Valentin Golovin. St.-Petersburg

Russian children's album tradition has got into the focus of attention quite recently. The beginning of publication on this problem is essentially connected with the anthology "School's way of life and folklore" (Tallinn, 1992, edited by A. Belousov). Now we see even some kind of boom of the study of album tradition. In the majority of the publications we can notice the desire of the researchers to see in the modem girls' album a tradition of nobleman's album that dates back to the 18th century. This thesis is supported by quite reasonable arguments - by the presence of traditional poetic album formulas, which can be viewed as typical. Wishes and oaths of faithfulness of girl-friends are the main subject of album verses - never forget one's friends; wishes of happy love; all who write in an album, except me, are liars; only I am your true friend; it is too early for you to fall in love; love is your ruin; a friend in need is a friend indeed; an oath of faithfulness; typical jokes. All this i accompanied by the classical notice about absence of a gift to wr verses ("I am not a poet"), but being forced by feeling to write the Album verses are quite often similar to those of the end of the 1; century and the beginning of the 19th century.

The new phenomenon always requires a comparison, but the cora parison having century breaks admits too much conventions.

In spite of the fact, that a modern album has obvious marks of the past album tradition, still the album has undergone significant changes.

These changes, "transitional period" of album tradition we have not practically studied, although that is entirely possible thanks to the existing archives.

In our opinion, the first serious change of the nature of the album has taken place in the last third of the 19th century, when this tradition was divided and the album had to pass from family environment to school, that is to say to closed boarding schools and a little bit later to female high schools. Albums of female high school students of the early 19th century were rather severe in terms of organization, many of them started by mother's advice including allegorical pictures, clear symbols of flowers, painted playing cards, and compulsory cemetery scenes. The share of poetic stock phrases (cliches) in the albums was not significant and multiline author's verses with a high and skillful poetic organization occurred often, although in frames of a typical album plot. Even hexameters occurred. The influence of Pushkin's, Fet's, Polonsky's and particularly Nadson's poetry is felt in them. Many lines are from popular piano romances. What is more, high school female students in the early years of this century respected copyrights, and if they copied verses of Pushkin, Lermontov, Fet, Tyutchev and Nadson to an album they without fail specified the authorship, that already could not be encountered in albums of the end of the 20th century.

As a matter of fact, first of all it was a lyrical album. The album of high school female students had some prose but this genre can be defined as ecstatic verses in a prose with sentimental vocabulary (lexicon) and typical nicknames used in high school life:

 My sweetheart, my dove Serka, in those hours when I spoke with you, when my ideas and aspirations could find sympathetic response and sympathy in your soul, I was endlessly happy; My sweetheart, my dove Serukha! In those hours then we were fasting together (to prepare for Communion) ... (Russian National Library, 694-1-19. High school female student album of M.M. Serova).  

Unintentionally, there is a desire while reading these lines to repeat the phrase from Pushkin's "Snowstorm" (Metel) : Mariya Gavrilovna was brought up under the influence of French novels and therefore she was in love.

Moreover, sometimes high school female students wrote with goose feather, although metallic pens and reservoir pens (the first fountain pen) were already generally known. Such similarity we can find only in some English literary societies where even in the 20th century goose feathers were in use.

The album culture of the 20th century experienced at least two crises. The first of them took place between the 20s and 30s. We can not speak about the destruction of album tradition, but about serious changes inside the tradition. These changes are connected with many factors: in the first place the social status and education level of the album owners had changed (to a lower level); cultural life had changed substantially. In our opinion, the main factor is that the new Soviet schoolchildren were not the bearers of the aristocratic album tradition; nor were they the bearers of urban tradition. They were in the overwhelming majority descended from peasants, and they were the carrier of just peasant folklore tradition. Folklore contact between towns and villages, aristocracy and peasantry was constant, original and sometimes it had rather odd expressions. In one case a song (for example, Tell me please, your ideas on my misfortune.) is being transformed in folklore manner in peasant environment and it is being performed as a slow lyrical song; in other cases the village Christmastide rounds are being transformed to countless visits in towns before Christmas. Similar metamorphoses occurred in album tradition.

High school album culture (with the claim to be aristocratic) contacts with peasant culture and therefore we dare to name this transition a transition from lyric album to an album with more expressed folklore tradition.

Some words about the design of a children's album in the 20s and early '30s. It partly saves its picturesque form, that is to say pictures of hearts, flowers (which already lose their familiar symbolism). Stable ornamental designs, portraits of female friends were also retained. At the same time there is already a different manner of illustrating: cut-out and stuck-on pictures and hearts from foil. If high school female student album contains only birds (with particular symbols) then a varied animal world - puppies, dogs, kitten, horses and even piglets are depicted here. Album of the 20s by its picturesque variety resembles the back side of a peasant trunk or soldier suitcase with a number of different bright pictures and photos. A pioneer (organization of young Leninists) theme intrudes to the album, that is pasted on pictures of trumpeters and drummers. Pioneer poetry has appeared.

At the same time the albums of high school girl students left their mark upon the vocabulary of school albums of the 30s, and rather ecstatic words darling - milaja`, sweetheart - 'dywemka', my angel are often met here with expressive suffix but already in ironic context:

 Small cup, saucer, tea set  
 Manechka, sweetheart, you are my angel!  
 (IRL I, f. V 57-2-17 1935)  

A school album of the 30s has somewhat different list of authors whose verses are quoted. Pushkin and Lermontov are remained (although their verses are being garbled with some changes in sense and without signing the verses). Interesting thing is that the children's album of the 30s initiated a tradition of underground publication of manuscripts (Samizdat). It was often possible to meet the Yesenin's poetry, first of all, his "Scarlet colour of daybreak has been reflected on a lake", and even (that of) the "incorrect" poet Balmont at that time. We have to remember that Soviet adult "underground publication of manuscripts" began with handwritten verses of Akhmatova and Gumilyov (in the 40s) but not with typewritten anthologies of Russian political literature that was either forbidden or published in the West. To tell the truth, children had to a considerable extent a "love for political underground publication". In contrast to high school album, the author's poetry is encountered more rarely in the albums of the 30s.

The author's portion is being replaced by a distinctive section, such as "For recollection", where a new lyric is often dominant, like that "On Warsaw, on main railroad station", "On Murom town road", "Gray skirt" etc. Only new lyric and primitive poetry, so popular in peasant environment, form this section. What is more, jail romances and songs penetrates to children's album, and it is surprising that there is a lot of "repressive" vocabulary, inherent in that period:

 He confessed that he killed his sisters,  
 To take possession of their house,  
 And was convicted and isolated for 10 years.  
 ... Tut soznalsia on, chto ubil sester,  
 ×tob domom emu zavladet'.  
 I leshennyi byl prav osuzhdennyi.  
 Byl s izoliatsiei 10 let.  
 (IRLI. f. V 57-2-17)  

Girls' album of the '30s as opposed to high school album became more open to folklore characteristics of different cultures and subcultures, such as peasant (the classical names from vocabulary of thieves Murka, Lyolka, etc., are encountered very often), children's. Folklore motives penetrate deeper and deeper into the album. Folklore set phrases are noticed in verses: "And you will recall gold mountains" (I vspomnish' ty zlatye gory), "Should I have gold mountains" (Kogda b imel zlatye gory), "I rode to a ball" (Ekhala na bal), "She has Cupid's bow" (Imeet gubki bantikom). Children's word game "Lady", (Barynia) "Galya was running, and playing tricks" (Galia begala, shalila) (as teaser sung to a bad girl pupil), Chastushka (two-line or four-line rhythmed poem or ditty of some topical or humorous theme) or something close to them are encountered:

 He is going to study in Leningrad  
 He inserted false gold teeth but the mouth could not be closed.  
 V Leningrade uchit'sia sobiraetsia.  
 Vstavil zuby zolotye - rot ne zakryvaetsia.  
 ( IRLI, r. V 139-1-9)  

But may be the most striking example of utilization of folklore formulas for the creation of album verse is the following text:

 Behind glass doors  
 A sailor kissed girl Lyolya  
 And he asked with twinkling eyes  
 Do you go to the ball?  
 Za stekliannymi dveriami  
 Leliu matros tseloval.  
 I sprosil sverknuv ochami  
 Vy poedite na bal?  
 (Private archive of the author, 1930's album)  

The first line is an introduction of a children's song to count; the second line is a stable combination in new lyric: sailor, Lyolya; the third line is from "Borodino" of Lermontov; the fourth line is from children's word game "Lady". The four reminiscences are in four lines.

An introduction of traditional wedding songs is felt in several verses:

 Lena girl was washing herself  
 The boy Dima approached  
 Lena smiled  
 At a bush, at a small bush.  
 U kusta, u kustichka  
 Lena umyvalasia.  
 Mal'chik Dima podoshel  
 Lena ulybalysia.  
  (Private archives of the author, 1930's album)  

A children's album thanks to gramophone has experienced an influence of stage. The following text is none other than paraphrased speeches of the comic duet Bim-Bom ("Declaration of Love": comic's duets. Moscow: International Zonophone Company, X-61350)

 Bom, Bom, Bom  
 I am writing to your album  
 Sha, sha, sha you are pretty  
 Lyu, lyu, lyu I love you so much  
 Bom, bom, bom shut the album.  
 Bom, bom, bom,  
 Pishu tebe v al'bom.  
 SHa, sha, sha, tem ty khorosha  
 Liu, liu, liu kak tebia liubliu  
 Bom, bom, bom, zakryvai al'bom.  
 (IRLI, r. V 57-1-7)  

Soviet subject matter gradually entered into the album, but to tell the truth, it was for a short period of time. In one case that was verses about Lenin, Kirov, Pavlik Morozov (the boy, who reported to the new Soviet regime about his family which did not agree with revolution policy and for that reason he was killed. He was a young victim of the revolution). It shall be noted the possible irony for motto of pioneer organization ("Be ready to fight for Lenin's idea!" - "Always ready!") in such lines as follows:

 I am writing more 4 words  
 Like pioneer girl be ready.  
 Eshche pishu 4 slova,  
 Kak pionerka bud' gotova  .
 (Private archives of the author, 1930's album)  

In general, it is reasonable to note that album poetry of the 30s rather loses its lyric poetry and assumes greater irony, and to take into consideration that verses were written down like an illiterate person. More primitive poetry in 2 -4 lines prevailed (it does not mean that it was bad, it was only different). Folklore album formula triumphed and in albums being researched we practically could not encounter original poetic lines.

A great deal of examples of such album practice can be met. A lyric beginning of high school verses, and the phrase "I am not gifted by the genius of the poet" (He odarena ia geniem poema) is changed to quite ironical:

 I am not Pushkin, not Krylov  
 I cannot write verses  
 I would like that between us  
 There was elegant love.  
 ß ne Pushkin, ne Krylov,  
 Ne mogu pisat' stikhov  
 ß khochu chtob mezhdu nami  
 Byla iziashchnaia liubov'  
 (Private archive of the author, 1937's album)  

As we have shown, the school album of the end of the 20s and the 30s has seriously changed. From an anthology of verses and lyric wishes of friends it is transformed to more multigenre and has become more open to other influences. But that does not mean a decline of the tradition. Folklore culture is an alive culture. The categories "worse" or "better" are not right for it.

The next, quite bright change of album tradition occurred, in our opinion, at the end of the 50s, and early 60s but that is another research.