УДК 325.2 (93/94)

Дата публикации 31.03.2022

Русская диаспора во Франции: мировоззрение русских эмигрантов дореволюционного периода и «первой» волны

Егорова Елизавета Эдуардовна
аспирантка факультета международных отношений, Санкт-Петербургский государственный университет, РФ, г. Санкт-Петербург, beth13@mail.ru

Аннотация: Настоящее исследование рассматривает проблему формирования русской диаспоры во Франции (на примере региона Прованс-Альпы-Лазурный берег) с точки зрения идеологии ее представителей. Предлагается классификация исследуемого вопроса, состоящая из пяти волн: дореволюционная, «первая», «вторая», «третья» и «четвертая». Дореволюционный период и «первая» волна русской эмиграции признаны наиболее значимыми с точки зрения формирования Русского мира в регионе. В рамках исследования проведен анализ основных работ русских эмигрантов выбранного периода (Александра Герцена, Ивана Бунина, Георгия Адамовича) с целью воссоздания общей мировоззренческой картины русской диаспоры в регионе.
Ключевые слова: русская эмиграция, дореволюционный этап, «первая» волна, идеология, регион Прованс-Альпы-Лазурный берег

The Russian diaspora in France: the ideology of Russian emigrants of the pre-revolutionary period and the “first” wave

Egorova Elizaveta Eduardovna
Postgraduate at the Department of International Relations, Saint Petersburg State University, Russia, Saint Petersburg

Abstract: This study examines the problem of the formation of the Russian diaspora in France (the case of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region) in terms of the ideology of its members. We propose a classification of the issue under consideration; it consists of five stages-waves: pre-revolutionary, “first”, “second”, “third” and “fourth”. The pre-revolutionary period and the “first” wave of Russian emigration are recognized as the most significant for the formation of the Russian world in the region. As part of the study, we analyze the main works of Russian emigrants of the selected period (Alexander Herzen, Ivan Bunin, Georgy Adamovich) in order to reconstruct an overall ideological picture of the Russian diaspora in the region.
Keywords: Russian emigration, pre-revolutionary stage, “first” wave, ideology, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region

I. Introduction

Russian-French relations have a long history and their analysis remains one of the most urgent objectives in the field of humanitarian studies. In this context, the problem of the history of the Russian diaspora in France occupies a special place, since the Russian-speaking part of the country’s population significantly influences the nature of relations between the host country and the country of origin. It should be mentioned that this problem has gained wide demand among the scientific community only recently (about two or three decades ago), when the works of representatives of the Russian diaspora, previously rejected by Soviet Russia and mostly unrecognized by Western Europe, began to be widely published. According to René Guerra, professor at Sophia Antipolis University (Nice), the current interest of both scientists and ordinary people in the problem of Russian emigration resembles a “great, inevitable and instructive revenge” [1, p. 9].

The novelty of this study lies in the analysis of the ideology of Russian emigrants as the basis for the formation of the Russian diaspora in France. Moreover, our society is influenced by the process of ‘neo-globalization’ (the growing national self-consciousness of peoples against the backdrop of a universal unification of cultures). In relation to Russian realities, this tendency means the need to clarify the concept of ‘national Russian character’, as well as the upbringing and educating the younger generation in accordance with the fundamental values ​​of national culture. To achieve this goal, we will pay attention to the works (memoirs, letters, articles, etc.) of Russian emigrants, who tried to rethink the fate of Russia and the Russian people, important political events, the role of Christianity, the state system, etc.

The aim of this study is to reconstruct the general picture of the ideology of Russian emigrants and to determine the specifics of the views of individual representatives of the Russian diaspora in France. Taking into account this aim, we can distinguish the following objectives:

  • to determine the temporal and geographical frames of the issue under consideration;
  • to identify the most prominent members of the Russian diaspora in the region under consideration in a certain period;
  • to review the main works of selected members of the Russian diaspora and to analyze their political and philosophical ideas;
  • to demonstrate the impact of historical events on the specifics of the ideology of Russian emigrants in France.

The methodological basis of the study consists of general scientific methods (analysis and synthesis of information), methods traditional for historical research (diachronic and ideographic ones), as well as methods of philosophical hermeneutics, which allow to interpret the works of Russian emigrants and to determine their ideology.

The theoretical basis of the study is represented by the fundamental works of scientists on the study of Russian emigrants in France, for example, “Seven days in March. Conversations about emigration” by René Guerra and Arkady Vaksberg, “Russian Nice” by Sergey Nechaev; scientific articles by Tishkov V.A. and Moseikina M.N.; memoirs of Russian emigrants (Alexander Herzen, Ivan Bunin, Georgy Adamovich).


II. Formation of the Russian diaspora in France

The analysis of the ideology of Russian emigrants in France involves determining the time and geographical frames of the issue under consideration. The Russian diaspora in France have been formed for a long time; furthermore, this process is actively continuing today. At the present stage of the study of the Russian diaspora, the scientific community has not come to a consensus regarding the determination of periods (and their number) of this phenomenon. However, there is no doubt that this periodization should be based on the correlation of mass migrations of the Russian-speaking population with the most important historical events of Russia.

Following Valery Tishkov’s line, many researchers believe that “the historical birth of the traditional Russian diaspora begins with migration processes after 1917” [2]. The main reason for the emergence of a huge wave of emigration at this stage was the rejection of the established Soviet power by those who cherished the old Russian life. This “first” wave of Russian emigration was quite heterogeneous: “Monarchists, anarchists, constitutional democrats, guards officers and lower ranks, intellectuals and illiterate peasants, Cossacks and students – everything was mixed up in a mad crowd of fugitives from the Soviets” [3, p. 7]. At the same time, it is important to note the “elite character of emigrants” of this period, which can be contrasted with “labor migrants” of previous times. This feature explains the possibility of creating a Russian diaspora united by two fundamental national values ​​– their national language and culture.

The events of the Second World War caused a new wave of Russian emigrants. Thus, there were many former prisoners of war and displaced persons abroad; most of them settled in European countries and America. These representatives of the “second” wave of Russian emigration had an important unifying principle with the members of the “first” wave – a clear rejection of Soviet power and a new reality, established after the October Revolution. Emigrants of both waves were closely associated with the pre-revolutionary culture, as well as the sensitivity of their isolation from their home country and the sense of nostalgia.

The “third” wave of Russian emigration refers to the Sixtiers (а new generation of the Soviet Intelligentsia), who were forced to leave their country due to persecution and arrests in their homeland. It should be emphasized that the Sixtiers were born and raised during the years of Soviet power, so initially there was no question about emigration or struggle against the existing state system. The revision of their values ​​and opinions occurred as a result of the repressions that began in the USSR. Thus, the resulting rejection of the Soviet regime, forced emigration and great creative potential became a link between representatives of the “third” wave of emigrants and the members of the “first” and “second” waves.

The emergence of the “fourth” wave of Russian emigration was influenced by the events of 1988-1991 and the subsequent surge in the number of Russian-speaking citizens who left the countries of the former USSR, mainly for economic reasons. The rather low standard of living in the USSR compared to European and American standards motivated many people to look for good quality jobs abroad.

Therefore, the majority of researchers recognizes the relevance of distinguishing the four waves of Russian emigration described above. However, there are two more periods, which are often included in the periodization of the formation of the Russian diaspora – the pre-revolutionary period and the “fifth” wave. In this study, we will not analyze the latter phenomenon (the “fifth” wave) due to the lack of research on it and a completely different psychological and philosophical picture of the members of this period. As for the pre-revolutionary period, we will include it in the periodization of the formation of the Russian diaspora in France, since we recognize its significance for the further development of the Russian world in the region and the formation of the ideology of further waves.

The main reasons that prompted the Russian-speaking population to leave their country of origin were “political factors: oppression, lack of rights, national restrictions, the prohibition of religion” [4, p. 3], an unfavorable economic situation, the desire to receive a European education and become familiar with European culture (academic and artistic emigration). We should not underestimate emigration for health reasons and the desire to improve climatic conditions by moving to various French cities, which have a milder climate compared to Russian capitals (St Petersburg and Moscow).

Thus, this study is based on the periodization of Russian emigration in France, consisting of five main waves: pre-revolutionary (until 1917), “first” (from 1917 to the start of the Second World War), “second” (the period of the Second World War), “third” (1970-1980) and “fourth” (a post-Soviet period). We will analyze two periods in detail – the pre-revolutionary period and the “first” wave, since the emigrants of these periods became the real basis for the subsequent formation of the Russian diaspora, were the true guardians of Russian culture and clearly represented their historical mission.

As for the geographical location of the Russian diaspora in France, Paris has certainly been the center of the political, social and cultural life of Russian-speaking emigrants in all periods. The majority of emigrant organizations, Russian schools, cultural centers and libraries were opened here. However, along with the capital of France, another region of the country has become a big unity center for representatives of the Russian diaspora – the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. Many Russian-speaking emigrants have chosen such cities as Nice, Cannes, Antibes, Menton, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Mougins, Grasse, etc. as their permanent/temporary residence. In the book “Russian Nice”, Sergei Nechaev cites the following statistics: “... in the winter period of 1881-1882 more than two and a half thousand Russians permanently lived in Nice ... in 1913, the Russian colony here numbered about 3,300 people” [5, p. 6]. These figures characterize the state of the Russian diaspora (its rather large size) in the pre-revolutionary period, when the wave of emigration was not massive.

This study analyzes this region not only because of the significant number of Russian emigrants and the depth of their talent, but also because of the weak scientific coverage of the problem of the Russian diaspora in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. These factors determine the relevance of the chosen topic and the great potential for its research.


III. Pre-revolutionary stage in the formation of the ideology of the Russian diaspora in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region

The pre-revolutionary stage in the formation of the Russian diaspora in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region is very important – the events and representatives of this period were at the origin of the creation of the Russian world in the region. Despite the fact that some researchers note the dispersed nature of the emigration of this period, its ideological scale serves as an important consolidating factor in our time.

One of the grounds for the social cohesion of the representatives of the Russian diaspora in the region was Russian Orthodoxy, which became the basis of the ideology of the emigrants living here. Religion helped people “who were isolated from their national culture, history, national tradition”; it served as “an important means of adapting emigrants to new living conditions” [6, p. 190]. It should be noted that the Russian Church Abroad is a reflection, mainly, of official Russia, since the initiation of the construction of Orthodox churches belonged to the august persons who personally participated in the process of the birth of spiritual centers (both materially and ideologically).

One of the key figures of the pre-revolutionary period was Empress Dowager Alexandra Feodorovna. Her arrival in Nice in 1856 led to significant changes in the cultural, social and spiritual life of the Côte d’Azur. Following Alexandra Feodorovna, the imperial retinue and the best representatives of St Petersburg society (Russian noble families, poets, writers, artists, etc.) began to come to the region. “Within the framework of social events, the native language and national cultural tradition were preserved, and thanks to the involvement of foreigners in this circle, representatives of the Russian diaspora contributed to the development of intercultural dialogue,” [6, p. 190] – this is how a RUDN University Professor Marina Moseikina determines the contribution of the Russian-speaking population to the general cultural and educational level of the region.

As for the contribution of Alexandra Feodorovna to the formation of the ideology of the Russian diaspora, we should mention her contribution to the emergence of the first centers of Russian Orthodoxy outside the Russian Empire. Thus, thanks to her efforts and patronage, the Church of St Nicholas and St Alexandra appeared in Nice; it is considered one of the oldest Russian parish churches in Western Europe. Despite the “resistance of the Catholic authorities, who were by no means eager to see an Orthodox church on their land” [5, p. 19], its construction began, the financing of which was mostly carried out by the members of the Russian diaspora. This fact reflects the deep spiritual connection of people living abroad (temporarily or permanently) with their home country; and the basis of this connection was the Orthodox faith.

Another prominent representative of the pre-revolutionary period was Alexander Herzen, who lived in Nice for a long time at different periods of his life. We should emphasize the importance of mentioning Herzen in the study of the ideology of the Russian diaspora, because many scientists consider him one of the founders of the “Russian revolutionary emigration as a political trend” [6, p. 184]. Herzen’s living in France in 1847-1852 largely shaped his political and philosophical ideas, and it was Nice period that became the main turning point in the development of Herzen as a philosopher.

Before emigration, Herzen’s political ideas were formed in line with Westernism, he was known for his freedom-loving spirit, and also as the creator of a circle, whose members were united by youth, civil morality and the desire to publicly announce their freedom. Herzen hoped that, together with his like-minded people, he would continue the Decembrists’ activity. However, it must be emphasized that despite his adherence to the Westernist ideology, Herzen did not share the opinion of his comrades about the possibility of Russia to blindly copy the Western path. Unlike some of his like-minded people, he realized that the future of the country was the Russian character and not just the European truths and discoveries that could be only an adoptee for a Russian person.

In 1947, after the death of his father, the emigrant period in Herzen’s life began. The main destination of Alexander Herzen was Paris, because for him it was the symbol of freedom, equality and fraternity. Herzen noted the rich history of France, its deep intellectual baggage: “Tens of centuries peek out from behind every stone, from every judgment; behind the shoulders of a European one can see a long succession of dignified people...” [7, p. 20].

However, Herzen’s first positive impressions of European life and its potential were soon replaced by sarcastic remarks about the domination of the bourgeoisie, which had made significant adjustments to all spheres of society. According to Herzen, there was only one religion in society of his time – the one that was based on the love for money and order.

Then one of the biggest shocks of Herzen’s emigrant period came – the February Revolution of 1848 in France. He greeted the revolution with enthusiasm and hope: “Is it in a dream or in reality? Events thicken every day, become more energetic and more important, the increased pulse of history beats feverishly, personal views and feelings are lost in the magnitude of what is happening” [7, p. 34]. The proclamation of the French Republic caused the growth of people’s liberation movements in many European cities – Milan, Vienna, Berlin... Herzen followed European news and enthusiastically wrote about the awakening of new forces in his soul and the resurrection of his former hopes.

Herzen’s enthusiastic mood passes quickly, and six months after the February events, he wrote: “We are deceived <...> the revolution is defeated, after it the republic will be defeated as well” [7, p. 132]. This pessimistic mood became the starting point of a revolution in Herzen’s worldview – a turn towards utopian socialism. His disbelief in the West turned into a passionate belief that it was Russia that was destined to set an example in solving the social issue. It was this idea (propaganda of Russian socialism) that became the guiding star of the Russian philosopher in subsequent years, the main theme in his works.

In 1850, Herzen moved to Nice, which seemed a peaceful abode, which “had no significance – neither political, nor scientific, nor even artistic” [7, p. 190]. It became a shelter for a Russian writer who decided to think over the intense European events of recent years. The main conclusion that Herzen made during his stay in Nice was that the revolution had been defeated, the new government did not seek to understand the desires and demands of the people, and therefore the people did not support the government; it was impossible to follow the old path, but the European society did not want to look for new ways.

After a year of living in Nice, Herzen realized that this city had not become a peaceful haven he had dreamed of. The dramatic culmination of the emigration period in France was a love affair of Herzen’s wife with the German poet Georg Herwegh, the death of Herzen’s mother and his son during a shipwreck, the illness and death of his wife. This tragedy in Nice became a kind of frontier that marked the death of all previous ideas, hopes, relationships and the need start over. The next destination of Alexander Herzen was England, where he became the founder of the Free Russian Printing House and began to publish the almanac “Polar Star”, and then a famous newspaper “Kolokol”. The London period was the time of Herzen’s active appeal to the young Russian generation in order to raise the liberation movement in Russia.


IV. Ideology of the “first” wave of Russian emigration in the Provence-Alpes- Côte d’Azur region

In the 1917-1920s, a new period began in the formation of the Russian diaspora in France; Russian emigrants arrived en masse in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. It is a very difficult task to choose just a few representatives of this generation of emigrants, whose life, work and ideology will be revealed in this study. As a result of the revolutionary events in Russia, such talented and prominent people as writers Ivan Bunin, Mark Aldanov and Andrei Rennikov, poets Georgy Ivanov and Georgy Adamovich, artist Mark Chagall, generals Nikolai Yudenich and Nikolai Yepanchin, Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich (the Younger), Duke Peter Alexandrovich of Oldenburg, etc. found themselves in France.

It is interesting to note that many emigrants, regardless of their professional activities (military, public, or creative ones), wrote memoirs at that time. René Guerra explains this phenomenon by the fact that the emigrants felt the need to describe all the events they experienced in detail so that future generations could know the truth about Russia during the revolutionary period. It was the sense of historical duty that prompted literary activity and united representatives of the “first” wave of Russian emigration. Within the framework of this study, we will analyze the memoirs of people of the artistic circles, because their works are characterized not only by deep understanding of the political situations in Russia and France, but also by philosophical reflection on what is happening around.

One of prominent members of the Russian diaspora of the period is Ivan Bunin, who emigrated to France in 1920 and lived there for 33 years. Bunin preferred to spend winter months in Paris, but most of the emigrant period he lived in the south of France in Grasse (first, his family rented the villa “Mont-Fleuri”, then “Belvedere”, and finally “Jeannette”). During the first years of his life abroad, Bunin clearly articulated his political position and defined his moral convictions. This happened during his speech “The Mission of the Russian Emigration” in Paris on February 16, 1924. The following are some quotes that most clearly reflect Bunin’s ideology during the emigrant period:

  • “For the most part, we are not exiles, but emigrants, that is, people who voluntarily left their homeland. <...> we somehow did not accept the life that has reigned for some time in Russia, were in one way or another in struggle with this life, and, making sure that our further resistance threatens us only with death, we moved to a foreign land”;
  • “What happened? The great fall of Russia took place, and at the same time the fall of a man. The fall of Russia is not justified by anything”;
  • “The mission of the Russian emigration, which proved by its exodus from Russia and its struggle, that not only out of fear, but also out of conscience, it does not accept Lenin’s commandments and orders…”;
  • “Besides, there is something else that is much larger than even Russia and especially its material interests. This is my God and my soul” [8].

Such a detailed citation of Bunin’s ideas can be explained by the fact that the writer was always faithful to these ideas and never abandoned them. Another well-known Russian emigrant, Georgy Adamovich, proved this firmness of Bunin’s ideology: “I must, without hesitation, in the name of truth, say that in all my meetings with Bunin in the last fifteen years of his life, I have not heard a single word from him that could suggest that his political views have changed” [1, p. 95].

Bunin was adamant not only about the Soviet regime, but also about his colleagues in literary activity, who remained in Russia and worked within the framework established by the Soviet government. For instance, Bunin wrote merciless words about Vladimir Mayakovsky: “... Mayakovsky will remain in the history of literature of the Bolshevik years as the lowest, most cynical and harmful servant of Soviet cannibalism” [9, p. 237]. Bunin was undoubtedly sincere in his words; he did not try to use expressions in order to be politically correct. This feature of creativity can also be attributed to other representatives of the Russian diaspora. The reason for this honesty of Russian emigrants was that they “didn’t have to hide or burn anything, <…> they didn’t need to use an encoded language of allusions, neither an editor nor a censor hung over them” [1, p. 24]. This feature makes emigrant memoirs a valuable document of their era.

Further analysis of the ideology of the Russian diaspora in the Provence-Alpes- Côte d’Azur region is impossible without mentioning the Russian poet Georgy Adamovich. Since 1923, he lived in France either in Paris or in Nice. In the south of France, Adamovich’s aunt had a villa where the poet often came for financial support after gambling losses. However, among the emigrants, Georgy Adamovich was famous not only for being a casino lover, but also as a talented literary critic and founder of a poetic movement “Parisian Note”. This movement was distinguished by “the asceticism of expressive means and orientation to the most essential things in human life” [5, p. 285]; poems written within its framework clearly reflected the tragic and hopeless situation of emigrant reality.

The lines of one of the most famous poems of Adamovich of the emigrant period “Oh when will we go back to Russia?” sound sincerely and tragically. It is interesting to note that René Guerra, a well-known French Slavist who devoted his whole life to studying the Russian emigration, gave the title “When We Return to Russia” to one of his books. This reflects the general mood of the emigrant community, which “dreamed, but did not seek to return to their native land with their creative work. And they returned, but, alas, only posthumously” [1, p. 14].

Oh when will we go back to Russia? Oh, Hamlet of east, tell me when.

In fog and on foot we will travel, a blistering cold there’ll be then,

It won’t be triumphal, with horses, on foot we will go – no acclaim,

But you may be sure, I can promise, we’ll get to the end, all the same.

In his memoirs “Loneliness and Freedom”, Adamovich raised many important philosophical and political problems (for example, the attitude towards Soviet and emigrant literature, the role of time in the assessment of emigrant literature, emigrant literature as a guardian of Christian culture, etc.). Unlike Bunin, Adamovich did not turn away from Soviet literature; he did not give writers and poets in Russia sharply negative assessments. On the contrary, he regretted that the emigrants and Soviet writers did not have a real dialogue.

The lack of dialogue with Russia was felt especially acutely due to the fact that the emigrants failed to establish close relations with the French society. Adamovich described the situation in the host country as follows: “There was the West all around, in particular Paris, brilliant and indifferent, <...> it both attracted and frightened, and it also hid some kind of detachment, deeply alien to everything Russian...” [10, p. 46]. We can add the following of his words: “Its [France] hospitality was limited to formal, administrative politeness. There were no invitations, and there was nothing to say about any interest, or at least curiosity” [10, p. 48]. Thus, the Russian emigration turned out to be isolated, and all the interest of the French was aimed at establishing cultural contacts with the USSR, because without contacts with Soviet colleagues French Slavists could not count on a career.


V. Conclusion

Having considered the main stages of the formation of the Russian diaspora in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, we found that the pre-revolutionary period and the “first” wave are the most significant in terms of the formation of the emigrant ideology. This statement does not downplay the role of the subsequent stages (“second”, “third” and “fourth” waves), however, it emphasizes the need for a more detailed consideration of the foundations of the formation of the Russian world in France.

The main characteristic of the ideology of the pre-revolutionary period was the presence of a deep spiritual connection with Russia. This connection consisted not only in the awareness of one’s “Russianness” and reflections on the fate of the home country, but also in the regular maintenance of direct contacts with people in the Russian Empire. August persons and their closest associates became the founders of the largest Orthodox center in Western Europe, and Nice became a real spiritual center of Russian emigration.

A distinctive feature of the “first” wave emigrants was the awareness of their historical mission, which consisted in a detailed description of the major events in Russia, as well as the preservation of Russian culture in its pre-revolutionary Christian state. At the very beginning of the emigrant life, Ivan Bunin clearly formulated the mission of the Russian diaspora – the preservation of Russian spirituality and the cultivation of the main ideas of pre-revolutionary ideology for future generations.

Despite a rather long existence outside Russia, the emigrants of the “first” wave remained “true Russian intellectuals, benevolent, pure, naive idealists – Turgenev’s ‘superfluous people’ ” [1, p. 394]. Today, their ideas and values are returning to Russia through numerous works that have become important witnesses of the era and Russian political and philosophical thought of times gone by.

Правильная ссылка на статью
Егорова Е.Э. The Russian diaspora in France: the ideology of Russian emigrants of the pre-revolutionary period and the “first” wave // Филологический аспект: международный научно-практический журнал. Сер.: История, культура и искусство. 2022. № 01 (06). Режим доступа: https://scipress.ru/fai/articles/russkaya-diaspora-vo-frantsii-mirovozzrenie-russkikh-emigrantov-dorevolyutsionnogo-perioda-i-pervoj-volny.html (Дата обращения: 31.03.2022)

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