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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Muranovo Offers Tranquil Respite




If you want to forget the vagaries of 20th-century life for a bit, try stepping back into the 19th century at Muranovo, an estate some 55 kilometers north of Moscow.


Muranovo has been soothing souls for well over a century. The estate's tran quil landscape inspired many Russian writers, including renowned 19th-century poet Yevgeny Baratynsky. It is now a repository of his literary estate, as well as that of Fyodor Tyutchev, another great 19th-century poet.


The estate escaped much of the Revolution's destructive force and remains remarkably well-preserved. According to Vladimir Patsukov, the director of the Muranovo Museum, the estate reopened its doors in 1997 after a 14-year restoration effort. "God has protected this place," he said.


Muranovo first came to prominence in 1816, when it was bought by the Engelgard family, Russified German nobility. Lev Engelgard, a retired major-general, enjoyed hosting writers at his estate, and soon Muranovo became one of the most popular "literary nests" of the Moscow region.


Denis Davydov, a hero of the 1812 war with Napoleon and a friend of Alexander Pushkin, once brought poet Yevgeny Baratynsky to Muranovo. Baratynsky fell in love with the estate's friendly atmosphere and later wrote a poem saying that here his "sick heart" could find answers to all the dilemmas confronting it.


Baratynsky later married Engelgard's eldest daughter, Anastasia, who inherited Muranovo after her father's death. Baratynsky then became the owner of the estate and initiated improvements, razing the old house and building a new one in 1842. Baratynsky wanted the new house to resemble an English cottage; he borrowed ideas for its English architectural motifs from his friend Nikolai Krivtsov, an Anglophile who lived in Tambov.


Inside, the new house was more spacious and comfortable. Outside, it boasted a winter garden and a hothouse for growing peaches. (Unfortunately, neither of these has survived.) Baratynsky also created a wonderful park and planted a grove of oaks and pines near the pond. In one of his poems, Baratynsky wrote that his estate was "a shelter closed for worldly visits," though it remained open to friends.


Here at Muranovo Baratynsky wrote the poem starting with the line, "There is a lovely country ... ." And here he worked on "The Twilight," the last collection of his poems published during his lifetime.


Baratynsky intended a lengthy stay at Muranovo; he had seven children and wanted to educate them there. But after one winter at the estate, the peripatetic poet set off for France, spending the winter of 1843-44 in Paris. Baratynsky left Paris for Italy and died suddenly in Naples in June 1844, at age 44. He had hoped "to forget the world" and "close his old eyes for the last eternal sleep" in Muranovo, but fate decreed otherwise.


Baratynsky was almost forgotten during the Soviet period, when he was considered a secondary talent. But his elegies "Finland," "Confession," and "Twilight," as well as the poems "Eda," "Ball," and "Gypsies" are philosophically deep and lyrical. His works are prime examples of the 19th-century classical Russian tradition.


The house contains a print of Pushkin's portrait that was engraved for the almanac "Northern Flowers," published by Anton Delvig, who was a friend of both poets. Baratynsky wrote to Pushkin: "In my house I have your portrait in a decorative frame. Delvig gave me a good print."


After Baratynsky's death, his wife moved to Kazan, and Muranovo was inherited by Anastasia's younger sister Sofia, who was married to Nikolai Putyata. The Putyatas settled in Muranovo at the end of the 1840s. Putyata, who wrote articles on history and literature, was the leader of the Society of Russian Literature Lovers at Moscow University and close to Pushkin and the Decembrists. Putyata opened Muranovo's gates to his writer friends, including Nikolai Gogol, who was visiting the nearby estate of Abramtsevo in 1849. Many of the guests who visited Muranovo inscribed books they gave to the estate's owners; these books are still kept in the house's library.


Putyata carefully preserved Baratynsky's literary heritage: He not only saved all scraps of paper on which Baratynsky jotted down his poems, he also published Baratynsky's correspondence, supplying it with detailed commentaries.


Similar cultural work was carried out by Put-yata's daughter Olga and her husband, Ivan Tyutchev, the son of the great poet Fyodor Tyutchev. After Olga inherited Muranovo, she and her husband brought to Muranovo all the belongings of Fyodor Tyutchev, who had lived in St. Petersburg.


Muranovo survived relatively intact during the Soviet era largely due to Vladimir Lenin's love of the elder Tyutchev's verse. In his "Decree on Monumental Propaganda," the Soviet leader included the poet's name along with other cultural "monuments" he intented to save. Nikolai Tyutchev, the poet's grandson, took advantage of Lenin's decree and turned the estate into a museum in 1920.


Fyodor Tyutchev's life was tragically dramatic. He spent over 20 years abroad as a Russian diplomat in Munich. There he married twice, each time to a German noblewoman. He had three children by his first wife, Eleonora Botmer, who died in 1838 after a fire on board the ship Nikolai I. Tyutchev then married Ernestina von Pfeffel, with whom he had another three children.


Later in life Tyutchev entered into yet another relationship, this time with a Russian woman named Yelena Denisyeva; once again the prolific poet sired three children. Denisyeva died of consumption in 1864, at the age of 38, not long after she gave birth to a son, Nikolai, who died in 1865 on the same day as his 14-year-old sister Yelena.


Despite his protracted relationship with Denisyeva, the poet's second wife, Ernestina, was faithful to Tyutchev to his dying day. She survived him by 21 years and played an important role in publishing his poems and political essays, which otherwise would have been lost because of the author's total indifference to their fate.


Today Tyutchev's poetry is an integral part of the Russian literary canon, and many excerpts of his poems have become classics:


Umom Rossiyu ne ponyat,


Arshinom obshchim ne izmerit --


U nei osobennaya stat:


V Rossiyu mozhno tolko verit.


"You cannot grasp Russia with the mind, / You cannot measure it with a common yardstick -- / It has a special status: / You must simply believe in Russia."


To reach Muranovo by electric train: From Yaroslavsky Station, travel on a train headed for Sergiyev Posad or Aleksandrov, disembark at Ashukinskaya, then take bus #34 or private car to the Muranovo Museum.


If you travel by car, take Yaroslavskoye Shosse to Sofrino, then follow the signs to Muranovo.


Museum hours are daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Mondays and Tuesdays). Tel. 584-5947 (museum personnel answer the phone from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.)


There's no place to eat in Muranovo, so be sure to bring a picnic lunch.