Путешествие известного французского писателя, лауреата Нобелевской премии по литературе Андре Жида в Абхазию в 1936 году
Перевод В. А. Чирикба отрывка из книги мемуаров голландского писателя Йефа Ласта "Мой друг Андре Жид" (Jef Last. Mijn vriend André Gide. 1966). Ласт сопровождал А. Жида в поездке по СССР, в том числе по Абхазии.

Интересное описание встречи Андре Жида с Нестором Лакоба, названного автором "губернатором или партийным боссом Абхазии".

"Настроение Жида стало еще хуже, когда губернатор (а может, и партийный босс) Абхазии заставил нас ждать добрый час, хотя мы умирали от голода. Когда он наконец появился, это был маленький человечек в высоких черных сапогах, русской белой блузке и слуховом аппарате на одно ухо. Его желтоватое лицо имело семитское выражение, которое мы уже видели у многих грузин. Но что-то особенное исходило от этого человека, и гнев Жида исчез через несколько минут.

Вилла была обставлена очень просто, но еда была чрезмерной, как обычно. Помню, между прочим, запеченного поросенка с работающими электрическими лампочками вместо глаз, которого подали на серебряном подносе лакеи в бархатной ливрее и белых чулках.

Жид и губернатор, не прибегая к помощи переводчика, вскоре глубоко разговорились и вышли из-за стола задолго до конца ужина, чтобы продолжить беседу наедине в комнате Жида. В тот вечер Жид сказал мне: «ЭТО САМАЯ ЗАМЕЧАТЕЛЬНАЯ И ИНТЕРЕСНАЯ ФИГУРА, КОТОРУЮ Я ВСТРЕЧАЛ В СОВЕТСКОМ СОЮЗЕ». Но он не сказал мне, что они обсуждали. Через несколько недель после того, как мы вернулись в Париж, в газетах было написано, что этот человек был осужден и ликвидирован".

Из публикации: Basil Kingstone "Jef Last, a Dutch author in Stalin's Russia". CANADIAN JOURNAL OF NETHERLANDIC STUDIES. Volume 40. Issue 1, 2020, с. 39-58.

Текст на английском:

"Gide's mood got even worse when the governor (or perhaps the party boss) of Abkhazia made us wait a good hour when we were starving.

When he finally appeared, he was a little man with high black boots, a white Russian blouse and a hearing aid in one ear. His yellowish face had a Semitic look such as we had already seen in many Georgians. But something special radiated from this man, and Gide's anger disappeared in a few minutes.

The villa was very simply furnished, but the meal was excessive as usual. I remember among other things a baked suckling pig with working electric lights for eyes, that was served on a silver salver by lackeys in velvet livery and white stockings. Gide and the governor, without using an interpreter, were soon in deep conversation and left the table long before the end of supper, to go on talking alone in Gide's room. That evening Gide said to me, "That is the most remarkable and interesting figure I have met so far in the Soviet Union." But he wouldn't tell me what they discussed. A few weeks after we got back to Paris, it was in the papers that this man had been condemned and liquidated.

No doubt because Gide had had a conversation with the governor, we only got to spend one night in Stalin's villa. With a feeling of relief we left the hedge and the guard behind and moved to a hotel on the Abkhazian Riviera. […] The guests were largely Soviet intellectuals and artists, who paid 1000 roubles a month each to stay there. The chambermaid who served us, a still fairly young widow, earned 90 roubles a month. She lived with her family in a shed on the property. The seven of them shared one room with only a bed and a table for furniture. The mother slept with the girls in the bed, the boys slept on the floor. When I visited her, their lunch was on the table: a lump of sour bread and a herring. For 1 rouble 65 they could get a hot meal in the staff restaurant, and they did that two or three times a week.

My strongest memory of Sukhum is the sharp contrast between this peaceful, paradise-like setting and the tragedies hidden everywhere. When we arrived the hotel manager had profusely apologized that he couldn't offer any better accommodations. Unfortunately, he said, the hotel was built in the experimental period, when architecture had sailed too close to "formalism." The plan was to downgrade it to a workers' rest home, and soon they would build a new hotel in the classical style, with a frieze and columns. Just as with the painting in Bolshevo, it was impossible to persuade him that that was exactly the kind of architecture we found especially beautiful. By chance we had a young Soviet architect at our table that evening. When we attacked him, he defended the new Soviet architecture vigorously, but with such stupid and banal arguments that we finally stopped talking. Half an hour later I was in Gide's room when there was a timid knock on the door.

I opened it and the architect came in, hastily shutting the door behind him.

He refused to sit down. "Monsieur Gide," he said, "I just wanted to tell you that this afternoon I had to say what I said. A GPU agent was sitting at the next table. But I couldn't stand it if I thought you believed that we Soviet architects were really such idiots. Of course everything I said was nonsense." He wouldn't stay and talk for a moment longer, but before I let him out I first made perfectly sure nobody was to be seen in the hallway.

When I went for an afternoon walk the next day, I saw a little way from the hotel a drunk who was being tormented by a bunch of boys. Although his clothing was torn and stained, he didn't look like a peasant. A dark lock of hair hung over his sweaty young face, over his intelligent eyes.

He looked to me like a sort of personification of Schiller's Karl Moor.

Since I had long since learned that in Russia only drunks will tell you the truth, and because I suspected a Dostoievskian drama behind his drunkenness, I got close to him and grabbed his arm when he stumbled and was liable to fall. In that way it was relatively easy to strike up a conversation. I advised him to sleep it off under the trees and promised to come back in two hours with a bottle of vodka from the hotel and drink it with him on the river bank.

At six o'clock I indeed found him at the same place, sill sleeping

under the trees. But he soon woke up and was relatively sober. We walked together in silence for some time till we reached a quiet spot by the river, where we sat down on a pair of stones. I handed him the bottle, which he drank almost a quarter of in one swig. As I had expected, it took little effort after that to get him to talk. I had been right to conclude that he was an intellectual. He had studied at the film academy in Sverdlovsk. "I was a gifted student," he said, "not just anyone. In my first year I won the prize for the best documentary in our class. I was a great admirer of Eisenstein and Pudovkin.15 Those ideals were my undoing. When the official direction was changed to fit the General Line, I didn't want to submit. I was commissioned to make a short film and I used my modern ideas about montage. For that I was accused of wasting government money on an antiproletarian film that the workers couldn't understand. The director felt kindly towards me and I could perhaps have saved myself if I had criticized myself in public and promised to do better. I was damned if I would. So then they launched another accusation against me, for sabotage."

[From Sukhum they took the boat to Sochi.]
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