- Project Runeberg -  Impressions of Russia /
153

(1889) [MARC] Author: Georg Brandes Translator: Samuel Coffin Eastman - Tema: Russia
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lady from Kharkof, old and stiff, was, in her own
opinion, the source of refinement for the place. She
instituted readings of the masterpieces of Russian literature
for the common people, was also a writer, was
loud-voiced, noisy, knew everything that was printed, —
literary to the tips of her fingers and toes.

It is also true that among the Slavic people there is
seen more often than in other places that kind of
enthusiasm for a poet or author which makes a woman worship
him for her whole life. It is hardly an accident that
the lady who for twenty years continued in uninterrupted
correspondence with Balzac, and at last married
him, was a Pole, Mme. Hanska, of the renowned family
of Rzewuski. Her daughter married a Mniszek.

In our time in St. Petersburg, a lady of a good family
has been seen to leave her husband and her home to run
away with the poet Nadson, then mortally ill, and nurse
him till his death; and she now lives only in his
memory and for his fame. This lady’s feelings for the
poet, and her worship of him, were cruelly made sport
of in the last years of his life and after his death,
although it is, nevertheless, ethnographically significant,
because it shows how strong the faith is in the highest
literary enthusiasm in Russia.

Some months after Nadson’s death, his fair friend
published a somewhat comprehensive correspondence
between the poet and a lady of distinction, an
anonymous countess, who had written to him without ever
having seen him or having made his acquaintance
personally. The letters of the woman are fine but
grotesque. According to all indications, a young, beautiful,
aristocratically educated woman, not long married, had
apparently fallen in love with Nadson without ever
having met him, only from reading his poetry and seeing

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