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Akimova M.S. The Chapel in Turgenev’s Novel On the Eve: History, Literature, Mythology. Studia Litterarum, 2018, vol. 3, no 3, pp. 144–161. (In Russ.) DOI: 10.22455/2500-4247-2018-3-3-144-161

Author: Maria S. Akimova
Information about the author:

Maria S. Akimova, PhD in Philology, Senior Researcher, А.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of Russian Academy of Sciences, Povarskaya 25 а, 121069 Moscow, Russia.

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Received: February 28, 2018
Published: September 25, 2018
Issue: 2018 Vol. 3, №3
Department: Russian Literature
Pages: 144-161

UDK: 821.161.1
BBK: 83.3(2Рос=Рус)52
Keywords: Turgenev, Shumsky, chapel, Kuntsevo, Davydkovo, novel On the Eve, legend, myth


The article examines the history of the chapel myth in the novel by Ivan S. Turgenev On the Eve. In 1903, a popular magazine Niva published a note mistakenly claiming that the Kuntsevo stone chapel was the one where Turgenev’s main characters “met and explained themselves.” The novel indeed takes place in Kuntsevo: Turgenev visited Kuntsevo and knew it well. This led to a mistake that was corrected in the catalog to Turgenev’s exhibition in 1909. However, the myth continued to linger on. In 1958, lawyer and journalist I.G. Shumsky followed the route of Turgenev’s fictional characters fascinated by the works of the former. In Kuntsevo that was still “untouched” by Moscow, he found this chapel, took a unique photo of it, and wrote two notes that were never published yet were archivized in the Manuscript Department of the Russian Literature Institute (the Pushkin House). It might appear that Shumsky’s notes have no value as they repeat and develop the fake story. However, this not the case: now, in the 21st century, they are invaluable evidence of the history of Moscow. The myth of Turgenev’s chapel served to preserve the memory of the chapel itself that had been destroyed. In addition, the emergence and existence of this myth is interesting in its own terms. Here the interests of philology, psychology, and cultural studies converge. Indeed, we are dealing with a person’s psychological need — that is not always unreasonable — to “tie” the text to a specific place; we witness an attempt — not always unsuccessful — to reconsider an art object as “real” and to see a literary work as historical source.


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