University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Slavonic Studies > Sense of Place lecture series: "The Poetry of Gardens: Elegy, Ecology and the Cultural History of Dmitrii Likhachev"

Sense of Place lecture series: "The Poetry of Gardens: Elegy, Ecology and the Cultural History of Dmitrii Likhachev"

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A recreation of Eden, the collaboration of man and nature, the garden is a special form of human creativity. The meanings that are made and experienced by those who cultivate and visit gardens possess, like any art-form, their own history. This was the subject taken up by Dmitrii Likhachev (1906-99), the renowned scholar of medieval Russian culture. In 1981 he published a work extending beyond this field: The Poetry of Gardens, a study of the history of European garden aesthetics and the links between gardens and poetry from the Middle Ages to Pushkin.

Likhachev spent the years 1928-31 as a prisoner on the Solovetsky Islands (Solovki) in the White Sea, famous for its monastery founded in the fifteenth century and its gardens. After the Revolution the collaboration of man and nature took on an altogether more brutal aspect with the establishment on the archipelago of a labour camp that was a precursor to the Soviet Gulag system.

With reference to Likhachev’s Poetry of Gardens, his memoirs and essays, as well as to representations of Solovki and to some Russian literary gardens, this talk will explore the possibilities for elegy, historical memory and ecological imagination that emerge in and around Likhachev’s works.

Bio: Alyson Tapp is Lecturer in Russian Literature in the Department of Slavonic Studies at the University of Cambridge. She studies the Russian novel and poetry of the nineteenth century, with a special interest in questions of genre, narrative and emotion. She has written on Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, the elegies of Pushkin and his precursors, and translated essays by Lydia Ginzburg. She is beginning a new project on gardens and nature writing in Russia.

This talk is part of the Slavonic Studies series.

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