Лукашкин А.С. «Рокамболь, государственный человек»: фигура Ивана Манасевича-Мануйлова в предреволюционной России
By the end of the 19th century, an interchange between the adventurous literature and the common social behaviour was established in Russia when texts were used as a source of inspiration for marginals, and real con men, on the contrary, were constantly present in the fiction. One of the reasons for this phenomenon was the spread of French feuilleton novels in the 1860s–1870s. In particular, the appearance of the Roc- ambole saga (Les Drames de Paris, 1857–1870) by Ponson du Terrail in Russian fic- tion was an important milestone in this process. The first Russian translations of these novels were released by N.S. Lvov’s Publishing House in Saint Petersburg in 1868– 1869.
By the beginning of the 1870s, the Rocambolesque plot not only was included in the vocabulary of Russian writers and journalists, but also changed some patterns of a common social behaviour. For example, the hearing of the case of the Knaves of Hearts, a Moscow gang which troubled the society by reproducing the crimes of Rocambole novels in real life, aroused public interest. Fyodor Dostoevsky, Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin, Anton Chekhov and some other writers of that time mentioned the case in their works. However, the “soil” for planting the story about the adventurer
Rocambole had already been fertile since the post-reform period in Russia was full of profiteering and fraud in various spheres of life.
This article focuses on the model of a political “adventure” in its connection with the Rocambole novels. Curiously, this option had been anticipated both in French and Russian literatures. So, the French journalist Henri Rochefort in his satirical magazine La Lanterne publishes a short story “Rocambole homme politique” [Rocambole, The Politician] based on the idea of switching the roles between an “adventurer” and a “politician”. A similar picaresque plot was used for the essay “Rocambole, The Statesperson” by Aleksey Suvorin.
This fictional and obviously grotesque situation was nevertheless incarnated in the figure of Ivan Manasevich-Manuylov (1869/1871–1918), a journalist, and later an agent of the State Security Department. It was no coincidence that the author of his biography, the historian Pavel Shchegolev, entitled it The Russian Rocambole: the literary interpretation reveals his personality in a new way. Manasevich-Manuylov appeared on “stage” of the social and political life in the early 1890s as a journalist and translator of French farces. His subsequent life pattern remarkably includes most of the typical traits of an “adventurer” behaviour that had been established in the Enlightenment era, such as: confused origins, marginal behaviour, attraction to luxury and French culture, numerous “resurrections” – these and many other features corre- late with the biographies of famous adventurers. Thus, Manasevich-Manuylov assimilates and impersonates the literary canons of the adventurous genre in his own biography, taking advantage of the favourable social and political situation.