From the Forgotten Memoirs. P. Matveev about F. Dostoevsky, N. Strakhov, L. Tolstoy
Authors: Vladimir N. Zakharov
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The pilgrimage of Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoesvky to the Optina Hermitage has become a literary fact depicted in memoirs, rumors and gossips. Hoax memoirs of D. Stakheev who had not been to the Optina Hermitage but retold rumors and gossips of others, mainly those he heard N. Strakhov tell, got widespread. The recollections of P. Matveev who belonged to the company of N. Strakhov and kept in touch with F. Dostoevsky, L. Tolstoy, K. Leontyev, the Optina monks, political and public characters turned to be forgotten. They are missing in overviews, the corpus of memoirs and critical literature about Dostoevsky. Pavel Aleksandrovich Matveev criticized myths and gossips in pseudo-memoirs of D.I. Stakheev who in his narrative of the Optina conversations, in spite of the facts, depicted Tosltoy as a "man of few words" but not Strakhov, and Dostoevsky as a controversialist but not V. Solovyov. Matveev corrected the errors and reported what the Optina monks used to tell about Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and their companions, specified the role and significance of K. Leontyev in the monastic obedience. The article analyzes literary and biographic circumstances of N. Strakhov’s death that confirmed Elder Ambrose’s fears; To some extent D. Stakheev guessed them right in a literary joke describing death of "literary Strakhov" in the short novel "Wilderness-dweller" (1890) six years before the decease of the prototype and his flatmate (1896). The circumstances of Dostoevsky’s pilgrimage to the Optina Hermitage are specified. He came there to outwear his sorrow – the death and forty days after the death of his younger son Alyosha, to get prepared for the implementation of his next novel (to depict Church as a positive social ideal, to get creatively prepared for resurrection of his deceased son embodied in the main character of the novel - the early lover of mankind Aleksey Fyodorovich Karamazov. The memoirs of Matveev help understand the meaning of the Optina conversations in lives of Russian genius and their companions.