Ivan Konevskoi: Bogatyr of Russian Symbolism

  • Joan Delaney Grossman


The accidental drowning of Ivan Konevskoi in 1901 at the age of twenty-three left Russian Symbolism with the small icon for which Valerii Briusov provided the inscription: ‘Wise child’.1 The posthumous volume of Konevskoi’s writings edited by Briusov and published by Scorpio was meant to fix his image in the memory of his generation, and it succeeded in doing so, at least for an important few: Blok, Belyi, Ivanov, along with Briusov and Bal’mont. His reputation was still alive a decade and more later and his importance to poets of a new generation is attested.2 Vladimir Gippius passed on recollections of his boyhood friend to his pupil Osip Mandelstam, as the latter remembered in The Noise of Time.3 Yet another few years, and D.S. Mirsky could call Konevskoi ‘one of the esoteric classics of Russian poetry’, destined to emerge repeatedly as ‘a poet’s vademecum’.4


Modernist Poet Boyhood Friend Small Icon Peasant Tradition East European Study 
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  1. 1.
    Valerii Briusov, ‘Mudroe ditia. Tvorcheskie zamysly I. Konevskogo’, Ivan Konevskoi. Stikhi i proza (Moscow: Scorpio, 1904. Reprint, Sobranie sochinenii,Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 1971) pp. xii–xviii. Several versions of this piece were published at different times.Google Scholar
  2. See, for a slightly different version, Valerii Briusov, Sobranie sochinenii v 7-i tomakh, VI (Moscow, 1975) pp. 242–9; and, for further references, p. 608.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Osip Mandelstam, ‘Shum vremeni’, in G. P. Struve and B. A. Filippov (eds) Sobranie sochinenii v 2kh tomakh (New York: Inter-Language Literary Associates, 1966) vol. II, pp. 142, 144.Google Scholar
  4. Evidence of Konevskoi’s specific influence on Mandelstam is cited in Omry Ronen, An Approach to Mandel’stam (Jerusalem: Bibliotheca Slavica Hierosolymitana, 1983); see index, p. 381.Google Scholar
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© International Council for Soviet and East European Studies, and John Elsworth 1992

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  • Joan Delaney Grossman

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