The Musorgsky Reader: A Life of Modeste Petrovich Musorgsky in Letters and Documents

By Jay Leyda; Sergei Bertensson et al. | Go to book overview

103. To VLADIMIR STASOV

Petrograd. Tuesday 19 June, '73

MY DEAR généralissime,

I was in to see Msr. le président,46 about whom the "admiralty" [Rimsky-Korsakov] had told me frightening things, and this is what appears: A newly born poet Count Arseni Arkadyevich Golenishchev- Kutuzov, of whom I've already spoken to you, consoles me both with his artistic nature and sympathetic mind, to such an extent that I took the liberty of making it possible for him to see you, my dear one. Because this highly audacious thought does not leave me, and I have been filled with grace that your contact with Arsenti Arkadyevich will be beneficial to his muse, as much as "he thirsts with trembling to behold you," I begin, and this is how you should interpret my beginning:

Since Pushkin and Lermontov, I have not encountered what I find in Kutuzov: this is no manufactured poet, like Nekrasov, and without the birth pangs of Mey (I place Mey above Nekrasov). In Kutuzov, almost everywhere, sincerity springs up, almost everywhere one can sniff the freshness of a good, warm morning, all with a superb technique, inborn in him. It is remarkable that while he was at the University at a time when etc. . . .47 our young poet (and he is very young) was not inspired by social motives, that is, he didn't follow the fashion and ape, like a marmoset, the grimaces of Mr. Nekrasov, but hammered into verse those thoughts which occupied him, and those longings, which belonged to his artistic nature. This lordship of the mind particularly delighted me, when I looked into Kutuzov's notebooks (sometimes in pencil, sometimes in ink, and sometimes with blank pages between--a photograph of the brain activity of an artist), and delighted me immensely. Kutuzov is a good judge of himself ( Balakirev used to say "an inner critic") as a genuine artist must be, and I guarantee that Kutuzov (judging by his rough drafts) shapes himself in a "forge" (and in my opinion simply in an oven, because he works himself into a sweat, as I do, poor sinner); and how attracted he is by the people, by history! One further observation: a poet can be fully

____________________
46
Alexander Vasilyevich Stasov, being in charge of the financial and business affairs of the Stasov brothers, became known as the "president" of the Stasov clan.
47
At a time when students were assuming political roles and a wave of social consciousness stormed against the walls of higher education.

-217-

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