Abram Petrovich Gannibal

In 1704 a black slave (born in present-day Cameroon) was bought by a Russian in Constantinople and presented to Peter the Great. The Emperor liked 8 years old boy Abram and immediately adopted him.

In 1705 the boy was baptized with Peter as his godfather and he became Abram Petrovich.

The boy became Peter’s valet on various military campaigns and journeys.

In 1716 Peter the Great visited France. He then left his godson there to study engineering and mathematics at a military school. Two years later, Abram Petrovich joined the French army and fought in the war against Spain. During his time in France Abram Petrovich adopted surname Gannibal in honor of the Carthaginian general Hannibal.

In 1723 Gannibal returned to Russia. Soon Peter the Great died and Prince Menshikov, who disliked Gannibal, assigned him to Siberia.

Abram Petrovich Gannibal

Abram Petrovich Gannibal

Gannibal’s fortunes changed in 1741, when Empress Elisabeth (daughter of Peter the Great) took the throne.

Elizabeth made him the military commander of city of Reval ((now Tallinn, Estonia). He served in this place between 1743 and 1751.

Then Gannibal oversaw expansions of the Ladoga Canal and Russian fortresses throughout the empire. By 1760 Abram Petrovich had been promoted to the rank of a full general.

In 1762 Gannibal retired to the Mikhailovskoye estate in Pskov. The estate with hundreds of serfs was given to him in 1742 by Elizabeth. He died there in 1781.

His great-grandson was Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin, the famous Russian poet and writer. 

Anna and Nikolay

In 1903 fourteen years old Anna met seventeen years old Nikolay. She wrote poetry since she was 11 and he published in 1902 his first book of poetry.

In 1905 Nikolay first time asked Anna to marry him. However, they married 5 years later, in April of 1910. Before marriage Anna wrote to her friend: “…I believe that it is my fate to be his wife. Whether or not I love him, I do not know, but it seems to me that I do.”

The couple honeymooned in Paris. In September of 1912 their son Lev was born.

Anna Akhmatova, Nikolay Gumilyov and Lev Gumilyov

Anna Akhmatova, Nikolay Gumilyov and Lev Gumilyov

Before marriage Nikolay extensively traveled in Europe and Africa. From Wikipedia: “Gumilyov was fascinated with Africa and travelled there almost each year. He explored, helping development of Ethiopia, … and brought to the Saint Petersburg museum of anthropology and ethnography a large collection of African artifacts.”

At that time Nikolay published two more books of poetry. While in Paris he published a literary journal and there one Anna’s poem was published.

Soon after marriage Nikolay started to rebel against its restrictions. At the end of 1910 he left Anna for a six-month trip to Africa. Anna wrote to a friend that Nikolay “lost his passion” for her.

During Nikolay’s absence Anna became one of founders of the Guild of Poets. Her magnetism and allure attracted many great men. It is known that Anna had affairs with some of them.

Nikolay also was a founder of the Guild of Poets. To illustrate their ideals, he published two collections of poems,The Pearls in 1910 and the Alien Sky in 1912.

In 1912, the Guild of Poets published Anna’s book Evening..

Anna was recognized as “a new and striking young writer”.

“The Rosary …appeared in March 1914 and firmly established her as one of the most popular and sought after poets of the day.” (from Wikipedia).

At that time she “became close friends with Boris Pasternak (who, though married, proposed to her many times).”

In July 1914, Akhmatova wrote “Frightening times are approaching. Soon fresh graves will cover the land”.

On August 1, Germany declared war on Russia.

Nikolay volunteered to serve in an élite cavalry unit. For his bravery during the war he was awarded two St. George crosses.

His book of war poems The Quiver was published in 1916.

In 1917, when Russian Revolution started, Nikolay was in the Russian Expedition Corps in Paris. He returned to Petrograd (Saint Petersburg). There he published several new books of poems.

In August of 1918 Anna and Nikolay divorced.

Soon after divorce Anna married prominent assyriologist and poet Vladimir Shilejko.

She later said “I felt so filthy. I thought it would be like a cleansing, like going to a convent, knowing you are going to lose your freedom.”

There was no cleansing. She began affairs with theatre director Mikhail Zimmerman and composer Arthur Lourie.

Nikolay In 1919 married Anna Nikolaevna Engelhardt, a daughter of a well-known historian.

Three years after Anna and Nikolay’ divorce Nikolay was shot with 61 others for conspiracy against the state.

Anna wrote:

“Terror fingers all things in the dark,
Leads moonlight to the axe.
There’s an ominous knock behind the
wall:
A ghost, a thief or a rat…

The case against Nikolay Gumilyov and all others was completely fabricated and all victims were rehabilitated by Russian authorities in 1992 (71 years after their deaths).

Painting by JF

Painting by JF

 

Woman of a strong sex drive (part 1)

1gala

She was Russian. Her name was Elena Ivanovna Diakonova.

She was born in 1894 in Kazan but spent her childhood in Moscow.

Her father died when she was eleven years old. Her mother, who had three more children, then married a lawyer. He loved his wife and her children very much.

Elena was a brilliant student.  She completed her studies at the M.G. Brukhonenko academy for young women with a very high average mark.

Unfortunately, she had tuberculosis and in 1912 her family moved her into the Clavadel sanatorium in Switzerland.

In the sanatorium she met a French guy of her age and they fell in love. Both of them were discharged in 1914 and went to their countries but in 1917 they met in Paris and married. The following year their daughter Cecile was born.

Her husband Paul Eluard became a poet and was close to the leading figures of the surrealist movement: Andre Breton, Philippe Soupault and Louis Aragon.

“In 1921 Éluard and Gala visited artist Max Ernst in Cologne (Germany). She became his model and lover, at the same time remaining the wife of Paul Éluard. Next year the artist moved to Éluard’s house in Val-d’Oise (France). The love triangle was not in the least concealed.”
*
Max Ernst painted her in a number of portraits.
*

In 1929 Elena met her future second husband, a painter. He was introduced to Paul Eluard by Camille Goemans, a Belgian poet and gallery owner.

When the painter met Elena it was love at first sight. He wrote: “She was destined to be my Gradiva (the name comes from the title of a novel by W. Jensen, the main character of which was Sigmund Freud; Gradiva was the book’s heroine and it was her who brought psychological healing to the main character), the one who moves forward, my victory, my wife”.

The name of the painter was Salvador Dali. His future wife, muse and female model became known to the world as Gala Dali.

Isadora Duncan and Sergei Yesenin

They met in the fall of 1921 in the studio of painter Alexei Yakovlev.

ISIDORA DUNCAN courtesy of Wikipedia

ISADORA DUNCAN courtesy of Wikipedia

At that time Isadora Duncan was 44 years old. She was a celebrity in Europe. Vladimir Lenin liked her style of dancing and invited her to come to Moscow and to open a dance school. Isadora knew only several Russian words.

She was born in San Francisco and started dancing at the young age. “She rejected the rigidity of the classic ballet and danced barefoot using more natural rhythms and movements.”

At the age of 21 Isadora went to Europe to seek recognition and in four years became very successful in Budapest. Then she settled in Paris and toured Europe.

In 1921 Sergey Yesenin was 25 years old.

He was son of peasants. He started to write poetry at the age of nine. After he published his first two books of poetry about love, nature and simple life in 1916 he became one of the most popular and loved Russian poets.

Sergei Yesenin spoke only Russian.

SERGEI YESENIN  courtesy of Wikipedia

SERGEI YESENIN courtesy of Wikipedia

.Isadora Duncan and Sergei Yesenin met in fall of 1921 and married in May of 1922.

Why did they marry? There was a 19 years difference in age. They could not speak to each other. She did not know and could not understand his poetry and I doubt very much that he believed that she was a great dancer (classical ballet was in Russian traditions).

Did they looked at each other and fell in love?

I doubt it very much.

Why?

Let’s look at their love lives before they met.

From ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA: “Her private life, quite as much as her art, kept her name in the headlines owing to her constant defiance of social taboos. The father of her first child, Deirdre, was the stage designer Gordon Craig, who shared her abhorrence of marriage; the father of her second child, Patrick, was Paris Singer, the heir to a sewing machine fortune and a prominent art patron. In 1913 a tragedy occurred from which Duncan never really recovered: the car in which her two children and their nurse were riding in Paris rolled into the Seine River and all three were drowned.”

Later Isadora had two more children from different fathers.

Before marrying Sergei Yesenin Isadora Duncan many times stated her abhorrence of marriage.

Did she fall in love with Sergei Yesenin so much that she changed her view on marriage?

Not likely. I believe that she was ordered to marry him and to take him from the Soviet Union.

Why?

Initially Sergei Yesenin supported Bolsheviks as he believed that they would give land to peasants. But soon he became disillusioned and began criticize the government in his poems. The Soviet government wanted to get rid of him.

What about Sergei Yesenin’s decision to marry Isadora?

From NEW WORLD ENCYCLOPEDIA: “Blessed with good looks and a romantic personality, he fell in love frequently… His first marriage was in 1913, to a co-worker from the publishing house by the name of Anna Izryadnova, with whom he had a son, Yuri. (During the Stalinist purges, Yuri Yesenin was arrested, dying in 1937 at a Gulag labor camp.)

… In August 1917, Yesenin married for a second time to the actress, Zinaida Raikh… With her he had a daughter, Tatyana, and a son, Konstantin.”

Thousands of women dreamed about Sergei Yesenin and it is highly unlikely that he married Isadora Duncan because he fell in love with her.

I am sure that he married her to be able to get out of the Soviet Union (it was possible only if authorities permitted it).

After marriage Yesenin accompanied his wife on a tour of Europe and the United States. He hoped that he would be accepted very well in the United States and in Europe where there were many Russians.

However, at that time many people on both continents believed that the couple were Soviet agents and Russians abroad did not want to have anything to do with Sergei Yesenin.

What could he do? He knew only Russian, he could not communicate with his own wife, he had no friends.

Sergei started to drink. His smashing up of hotel rooms received a great deal of publicity in the press.

Yesenin returned to the Soviet Union in 1923. There he published some new poems. He saw that the government started a campaign of destroying peasants but he could do nothing about it.

Sergei tried to find refuge in love.

“…he immediately became involved with actress Augusta Miklashevskaya and is believed to have married her in a civil ceremony, although it’s known he never obtained a divorce from Isadora Duncan.

…that same year he had a son, Alexander, by the poet, Nadezhda Volpin…” Alexander Esenin-Volpin grew up to become a prominent poet, dissident and mathematician.

“The last two years of Sergei Yesenin’s life were filled with constant erratic and drunken behavior, but he also created some of his most famous pieces of poetry. In the spring of 1925, a highly volatile Sergei Yesenin met and married his fifth wife, Sophia Andreyevna Tolstaya, a granddaughter of famous nineteenth century Russian novelist, Count Leo Tolstoy. She attempted to get him help, but he suffered a complete mental breakdown and was hospitalized for a month.

…Two days after his release for Christmas, he allegedly cut his wrist and wrote a farewell poem in his own blood; the following day hanged himself from the heating pipes on the ceiling of his room in the Hotel Anglettere, dying at the age of 30. Some believe that the suicide was staged, and in actuality he was killed by GPU agents, although there is no actual proof for this theory.”

After Sergei Yesenin left Isadora Duncan’s “… performing career had dwindled and she became … notorious for her financial woes, scandalous love life and all-too-frequent public drunkenness… ” (from Wikipedia).

Isadora died on the night of September 14, 1927 in Nice, France, after “her silk scarf, draped around her neck, became entangled around the open-spoked wheels and rear axle, hurling her from the open car and breaking her neck”.

I am happy, I have kissed a woman,

I have slept in grass and flower-bed,

And I never, like a decent human,

Hit a dog or kitten in the head.

Sergei Yesenin