The arbiter of fate: How did the famous Russian writers of the Silver age get a start in life thanks to Zinaida hippius
Perhaps, there was no more controversial figure in the Russian literary society of the Silver age than Zinaida hippius. She was considered one of the most beautiful and intelligent women of the era, she was simultaneously praised and insulted, worshipped her and feared her sharp tongue. The poet was called a witch and sylph, but the most famous nickname was “satanasa”. She could mercilessly criticize writers and poets, but the approved Zinaida hippius could count on her protection.
Zinaida hippius from childhood wrote poetry and seriously planned to engage in literary activities. Because of the father’s service, the family often had to move from place to place, so the girl could not fully study, but filled the gaps in knowledge with governesses.
She was only 19 years old when she met Dmitry Merezhkovsky in Borjomi in the summer of 1888 and became seriously interested in him. The young poet, who had by that time published his first book of poems, seemed to her not like any of her fans. He was smart, and he was serious, and he had a certain grimness that she missed in other men. Already in January, Zinaida hippius and Dmitry Merezhkovsky married in Tiflis, where the bride lived with her mother and sisters.
After the marriage, the couple moved to St. Petersburg, where the young poet and writer not only entered the literary circle thanks to her husband, but also immediately proved to be a ruthless critic.
Zinaida Gippius and Dmitry Merezhkovsky organized a literary salon, which allowed only those writers and poets who were interviewed. Led him personally Zinaida Nikolaevna, and “candidates” were often nervous before that fateful meeting with Gippius stronger than before the exam.
Novice writers are relatively easy to understand: if the writer was able to appeal to “satanise”, its popularity immediately increased. The measure for admission to the literary salon was only one: the quality of the written. Zinaida hippius made very high demands on literary creativity. However, earning the approval of a poet or a writer could count on the popularity of readers.
Zinaida hippius became a kind of “godmother” of famous Russian writers.
With the work of Alexander Blok Zinaida hippius met thanks to a friend who asked the poet if she had heard about the young poet, who recently appeared in St. Petersburg. Hippius read the poems offered to her and found a certain zest in them, although she did not fail to note some tongue-tied works.
When the Unit personally came to Zinaida, she received him graciously, struck up quite a close relationship. Soon Zinaida Gippius began to cooperate with the magazine “New way” as a co-editor and critic. Thanks to her patronage poems were accepted for publication. Later the poet became a regular to print in a “New way” your articles and reviews. Thanks to his friendship with hippius and Merezhkovsky, Alexander Blok quickly became part of the literary society of St. Petersburg.
Having got acquainted with Sergey Yesenin, Alexander Blok recommended him to Zinaida hippius. The young poet made a positive impression on hippius because of his modesty and unobtrusive. The verses read, but when he asked for it, was being considerate and restrained.
Zinaida hippius not only approved the entry of Yesenin in the literary circle, but also found it necessary to publish a review of his poems under the name of Alexei Extreme. This name caused a lot of writers a real fear, because the fictional critic could easily smash to smithereens any work. But Sergei Yesenin was awarded praise, thus gained his first popularity. This was enough to ensure that the young poet publishers began to treat favorably. Yesenin, however, in the literary salon did not stay, went to free creative swimming.
But for Mandelstam the poet originally had an inexplicable dislike. He asked her patronage before Valery Brusov, but was refused in the beginning with Merezhkovsky and Gippius have. However, Zinaida Nikolaevna with the works of Mandelstam met, found them very good and sent for review Bryusov.
In the future, Zinaida hippius followed the work of the poet and even regretted his too abrupt refusal. At the same time, Merezhkovsky retained his dislike for Osip Emilevich, but Zinaida hippius spoke about him in literary circles always favorably, which undoubtedly contributed to his career.
However, there were cases when Zinaida hippius was wrong in her assessments. Despite her harsh remarks about Nabokov or Balmont, they found their way into literature.