The bicentennial event celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Mikhail Lermontov
Washington, 25 April/Correspondent of ITAR-TASS Andrey Surazhanskyi. No matter how long the current confrontation between the USA and Russia may last, sooner or later reasonable people will put an end to it. Such was the conviction expressed by Mikhail Yuryeich Lermontov, an eleventh generation descendant of the great Russian poet, counselor to the Ministry of Culture of Russia, doctor of culturology and head of the Association of “Lermontov Heritage” during an interview with the correspondent from ITAR-TASS.
On Thursday, Lermontov participated in the bicentennial event celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Mikhail Lermontov held at the US Library of Congress. The event was organized by the American-Russian Cultural Cooperation Foundation in Washington DC.
The capital city’s beau monde gathered in the hall to celebrate the event. There was no room for even an apple to land in that hall. And this transpired despite a cooling off in political relations between the two nations occasioned by the events in Ukraine. The Russian Ambassador in Washington Sergey Kislyak called particular attention to the fact that culture remains an important instrument of dialog and mutual cooperation between people.
“The organization of such an event in Washington is a kind of exit from this atmosphere of confrontation,” said Lermontov in his interview. “We understand very well that no matter how long this confrontation may last, all the same, the time will come when reasonable people will unite and put an end to it.”
He observed with some sadness, that in recent times one can detect a tendency, for “guest exchanges to be cancelled and joint projects to move sideways.” “There are no official public announcements of such acts, but as far as I know, this is the case,” the descendant of the great poet said. That the tension in relations between US and Russia is growing, in the words of Lermontov, is very unpleasant, “but at the same time it forces us to reflect on the necessity of continuing” cultural exchanges. The head of the American-Russian Cultural Cooperation Foundation and former Congressman James Symington also believes that the crisis in relations will sooner or later be overcome. “My own personal relationship with Russia after the events in Crimea have not changed in the least,” he said.
The Director of the US Library of Congress James Billington, who is a recognized authority and admirer of Russian culture and also the author of several books about Russia confided to the ITAR-TASS correspondent that he bows before Lermontov’s talent. “I started studying Russian language not from grammar texts but from the works of Russian poets, among them Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov,” he said. “Lermontov is an extraordinary, unique poet. To the present times people ask the question what heights might he have reached had he lived longer.”
Billington also noted that one of his duties as the director of the Library of Congress is to select candidates for the position of “poet-laureate.” This position was established by an Act of Congress in 1985. The chief duties of an American poet-laureate is to popularize the word, to give public lectures and readings, to advise the Library of Congress on its literary programs and to recommend new poets who merit that their works be entered into the library archives. With respect to the latter, the bicentennial celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Lermontov at the Library of Congress is not accidental. Tonight the halls of the library heard excerpts from Lermontov’s poems and romances based on his verse and neither were met with indifference.