Gumilev Lev Nikolaevich: biography, interesting facts

The famous historian Gumilyov Leo is the son of the legendary poets Nikolai Gumilyov and Anna Akhmatova. In his youth, he was subjected to repression and visited camps. As a scientist, Gumilyov is best known for his passionate theory of ethnogenesis and research of the East.


Lev Gumilyov was born on October 1, 1912 in St. Petersburg. He was the only child of his parents. In 1918, Akhmatova and Gumilyov divorced. Then the Civil War began. With his father Leo last met in 1921 in Bezhetsk. Soon the poet Nikolai Gumilev was shot by the Bolsheviks (he was accused of involvement in an anti-Soviet conspiracy).

In the future, the child grew up with a paternal grandmother. In 1929, Lev Gumilyov, who graduated from school, moved from Bezhetsk to Leningrad to his mother. He began to live in a communal apartment in the Fountain House, where his neighbors were his stepfather and his numerous relatives. Because of his aristocratic descent, Gumilyov had difficulty in entering a higher educational institution.

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In 1931, Lev Gumilyov enrolled in geological expedition courses.Then followed a long journey to the east of the country. It was then that interests emerged that identified Gumilyov as a historian and scholar as a whole. The young man visited Tajikistan, in the Baikal region. In 1933, after returning from the expedition, Gumilev Lev was in Moscow.

In the First Throne, the young man became close to the poet Osip Mandelstam, who considered him a "continuation of his father." At the same time, Gumilev began working in the literary sphere - he translated poems of poets of various Soviet nationalities. In the same year of 1933, Lev was first arrested (the arrest lasted 9 days). The problem was the "unreliability" of the writer. Affected origin and social circle. His patron Osip Mandelstam will soon be repressed.

In 1934, Gumilyov Lev, despite being deprived of his status, entered the Leningrad University, where he chose the Faculty of History. As a student, the young man lived in poverty and poverty, often turning into natural hunger. His teachers were bright and deserved scientists: Vasily Struve, Solomon Lurie, Eugene Tarle, Alexander Yakubovsky and others. Lev Nikolayevich, the main teacher and mentor, considered Nikolai Kuhner, a Sinologist, his main teacher and mentor.

After returning from a new expedition, Gumilev was arrested a second time. It was 1935.The day before Kirov was killed in Leningrad, and mass repressions began in the city. During the interrogation, Gumilyov admitted that his public conversations were anti-Soviet in nature. Together with him arrested stepfather Punin. Anna Akhmatova stood up for the men. She convinced Boris Pasternak to write a pleading letter to Joseph Stalin. Soon both Punina and Gumilyov were released.

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In the camp

Because of his arrest, Lev was expelled from the university. By patronage, however, he became a member of an archaeological expedition that explored the ruins of the Khazar city of Sarkel. Then Gumilyov was reinstated at Leningrad State University. However, already in 1938, in the midst of repression, he was again arrested and this time was sentenced to a 10-year term in the gulag.

Norilsk camp became the place where Lev Gumilyov was serving his sentence. The biography of the young intellectual was similar to the biographies of many of his other contemporaries from the same medium. In the camp, Gumilev was with many scientists and thinkers. Zeke was assisted by his teachers and comrades. So, Nikolai Kuhner sent books to Gumilyov.

In the meantime, the Great Patriotic War began. Many campers sought to get to the front. Gumilyov was in the Red Army only in 1944.He became an anti-aircraft gunner, participated in several offensive operations. His army entered the German city of Altdamm. Gumilyov received the medal "For the victory over Germany" and "For the capture of Berlin." In November 1945, a free military man returned to Leningrad.

New term

After the war, Gumilev took a job as a fireman at the Institute of Oriental Studies. This position allowed to engage in a rich library of the Academy of Sciences. Then, at the age of 33, Gumilyov defended a diploma on the subject of Central Asian terracotta figurines. In 1948, it was the turn of the dissertation on the Turkic kaganate. The life of a scientist settled for a while.

In 1949, Gumilyov was again in the camp. This time the reason for his persecution was, on the one hand, in the “Leningrad case”, and on the other, in the pressure on the historian’s mother, Anna Akhmatova. Lev Nikolayevich sat in the camp until the 20th Congress of the CPSU and the rehabilitation that followed him. Anna Akhmatova dedicated the poem “Requiem” to her son about Soviet repression. Gumilev’s relationship with his mother was extremely complex and controversial. After the final return from the camp, Lev Nikolayevich quarreled several times with Akhmatova. Anna Andreevna died in 1966.

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Interesting Facts

For the first three years at large, Gumilyov was a senior fellow at the Hermitage Library. At this time, the scientist processed his own working drafts written in the camps. In the second half of the 1950s. Lev Nikolayevich communicated a lot with the Orientalist Yuri Roerich, the founder of the Eurasian theory Peter Savitsky and Georgy Vernadsky.

The first articles of Gumilev were published in 1959. The scientist had to struggle for a long time with the prejudice and suspicion of the scientific community towards his personality. When his materials finally began to be published, they immediately deserved universal recognition. The articles of the historian appeared in the editions of "The Herald of Ancient History", "Soviet Ethnography", "Soviet Archeology".


The first monograph of Lev Gumilyov was the book “Hunnu”, the manuscript of which he brought to the Institute of Oriental Studies in 1957 (it was published three years later). This work is considered the cornerstone of the researcher. It was precisely in it that the ideas that Gumilyov later developed throughout his scientific career were first laid.This is the opposition of Russia to Europe, the explanation of social and historical phenomena by natural factors (including landscape) and the earliest references to the concept of passionarity.

The work of “Hunnu” received the greatest recognition from turkologists and sinologists. The book was immediately noticed by the main Soviet sinologists. At the same time, the first monograph by Gumilev found critical critics. Further work of Lev Nikolaevich also caused directly opposite assessments.

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Russia and the Horde

In the 1960s The theme of Russian medieval history became central to the works that Lev Gumilyov published. Ancient Russia interested him from many sides. The scientist began with the fact that he conducted the study "Words about the regiment of Igor", giving him a new date (the middle, not the end of the XII century).

Then Gumilyov took up the topic of the empire of Genghis Khan. He was interested in how a state that conquered half of the world arose in the harsh steppe Mongolia. Lev Nikolaevich dedicated the Eastern Hordes the books “Hunnu”, “Hunnu in China”, “Ancient Turks”, and “The Search for a Fictional Kingdom”.

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Passionality and ethnogenesis

The most famous part of the scientific heritage left by Lev Gumilyov is the theory of ethnogenesis and passionarity. The first article devoted to this topic was published in 1970.Gumilev called the over-intense activity of a man in his drive to achieve a certain goal as drive. The historian imposed this phenomenon on the doctrine of the formation of ethnic groups.

The theory of Lev Gumilyov stated that the survival and success of a people depends on the number of passionaries in it. The scientist did not consider this factor unique, however, he defended its importance in the process of forming and crowding out ethnic groups by competitors.

The passionate theory of Lev Gumilyov, which caused serious scientific disputes, said that cyclical passionate tremors were the cause of the emergence of a large number of leaders and extraordinary personalities. This phenomenon was rooted in biology, genetics and anthropology. As a result, he had superethnoes, thought Lev Gumilyov. The books of the scientist included hypotheses about the reasons for the origin of the drive impulses. The author called them including energy pulses of a cosmic nature.

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Contribution to Eurasianism

As a thinker, Gumilyov is considered a supporter of Eurasianism - a philosophical doctrine about the roots of Russian culture, rooted in the synthesis of European and nomadic Asian traditions.At the same time, the scientist in his works did not at all touch on the political side of the dispute, which markedly differed from many adherents of this theory. Gumilyov (especially at the end of his life) criticized Western borrowings in Russia a lot. At the same time, he was not an opponent of democracy and a market economy. The historian only believed that the Russian ethnos, by virtue of its youth, lags behind the Europeans and therefore is not ready to adopt the Western institutions.

A peculiar author's interpretation of Eurasianism was reflected in several works that were written by Lev Gumilyov. “Ancient Russia and the Great Steppe”, “Black Legend”, “Echo of the Battle of Kulikovo” are just an incomplete list of these works. What is their main message? Gumilev believed that the Tatar-Mongol yoke was actually a union of the Horde and Russia. For example, Alexander Nevsky helped Batu, and in return received support in the fight against the Western crusaders.


One of the most controversial works of Gumilyov is the “Zigzag of History”. This essay touched upon the little-studied topic of the Khazar Kaganate in the south of modern Russia. In his work, Gumilev described the history of this state.The author elaborated on the role of the Jews in the life of Khazaria. The rulers of this state, as is known, adopted Judaism. Gumilev believed that the kaganat lived under a Jewish yoke, which was ended after the campaign of Kiev Prince Svyatoslav Igorevich.

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Last years

With the beginning of perestroika, the verses of Nikolai Gumilyov reappeared in the Soviet press. His son was in contact with the Literary Gazette and Ogonyok, helped collect materials and even read his father’s works at public events. Publicity has increased the circulation of books and Lev Nikolayevich himself. In the last Soviet years, many of his works were published: "Ethnogenesis", "Ethnogenesis and the Biosphere of the Earth", etc.

In 1990, the Leningrad television recorded a half dozen lectures by the historian. It was the pinnacle of his lifetime popularity and fame. The following year, Gumilev became an academician of the Academy of Natural Sciences. In 1992, Lev Nikolayevich underwent surgery to remove the gallbladder. As a result, it opened a lot of internal bleeding. The scientist spent the last days of his life in a coma. He died on June 15, 1992 at the age of 79.

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