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The Place of the Genius (Lieu du Genie)

14.06.2010

The exhibition under this title was set up on June, 8, in the State A.S. Pushkin Museum in Moscow within the frames of the Year of Russia in France and the Year of France in Russia. The exposition devoted to the great writers of the Russian and French literature presents the house-museums of  Alexander Pushkin, Mikhail Lermontov, Ivan Turghenev,Leo Tolstoy, Mikhail Sholokhov, George Sand, Gustav Flaubert, Jules Verne, Artur Rimbaud, Lui Aragon, Elza Triolet.

The exhibition opens with a hand-made map of Europe symbolizing a general literary house of writers. The exposition is ended with a big scheme of Paris, which became a place of  symbolic meeting of the genii: in this or that way their destinies were related with this city. Between the two “general halls” there are separate halls – “houses”, where the portraits of the classics, their works edited in their lifetime, quotations about their native places, artistic maps and schemes, autographs, cross – opinions about each other, schemes of estates, rooms, photos are laid out.

A peculiar music key was chosen to attend to each place. In some place one can hear a piece by Chopin, in another place – birds’ twittering or a tower clock chiming, or a sound of rain, or a snowstorm howling, or a noise of a crowd. In the hall of Sholokhov one can hear the writer’s voice and an old Cossack lullaby from the novel “And Quiet Flows the Don”.

The exhibition creators tried to find an answer to the question: whose influence is stronger – that of man on the space surrounding him, or that of the space – on man? A piece of land, where the classic lived, reflected, inspired him for creating great books, tried his talent for durability. And the power of the talent made him the genius of the place.

“…A real place of the writer is his working room”, – said Pushkin. The “working room” for him was Mikhailovskoye. For George Sand it was the house in Noan with a grand park. For Leo Tolstoy it was a comfort of  Yasnaya Polyana. The home for Jules Verne was the sea where he voyaged by yacht. Lermontov wrote: “My home is any place where there is vault of heaven”, and for Gustav Flaubert the home was a hospital in the suburbs of Ruan.

Sholokhov would say: “I am fond of travelling around the world, especially because it enables me to look forward to enjoy returning home, to my Cossack nest, where I know everyone, and where everyone knows me…”. Sholokhov country, favourite nooks of “the sweetest country” which inspired the whiter, is his real home, his creative workshop. Here he got his strength to live and create. And he had done a great deal for his native land to glorify it all over the world, to show truthfully and sincerely the history of the Don Cossacks, to sing the beauty of the Don nature.

At the exhibition “The Place of the Genius” in the “Sholokhov Hall” the visitors can see the vastness of the steppe, the quiet Don, the writer’s favourite places. The pictures were taken in an old technique – of “camera obscura”, it gives a particular colour and depth. Here are books by Sholokhov, which brought him the readers’ love and the world fame.

This wonderful project is an issue of the longstanding cooperation of the literary houses of France and Russia. If was joined by the State M.A. Sholokhov Museum-Reserve, the State Museum of L.N. Tolstoy in Moscow, the museum-reserves of L.N. Tolstoy “Yasnaya Polyana”, of A.S. Pushkin” Mikhailovskoye”, of I.S. Turghenev “Spasskoye-Lutovinovo”, of M.Y. Lermontov “Tarkhany”, of the Museum of Flaubert and the Medicine History at the University Union of the Ruan Hospitals, of the House of George Sand in Noan, the International Jules Verne Centre in Amiens, of the Museum of Artur Rimbaud (Charlesville-Mesier), of the House of Elza Triolet and Aragon (Saint-Arnou-en-Iveline).

The exhibition is open for visitors till September, 15, 2010, in the State A.S. Pushkin Museum, Moscow, 12/2 Prechistenka Street.

Olga Bakhtiyarova