In Moscow, they showed the childhood of Russian classics with the help of toys


“Three halls – two centuries”, apparently, this approach was adopted by the organizers of the exhibition, which came to the attention of “Moskovsky Komsomolets”. They allotted the most significant space for sections that tell about the childhood, adolescence and youth of Zhukovsky, Pushkin, Lermontov, Boratynsky, Aksakov, Tyutchev, Goncharov, Turgenev, Nekrasov, Leskov and Leo Tolstoy. The next small room contained a story about Alexei Konstantinovich Tolstoy and Chernyshevsky, plus a mini-cinema was set up there and the main exhibit was installed in a glass showcase – a 19th-century toy “Horse”, which differs from other wooden horses of that time by the intricacy of execution. The figure of a walking horse on a stand with wheels (remove the figure of an animal – and you get a skateboard from the time of the Russian Empire), with a mane, tail, harness, as museum workers say, was made in the century before last from wood and partially covered with leather. True, at the time of transfer to the funds, the realistic coating and decorative elements were lost, however, the specialists of the Scientific and Restoration Center named after. Grabar were able to recreate the original appearance of the dying object. And here it would be appropriate to note the “horse-centrism” of the exhibition – several ancient rocking horses painted with patterns were shown at once. And in general, it turned out to be “toy-centric”. Why is this approach justified?

Let us imagine a “lost” visitor who, in the midst of the June heat, was seduced by an atrium with a crystal roof and coolness in the Pushkin Museum. He loves literature only in part. Children’s portraits of the classics (and there are many of them, including the canonical portrait of Pushkin as a child) he remembers well from school textbooks. Why would his eyes light up in this case? And even more so for a child or a group of schoolchildren who were dragged to the museum by a literature teacher? That’s right, from a toy. What artifacts of the past will ideally perform the functions of a “baubles”, swallowing which, the visitor will see everything else?

These are puzzles of the 19th century made of colored cardboard (who even knows that they already existed then?), arcade games “Catch, fish” (USA, 1880s) and “Table croquet” (France). Or needlework kits that any modern girl would envy: a version with beads for making bracelets and necklaces, or all in one box – but for embroidery. And then we are waiting for a porcelain “live” German doll in a metal stroller, a rope “jump rope” (replace the rope with a rubber cord and you will get a Soviet skipping rope), as well as a wheelchair ring, extremely popular with children of the century before last. Plus a metal cannon of the 1900s, an American-made children’s gun, a children’s sword again from the USA, a set of Russian Cossacks soldiers made of paper and cardboard (made in Germany – there was no “import substitution” in pre-revolutionary Russia). And quite technically complex toys – a children’s gramophone and a typewriter.

Of course, these were entertainments for the children of wealthy parents – say, a gramophone could cost as much as a worker in a factory earned in a month. And the basis of the dolls of peasant children was not foreign porcelain, but logs.

But, by the way, the problem of toy and social inequality was also shown – through a picture depicting a kitchen boy (children’s humiliating labor was considered the norm) of the classic of now Soviet literature, Nikolai Ostrovsky.

In a separate showcase about the author of the novel “How the Steel Was Tempered” – Budyonovka flaunts. The uniform head helmet of a soldier of the Red Army also served as a toy when there were no others – but it was played by the heroes of the books of Arkady Gaidar, that is, representatives of historically completely different generations.

Ostrovsky – this is already from the hall about the 20th century – with the capture of the turn of the century, where there is not only Mayakovsky and his book “Fundamentals of Socialism”, but also Chekhov, Gorky, Leonid Andreev, Andrei Bely, Bulgakov, Tsvetaeva, Yesenin, Paustovsky , Sholokhov and Vysotsky.

When we use the verb “is”, it means “exist”, “are present”, that is, they are there as if alive, although we are talking about people who have long gone into the world: the idea of ​​immortality of the creators of exemplary works is firmly rooted in our minds. But this creates a problem of perception.

I remember that the satirist Arkady Averchenko in the story “A Rat on a Tray” ridiculed avant-garde art when scissors, a fragment of a mirror and a tin can were screwed on the painting “An American in Moscow”. “There is, in fact, no American; but there are, so to speak, traces of his presence, ”the artist, the hero of the Averchen story, justified himself, and this was a very comical excuse.

But what remains in fact besides the text from a long-dead writer?

How to “show” Yesenin without hanging a picture or photo in a frame? Only through an object directly connected with it – a collar from Sergei Alexandrovich’s blouse, or indirectly – by placing a pencil case made of Karelian birch of the early 20th century in the light of spotlights. The necessary association will automatically line up in my head: Yesenin, Russian birch trees, love for the Motherland.

Even if some of the exhibits are presented in the form of copies and reproductions, visualization is still achieved. And a copy of the birth certificate of Vladimir Semenovich Vysotsky and the books he read from his home library serve this purpose better than even the photographs of “Volodya big and Volodya small”.

Yes, the Russian classics are with us, “our dead will not leave us in trouble” – this is the main message of the “Childhood of Writers”, no matter how interesting the idea of ​​​​emphasizing the childhood segment of their biography may be.

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