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Overview (3)

Born in Belyov, Tula Governorate, Russian Empire [now Tula Oblast, Russia]
Died in Paris, France
Birth NameZinaida Nikolaevna Gippius

Mini Bio (1)

Zinaida Gippius was one of the most enigmatic and intelligent women of her time in Russia, she was a writer, an editor, a literary critic, and the founder of Symbolism in Russian literature, along with Valery Briusov.

She was born Zinaida Nikolaevna Gippius on November 20, 1869, in the town of Belev, Tula province, Russia. She was the oldest of 4 daughters. Her father, Nikolai Romanovich Gippius, was a famous lawyer and Procurator of the Russian Senate. Her mother, Anastasia Vasilevna (nee Stepanova), was a daughter of Ekaterinburg Chief of Police. Young Zinaida Gippius was educated at home with emphasis on literature, history, arts and music, then studied at Kiev Institute for Women. In 1881 young Gippius had an emotional breakdown caused by the death of her father. At that time she moved to Yalta, then to Tbilisi and then lived at the villa of her uncle in Borjomi. There, in 1888, she met Dmitri Merezhkovsky and they married on January 9, 1889, in Borjomi. Gippius and Merezhkovsky moved in a luxury home in St. Petersburg - a wedding gift from Merejkovsky's mother. Their home became a popular meeting place for St. Petersburg cultural milieu.

After her first publications in St. Petersburg, Gippius emerged as a poet, novelist and a reputable literary critic. Her writings got attention from such critics as Ivan Bunin and Yakov Polonsky among others. In 1891, Gippius and Merezhkovsky made a trip across Europe on the Orient Express train. Their journey included ascension of Mont Blanc, there Gippius and Merezhkovsky demonstrated their persistence, determination and courage while climbing together. One of the highlights of their journey was their visit to the birthplace of Leonardo Da Vinci. At that time they worked together on a book titled 'Leonardo'. Gippius made handwritten copies of hundreds of pages from libraries in Florence and Rome while working on their book about Leonardo. Through their mutual research and studies in Rome, Florence and Paris, and later in Russia, Gippius and Merezhkovsky formed a group of writers, historians and clerics for interdisciplinary studies in pursuit of a better inter-religious communication. Their idea of starting a United Church was supported by many intellectuals. They got permission from the Russian Orthodox Sinode, and founded a study group focused on history of religions and religious influence on world cultures. At that time Gippius and Merezhkovsky were contacted by the Vatican and by some Catholic leaders in France, but they remained focused on their independent studies and lectures. Soon their lectures and social gatherings came under ostracism from the Russian Orthodox Church, that was followed by social pressures, manifested as sharp and biased critique of both Gippius and Merezhkovsky, and made-up rumors about private life of the couple. However, in 1900, such intellectuals as Nikolai Minsky, Vasili Rozanov, and others joined Gippius and Merezhkovsky and formed the St. Petersburg Society of Religions and Philosophy. Their studies embraced traditional religions as well as theosophy, mysticism and metaphysics. That collaboration ended a few years later in bitter dispute about their differences in interpretation of various religions and philosophies.

In 1914 Gippius joined the Red Cross in her effort to help the veterans of the First World War. She kept a detailed record of events that led to the Russian Revolution and the following Civil War. Gippius and Merezhkovsky remained in St. Petersburg, regardless of the danger to their life after the murder of the Tsar Nicholas II by the Communists. Gippius recorded many facts of massacre of innocent people in St. Petersburg (then renamed Petrograd) by the Bolsheviks who established Communist rule. They emigrated after their last hope, admiral Aleksandr Kolchak was killed by the Communists in Siberia. In 1920 Gippius and Merezhkovsky fled to Poland, then settled in Paris. There they formed one of important centers of anti-communist resistance among Russian émigrés. In 1941, Gippius and Merezhkovsky made a political mistake with their public support of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, their last hope was that the Communists will be destroyed and they could return to their home. Merezhkovsky wrote that both Stalin and Hitler were evils, that the Nazis and the Russian Communists should destroy each other, and for that goal Hitler must take Moscow. So, they lost many friends. Gippius assisted her ailing husband until his death on December 9, 1941, in Paris. She died in Paris on September 9, 1945, and was laid to rest with her husband in Cimetière Russe de Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois, a Russian cemetery in Paris, France.

Gippius and Merezhkovsky were banned from publications in the Soviet Russia. Gippius's sisters, Natalia and Tatiana, were arrested and exiled in Gulag camps in Siberia under the dictatorship of Joseph Stalin. The most valuable private library of Merezhkovsky and Gippius was partially stolen, and partially confiscated by the Communist revolutionaries, some books are now in storage at the St. Petersburg public library.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Steve Shelokhonov

Spouse (1)

Dmitri Merezhkovsky (9 January 1889 - 9 December 1941) (his death)

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