Book by Alexander Genis “People and Holidays. Saints of Culture” (M.: AST Publishing House; Edited by Yelena Shubina, 2022) allows you to immerse yourself in a reality that a person does not notice.
It suddenly turns out that an ordinary day, and every day, is marked not only by morning awakening (not always joyful), the road to work (not always beloved) or such a pleasant, but personal event as meeting friends, but also by something which is of universal value.
“The temptation of this kind of composition is that the author uses a form that was not invented by him, which plays the role of a kind of prosody,” writes Alexander Genis. “If the poet’s life is made easier by the size and stanza, then the calendar allows its author to let go of the reins and follow the change of red dates and important persons”.
The seductive form sits on this author like a glove. Alexander Genis has always been interested in phenomena in their totality, and they have always been precisely the phenomena of certain spheres of culture, so combining them into a calendar came in handy.
It is obvious that the main difficulty in works of this kind, which seek to systematize the immensity, is the difficulty of selection. And in the selection - the whole Alexander Genis with his ability to see the whole in particulars and the important in what is considered to be secondary. Small, indeed on the page of a tear-off calendar, essays celebrate the founding of FIFA, International Tea Day, Georgia’s Independence Day (“I hoped to die after lunch, and not instead of it”), the birthday of Alexei Savrasov (“the wheel of the Russian year is captured by the artist in the moment when it again, after a long winter vegetation, began to move"), Icelandic Language Day ("Sagas are the main treasure of Iceland. The only policeman I met in the whole country guarded the parchment manuscript of the best of them. It is amazing that the Icelanders to this day everyone can read it. Not like we do The Tale of Igor, not like the English of Beowulf, but like the children of Dumas: for the sake of fights and pleasure")...
It is not only the choice of events that constitute, in the author's view, the soil of culture, but also the choice of an unexpected image for each of these events that delights with its unexpectedness. What does Alexander Genis write about on the iPhone's birthday? Yes, that “Gogol, as it happened to him, wrote about everything before the others: “...tell all the different nobles there: senators and admirals, that here, your excellency, Pyotr Ivanovich Bobchinsky lives in such and such a city”. And after all, the way it is, the iPhone exists in this paradigm!
In the cultural calendar of Alexander Genis there is no difference between the authors and their characters, and the connection between them is built masterfully and subtly. So, on the birthday of Sherlock Holmes it is said: "Holmes absorbed so much narrative energy that he became the white dwarf of civilization, its hieroglyph, recipe, formula." And the birthday of its creator is tied to the same peg: “The civilized world is the main but secret hero of Conan Doyle. Like Lenin, he was in a hurry to seize everything that connects us: telegraph, post office, railway stations, bridges, but above all, the railway.
Still, the book "People and Holidays" is not the soil, but the air of culture. And it is natural that the author precedes it with words about what it is like to breathe this air when it is impossible to breathe in principle: “I am writing these lines on dark days when this book, like all others, seems helpless. The culture that my calendar worships does not save the world. But she protects those who cannot live without her. Preserving this layer, it forms a universal, multilingual and anachronistic brotherhood of the spirit, into which anyone who wants can join, "so as not to perish one by one." The fact is that in any place, even the most deaf, and at any time, including the most gloomy, three sisters live. In bitter moments, it seems to them that there are no others like them anymore. But they are, and to these “three sisters” I dedicate my book”.
There is no doubt that in dark days - and, perhaps, especially in those - the three sisters will accept this brotherly gift with gratitude.