Six draft pages from the original manuscript of Tolstoy's War and Peace have left Russia for the first time.
The precious pages touched down in Geneva earlier this month, escorted by Tolstoy Museum Vice-Director, Nadezhda Petrova.
Encased in a metal suitcase, the VIP (very important pages) were met by masked and heavily armed Swiss army soldiers and then then escorted around the lake in an armed convoy to Fondation Martin Bodmer, where one of three exhibitions is taking place to mark the centenary of multilateralism in the Swiss city.
The draft pages were written between 1864 and 1869 and have never before left the Tolstoy Museum in Moscow. Jacques Berchtold, Director of Fondation Martin Bodmer, explains why these particular pages were selected for the long journey;
“We have chosen a conversation that’s particularly intense and dramatic, between the protagonist of the book, who’s the Count Pierre (Bézoukhov) and one of his best friends, who’s an officer in the Russian army, and who’s going to fight Napoleon in the Battle of Borodino... And just before this battle, the Count – the Prince Andrej – who is himself an officer, speaks with utter desolation. He says very clearly that the war cannot be compared at all to a game of chess, that war is a totally dirty, detestable affair."
Pierre Hazan, human rights expert and one of the driving forces behind Guerre et La Paix says: “The world of Tolstoy is obviously radically different to ours; but what’s at stake is the same, the need for concord, the need for discussion, the need for multilateralism, the need for dialogue between different cultures, so yes, it’s essential that Tolstoy is part of this period of reflection today.”
The exhibition will run until March 2020, attempting to enlighten visitors on 'the immemorial dialogue between man's warlike nature and his deep desire for peace' through a display of literary works, propaganda posters, photographs, paintings, engravings and archival documents. Other exibits include a 1527 reproduction of the Treaty of Peace between Athens and Sparta in 421 BC and an original edition of Mein Kampf (one of 500 numbered copies of the leading edition, no. 108) with an autographed dedication.
For more information visit www.fondationbodmer.ch