House Museum of Korney Chukovsky, Moscow, Russia

The Korney Chukovsky House Museum is a memorial museum of Korney Chukovsky located at the writer’s former summer house in Peredelkino. The opening of the museum took place in 1994 as a branch of the State Literary Museum.

Korney Ivanovich Chukovsky (31 March NS 1882 – 28 October 1969) was one of the most popular children’s poets in the Russian language. His catchy rhythms, inventive rhymes and absurd characters have invited comparisons with the American children’s author Dr. Seuss. Chukovsky’s poems Tarakanishche (“The Monster Cockroach”), Krokodil (“The Crocodile”), Telefon (“The Telephone”) and Moydodyr (“Wash-’em-Clean”) have been favourites with many generations of Russophone children. Lines from his poems, in particular Telefon, have become universal catch-phrases in the Russian media and everyday conversation. He adapted the Doctor Dolittle stories into a book-length Russian poem as Doctor Aybolit (“Dr. Ow-It-Hurts”), and translated a substantial portion of the Mother Goose canon into Russian as Angliyskiye Narodnyye Pesenki (“English Folk Rhymes”). He was also an influential literary critic and essayist.

Since 1901, Chukovsky began to write articles in the Odessa News. In the literature of Chukovsky introduced his close gymnasium friend, journalist V. Ye. Zhabotinsky. Zhabotinsky was also the guarantor of the groom at the wedding of Chukovsky and Maria Borisovna Goldfeld.

Then, in 1903, Chukovsky, as the only newspaper correspondent who knew English (which he studied independently from Olendorf’s Self-Tutorial in English), seduced by a high salary at that time — the publisher promised 100 rubles a month — went to Odessa News as a correspondent in London, where left with his young wife. In addition to Odessa News, Chukovsky’s English articles were published in Yuzhny Obozreniye and in some Kiev newspapers. But the fees from Russia came irregularly, and then completely ceased. The pregnant wife had to be sent back to Odessa. Chukovsky moonlighted correspondence directories in the British Museum. But in London, Chukovsky thoroughly familiarized himself with English literature – he read in the original Dickens, Thackeray.

Returning to Odessa at the end of 1904, Chukovsky settled with his family on Bazarnaya Street, No. 2, and plunged into the events of the 1905 revolution. Chukovsky was captured by the revolution. He twice visited the rebellious battleship “Potemkin”, among other things, accepting letters to relatives from the rebellious sailors.

In St. Petersburg, he began to publish the satirical magazine Signal. Among the authors of the magazine were such famous writers as Kuprin, Fedor Sologub and Teffi. After the fourth issue, he was arrested for ” insulting Majesty.” He was defended by the famous lawyer Gruzenberg, who had justified himself. Chukovsky was under arrest for 9 days. He later recalled Gruzenberg’s speech at the trial as follows:

– Imagine that I… well, at least here on this wall… drawing… well, let’s ass. And some passerby for no reason declares: this is the prosecutor Kamyshansky. <...> Who offends the prosecutor? Am I, drawing a donkey, or that passer-by who allows himself to claim that for some reason he sees in my simple-minded drawing features of a respected court official? The point is clear: of course, a passerby. The same thing happens here. What does my client do? He draws a donkey, degenerate, pygmy. And Pyotr Konstantinovich Kamyshansky has the courage to affirm publicly that it is a sacred person of his imperial majesty, now the reigning Tsar Emperor Nicholas II. Let him repeat these words, and we will be forced to hold him, the prosecutor, accountable, apply to him, to the prosecutor, a formidable article 103, punishing for insulting the majesty!
– Korney Chukovsky. How I became a writer

In 1906, Korney Ivanovich arrived in the Finnish town of Kuokkala (now Repino, the Resort District of St. Petersburg), where he made close acquaintance with the artist Ilya Repin and the writer Korolenko. It was Chukovsky who convinced Repin to take his writing seriously and to prepare a book of memoirs, “Far Close”. In Kuokkale, Chukovsky lived for about 10 years. From the combination of the words Chukovsky and Kuokkala, “ Chukokkala ” (invented by Repin) was formed – the name of a handwritten humorous almanac that Korney Ivanovich led until the last days of his life.

In 1907 Chukovsky published translations of Walt Whitman. The book became popular, which increased Chukovsky known in literary circles. Chukovsky became an influential critic, mockingly speaking about the then fashionable works of mass literature and popular fiction: books by Lydia Charskaya and Anastasia Verbitskaya, Pinkertonism and others, wittily defended the futurists – both in articles and in public lectures – from attacks of traditional criticism (I met in Kuokkala with Mayakovskyand later became friends with him), although the futurists themselves were far from always grateful to him for this; developed his own recognizable manner (reconstruction of the psychological appearance of the writer based on numerous quotes from him).

In 1916 Chukovskij with the delegation of the State Duma again visited England. In 1917, Patterson’s book, “With the Jewish Detachment in Gallipoli ” (about the Jewish Legion in the British Army) was published, edited and with a foreword by Chukovsky.

After the revolution Chukovsky continued his criticism by publishing two of the most famous of his books contemporary works – “The Book of Alexander Blok ” (“Blok as a man and a poet”) and ” Akhmatova and Mayakovsky.” The conditions of the Soviet era turned out to be unfavorable for critical activity, and Chukovsky had to “bury this talent of his”, which he later regretted.

Literary Studies
In 1908, his critical essays were published on the writers Chekhov, Balmont, Blok, Sergeev-Tsensky, Kuprin, Gorky, Artsybashev, Merezhkovsky, Bryusov and others, which compiled the collection “ From Chekhov to the Present Day, ” which has survived three editions during the year.

Since 1917, Chukovsky began his many years of work about Nekrasov, his beloved poet. His efforts left the first Soviet collection of poems by Nekrasov. Chukovsky finished work on it only in 1926, having processed a lot of manuscripts and provided the texts with scientific commentaries. The monograph “The Mastery of Nekrasov ”, published in 1952, was reprinted many times, and in 1962Chukovsky was awarded the Lenin Prize for it. After 1917, it was possible to publish a significant part of Nekrasov’s poems, which were either previously forbidden by tsarist censorship, or they were vetoed by the copyright holders. About a quarter of the currently known poetic lines of Nekrasov were introduced into circulation by Korney Chukovsky. In addition, in the 1920s he discovered and published manuscripts of the prose writings of Nekrasov (“The Life and Adventures of Tikhon Trosnikov,” “The Subtle Man” and others).

In addition to Nekrasov, Chukovsky was engaged in the biography and work of a number of other writers of the 19th century (Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Sleptsov), which is dedicated, in particular, to his book People and Books of the Sixties, participated in the preparation of text and editing of many publications. Chukovsky considered Chekhov to be the closest writer.

Children’s poems and fairy tales
The fascination with children’s literature, glorifying Chukovsky, began relatively late, when he was already a famous critic. In 1916, Chukovsky compiled a collection of “The Christmas Tree” and wrote his first fairy tale, ” Crocodile.” In 1923 his famous fairy tales “ Moidodyr ” and “ Tarakanische ” were published, and a year later – “Barmaley”.

Despite the fact that fairy tales were printed in a large print run and withstood many editions, they did not fully meet the tasks of Soviet pedagogy. In February 1928, Pravda published an article by the Deputy People’s Commissar of Education of the RSFSR N. K. Krupskaya “On the Chukovsky Crocodile”:

Such chatter is disrespect for the child. First, he is attracted by a gingerbread – funny, innocent rhymes and comical images, and along the way they give him swallow some dregs that will not pass without a trace for him. I think, “Crocodile” our guys do not need to give…
Soon, the term “Chukovism” appeared among party critics and editors. Accepting criticism, Chukovsky in December 1929 in Literaturnaya Gazeta will publish a letter in which he will “renounce” old tales and declare his intentions to change the direction of his work by writing a collection of poems “Merry Collective Farm ”, but he will not keep his promise. The collection will never come out of his pen, and the next fairy tale will be written only after 13 years.

Despite criticism of the Chukovschina, it was during this period that sculptural compositions based on the tales of Chukovsky were established in a number of cities of the Soviet Union. The most famous is the Barmaley fountain (Children’s round dance, Children and Crocodile) by the prominent Soviet sculptor R. R. Iodko, installed in 1930 according to a typical project in Stalingrad and other cities of Russia and Ukraine. The composition is an illustration of the fairy tale of the same name by Chukovsky. The Stalingrad Fountain is famous as one of the few buildings that survived the Battle of Stalingrad.

In the life of Chukovsky, by the beginning of the 1930s, another hobby appeared – the study of the psyche of children and how they master the speech. He recorded his observations of children, their verbal creativity in the book ” From Two to Five ” (1933).

All my other works are so obscured by my children’s tales that, in the minds of many readers, I, in addition to Moidodyr and Mokha-Tsokotuha, wrote nothing at all.
– Chukovsky K. I. “About Me” // Collected Works: 15 vol. T. 1. – 2nd ed., Electronic, rev.. – M.: FTM Agency, Ltd., 2013. – P. 11-12. – 598 p.

Other works
In the 1930s, Chukovsky was much involved in the theory of literary translation (the book “The Art of Translation” published in 1936 was reprinted before the outbreak of the war, in 1941, under the title “ High Art ”) and translations into Russian (M. Twain, O Wilde, R. Kipling and others, including in the form of “retelling” for children).

He begins to write memoirs on which he works until the end of his life (“Contemporaries” in the “ ZhZL ” series). Posthumously published “Diaries 1901-1969.”

During the war he was evacuated to Tashkent. The youngest son Boris died at the front. As the NKGB reported to the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks, during the war years Chukovsky said: “… With all my heart I wish Hitler’s death and the collapse of his crazy ideas. With the fall of Nazi despotism, the world of democracy will come face to face with Soviet despotism. We will wait ”.

March 1, 1944, in the newspaper Pravda, an article by P. Yudin “The vulgar and harmful concoction of K. Chukovsky” was published, in which the analysis of Chukovsky’s book “ Overcome Barmalei! ” Was published in Tashkent in 1943. “(Aibolitia is at war with Svirepiya and her king Barmaley), and this book was recognized as harmful in the article:

The fairy tale of K. Chukovsky is harmful cooking, which is capable of distorting the reality of modern children.

The “Military Tale” by K. Chukovsky characterizes the author as a person who either does not understand the duty of a writer in World War II or who deliberately vulgarizes the great tasks of raising children in the spirit of socialist patriotism.

Chukovsky and the Bible for children
In the 1960s, K. Chukovsky conceived a retelling of the Bible for children. He attracted writers and writers to this project and carefully edited their work. The project itself was very difficult due to the anti-religious position of the Soviet government. In particular, they demanded from Chukovsky that the words “God” and “Jews” should not be mentioned in the book; by the forces of writers for God was coined the pseudonym “Magician Yahweh.” A book entitled The Tower of Babel and Other Ancient Legends was published in the publishing house Children’s Literature in 1968, but its entire circulation was destroyed by the authorities. The circumstances of the publication ban were later described by Valentin Berestov, one of the authors of the book: “It was the height of the great cultural revolution in China. The Hunweibins, noticing the publication, loudly demanded to crush the head of the old revisionist Chukovsky, clogging the consciousness of Soviet children with religious nonsense. The West responded with the headline “New Opening of the Red Guards”, and our authorities reacted in the usual way. ” The book was published in 1990.

Recent years
In recent years, Chukovsky, a popular favorite, winner of several state prizes and a holder of orders, at the same time maintained contacts with dissidents (Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Litvinov, his daughter Lydia was also a prominent human rights activist). At the dacha in Peredelkino, where the writer has lived permanently in recent years, he arranged meetings with surrounding children, talked with them, read poetry, invited famous people, famous pilots, artists, writers, poets to meetings. Peredelkino children, who have long been adults, still remember these children’s gatherings at Chukovsky’s dacha.

In 1966, he signed a letter from 25 cultural and scientific figures to the Secretary General of the CPSU Central Committee, L. I. Brezhnev, against the rehabilitation of Stalin.

Korney Ivanovich died on October 28, 1969 from viral hepatitis. At the cottage in Peredelkino, where the writer lived most of his life, his museum now operates.

From the memoirs of Yu. G. Oksman:
Lidia Korneevna Chukovskaya previously transferred to the Board of the Moscow branch of the Writers’ Union a list of those whom her father requested not to invite to the funeral. This is probably why Arkady Vasiliev and other Black Hundreds from literature are not visible. Very few Muscovites came to say goodbye: there was not a single line in the newspapers about the upcoming memorial service. There are few people, but, like at the funeral of Erenburg, Paustovsky, the police are darkness. In addition to uniforms, there are many “boys” in civilian clothes, with gloomy, contemptuous faces. The boys began by cordoning off chairs in the hall, preventing anyone from lingering, sitting down. A seriously ill Shostakovich came. In the lobby he was not allowed to take off his coat. In the hall forbidden to sit in a chair. It got to the scandal.

Civil funeral service. Stuttering S. Mikhalkov pronounces obscene words that in no way fit into his indifferent, even disdainful intonation: “From the Union of Writers of the USSR…”, “From the Union of Writers of the RSFSR…”, “From the publishing house“ Children’s Literature “…”, “ From the Ministry of Education and the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences… ”All this is pronounced with a silly significance, with which, probably, the doormans of the last century called the carriage of such and such a prince during the guests’ departure. Who are we burying at last? An official bonzu or a cheerful and mocking clever Corney? Drummed her “lesson” A. Barto. Cassille performed a complex verbal pirouette so that the audience understood how close he was personally to the deceased. OnlyL. Panteleev, breaking the blockade of officialdom, clumsily and bitterly said a few words about the civilian face of Chukovsky. Korney Ivanovich’s relatives asked L. Kabo to speak, but when she sat down at the table to scribble the text of her speech, the KGB general Ilyin (the world secretary for organizational issues of the Moscow Writing Organization) approached her and firmly, but firmly told her that will not allow her to speak.

House Museum
Korney Chukovsky moved to Moscow in 1937, and a year later he got a house in the writer village of Peredelkino. Most of the buildings of the settlement were built in the 1930s according to the project of the German architect Ernst May, however, they often had some internal problems and required additional repairs. So, Chukovsky’s house was not suitable for living in low temperatures, because of which the writer spent only the summer months at first. By 1950, the building was completely insulated and Chukovsky was able to move into it on an ongoing basis. In this house, he wrote the books ” Bibigon “, ” Living as Life ” and others.

After the death of Chukovsky in 1969, fans of the writer’s work began to come to the house. Daughter Lydia Chukovskaya recalled:

“Suddenly it turned out… people who love his books, wanting to delve into the history of Russian culture, are much more than we thought. Not a single advertisement in a newspaper or anywhere, but they go and go and go, they come on foot, they come by train, by sanatorium buses, in private cars.”

For a long time the museum existed on a voluntary basis, the writer’s relatives continued to live in the building and conduct excursions for visitors. In 1974, Lidia Chukovskaya was expelled from the Union of Writers and the Literary Fund initiated the eviction of the family from the building. In 1975, the Ministry of Culture of the RSFSR protected the writer’s house as a cultural monument, but the Literary Fund challenged the court’s decision; by 1982, the Writers’ Union had reached a positive judicial decision to evict the Chukovsky family.

In response to this, a protest wave began, in defense of Lydia Chukovskaya were public and literary figures. In 1989, the Culture Fund was headed by Dmitry Likhachev, who achieved the abolition of court decisions and returned the status of a cultural monument to the Chukovsky house. Also, on the initiative of the academician, a project for the reconstruction of the building was created.

From 1992 to 1994, the house was undergoing a large-scale restoration, during which internal ceilings and internal communications systems were replaced. The opening of the museum took place in 1994 as a branch of the State Literary Museum, the literary critic Lev Shilov was appointed the first director.

All exhibits of the museum are memorial and were once inside the writer’s house, the interior of which was completely restored. Among the most valuable surviving items include books from the family library Chukovsky, autographs Anna Akhmatova, Alexander Twardowski, Vasily Rozanov, Mantle Doctor of Literature at Oxford University, a telephone and a pitcher who was the prototype for the cover of ” Moidodir “. The museum presents a room where the belongings of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who often visited the Chukovsky , are stored.

In the courtyard is a library built by Korney Chukovsky at his own expense for children from Peredelkino and surrounding villages. The building was lost in 1943 during the fighting of the Great Patriotic War. After the war, it was rebuilt.

“Was yesterday in Peredelkino – for the first time in all summer. With inexpressible horror I saw that my whole library was plundered. Bindings were torn from the few remaining books.”