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The Presidential Library features new collection dedicated to the anniversary of the poet and statesman Gavriil Derzhavin

14 July 2018

July 14, 2018 marks the 275th anniversary of the birth of the famous Russian poet and statesman Gavriil Romanovich Derzhavin. To the jubilee date, the Presidential Library portal features dedicated to him e-collection, which includes digital copies of rare books, archive documents, periodicals, and graphic materials.

"Life-time of our immortal poet-viceroy was devoted to service and poetry. He was a zealous official and even put his public service above his literary lessons. Poetry and muses were for him in the background. But his career was full of so many storms, upheavals, falls, exaltations, and in general such hard trials that one can regret that he served, and did not live exclusively with the peaceful life of the poet and private person", - notes (1885) E. A. Salias de Tournemir in his work “The Poet-Viceroy”.

Service to the Fatherland began for Gabriel Derzhavin in 1762, when he was included in the Preobrazhensky Regiment, where he was as the son of a nobleman according to the laws of that time. Information about this war period, accompanied by documentary evidence, is covered in the work of J. K. Grot "The Life of Derzhavin following his writings and letters and on historical documents". It not only shows in detail all the way that Derzhavin went from the rank-and-file to the officer, but also notes that, being creatively very gifted, Gavriil Romanovich also developed himself in this area. So, for example, engraver Chemesov from the Academy of Arts, seeing the drawings of the young man, praised him very much and even promised to provide with funds for further studies. "But there was nothing to think about with the continuous company and battalion doctrines that were instituted by Peter III; besides, it was almost impossible to study music and drawing with the cramped and inconvenience of the barracks room. It remained only at night, when everyone would settle down, read books that had been accidentally obtained, and write poems", - notes J. K. Grot. - Meanwhile, however, there lived in him as if a premonition that talent would help him on in life. Continuing to write poems, he began occasionally to show it to his workfellows. Stanzas of soldier's daughter Natasha delivered him the praise of all comrades".

Gavriil Derzhavin retired military career in 1777, but he did not leave the civil service: at various times he was governor of Olonets and Tambov viceroyalties, cabinet secretary of Catherine II, minister of justice of Russia, and retired with the rank of senator and real secret adviser. This part of his life is also told by the materials of the Presidential Library e-collection. For example, one of the volumes of the "Senate Archive" gives a detailed report of G. R. Derzhavin on the case of D. A. Lopukhin, one of the most notable corruption cases of the late XVIII and early XIX centuries.

All this time, Derzhavin did not abandon his studies of poetry, which attracted him from tender years. E. A. Salias de Tournemir in the above-mentioned book “The Poet-Viceroy” notes: "During the days of Catherine the Great, writers loved to serve, and officials tried to write. The Empress herself set an example for them, I’ll say!"

The name of the Russian sole ruler is associated with the literary rise of the grandee: in 1783 he became widely known for the "Felitsa" Ode dedicated to her. Out of his pen came also the odes "God", "Thunder of victory, resound!" (unofficial anthem of Russia), "The Grandee" and many other literary works. Visitors of the portal of the Presidential Library can "fan through" digital copies of Derzhavin’s editions, which are presented in a separate section of the Presidential Library collection, for example, one of the first collections of his works. In addition, the selection includes research work on Derzhavin’s literary activity.

V. I. Pokrovsky, the author of “The Historical Anthology”, published in 1893, told about the poet and statesman: "His poetry is an indefinite, multilateral delight of a man who sees before him the accomplishment of great deeds, glorious and beneficent events for the Fatherland, who writes odes because the feeling of gratitude fills his soul, or grieves that he sees the death of great contemporaries. His ode is also brilliant, like the century he speaks of; they are also full of great paintings, like wonderful people who moved these events".