"Portable Graveyards": Albums in the Romantic Culture of Memory

Justyna Beinek

 

In his 1820 tongue-in-cheek article in the journal Blagonamerennyi (The Benevolent One), a certain “N. Virsheeskii” complains about the then fashionable “invention” of albums and their detrimental effect on literary culture: “Now all new poems and prose are devoured by these portable graveyards to the detriment of Poetry and Eloquence.” Despite his appar­ent goal of destroying the reputation of the album, this fictional self-professed “scholar from Koltovskaia” quite well articulates the complex­ities and uses of the album. He notes the album’s open, hybrid structure by describing a “terrifying mix” of poetry, prose, drawings, and musical notes “thrown together” and “without any order.” He points out that the album is a “collection” of “names of authors,” and its woman owner fre­quently acts like a “conqueror,” demonstrating his intuitive understanding of how albums operate within the realms of literary and erotic collecting. He also very aptly calls albums “portable graveyards” (podvizhnye klad­bishcha), thus noting one of the album’s most important facets, its link to the Romantic fascination with death, memory, and a belief that writing has the power to bridge the two.[1] Almost a decade later Evgeny Baratyn­sky would also call the album a graveyard in his poem “V al´bom” (In an Album; 1829), penned in fellow-poet Karolina Pavlova’s album. His meta-album poem, starting with the words “Al´bom pokhodit na kladbishche…” (The album resembles a cemetery) offers a poetic conceptualization of the album as a cultural artifact. Both the fictional scholar and the poet—in different registers and at different points of the Golden Age—interpret the album as a space where memory of the dead is preserved via material ob­jects, as well as the writing of names and inscriptions. Likewise, most of the writers of the Pushkin period and, indeed, most of the literate popula­tion of the time, were engaged in album culture.

     Early nineteenth-century salon and domestic albums refract in myriad ways the Romantic interest in the idea that the processes of writing and remembering could symbolically counteract mortality. Albums—ornate scrapbooks, frequently called livres de souvenir or livres immortels—con­tained inscriptions in verse and prose, usually addressed to the album’s owner, as well as signatures, drawings, and even personal memorabilia such as locks of hair or drops of blood.[2] The album’s very existence and its varied contents symbolically promised eternal remembrance; the album functioned as a carrier of individual memory, ensuring permanence against mortality through physical preservation of human traces: texts, signatures, pictures, and souvenirs. An important prop in the life of the Romantic salon, the album was not confined to salon life. Thanks to their versatile, open form albums assumed many different forms and infiltrated various social settings, finally becoming a phenomenon of mass culture.[3]

     Death, immortality, and the power of writing to bridge these two realms were among the most significant Romantic concerns. Their preva­lence allows us to call the early nineteenth century in Russia a time of specific memory culture which has also been aptly called “a culture of recollection” (kul´tura vospominaniia) in reference to both West European and Russian Romanticism, by Savelii Senderovich.[4] Various verbal and iconic album materials that come from a wide spectrum of social strata show us the many different registers in which ideas about memory and remembering were expressed and formulated in albums, from the conven­tional album—a random, incongruous, haphazard collection—to the com­plex literary album, one that can be viewed as a self-reflective art form, as well as a “communal” forum that explored the idea of “memory.” In this essay, I will explore how the memory discourse in albums evolved from simple images and banal poems to complex meta-writing that interprets remembering as a creative process, physically linked to the materiality of album inscription (paper, ink, pressed flowers), yet ultimately leading the writer to new definitions of the poetic “I.”

     We realize how much the Romantic culture was engaged with the idea of memory when we consider different names for albums. From German Stammbuch (the Russian word shtambukh,which first came into usage in the late eighteenth century, derives from this word), oriented more toward the past and one’s family genealogy, we move toward the French souvenir, a synonym of “album” and the word embossed on many album covers. Souvenir may denote an object, a keepsake, a memento of a person or a place. The noun also means “memory,” “recollection,” or “remembrance.” Souvenir is also a verb meaning “to recall,” and in its reflexive form, “to remember.” All these concepts and processes are refracted in album inscriptions, images, and physical keepsakes of people, which are meant to evoke recollections of the people who had written, to trigger remem­brances. A synonym of souvenir is Russian al´bom (meaning, of course, “album”), borrowed into Russian via French, German, and English, and linked to the idea of memory through its Latin roots: “album” means “white” (neuter adjective). Ancient Romans coined this word referring to blank tablets on which they wrote. Thus the name “album” is inherently related to the ideas of writing and remembering, much in the spirit of Plato’s metaphor of the human mind as a wax tablet, inscribed with memories. Finally, the Russian “memory” words—pamiat´, pomnit´, vos­pominanie (respectively: memory, to remember, remembrance)—are related to pamiatnik (monument). Since the “album” is etymologically con­nected to the idea of memory, it also resonates with the concept of a monu­ment. Indeed, the idea that an album inscription is analogous to a monu­ment or a tombstone is a topos of album creations, which ultimately goes back to Horace’s idea of exegi monumentum: a poet will not be forgotten since his works are akin to a monument.

     Album owners and those who produced albums’ literary and pictorial contents expressed their desire to transcend mortality in manifold ways. Albums abound in pictures of cemeteries, urns, and gravestones, as well as poems and prose pieces about death, burials, and mourning. Simply turning a few pages from one of A. A. Protasova-Voeikova’s albums reveals a typical saturation of an album with death imagery: a quotation from Parny’s “Sur le mort d’une jeune fille” (On the Death of a Young Woman), “Epitaph d’enfant” (Epitaph for a Child), the poem “Fleur mourant et soli­taire” (A Dying and Solitary Flower), and “La morte est plus…” (Death is more…).[5] In the same album we also find a graphic illustration on neigh­boring pages, an inscription shaped like a sickle, with this ominous senti­ment: “Under the fatal sickle of Saturn, is it possible to seek what is inde­structible? It awaits us beyond the grave … and in this world it is much better to dream!” (43). This verse is a typical example of death imagery in albums. Its striking omnipresence invites a critical question about how the Romantic society culturally reworked this sense of memento mori.

     A few inscriptions and images found in domestic albums will suffice to see how the memory discourse functioned in popular culture. For example, a certain N. Zaretskii (name partially illegible) expresses a common senti­ment in I. M. Miklashevskaia’s album: I will stay in your memory till the moment this white page falls apart:

До тех пор пока изтлеет
Листок в Альбоме белый сей,
Пускай меня имеет
Прелестна в памяти своей:
Вот все чего от вас желаю,
А в мыслях долго трудно жить [sic]
Нераз по опыту я знаю,
Как можем скоро мы забыть.[6]

Until the time when this white page
Of your Album falls apart,
Let the Charming One keep me
In her memory.
That is all I wish from you,
It is difficult to live in thoughts for long
Not once have I learned from experience
How quickly we can forget.

Similarly, “V. B.” writes in E. M. Lalaeva’s album that death is not as hor­rifying as the thought of dying in one’s memory:

Не страшна для меня
Всеобщая нам смерть;
Но в вашей памяти,
Мне страшно умереть![7]

Death that awaits us all
Does not terrify me;
But it would be terrifying
To die in your memory!

In 1822 a certain “V.” wishes to be included in “the book of friendly names,” since writing in it, even if done on the sly, will guarantee him a place in the album owner’s memory:

В сей книге дружеских имен,
В сей книге чувств и лести сладкой
Пускай я буду хоть украдкой
К тебе на память помещен.[8]

In this book of friendly names,
In this book of feelings and sweet flattery
Let me be included, even secretly,
So that you remember me…

PR14 Beinek Fig1 caption

     Popular album poems on memory and im/permanence have their vi­sual counterpart in various emblematic, symbolic, and allegorical images that populate albums. The commonplace image of a forget-me-not in al­bums represents the idea of eternal memory—or at least a fleeting remem­brance—for which the author of such a drawing hopes. This sentiment is often amplified by an accompanying poem on the topic of remembering/ forgetting that doubles the image’s effect, as is the case with a simple design from Liza Bornovolokova’s album (figure 1).[9] A similar role is played by the image of a snake that swallows its tail—ouroboros—often depicted on covers of albums. In this case the allegory of eternity functions as the album’s “title” and suggests the purpose of the album as a symbolic vehicle for committing the albums’ content to eternity and, by extension, the thoughts, inscriptions, and emotions of the inscribers to a form of im­mortality. Of course, images have been used to understand the workings of memory throughout centuries: since antiquity, images have served as “forms, marks, simulacra of what we wish to remember,” writes Frances Yates.[10] Aristotle, Plato, Cicero, Aquinas, Leonardo da Vinci, and Gior­dano Bruno, among others, believed that “remembrance of things [was] held by images”; pictures “bring down intellectual to sensible things,” in the words of Francis Bacon.[11] In their memory discourse, album writers make ample use of simply coded images that were easily recognizable to their contemporaries who shared a common knowledge of symbolic codes such as, for example, “the language of flowers.”[12]

PR14 Beinek Fig2 caption     Some of the oldest, most schematic inscriptions that illustrate the idea of warding off death and preserving memory include three similar designs that follow a then fashionable pattern. In 1802, a certain Lucia Curtius contributed a poem to a friend’s album, accompanied by an embroidered oval piece of silk, attached to the album page. Her composition includes a palm tree on the left (the palm leaf pattern is a funerary symbol still in use today), a pedestal and a rose bush on the right, and her own name in­scribed in an oval between the tree and the pedestal (figure 2).[13] According to K. I. Sharafadina, the symbiotic image of the palm and the rose was commonplace. The palm tree symbolized innocence, constancy, or divine protection as it sheltered the rose, which could grow safely in its shade (184–88). The polysemic rose (red in Curtius’s picture) was an emblem of love. An almost identical silk embroidery pattern was made by Sophie Bergmann, also in 1802 (63v–64). Her relative, Henrietta Bergmann, added her own touch to the established pattern: her tree and an oval with her name are hidden under a paper cutout cover with a bow (75v–76). These simple examples show further the preoccupation with death in the early nineteenth century: we have constant funerary motifs and personal signatures. In the case of these designs, they are embroidered, not writ­ten—yet still put in by hand, in a unique embroidered “handwriting,” that underscores the idea of leaving as permanent a trace as possible, or at least more permanent than ink. An ingenious attempt to outwit time be­longs to Avdot´ia Kireevskaia, who came up with the ultimate way of making sure her friendship with Voeikova would stay alive when she wrote in Voeikova’s album on 13 June 1814: she committed their friend­ship to memory by drawing a “stamp” under her inscription, with a date in the middle and the words “even a grave will not destroy these ties” drawn around the edge of the round stamp.[14] The memory process here is simple: the authors of the designs evoke a general sense of death by including key images such as the tombstone or sickle, only to counteract it symbolically by writing their names or drawing “ties,” in acts which promise to keep death away. While participating in the larger memory discourse, female album owners and writers create self-documenting texts that allow us a glimpse into the realm of “domestic” (unofficial and unpublished) women’s expression in the early nineteenth century.[15]

     In the realm of literature, this interest in death and memory helped create new forms, among them the rediscovered genre of ancient elegy. As Senderovich has pointed out in a simple genealogical definition of the elegy, “historically, the elegy begins as a remembrance [vospominanie] about the life of the deceased.”[16] In V. E. Vatsuro’s summary, the elegy was the dominating “mode” (not merely the dominant genre) of poetic ex­pression in Russia of the first quarter of the nineteenth century. The theme of death, while growing out of the preceding century’s poetic tradi­tion, had been present in one way or another in poetry since antiquity. However, Sentimentalist works focused on the idea of melancholy that was a source for the new Romantic movement. Motifs of death and melan­choly, while not new in and of themselves, became dominant in a new literary and aesthetic system and in the “elegiac school.”[17] The new genre and its typical imagery became so popular in Russia that critics, such as V. K. Kiukhel´beker, criticized it as a result of the “fog in the writer’s head.”[18] Reflections on the transient nature of life required props; new imagery made use of graveyards, crypts, and ruins, which were seen as conducive to melancholy.[19] In particular, the graveyard became the “se­mantic center” of the elegy of that time, a “compositional constant”[20] that, in the words of L. Ia. Ginzburg, allowed for a “poetics of recognition” (poe­tika uznavaniia) in the elegiac school. Ginzburg’s examples of words that were a part of the “elegiac” lexicon include “urn,” “cypress tree,” and “tears”—“word-signals” (slova-signaly) or “formulaic words” (slova-formuly) that are harbingers of a particular writing style and can be easily recognized by a reader.[21] European versions of Romanticism and its legacy in the later nineteenth century also transposed cultural “near-obsession with death” and elaborate mourning and funerary practices onto the widely practiced genre of elegy. As Erik Gray has noted with reference to Victorian culture, “Death was such a popular topic that the writing of elegy could seem commonplace, even vulgar … the figure of the poet who seizes any occasion for writing mournful verse was a standing joke.”[22] This assessment certainly attests to the immense popularity of elegy in Roman­tic culture, which ultimately made the genre of elegy banal.

     Album verse and images were definitely a part of the new poetics. In albums, pictorial elements—roses, forget-me-nots, pansies, doves, hearts, urns, and lyres—as well as poetry, with its imagery of death, memory, and friendship/love—function as “ready-made devices” (gotovye pribory). Their repetition is key to the stability of the album as a poetic space and album verse as a genre. Therefore albums are “variations” on the topic of memory and album writers operate within the same convention as their contempo­rary poets do: “an elegiac poet creates not a topic, but a variation,” writes Ginzburg.[23] Romantic poets participated in “literary album” culture fre­quently through such a conscious turn to the elegy, while owners and writers of “domestic albums” unknowingly popularized, simplified or di­luted this genre of elegy through recycling clichéd, repetitious phrases and images in albums. Domestic albums tend to conflate memory discourse, the expression and preservation of the “self,” and the dissemination of the new Romantic sensibilities as well as genres; this conflation created a semi-domestic, semi-poetic space for female album owners above all (since most albums were owned by women) and for album writers generally (who were, overall, a balanced group with regard to gender).

     At this point it seems useful to articulate the difference between “do­mestic” and “literary” albums, although most albums are hybrids and quite a few are sui generis. Mikhail Alekseev and Vadim Vatsuro have proposed possible taxonomies of albums.[24] Alekseev differentiated be­tween early (eighteenth century through the first quarter of the nine­teenth century) domestic or intimate (zavetnye) albums, containing in­scriptions by the owner’s family and friends, and later “public” albums that served mainly for collecting signatures or samples of handwriting of the rich and famous, with the aim of flaunting one’s connections in the world. He also suggested another way of contrasting the two major types of albums: the former were “collections of domestic relics,” while the latter could grow to the point of becoming “archives.”[25] 

     Vatsuro has shown chronological development in the different types of albums, starting with the sixteenth-century Stammbuch, and moving through family albums and personal notebooks for writing down original poems and/or copying others’ verse, akin to German Poesiealbum. By the first decade of the nineteenth century, Vatsuro writes, the genre of the “album in the precise sense of the word”[26] had become fully crystallized, largely because of the formation of socio-literary groups and circles, and later salons. Such “real” albums originated when there was a critical mass of participants engaged in literary and cultural activities within a group, revolving around a host or a hostess. Such albums, if indeed focused to a high degree on literary matters, can be called “literary” (literaturnye), and can be contrasted with the albums of the “litterati” (literatorskie), which belonged to professional writers and served as space for their creative work. A related variant is a literary-domestic (literaturno-domashnii) album in which a professional writer would include both original work and other materials, usually related to his or her family and friends. These three kinds of albums, depending on the relationships between the writ­ers, could also be called salon (salonnye) albums or friendship (druzheskie) albums, as opposed to society (svetskie) albums, which were more a status symbol than a reflection of lively cultural exchanges. Among other kinds of albums in Vatsuro’s taxonomy we find pedagogical albums, given to children with the goal of influencing their upbringing; albums that are col­lections of autographs; commemorative albums and their opposite, album-anthologies. Finally, Vatsuro also distinguishes among albums that be­longed to girls and young women, professional artists, booksellers, and students.[27] All these subcategories are important because they show us the range of the album phenomenon and account for the hybrid nature of albums: the social place of the owner often determined the form and con­tent of the album.

     “Popular” participation in the “domestic” album culture was often undermined and mocked by the recognized poets of the Russian Golden Age (who nonetheless produced ample amount of verse for “literary” but also many “domestic” and mixed albums). Evgeny Baratynsky’s parallel treatment of albums and graveyards in his poem “V al´bom,” written in the poet and salon hostess Karolina Pavlova’s album (1829), is a case in point.[28] Baratynsky provides an overview of the memory discourse in rela­tion to albums, but also critiques it. Baratynsky’s self-conscious poem dis­cusses in a jocular manner the common Romantic belief that album writ­ing could overcome oblivion (or, as the idiom of the time had it, “being dead in memory”) and justifies his own act of writing an album poem:

Альбом походит на кладбище:
Для всех открытое жилище,
Он также множеством имен
Самолюбиво испещрен.
Увы! народ добросердечный
Равно туда, или сюда,
Несет надежду жизни вечной
И трепет страшного суда.
Но я, смиренно признаюся,
Я не надеюсь, не страшуся,
Я в ваших памятных листах
Спокойно имя помещаю.
Философ я; у вас в глазах
Мое ничтожество я знаю.[29]

An album resembles a cemetery:
A dwelling place open to all,
It is also strewn with many names
In a proud way.
Alas! kind-hearted people
Here and there, equally
Carry with them hope for an eternal life
And fear the day of terrible judgment.
But I admit humbly
I do not hope, do not fear
I place my name calmly
In your memory pages.
I am a philosopher; in your eyes
I know my nothingness.

     An album is like a cemetery, Baratynsky says. Yet while a cemetery implies a final resting place, not a place where anyone lives, here it is called zhilishche (a dwelling place). This noun, derived from the verb zhit´ (to live), implies the opposite of death, suggested by the image of the graveyard in the preceding line. Baratynsky introduces a new vision of both the cemetery and the album: they are realms inhabited by people and life. Life “happens” through a multitude of names that both places contain. In this poem, the poet suggests that naïve, unsophisticated people link writing to immortality, whereas the poet has no faith in the success of such a transaction. Although not with the zeal of simple folk, the poet nonetheless writes his name in what he calls “pages of memory” or “memorial pages.” The ambiguity of this phrase in Russian—pamiatnye listy—allows for a double-tiered understanding: they are the actual pages of the album and at the same time the metaphorical spaces of memory.

     Despite Baratynsky’s doubts about writing as a ticket to immortality, he uses the expression that is the essence of this commonplace belief in the power of writing one’s name, either on a tombstone or on an album page. Stephanie Sandler and Judith Vowles have pointed out the irony with which Baratynsky compares an album to a graveyard; they read his comparison as a “deprecating but humorous gesture” of the poet who “re­gards the act of writing in the album to be as inevitable as death.”[30] Its ironic tone notwithstanding, the poem shows that by the third decade of the nineteenth century the album was popular both in high society and in (literate) lower social strata (everyone writes in albums), and that one of its main uses was grappling with the idea of death and memory. More­over, the album is such a salon fixture by the end of the 1820s that Baratynsky can undermine this conventional object and its potential power of “stopping time” with his acerbic tone. Poets such as Baratynsky initiated an “album discourse,” a part of which is playful questioning of the album’s ability to contain memory in and of itself, since memory de­pends on who is remembering, who is being remembered, and how the remembering “is done.” Ultimately, then, the workings of memory are much more complex and frequently creative processes than conventional album use would have it.

     Russia’s best known poet of the Golden Age, Alexander Pushkin, was a consummate participant in album culture, but at the same time one of its harshest critics. Pushkin mocked albums but wrote profusely in the al­bums of high society women and men. Not only did he write twenty of his own album poems, he also copied other poets’ verse in two instances, wrote five prose album inscriptions, left numerous drawings in albums, and com­mented on the album phenomenon in his other writings.[31] His highly ironic analysis of album culture took up more than four stanzas of the fourth chapter of Eugene Onegin (1833), which speaks of the poet’s in­terest, both intellectual and creative, in this cultural artifact.[32] What is important for this analysis is that for Pushkin the domestic album of a young woman is a forum where memory discourse takes place at the level of popular culture. The poetics of the album is a “poetics of recognition” in which certain words and images constitute a reliable repertoire, shared by many album writers. This is what Lensky draws and writes in Olga’s album:

Летучие листки альбома
Прилежно украшает ей
То в них рисует сельски виды,
Надгробный камень, храм Киприды.
Или на лире голубка
Пером и красками слегка;
То на листках воспоминанья
Пониже подписи других
Он оставляет нежный стих
Безмолвный памятник мечтанья,
Мгновенной думы долгий след,
Все тот же после многих лет.
..................................................
Тут непременно вы найдете
Два сердца, факел и цветки
Тут, верно, клятвы вы прочтете
В любви до гробовой доски
.[33]

He decorates diligently
Loose leaves of her album:
He draws idyllic scenes,
A gravestone, and a temple to Venus.
Or a dove atop a lyre,
With a pen and paints, lightly;
At times on these pages of recollection,
Underneath other signatures,
He leaves a tender poem,
A speechless monument to dreaming,
A lasting trace of a transient thought,
Unchanged after many years.
...............................................
Here you will find, without fail,
Two hearts, a torch and flowers;
Here you will certainly read oaths
Of
love til death do us part.

     In these few lines Pushkin intricately weaves together all of the key words and images that pertain to memory culture: the narrator calls Olga’s album “leaves of recollection”; the album contains a picture of a gravestone and signatures (the ready-mades of popular album culture). Lensky’s poem is a “monument”; there is the notion of the passage of time and leaving traces; the narrator quotes the set expression do grobovoi doski (til death do us part [literally: until the tombstone]) that uses death imagery and simultaneously echoes the image of a gravestone. Pushkin’s description of the album demonstrates that there was a shared culture of memory and remembrance that would have enough common currency for even a young provincial woman (not to mention Lensky, an aspiring poet) to collect these images and poems in her album, perhaps duplicate them in other albums in which she may have written, and to be able to use and interpret them correctly.

     Paradoxically, Pushkin’s early album verse from the late 1810s is not very different from the inscriptions found in Olga’s album, the inscriptions ridiculed by the narrator in Eugene Onegin roughly sixteen years later. But such “word-signals” pertaining to the realm of memory from Pushkin’s early album poetry disappear in his mature album lyrics, such as “Chto v imeni tebe moem?” (What Good Is My Name to You?; 1830). In several early poems Pushkin uses the repetitious imagery of the Romantic mem­ory discourse to express the idea that albums stop oblivion, for example in “V al´bom A. N. Zubovu” (In A. N. Zubov’s Album; 1817):

Пройдет любовь, умрут желания;
Разлучит нас холодный свет...
Позволь в листках воспоминаья
Оставить им минутный след.[34]

Love will pass, desires will die;
The cold world will break us apart…
Let them leave a transient trace
In the leaves of recollection.

And in “V al´bom Illichevskomu” (In Illichevskii’s Album; 1817) Pushkin writes:

Сей плод небрежный вдохновенья,
Без подписи, в твоих руках
На скромных дружества листках
Уйдет от общего забвенья…[35]

This careless fruit of inspiration,
Without a signature, in your hands,
In unassuming leaves of friendship,
Will be saved from omnipresent oblivion.

     These poems show Pushkin’s “sincere” participation in the Romantic culture of memory, with none of the mockery that is directed at Lensky’s album writing. In the former poem, the album is conceptualized as “leaves of recollection”; album writing is compared to “leaving a trace” and a shield against transience. In the latter poem, however, the album’s “unas­suming leaves of friendship” save the poet’s work from being forgotten. In Pushkin’s album juvenilia, the repetition of certain key words, such as vospominanie (recollection), minutnyi and mgnovennyi (transient), sled (trace), or zabven´e (oblivion), is significant. The texts of both high culture and popular verse make ample use of these terms. Memory and recollec­tion are central to Pushkin’s poetics, and they are basic recurring motifs of Romantic culture; the repetition of these tropes finds its condensation in albums.[36] In his later lyrics, however, Pushkin complicates the idea of remembering via album poetry to a great degree, thereby forming a kind of a trajectory of his understanding of the phenomenon of the album (on which more below).

     At their core, album poems are directed toward a future possibility of loss. If we think about the fear of death as loss or separation and writing as using language to shield oneself from loss, then repetitive writing on the theme of staying alive in memory becomes a psychologically convinc­ing process. As Peter Sacks writes in reference to elegy, “The dead … must be separated from the poet, partly by a veil of words.”[37] In albums, texts and images separate writers from the prospect of death; the process is pre-emptive. Refractions of the idea that the album keeps memory alive are evident in most of the popular texts that come from domestic albums, a fact that testifies to the commonality of this idea. These texts show us that the Romantic idea of memory functioned across various social settings. However, what poets such as Baratynsky (and later Pushkin) do is moving from the conventional treatment of the album to complex meditations on the inscrutable nature of memory, creativity, and the “human factor” that makes memory possible at all and can anchor it symbolically in a little material object such as an album.

     What are we to make of such claims, requests, and hopes, as we find, for example, in Pushkin’s somewhat clichéd juvenilia and in the simple poems written in Miklashevskaia’s, Lalaeva’s, or Voeikova’s albums? In trying to reconstruct the way in which these album writers might have understood memory, it is helpful to recall Aristotle’s differentiation be­tween memory and recollection: a recollection is a recovery of knowledge by association, while memory is a collection of pictures in time. Early nineteenth-century albums suggest that writers partake first in the proc­ess of recollection in order to commit the recollected person, emotion, or creation to memory, with memory residing in the album and/or in the mind of the album’s owner. But how do album writing and the album as a material object fit into this scheme?

     In Renate Lachmann’s exploration of the relationship between writing and memory, the materiality of paper “fuses with the immateriality of memory.” Paper, Lachmann continues, “acquires a magical dimension; as a guardian of the written word, it becomes an interlocutor who, when touched, releases meaning.”[38] Following her lead, we might say that the album also functions as a “garment” for memory. The album serves as “memory place and storage area, writing surface and warehouse,” with its signatures, names, poems, and addresses. The album is material but despite its materiality, it can “transmit” memory, to use Lachmann’s term.[39] It does so in order to ward off the “catastrophe” of forgetting. Lach­mann’s interpretation of Simonides’s story with which the history of mem­ory begins—he recalls the names of the guests killed at a feast through recreating the order of places where they sat—helps to conceptualize the insistence with which album writers sign their names. Forgetting is “the destruction of the semiotic space.” The guests’ faces can be recognized only through the reconstruction of the seating arrangement, which in turn will make it possible to name their bodies.[40] The activity of recalling the names written in the album restores the identities of those who left in­scriptions. Simonides’s story might serve as a parable of album writing and reading: “The primal scene of memory consists of bearing witness to … the plunge from life to death. It consists of the indexical act of pointing to the dead … and transforming the dead into a concept of what they were as living people. The recollection of order … mobilizes a work of recon­struction against destruction,” writes Lachmann.[41] Thus album readers carry the memory of album writers; new album owners carry the memory of previous album owners.

PR14 Beinek Fig3 caption     One of the key words in poems and descriptions of albums, such as the one offered by Baratynsky in “V al´bom” (In an Album) and by Pushkin in Eugene Onegin,is podpis´(a signature), a hand-written mark, a stand-in for a name, which is in turn a stand-in for a person. Like the picture of a forget-me-not, a signature is an image, and as Lachmann reminds us, “the imagines or simulacra … ward off forgetting,” “reawaken the dead,” and “call-back-into-presence … that which is absent.”[42] An interesting varia­tion of that concept in albums is the attempt to create inscriptions/icons “not-made-by-human-hand”: for example, placing drops of blood, human hair, or pressed leaves and flowers upon the pages. Such objects often serve as representations of people and places, and they can function as signatures as well. The form of a herbarium provides a good record of one’s personal recollections. For instance, a bouquet of dried flowers and grasses from M. A. Gamazov’s album is accompanied by a list of the companions with whom he visited Olympus in the late 1830s; both flowers and names serve as triggers for memories, strengthening each other’s messages through a combination of visual and verbal elements (figure 3).[43] Mixed-media compositions such as this one contain narrative power: they tell a story through a few symbolic elements and scattered words. From this particular page, we might deduce that on the way to Olympus, the caval­cade, which included a certain Madame Lafontaine, Falkeisen, Schwaab, etc., was caught in a storm (orage). Perhaps they hid under a tent (tente), perhaps later they went to a mascarade (mascarade). This album in fact was a personal/travel diary in the form of a herbarium; not only can we reconstruct specific events or trips from the preserved botanical samples, but also his full itinerary from these and other objects such as pieces of clothing and invitations from Tbilisi, Paris, and Cairo. Gamazov’s project relies on what Yury Lotman calls the “memory-capacity of the addressee,” that is, in this case, most likely the author himself. The text of his her­barium is addressed above all to himself; for him a “hint is enough to activate memory’s ‘intimate’ lexis.” The plants and names of people and events (as we have seen, events are often shortened to just one word) are hints that “whisper,” rather than “speak,” both to the owner of the album and us, the audience without any background knowledge. Lotman distin­guishes between printed texts, which are like “public speaking,” and hand-written texts, which are like “whispering”; Gamazov’s narrative is made only of very faint whispers, and as such it invites its readers on a sus­penseful journey.[44] 

     Based on a similar principle, M. A. Golitsyna’s collection of dried flow­ers and leaves from various places is a peculiar collection of “signatures” of the dead: a leaf from Tasso’s orange tree in Sorrento, flowers from Pe­trarch’s grave and a leaf from his garden, and flowers from Julius Caesar’s villa, among many others (1835). Going further into the album, flowers and leaves give way to more unusual objects. We find a piece of fabric, a bit of someone’s hat, a scrap of parchment paper, described as coming from eleventh-century Venice, a leaf given to Golitsyna by the Princess d’Orange (1826), a scrap of gospel from the first century. The collection of curiosities continues on the following pages of the album, with leaves and flowers standing in for the actual people who passed away.[45] We might say, after Lachmann, that “out of the dead material—the veil, the cloth—there arises the living, active image that renders both the image and the materiality of memory.” Horace’s idea of non omnis moriar is realized in popular albums on a different plane: in them an abstract notion of mem­ory “takes in a memory of matter: one of cloth, of stone, of paper.”[46]

PR14 Beinek Fig4 caption     One of Pushkin’s poems, penned in the album of Karolina Soban´ska, builds on the idea of a symbolic resurrection through an object, an icon, or a piece of writing. Like Golitsyna, Soban´ska was a fan of celebrities. Un­like Golitsyna, she specialized in collecting autographs and signatures of the rich and famous. The material context of Soban´ska’s album highlights the originality of Pushkin’s project. Her album is a rather formal collection of ordered autographs, very different from the haphazard, “living” assem­blages of improvised material typical of salon albums of the time. From the end of the eighteenth century to the middle of the nineteenth century, Soban´ska collected signatures, letters, and even—in some cases—doodles or math computations of famous people, such as Madame de Genlis, Poniatowski, Humboldt, Liszt, Balzac, Chateaubriand, Dumas, and others. The format of her album is standard throughout: on the verso we always see the autograph, while on the left-hand page Soban´ska put infor­mation on each of her trophies. Autographs were elaborately framed when put on display in an album. Their framing elevated their status to object of art and, in turn, elevated the status of one’s album and thus its owner’s. For example, Goethe’s autograph and A. A. Bestuzhev-Marlinsky’s per­sonal signature from Z. I. Iusupova’s album provide a good example of how the autograph’s frame could be more important than the displayed object, as if arguing that the collector, not the collected, should be the center of attention of album viewers and readers (figure 4 and figure 5, p. 56).[47]

     Poems are a rarity in Soban´ska’s album,and it is quite surprising that both Pushkin and the Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz wrote masterpieces for this rather mechanical collection, in which only names count. In the context of materials not destined to be part of the album, such as letters written to Soban´ska but never meant for her collection, letters that had been clearly addressed to someone else, and pieces of paper with the hand­writing or signatures of famous people, Pushkin’s lyric stands out.[48] Why did he take his task so seriously? Clearly Soban´ska wanted to check off his name; therefore, a mere signature would have sufficed. Mickiewicz wrote an invocation to her, focusing on the complexity and uneasiness of their relations, but Pushkin took a different approach, focusing on her very re­quest. From reading the album we learn how the poem was conceived: Soban´ska wrote on the verso of the page with Pushkin’s poem “par Alex­andre Pouchkine à qui je demandois d’écrire son nom sur une page de mon livre de Souvenir. 5 Janvier 1830 à Pétersbourg” (By Alexandre Pushkin, whom I asked to write his name on a page in my album). Pushkin treated the demand quite literally and penned a poem in which he asked the obvi­ous, why she needed his name:

Что в имени тебе моем?
Оно умрет, как шум печальный
Волны, плеснувшей в берег дальный,
Как звук ночной в лесу глухом.
Оно на памятном листке
Оставит мертвый след, подобный
Узору надписи надгробной
На непонятном языке.
Что в нем? Забытое давно
В волненьях новых и мятежных,
Твоей душе не даст оно
Воспоминаний чистых, нежных.
Но в день печали, в тишине,
Произнеси его тоскуя;
Скажи: есть память обо мне,
Есть в мире сердце, где живу я... [49]

What good is my name to you?
It will die like the sorrowful hum
Of a wave that lapped against a distant shore,
Like a nocturnal sound in a dense forest.
It will, on a souvenir page,
Leave a dead trace, similar to
The pattern of a gravestone inscription
In an incomprehensible language.
What is in it? Long forgotten
In new and restless emotions,
It will not give your soul
Peaceful, tender memories.
But on a day of sorrow, in silence
Pronounce it, in melancholy;
Say: there is memory of me,
There is in this world a heart where I live.

PR14_Beinek_Fig5_caption     Although the poem opens with an apparently simple question—what is it about my name that you should want it?—the seemingly wide-eyed persona that asks the question produces an incisive, analytical, poem “of thought,” as if in defiance of the formulaic character of Soban´ska’s album and her standard request for a signature. The initial question fuels the whole poem; we are reminded of it in the very middle of the poem (third stanza) lest we veer off track. The question does not serve as a pretext for complimenting the album’s owner, as was often the case. Pushkin treats it with utmost seriousness: what is it about my name, why do you need it, what does it represent? Does it stand for me or is there some intrinsic value in it? “The name will die,” says Pushkin, but “it will leave a dead trace on an album page.”

     The phrase “dead trace” is a fascinating oxymoron, since death implies erasure and “trace”—questionable permanence of a temporary sign; if we consider the verb “leave” that precedes it, graphically the concept of death is framed by evocations of hesitant permanence, staying alive. The grave­yard imagery continues in the following lines: the name is likened to a “pattern of a tomb inscription / In an incomprehensible language.” The name in an album functions as the final reminder of a deceased person, but is also prone to physical erosion by rain and snow and to a symbolic erasure with time. Its ontological status is unclear: the name (that is, the person) still exists “on paper” but is subject to vanishing at any time. The “incomprehensible language” of the inscription adds to the precariousness of the situation: the name only exists as if, because if no one can under­stand it, does it really exist?

     Up to the mid-point in the poem we have the well-worn assumption that if you write your name in an album, your memory will be preserved. The two last stanzas, however, provide a different perspective; the album has little to do with memory. The three key concepts in these stanzas are: “forgotten,” “remembrance,” and “memory.” The moral of the third stanza is that if a name is forgotten, it will not stir up remembrances. We might add that no matter how prominently it will figure in an album. “But”—that is how the fourth and final stanza begins—if the name is pronounced in the presence of a drop of emotion (“pronounce it, in melancholy”), every­thing changes. A human voice and emotion constitute the agency neces­sary to bring the name back to life. But that is not the end of the story for Pushkin. If his name is pronounced, it is not necessarily him who is sym­bolically resurrected. By pronouncing his name, the speaker will safe­guard her own self: she will live in his memory and his heart: “Say: there is memory of me, / There is in this world a heart where I live…”

     Thus Pushkin reverses traditional “album logic.” Unlike his self from the late 1810s, he is no longer participating in album culture in the con­ventional way; he undermines the album while still participating in the album culture—and this establishes a new attitude and approach toward memory in album culture. The album is no longer conceived of as a con­tainer of names that are stand-ins for people; it rather serves as a depar­ture point for a meditation on how memory works, on who activates it and in what way. In the poem, the writer is not the one who wants to be remembered and thus uses the album with that desire in mind. In his view, neither the album nor the album’s owner hold the power to preserve. The writer is the repository of memory, which might be “activated” when a person pronounces his dead, written name. As David Powelstock notes, “the poet’s name—the physical vessel of his identity—serves as a meta­phor for the ephemeral and arbitrary, all that death revokes.”[50] The agency is the poet’s, and there is an implied threat in this agency: if the al­bum owner fails to pronounce his name, her memory will vanish. And finally, the last four words of the poem reiterate his sentiment: “a heart in which I live…” “It is not the album where one lives, but the heart,” seems to be Pushkin’s answer to the countess. Pushkin wrote a four-stanza poem but never actually gave Soban´ska what she wanted: his signature is not there, which is quite telling, given the standard practice of signing one’s name in albums, which he followed in other albums. Instead he gave her and us, the readers, exactly what he wanted: a strong sense of “I”—ia—with which the poem ends, anagramatically, as Lachmann has noted, em­bedded in imia, embedded in pamiat´ and pamiatnik (214). In a poem that is “serving” by definition (commissioned by the album owner, written be­cause of a request et cetera), Pushkin makes a strong gesture of assertion, empowering the figure of the poet and diminishing the importance of the demanding audience. However, as Monika Greenleaf has pointed out, the identity of the final “I” might be seen as ambiguous and “reversible”: “who is speaking and who is the “I” resurrected by the speech act depends entirely on whether we read the last two lines with quotation marks or without them.”[51]

§

     There are many “tales of memoria,” writes Lachmann, and she lists the key issues concerning them: remembering as one of the mechanisms that establishes a culture; the accumulation of information as a survival strat­egy; the need for bearers and vessels of memory; the representation of the absent through signs; the prevention of forgetting through signs; co-presence of memory and death (5). In my discussion of the Romantic fascination with memory through album culture, I have shown various ways of responding to the threat of physical and symbolic erasure. I dis­cussed how women typically used albums to respond to threat of erasure while simultaneously creating their own artistic space, as well as how high-culture male poets subverted the typical understanding of the album as memory keeper to ask about how exactly memory is stored and acti­vated. To use Lachmann’s categories, we might say that forgetting and remembering prove to be mechanisms that establish the basic order of the album; the question of preservation is crucial to most album creations, pictorial and verbal. The storing of information, even as minute as a frag­ment of clothing or a blade of grass, is a strategy used for the survival of an individual and his or her unrepeatable experience. The writer/artist is represented through an image or words, and often through a simple, yet singular unique personal signature, an inscription of one’s name—perhaps the most economical and all-encompassing representation or “doubling” of a person—in a gesture that preempts his or her expected future absence.

     What does it mean that our culture preserves objects such as albums, manuscripts, and autographs, frequently in the institutionalized settings of archives and museums? Why are albums under “house arrest,” to use Jacques Derrida’s phrase?[52] The preservation of albums in today’s ar­chives is a part of what he has called “archive fever.”[53] Albums have been subject to the “institutional passage from the private to the public.”[54] Per­haps it is so because the album functions as what Lotman has termed a “condenser of cultural memory,” which also “preserves the memory of its previous contexts.”[55] Albums allow us to reconstruct the cultural processes that took place at the time of their writing; they provide a palpable link between epochs distant in time. These texts possess a memory constituted by “the sum of the contexts in which a given text acquires interpretation and which are in a way incorporated in it.” Following Lotman’s argument, we may ask whether albums are “museum pieces set apart from the main cultural process”?

     Some may see albums as such “mosaics of disconnected fragments,” but I would argue that they contain important links to phenomena in our lives. While at first glance, some of them seem like texts which have “faded” and lost the information embedded in them at the time of their production, their content is actually dazzling when revealed. Lotman writes, “Yet texts that preserve their cultural activity reveal a capacity to accumulate information, i.e., a capacity for memory.” Albums preserve the memory not only of what their owners and writers knew, felt, and wrote, but also of our associations, of “what we have learnt since their time.” In Lotman’s words, “this is what gives the text new meanings” (18–19) and this is what albums reveal upon careful consideration.

     There appear to exist several layers of fragility that leave albums prone to destruction. First, the dried flowers and grasses, through their organic character (and their material fragility: they literally fall apart) are a reminder of the vulnerability of things and people alike. Second, the two-hundred-year-old albums themselves, with their disintegrating pages and worn paper, point to the futility of trying to achieve immortality with the help of mere paper. Third, the archives and museums in which albums are collected do not strike one as particularly destruction-proof, and in the case of many East European albums especially, there is no extensive copy­ing done: once an album is lost or destroyed, it is practically unrecoverable (in fact, many album poems exist only in copied version, with an annota­tion that the manuscript has not been preserved). Yet somehow, despite these multiple fragilities, societies seem to believe in the power of this three-layered structure of collecting and remembering: names and flowers in albums, albums in archives. Perhaps paradoxically, as Antoine Com­pagnon says, “only the ephemeral can save the ephemeral.”[56] Despite their ephemerality, albums seem to have done what they were meant to do from the beginning: against all odds and despite their frequently unpromising, homey, clichéd appearance and content, albums have in fact partially pre­served the memory of the owners and writers who become “real” and “alive” for a moment when today we turn album pages, read inscriptions, and “activate” the signs left in the albums. It seems that despite being mercilessly mocked as “portable graveyards,” the albums actually have lived up to their culturally assigned—at times expressed tongue in cheek, at times more sincerely imagined—role of preservation. It is the albums’ very materiality that has made it possible to carry out the task of com­mitting album owners’ and writers’ memory to eternity—the archived paper, ink, and words that have proven to be mightier than time and oblivion.

 

Indiana University

 


Download: Beinek, Justyna. "'Portable Graveyards': Albums in the Romantic Culture of Memory." Pushkin Review 14 (2011): 35-62.


[1] All translations are mine unless otherwise noted. N. Virsheeskii, “O al´bomakh. Pis´mo k Izdateliu, ot odnogo uchenago iz Koltovskoi,” Blagonamerennyi 10 (1820): 22–32. Virsheeskii is without a doubt a fictional figure. His “talking name” is the first suspicious detail that reveals his imagined identity (virshi meaning “bad poems” and often used jokingly). The tone of the letter is comically lofty; the exaggerated highbrow style contrasts with absurd concrete details and the writer’s clumsiness. The fact that the letter appeared in Blagonamerennyi, a journal edited by V. V. Izmailov, one of the closest admirers and collaborators of S. D. Ponomar­eva, the noted salon hostess, provides basis for speculating that the fictional letter was produced in Ponomareva’s salon, whose participants produced the majority of materials for the journal.

[2] The phrase “mon livre de souvenir” is used, for example, in Karolina Soban´ska’s album (Institut Russkoi Literatury [IRLI], St. Petersburg, f. 244, op. 1, no. 1588, l. 80). The album is called “livre immortel” in Rachel Félix’s album (IRLI f. 244, op. 5, no. 43, l. 4). For an overview of album culture, see A. V. Kornilova, “Al´bomy domashnie,” Byt pushkinskogo Peterburga: Opyt entsiklopedicheskogo slovaria A–K (St. Petersburg: Izd-vo Ivana Limbakha, 2003), 26–31. The best works on the album as a cultural artifact and album verse as a genre include Gitta Hammar­berg, “Flirting with Words: Domestic Albums, 1770–1840,” in Russia – Women – Culture, ed. Helena Goscilo and Beth Holmgren (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996), 297–320; and L. I. Petina, “Khudozhestvennaia priroda literaturnogo al´boma pervoi poloviny XIX veka” (Ph.D. diss., Tartuskii gosudarstvennyi univer­sitet, 1988). V. E. Vatsuro provides an in-depth description of many Russian pre-Romantic and Romantic albums, as well as publishes many excerpts from albums in “Iz al´bomnoi liriki i literaturnoi polemiki 1790–1830kh godov,” 61–78, and “Literaturnye al´bomy v sobranii Pushkinskogo Doma (1750–1840e gody),” 3–56, Ezhegodnik Rukopisnogo otdela Pushkinskogo doma na 1977 god (Leningrad: Nauka, 1979).

[3] The nineteenth-century Russian album was a cultural fashion imported from Western Europe. The album can be traced back to Roman album amicorum, a book in which signatures of the rich and famous were collected, and early sixteenth-century German Stammbücher (literally: books of the “tree trunk” in a genealogi­cal sense), consisting of blank pages inserted into books or bound together, upon which people wrote their names, dates, and drew coats of arms. Later one could buy a blank pocket-sized album. In Western Europe noblemen used albums during travels; albums circulated among students and professors at universities. While in the second half of the sixteenth century it was fashionable to use emblems with codified meanings to render a sentiment, epigrams and aphorisms become the norm in the mid-seventeenth-century. Subsequent years brought about more var­ied themes of inscriptions (prudence, virtue, morality) and more pictorial represen­tations (usually allegorical); Konrad Kratzsch, “Von Stammbuch zum Poesie­album,” in Stammbücher aus der Zentralbibliothek der deutschen Klassik Weimar, ed. Hans Henning (Burgk: Staatliches Museum Schloss Burgk, 1988), 8–15. Rus­sian aristocrats embraced the album as a Western fashion at the turn of the eight­eenth and the nineteenth centuries. By that time, the initial shape of the album, a simple collection of autographs, changed in accord with late eighteenth-century sensibilities. Literary forms such as compliments, panegyrics, epigrams, classicist miniatures, charades, and verbal games became incorporated into albums; erudi­tion and wit reigned. The feminization of Russian culture toward the end of the century encouraged the album’s increasing popularity. The practice of reading verse and prose, playing charades, staging theatrical plays and tableaux vivants turned private homes into “laboratories of cultural life,” in the words of Yury Lot­man. In this new culture, focused on game-playing, the album—playful by defini­tion—served as a perfect place for trying out various forms of verbal and visual play. It was also a much-needed outlet for a new type of sensibility, which Lotman has called al´bomnost´, a sense of established intimacy or its semblance—“as-if intimacy”—between the writer and the reader, which we may call the result of a shift from the public life toward the private life; Iurii Lotman, Sotvorenie Karam­zina (Moscow: Kniga, 1987), 249. The album also became appealing and fashion­able precisely because it was the embodiment of what Yury Tynianov calls “domestic small form[s],” or “trifles” (bezdelki), appropriate for new literary and artistic interests. Related genres of the familiar letter and the almanac filled the same generic void and reflected the same need for a simpler, lighter style of ex­pression; Iurii Tynianov, Literaturnyi fakt (Moscow: Vysshaia shkola, 1977), 131.

[4] Savelii Senderovich, Aleteiia: Elegiia Pushkina “Vospominanie” i problemy ego poetiki, Wiener Slawistischer Almanach Sonderband 8 (Vienna: Anton Riegielnik, 1982), 11. Senderovich’s study focuses on the theme of recollection in Pushkin’s work.

[5] A. A. Protasova-Voeikova, album I (1809–12; IRLI f. I, op. 42, no. 73). Pages corresponding to the poems listed: 2 verso, 5 verso, 37, 66. Voeikova (1795–1829), known as Zhukovsky’s beloved “Svetlana,” kept several albums, eight of which are currently housed at the Pushkin House in St. Petersburg, Russia. The album in question contains entries by the owner’s friends, as well as Zhukovsky’s lyrics. For more information, see Vatsuro, “Literaturnye al´bomy,” 23–27; and N. V. Solov´ev, “Al´bomy Svetlany,” in Istoriia odnoi zhizni (Petrograd, 1916), 106–62, 169–72.

[6] N. Zaretskii (name partially illegible) in I. M. Miklashevskaia’s family album (1815–26) (IRLI f. I, op. 42, no. 75, l. 6).

[7] E. M. Lalaeva (IRLI f. 68, op. 2, no. 4, l. 80). Lalaeva’s album (1811–18) is part of the familial and literary circle of V. I. Panaev (1792–1859), a writer linked to the journal Blagonamerennyi, as well as Pushkin’s colleague (Vatsuro, “Literaturnye al´bomy,” 18).

[8] “V.” in V. N. Kochubei’s album, attributed to V. I. Tumanskii by V. A. Vatsuro. Quoted in Vatsuro, “Iz al´bomnoi liriki,” 67–68. Kochubei’s album (IRLI no. 14314, ll. 100–100v). Kochubei’s album (1811–23) contains entries by family and friends, as well by two lesser-known poets, V. I. Tumanskii and A. G. Rodzianko (Vatsuro, “Literaturnye al´bomy,” 20).

[9] Liza Bornovolokova’s album (1813; IRLI f. I, op. 42, no. 74, l. 48). Vatsuro charac­terizes this album as an example of album “mass culture” of late Sentimentalism (“Literaturnye al´bomy,” 8).

[10] Frances A. Yates, The Art of Memory (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966), 6.

[11] Ibid., 51, 371.

[12] The “language of flowers” was a concept so popular in early nineteenth-century Europe that there existed manuals of what each flower meant. Books on the language of flowers include Du Vignan’s Le Language müet ou l’Art de faire l’Amour sans parler, sans écrire et sans se voir (Hollande, 1688); J. Franeau’s Jardin d’hiver ou Cabinet des Fleurs (Pierre Borremans, 1616); Louise de Cortam­bert’s Le langage des fleurs (Paris: Audot, n. d.); and Iazyk tsvetov, ili Opisanie emblematicheskikh znachenii simvolov i mifologicheskogo proiskhozhdeniia tsvetov i rastenii (St. Petersburg: Fishon, 1849). For a detailed analysis of the “language of flowers,” see K. I. Sharafadina, “Al´favit Flory” v obraznom iazyke literatury pushkinskoi epokhi (St. Petersburg: Izd-vo “Peterburgskii institut pechati,” 2003).

[13] Unknown owner’s album (IRLI f. I, op. 42, no. 35, ll. 60v–61). Vatsuro speculates that the album probably belonged to a Michiel Herfst, a German who traveled to St. Petersburg and whose other signed album is housed at the Pushkin House in St. Petersburg, Russia (“Literaturnye al´bomy,” 4). Travelers such as Herfst dis­seminated album culture in Russia.

[14] Avdot´ia Kireevskaia in Voeikova’s album (IRLI f. 1, op. 42, no. 2, l. 3).

[15] Albums thus can be read as “auto-documentary texts,” to borrow the term from Irina Savkina’s book Razgovory z zerkalom i zazerkal´em: Avtodokumental´nye zhenskie teksty v russkoi literature pervoi poloviny XIX veka (Moscow: Novoe litera­turnoe obozrenie, 2007), 6. Although Savkina does not consider albums as a space for expression of the female self and focuses on literary materials (diaries, jour­nals, personal letters), her book has inspired me to think about albums as such as well as writing in albums as another genre of women’s “self-texts” (ibid.).

[16] Senderovich, Aleteiia, 152.

[17] V. E. Vatsuro, Lirika pushkinskoi pory (St. Petersburg: Nauka, 1994), 4.

[18] V. K. Kiukhel´beker, “O napravlenii nashei poezii, osobenno liricheskoi, v po­slednee desiatiletie” (1824), in Puteshestvie. Dnevnik. Stat´i, ed. N. V. Koroleva and V. D. Rak (Leningrad: Nauka, 1979), 455–57.

[19] Ibid., 57–59.

[20] Savkina, Razgovory z zerkalom, 63–64.

[21] L. Ia. Ginzburg, O lirike (Moscow: Intrada, 1997), 27–30.

[22] Erik Gray, “Victoria Dressed in Black: Poetry in an Elegiac Age,” in The Oxford Handbook of Elegy, ed. Karen Weisman (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 272–76.

[23] Ginzburg, O lirike, 52.

[24] Mikhail Alekseev, “Iz istorii russkikh rukopisnykh sobranii,” in Neizdannye pis´ma inostrannykh pisatelei XVIII–XIX vekov (Moscow-Leningrad: Izd-vo Aka­demii nauk SSSR, 1960), 3–122; Vatsuro, “Iz al´bomnoi liriki i literaturnoi polemiki 1790–1830kh godov,” 61–78.

[25] Alekseev, “Iz istorii russkikh rukopisnykh sobranii,” 8–9.

[26] Vatsuro, “Literaturnye al´bomy,”6.

[27] Ibid., 7, 10, 12, 19, 37, 14, 30, 33–44.

[28] Baratynsky first published this album poem written in Pavlova’s album in Galatea, pt. I, no. 2 (1829): 90. Pavlova’s album with the original of Baratynsky’s poem has been lost.

[29] E. A. Baratynsky, Polnoe sobranie stikhotvorenii, ed. V. M. Sergeeva (Leningrad: Sovetskii pisatel´, 1989), 148–49.

[30] Stephanie Sandler and Judith Vowles, “Beginning to Be a Poet: Baratynsky and Pavlova,” in Russian Subjects: Empire, Nation, and the Culture of the Golden Age, ed. Monika Greenleaf and Stephen Moeller-Sally (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1998), 169.

[31] Pushkin’s album inscriptions have been collected in Rukoiu Pushkina: Nesobrannye i neopublikovannye teksty, ed. M. A. Tsiavlovskii, L. B. Modzalevskii, and T. G. Zenger (Leningrad-Moscow: Academia, 1935), 625–68. For a review of Pushkin’s album poetry and drawings, especially in Elizaveta Ushakova’s album, see Sergei Fomichev, “Pushkin i al´bomy ego vremeni,” in Al´bom Elizavety Usha­kovoi, ed. T. I. Krasnoborod´ko (St. Petersburg: Logos, 1999), 243–69.

[32] Chapter 4 of Eugene Onegin was written in 1825; 1833 is the year of the work’s publication in its entirety.

[33] A. S. Pushkin, Evgenii Onegin, chapter 4, XXIX, in Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, ed. V. D. Bonch-Bruevich, 17 vols. (Moscow-Leningrad: Akademiia nauk SSSR, 1937–59), 6: 84–85.

[34] Pushkin, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, 2: 257.

[35] Ibid., 2: 258.

[36] For a discussion of the theme of memory and recollection in Pushkin’s lyrical poetry, see Michael M. Naydan, “Pushkin’s Lyric Memory,” Slavic and East Euro­pean Journal 28: 1 (1984): 1–14.

[37] Peter M. Sacks, The English Elegy: Studies in the Genre from Spenser to Yeats (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985), 9.

[38] Renate Lachmann, Memory and Literature: Intertextuality in Russian Modern­ism, trans. Roy Sellars and Anthony Wall (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997), 2–3.

[39] Ibid., 4.

[40] Ibid., 6.

[41] Ibid., 7.

[42] Ibid., 8–9.

[43] M. A. Gamazov’s album (IRLI f. 68, op. 1, no. 43, l. 35). M. A. Gamazov (1811–93) was a minor poet and a relative of V. I. Panaev (1792–1859), a writer con­nected with the circle of the journal Blagonamerennyi, and I. I. Panaev (1812–62), also a writer and a journalist connected with Sovremennik. Gamazov started his album in 1838; Vatsuro classifies his albums as both a “family album” and a “liter­ary album” (18). For more information on Gamazov, see K. N. Grigor´ian, “Litera­turnye opyty M. A. Gamazova,” in Iz istorii russkikh literaturnykh otnoshenii XX vekov (Moscow-Leningrad: Izd-vo Akademii nauk SSSR, 1959), 360–69.

[44] Iurii Lotman, Universe of the Mind: A Semiotic Theory of Culture, trans. Ann Shukman (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990), 64.

[45] M. A. Golitsyna’s album (1818–40s; IRLI f. 244, op. 1, no. 57). Golitsyna (1802–70) kept a “high society” album that reflected her high social status and her con­nections. Pushkin wrote a poem addressed to Golitsyna in her album in 1823 (Vatsuro, “Literaturnye al´bomy,” 30–31).

[46] Lachmann, Memory and Literature, 213.

[47] Z. I. Iusupova’s album (1830–79; IRLI f. 524, op. 1, no. 50, l. 50) (Marlinsky) and 74 (Goethe). Iusupova (1809–93) collected letters, autographs, and inscriptions in her album. Her impressive collections include letters from the members of the Russian imperial family, autographs of Dumas, Lermontov, and Baratynsky, among others, as well as entries by Krylov, Zhukovsky, Viazemsky, Kozlov, and others. For more information, see Vatsuro, “Literaturnye al´bomy,” 31.

[48] Karolina Soban´ska’salbum (IRLI f. 244, op. 1, no. 1588, l. 80). Detailed informa­tion on the autograph of Pushkin’s poem in this album is included in Rukoiu Pushkina: Nesobrannye i neopublikovannye teksty, ed. M. A. Tsiavlovskii, L. B. Modzalevskii, and T. G. Zerner (Leningrad-Moscow: Academia, 1935), 654–55. Also V. Bazilevich supplies valuable information on the poem’s history and various attributions concerning the question of its addressee: “Avtograf ‘Chto v imeni tebe moem?’” Literaturnoe nasledstvo, vol. 16–18(Moscow: Zhurnal´no-gazetnoe ob´´edi­nenie, 1934): 876–79.

[49] Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, vol. 3, pt. 1, 210. In Soban´ska’s album the date and place where the poem was written are given below the text of the poem: 5 January 1830, St. Petersburg.

[50] David Powelstock, “Burying the Elegiac Corpse: Selfhood in Pushkin’s Late Lyrics,” Pushkin Review 3 (2000): 107–08.

[51] Monika Greenleaf, Pushkin and Romantic Fashion: Fragment, Elegy, Orient, Irony (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1994), 364. The ironic ending of the poem as a gesture of suspicious benevolence on the part of the poet is also mentioned in Roman Jakobson’s “Poeziia grammatiki i grammatika poezii,” in Selected Writings (The Hague: Mouton Publishers, 1981), 3: 72–75.

[52] Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever, trans. Eric Prenowitz (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), 2.

[53] Ibid., 90.

[54] Ibid., 2.

[55] Lotman, Universe of the Mind, 18.

[56] Antoine Compagnon, “Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past,” in Realms of Memory, ed. Pierre Nora (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997), 2: 243.