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At a Glance
Correspondence, unpublished manuscripts, photographs, and two note books of a well-known Russian symbolist poet Samuil Kissin, a close friend of Vladislav Khodasevich.
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Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Samuil Kissin Papers; Box and Folder; Bakhmeteff Archive, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University.
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08/05/20 Biographical note was written by Tanya Chebotarev. Authorities and notes updated, ksd
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
Samuil Viktorovich Kissin (1885-1916), a prolific Russian symbolist poet, mostly known by his pen name Muni, was born on November 5, 1885 in Rybinsk in a family of Jewish merchant. He was taught Talmud and Hebrew at home but later graduated from a gymnasium. In the beginning of 1900s, he relocated to Moscow with his elder brother and tried to go to the university. However, the Jews in Russia were not allowed to get a university degree at that time and it took Kissin several years to be able to enroll. In the meantime, he worked at the fine arts publishing house founded by Joseph Knebel where he met with Vladislav Khodasevich who later became his best friend and collaborator.
In 1906, Samuil Kissin started writing poetry. Although poetry soon became his true vocation, Kissin had never published a book of poetry but rather few poems in various journals and magazines.
In 1908, he was finally accepted to the university and graduated with a degree in Jurisprudence in 1913. In 1909, he met and then married Lydia Briusov, the youngest sister of a famous poet Valerii Briusov, who had never approved this marriage. The couple had one daughter Liia Kissin (1910-1993).
In 1914, soon after World War I broke up, Samuil Kissin was drafted into the army, became very depressed and committed suicide in 1916. For many years he was considered to be a literary impersonator of Vladislav Khodasevich and only recently started getting attention he deserved.
One can find out more about Samuil Kissin from an unconventional literary memoir Necropolis by Vladislav Khodasevich. Written at various times throughout the 1920s and 1930s following the death of its subjects, Necropolis is a literary graveyard in which the entire movement, Russian Symbolism, is buried.