Pushkin House

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Pushkin House (Pushkinsky Dom ), the Institute of Russian Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences (abbreviated in Russian IRLI RAN ), was founded in St. Petersburg, in 1905 and named after Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin (17991837).

The idea of creating a new monument to Russia's premiere poet came about during the celebration of his centenary in 1899 and the Pushkin Exhibit organized by the Academy in May of that year. By 1907 the task of this monument supported by literary societies, theaters, and other groups from around Russia had evolved into gathering manuscripts, artifacts, and collections of works of prominent Russian authors. The acquisition of Pushkin's personal library in 1906 with government funds laid the foundation for the institute's library. At this time Pushkin House occupied temporary space at the Academy's main building while the search for a permanent location continued. World War I and the February and October Revolutions delayed the process but also increased the institute's holdings, especially those of the manuscript department. Among important additions were the archives, saved from the burning building of the gendarmes' headquarters in February 1917, of the tsar's secret police, documenting police surveillance of Pushkin and other nineteenth-century writers; Pushkin and Lermontov museum collections transferred in 1917 from the Lyceum in Tsarskoye Selo for safekeeping; and the Paris museum collection ofA. F. Onegin contracted for in 1909 and transferred to Pushkin House in 1927, after the owner's death. Pushkin House became a member institute of the Academy in 1918 and eventually received its own building in 1927, the old customs house at 2 Tuchkov Embankment (now Makarov Embankment). Thanks in part to the protection of Soviet writer Maxim Gorky, Pushkin House was able to continue acquiring manuscripts and literary memorabilia in the 1920s and 1930s. Publishing of scholarly works on Russian literature, source texts, textology, bibliography and the study of literary history, catalogs, and periodicals got underway in the 1920s. Since then, the academic editions of complete works by authors such as Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Gogol, and Lermontov produced by the institute have been considered authoritative and are used and cited by scholars around the world.

Pushkin House continued to operate during the siege of Leningrad during World War II, although most of the manuscripts and staff were evacuated to cities in the country's interior. The institute returned to the job of preparing specialists after the war and continues to train graduate and postgraduate students in Russian literature, awarding degrees in Russian literature (Ph.D. equivalent and professorship). The structure of the institute is divided into ten departments, including medieval Russian literature, oral poetry and audio archive, modern Russian literature (eighteenth and nineteenth centuries), Pushkin department, new Russian literature (twentieth century), Russian and foreign literary ties, manuscript department and medieval manuscript repository, library, and literary museum. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Pushkin House, like most government institutions, experienced serious funding deficits but rapid expansion of cooperation with foreign scholars and universities that led to foreign grants, joint publishing projects, exchanges, and international conferences.

See also: academy of sciences; education; pushkin, alexander sergeyevich; universities

Vanessa Bittner