This monument to the poet Alexander Blok is tucked away in a tiny square under a bunch of trees that rather dwarf it. I never see it when driving past, although it’s only a few meters from the roadside. And even when you walk past and stop to say hello, you almost feel like you’re engaging in some semi-secretive activity. Not far from here there’s a huge monument to Alexei Tolstoy (the latter) that is plopped prominently in the middle of an otherwise empty square. You can’t miss him. Also not far from here is a loud, pompous statue of Alexander Pushkin and his bride Natalya Goncharova encircled in an oversized gazebo with water splashing all over the place right in front of the church where they were married. But I’ll get to these and other notable locations around the Nikitskiye Vorota area of Moscow some other time. The semi-hidden Blok, meanwhile – rarely missed by pigeons, as you can see – is still another public art work created by the sculptor Oleg Komov. He must have known somebody. His work here is perfectly acceptable. It gives us a Blok who looks quite like what we expect him to. The thin, elongated figure seems to suit a poet of great style.
The statue was erected here in 1992 because it is located a stone’s throw from a building where Blok lived for a short spell in January 1904, a year and a half before the poet wrote his first play, which my friend and colleague Timothy C. Westphalen translates as A Puppet Show. You can read his verse translation of this and two other Blok dramas, The King on the Square and The Unknown Woman, in Aleksandr Blok’s Trilogy of Lyric Dramas (2003). Professor Westphalen is also the author of Lyric Incarnate: The Dramas of Aleksandr Blok (1998), the only existing monograph about the poet’s plays. As such there is no excuse for anyone ever to say that they don’t know where to find good information about Alexander Blok’s plays. Tim has taken care of that for us.