hear the full truth of the internal view – was impossible» [9, P. 337].
To arouse the established patterns, to prevent ossification of the world, says K. Balmont – the purpose of creativity of L. Tolstoy: «Through Dostoyevsky and Lev Tolstoy, and only through them two of all the European artists telling the words, our time looked into the eyes of God and told the whole world that the lives of people should be changed in substance» [3, P. 335]. The ability of the artistic word to carry out a revolution in the soul of a person is given from above only great artists, «mountain peaks». Lev Tolstoy is one of them.
We found several points of convergence, of interaction between Lev Tolstoy and Konstantin Balmont. But these dots are not an exhaustive answer to the question. Analyzing the creativity of these writers is a topic that requires careful study.
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