Sergei Davydov

Alfred Liudvigovich Bem was a prominent Russian literary historian, editor and critic. He was born in 1886 in Kiev to a family of German Russians and studied Russian literature at St. Petersburg University under Professor S.A. Vengerov. He later worked at the University and participated in Vengerov's famous Pushkin Seminar (1908-16) from whose ranks came a whole generation of first-rate Russian literary scholars such as Iu. Tynianov, A.S. Dolinin, V.L. Komarovich. The best studies produced in this Seminar appared in the collection Pushkinist (St. Petersburg, 1914) which opened with Bem's article summarizing the achievements of the Seminar.

Bem wrote predominantly on the problems of intertextuality and literary influence (Pushkin and Goethe, Pushkin and Chateaubriand, Pushkin and Musset, Titutchev and German literature, Turgeneve and Goethe). These studies appeared in the pre-1917 volumes of Pushkin i ego sovremenniki. The study of intertuxtuality became the hallmark of Bem's future scholarship produced in exile.

After his years at Petersburg University, Bem worked in the Manuscript Department of the Russian Academy of Sciences with Vs. I. Sreznevskii and A. A. Shakhmatov and later became its curator. Bem co-edited with Sreznevskii the multivolume collection, Tolstoi: Pamiatniki tvorchestva i zhizni (Petrograd: Ogni, 1917-23) as well as Bibliograficheskii uzkazatel′ tvorenii L. N. Tolstogo (Leningrad: AN, 1926) which laid the groundwork for the Jubiilee Edition of Tolstoi's Complete Works in 90 vols. (Moscow: Gos. Izd-vo, 1928-58.) Bem co-edited with V. N. Beneshevich the bibliographical series Obozrenie trudov po slavianovedeniiu.


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Davydov, Sergei. "Alfred Liudvigovich Bem (1886-1945?)." Pushkin Review 1 (1998): 35-038.