Известные имена

Famous names

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Novoselov А.

Novoselov А. Alexander Yefremovich Novosselov (1884 - 1918), ethnographer

“Over the mountains there are mountains and over these mountains there are a lot of other mountains. But if you pass this mountain range, you will come to a free valley. The rivers in this valley are milk and honey, there is no winter and it’s a home for lots of animals and birds. This country is called Belovodye”.

Nobody knows who made up this beautiful poetic legend. It is interesting thouh that the ways of Russian searchers of this country crossed in the upper reaches of the Irtysh river, in Rudniy Altai.
Finding the way to Belovodye was a dream of those Old Believers, who, looking for rescue from religious prosecution, settled in the upper reaches of the Irtysh. Very soon this place got inhabited by “Polish” Old Believers and these settlements still exist, they are called Lossikha, Sekissovka, Cheremshanka.

Local and world history specialists, ethnographers, linguists were interested in the history and way of life of Old Believers. Alexander Novosselov, a brilliant writer, was one of them. His book “Belovodye” was published only twice (in Barnaul, in 1957 and in Alma-Ata, in 1960) during the Soviet Period. There is very little information about his life and work.

Alexander Novosselov was born in Zhelezinskaya stanitsa (located in contemporary Pavlodarskaya oblast) in the family of Siberian Cossack troop’s cornet. He was accepted to Omsk military school at the age of 12. The future soldier was interested in literature. He devoured books of Jules Verne and Mayne Reid, and then he was thoroughly reading the books of Pushkin, Lermontov, Turgenev and Tolstoy. His literary and social interests lead him to drop the school at the age of 17 and became a teacher. He was teaching children in Bolshenarymskaya stanitsa for a few years and then, in 1907, he returned to Omsk and became a teacher in the Cossack boarding house. Novosselov enriched his knowledge in literature, history, geography, botany and zoology. He read books and articles of Southern Siberia researchers such as G.N. Potanin, N.M. Yadrintsev, V.V. Sapozhnikov.

At that time Novosselov already had his own research theme – Belovodye. He addressed his request to the Western Siberia department’s selection committee of Russian Geographic Society: “I set myself a task of studying the life of Altaic Old Believers, known as “Polish” and this summer I want to make my first trip to the places of their settlements near Uba, Ulba, Bukhtarma and Uymon rivers”.

Alexander Efremovich realized his intention stubbornly and methodically. Being a convinced materialist, he was studying religion of Old Believers in close connection with their culture and the way of life. For example, when he visited a little house of “fedoseevtsy” in Maloulbinka, he wrote: “I have a peculiar impression after my visit to vespertine service. It seemed like I was in the Catacombs of the first Christians. Many centuries have passed, life has developed, one nation has taken place of the other nation and in this place everything seemed inviolable”.

With a great difficulty the explorer reached a female coast-dweller skit. The nuns in that skit lived like hermits, ate only vegetable food and considered cattle-breeding a vile sin. The material about this skit was used in the novel “Mirskaya”.

He crossed upper-river of Ulba, passed Ridder’s mine and headed for Zyryanovsk (Bukhtarminsky land) through the mountain passes.

Novosselov explored Solovyevo, Snegiryevo, Kondratyevo settlements and Bukhtarminskaya stanitsa. But his main work was in Sennoe village, where archives of Ekaterina’s reign times were kept.

Novosselov made a report about the results of his journey to the members of Omsk Geographical Society. The work had some very important information about history and ethnography of East Kazakhstan.

The first expedition was followed by the second and the third one. Novosselov made many photos of houses, chapels, suits. He recorded hundreds of songs, “chastushka” (humorous rhymes – Russian folklore), fairy-tales, riddles and proverbs.

From his expeditions Novosselov brought not only scientific material, but also a lot of impressions that became a basis for his best novels, such as “Belovodye”, “Isishkin’s dream”, “Toad’s life”, “Sanka’s maral”. The young writer was supported by A.M. Gorky; he used to give Novosselov pieces of advice and helped him to publish his works in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Novosselov planned to create new works, but didn’t manage to realize his dreams.

His political views were indistinct and tangled. He didn’t accept the October revolution, but he was trying to defend interests of the community in front of Siberian White Guardists and he paid for that with his life.

In autumn 1918, he was killed by White Cossacks.

Alexander Novosselov left little literary heritage, but his works are talented, original and they are written in rich, expressive language.

Translated by Yuliya Visloguzova, translation major student of KAFU