Alexander Blok. Selected Poems by Avril Pyman

By Avril Pyman

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Example text

The history of the intelligentsia as a whole, they said hotly, was one of sobriety and self-sacrifice—and of devoted service to the people as teachers and healers. There was much truth in this. Blok was exceptionally sophisticated, exceptionally Europeanized—but there was also much truth in his sombre answer: "My questions are put, not by myself, but by the history of Russia. " And, indeed, it was not Blok's thought which was out of reach of literate villagers like Kluyev—it was his general knowledge and vocabulary, which were common currency for all the "intelligentsia".

He began to go down and Volokhova remained standing at the head of the stairs to watch him go. Suddenly, Alexandr Alexsandrovich turned round, took a few indeterminate steps towards her, halted again and, finally, stepping up onto the lowest stair, said shyly and solemnly that just now, in this minute, he had understood the meaning of his premonitions, of the con­ fusion of the last few months. " This was the beginning of a graciously enacted dream. In reality, Volokho­ va would have none of Blok, precisely because he was at this time unreal— and so was his feeling for her, however overwhelming the infatuation.

In the preface he explained: ... I never approached this question from the political angle. My theme, if I may use the expression, is musical (of course, in a peculiar sense of the word). Hence the gene­ ral title of all these articles—"Russia and the Intelligentsia". Russia here is not a state, not a national entity, not the fatherland, but a kind of complex body, constantly changing its outer form, fluid (like Heraclites' world) and yet unchanging somehow in what is most fundamental. The nearest definition for this conception are the words: "The people", "the soul of the people", "the element", but any one of these words on its own still does not exhaust the musical significance of the word Russia.

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