Gagen-Torn Nina Ivanovna

15 December [ 2 December] 1900 (1900-12-15), Saint Petersburg — 4 June 1986 (1986-06-05), Bolshaya Izhora


Biography, education, career:

Nina Ivanovna Gagen-Torn was the only daughter in a family of noble (dvoryan) intelligentsia of Swedish origin. Her father, Ivan Edouardovich Gagen-Torn, was a famous surgeon and professor at the Military Medical Academy, the head of Wylie surgery clinic, an d an active privy councilor. Her mother, Vera Aleksandrovna (maiden name – Zorgenfrey), came from a family of a prominent railway officer; she helped her future husband as a medical nurse. Nina Ivanovna graduated from Obolenskaya private gymnasium (1918), then studied at the Faculty of Social Sciences, attended lectures by L.Ya Sternberg and V.G. Bogoraz (1918 – 1924). She was an active participant of the Free Philosophical Association (Volphila). In 1921 she went to Donbass as a culture and education instructor for the All Russian Metallurgist Union. After graduating from the university, she took a post-graduate course at the Institute of Western and Eastern Literatures and Languages under the supervision of D.K. Zelenin (1927 – 1930) and worked for the State Academy of the History of Material Culture. She spent a lot of time in expeditions in the Russian North (she undertook trips in the North alone: from the White Sea along the Northern Dvina to Kotlas and then up the Kama to Cherdyn) and in Transbaikalia. At the beginning of the 1930-s she worked in Mordovia collecting information on clothes and ornaments for Saransk Research Institute. At the same time, she taught geography, Russian and Ostyak Languages at the Institute of the Peoples of the North; she started working at the Institute of Anthropology, Archaeology and Ethnography of the USSR Academy of Sciences. From November 1933 she was a researcher at the Department of Siberia and Northern Europe and was working on compiling bibliography on Ostyaks and Voguls. She was appointed secretary of the editorial staff of the Peoples of the USSR reference book, and of the Sovetskaya Etnografiya (Soviet Ethnography) journal. Her bright scholarly career was interrupted by two arrests. Her most fruitful years of research fell on the period of imprisonment. She was first arrested in October 1936. She served the first five years of the term (1937-1942) in Kolyma and then was exiled to Kurgan region. After serving the term she moved to Moscow, where she worked at the Fundamental Library of Social Sciences. In January 1946 she defended her Candidate’s Dissertation at the Institute of Ethnography of the USSR Academy of Sciences titled The Elements of Dress of the Peoples of the Volga Region as a Source for Ethnogenesis. In December 1947 she was arrested for the second time and exiled to Temnyakovsky labour camp (Mordovia) until January 1953, when she was exiled for life to the Yenisei. She was released in April 1954. The camp became her research field: she recorded the topography of prisons and transit prisons, described the behavior, specific ethics and elements of speech etiquette of the prisoners, made notes on festive and daily life of the representatives of different nationalities and religions in extreme conditions. In the exile on the Yenisei she studied the life and speech of Siberian Old-Settlers (Starozhily). After exoneration and return to Leningrad in 1956 she worked at the Leningrad Branch of the Institute of Ethnography, USSR Academy of Sciences (till her retirement in 1960) and continued studying the culture of the Russian population of Siberia, and in 1958 she joined L.M. Saburova’s expedition to the Angara. In her late years she was actively involved in research work, in particular studying The Tale of Igor’s Campaign. She devoted her last fifteen years to this yet unpublished monograph, wrote memoirs, studied the lives and scientific life of her teachers (L.Ya Sternberg, D.K. Zelenin). She wrote memoirs about A. Blok, A. Bely, O. Forsh. Her stories and poems have been published. Her poetic gift was noticed by Anna Akhmatova, Boris Pasternak, Yevgeny Yevtushenko. She was buried in Bolshaya Izhora, where she had spent her childhood and youth and where she had lived and worked most of the time after her arrival from the second exile.

Areas of expertise: History and ethnography of the peoples of the Urals-Volga region; History and ethnography of the peoples of Siberia, the Extreme North, and the Far East; Historiography, Source studies and Methodology of Ethnography; History of material culture; Folklore studies (Russian and Bulgarian folklore)

Major scientific achievements:

A series of works on the material culture of the peoples of the Volga region, on the history of Russian ethnography. Works on the history of interpretation of The Tale of Igor’s Campaign (combining scientific, ethnographical and poetic approaches, taking into account both linguistic data (of the Russian language and its dialects) and ethnographic data).

Membership in academic organizations and unions:

Free Philosophical Association (initially Academy) – Volphila (1918-1923; or, according to other data, 1919-1923).

Major publications:

• Этнографические работы в Чувашской республике // Сообщения ГАИМК. 1929. Т. 2. С. 174–194 [Ethnographic Work in the Chuvash Republic // Soobshcheniya GIAMK (Proceeding of the Institute for History of Material Culture). 1929. Vol. 2. Pp. 174-194];

• Магическое значение волос и головного убора в свадебных обрядах Восточной Европы // Советская этнография. 1933. № 5–6. С. 76–88 [The Magic Meaning of Hair and Head Dress in Marriage Rituals of the Eastern Europe // Sovetskaya Etnografiya (Soviet Ethnography). 1933. № 5-6. Pp. 76-88];

Болгарская одежда. (По коллекциям ленинградских музеев) // Сборник Музея антропологии и этнографии. Т. 18. Отв. ред. С.П. Толстов. М.-Л.: Издательство АН СССР, 1958. С. 209–278 [Bulgarian Clothes (From Collections of Leningrad Museums) // Sbornik Muzeya Antropologii I Etnografii (Digest of the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography). Vol. 18. Edited by S.P. Tolstov. M.-L.: USSR AS Publishing House, 1958. Pp. 209-278];

• Женская одежда народов Поволжья: Материалы к этногенезу. Чебоксары: Чувашгосиздат, 1960 [Women’s Clothes of the Peoples of the Volga Region: Materials for Ethnogenesis. Cheboksary: Chuvashgosizdat, 1960];

Деревянная утварь Усть-Цильмы (по коллекциям ленинградских музеев). // Сборник Музея антропологии и этнографии: Т. 21. Отв. ред. Л.П. Потапов. М.-Л.: Издательство АН СССР, 1963. С. 65–77 [Wooden Utensils of Ust-Tsilma (From Collections of Leningrad Museums). // Sbornik Muzeya Antropologii I Etnografii (Digest of the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography).: Vol. 21. Edited by L.P. Potapov. M.-L.: USSR AS Publishing House, 1963. Pp. 65-77];

• Думки з приводу сна князя Святослава у «Словi о полку Iгоревi» // Народна творчiсть та етнографiя (Киев). 1963.№ 4. С. 100–104;

• О филологическом и историческом анализе «Слова о полку Игореве» // Советская археология. 1970. № 3. С. 283–288 [On the Philological and Historical Analysis of ‘The Tale of Igor’s Campaign’ // Sovetskaya Arkheologiya (Soviet Archaeology). 1970. № 3. Pp. 283-288];

• Ленинградская этнографическая школа в двадцатые годы (у истоков советской этнографии) // Советская этнография. 1971. № 2. С. 134–145 [Leningrad School of Ethnography in the 1920-s (The Start of the Soviet Regime) // Sovetskaya Etnografiya (Soviet Ethnography). 1971. № 2. Pp. 134-145];

• Ретроспективный метод анализа в трудах Д.К. Зеленина // Труды института этнографии им. Н.Н. Миклухо-Маклая. Новая серия. 1971. Т. 95. С. 171–180 [The Retrospective Method of Analysis in the Works by D.K. Zelenin // Works of N.N. Miklouho-Maclay Institute of Ethnography. Novaya Seriya. 1971. Vol. 95. Pp. 171-180];

• Воспоминания о Блоке // Блоковский сборник 2. Тарту: Издательство Тартуского государственного университета, 1972. С. 444–446 [Reminiscences of A. Blok // Blok Digest 2. Tartu: Tartu State University Publishing House, 1972. Pp. 444-446];

• Некоторые замечания о «темных местах» «Слова о полку Игореве». (Заметки этнографа) // Советская этнография. 1972. № 2. С. 51–60 [Some Notes on the Dark Passages in ‘The Tale of Igor’s Campaign’. (Ethnographer’s Notes) // Sovetskaya Etnografiya (Soviet Ethnography). 1972. № 2. Pp. 51-60];

• Новата книга за «Слово о полку Игореве» // Език и литература (София). 1972. Кн. 2. С. 104–111;

• Анимизм в художественной системе «Слова о полку Игореве» // Советская этнография. 1974. № 6. С. 110–118 [Animism in the Artistic System of ‘The Tale of Igor’s Campaign’ // Sovetskaya Etnografiya (Soviet Ethnography). 1974. № 6. Pp. 110-118];

• Лев Яковлевич Штернберг. М.: Наука, 1975 [Lev Yakovlevich Sternberg. M.: Nauka, 1975];

• О структуре «Слова о полку Игореве» // Scando-Slavica (Copenhagen). 1976. T. 22. S. 65–78 [On the Structure of ‘The Tale of Igor’s Campaign’ // Scando-Slavica (Copenhagen). 1976. Vol. 22. Pp. 65-78];

• Боян — песнотворец български // Български фолклор (София). 1979. Кн. 4. С. 14–29;

• Д.К. Зеленин как педагог и ученый (ленинградский период) // Проблемы славянской этнографии Л.: Наука, 1979. С. 44–61 [D.K. Zelenin – Teacher and Scholar (The Leningrad Period) // Problemy Slavyanskoy Etnografii (Issues of Slavic Ethnography). L.: Nauka, 1979. Pp. 44-61];

• Борис Николаевич Бугаев (Андрей Белый) // Андрей Белый: проблемы творчества. М.: Советский писатель, 1988. С. 546–556 [Boris Nikolaevich Bugaev (Andrey Bely) // Andrey Bely: Issues of Creativity. M.: Sovietsky Pisatel, 1988. Pp. 546-556];

• Вольфила: Вольно-философская ассоциация в Ленинграде в 1920–1922 гг. // Вопр. филос. 1990. № 4. С. 88–104 [Volfila: Free Philosophical Association in Leningrad in 1920-1922 // Voprosy Filosofii (Issues of Philosophy). 1990. № 4. Pp. 88-104];

• В ссылке на Енисее // СЭ. 1990. № 3. С. 97–113 [In Exile on the Yenisei // Sovetskaya Etnografiya (Soviet Ethnography). 1990. № 3. Pp. 97-113];

• Андрей Белый как этнограф // Этнографическое обозрение. 1991. № 6. С. 87–91 [Andrey Bely as Ethnographer // Etnographicheskoe Obozrenie (Ethnographic Review). 1991. № 6. Pp. 87-91];

• Прокофьевы в Яновом Стане / Вступ. ст. Г.Ю. Гаген-Торн // Этнографическое обозрение. 1992. № 4. С. 91–110 [The Prokofievs in Yanov Stan / Foreword by G.Yu. Gagen-Torn // Etnograficheskoe Obozrenie (Ethnographic Review). 1992. № 4. Pp. 91-110];

Memoria. М., 1994 [2-е изд. М.: Возвращение, 2010] [Memoria. M., 1994 [2nd edition. M.: Vozvrascheniye, 2010]];

• Борис Николаевич Бугаев (Андрей Белый) // Воспоминания об Андрее Белом / Сост. В.М. Пискунов. М.: Республика, 1995. С. 347–357 [Boris Nikolayevich Bugaev (Andrey Bely) // Reminiscences of Andrey Bely / Compiled by V.M. Piskunov. M.: Respublika, 1995. Pp. 347-357];

• Вольфила: Вольно-философская ассоциация в Ленинграде в 1920–1922 гг. // Воспоминания об Андрее Белом / Сост. В.М. Пискунов. М.: Республика, 1995б. С. 208–214 [Volphila: Free Philosophical Association in Leningrad in 1920-1922 // Reminiscences of Andrey Bely . Compiled by V.M. Piskunov. M.: Respublika, 1995b. Pp. 208-214];

• Город мой, дом мой. Сост. и вступ.ст. Г. Гаген-Торн. // Журнал «Нева», СПб, 2000 [My City, My Home. Compiled and foreword by G. Gagen-Torn. // Neva, SPb, 2000];

• Обрядовые полотенца у народностей Поволжья // Этнографическое обозрение. 2000. № 6. С. 103–117 [Ritual Towels of the Peoples of the Volga Region // Etnograficheskoe Obozrenie (Ethnographic Review). 2000. № 6. Pp 103-117]

About N. Gagen-Torn:

Гаген-Торн Г.Ю. Нина Ивановна Гаген-Торн — ученый, писатель, поэт // Репрессированные этнографы. Вып.1. М., 2002. С.308 – 341 [Gegen-Torn G.Yu. Nina Ivanovna Gagen-Torn – Scholar, Writer, Poet // Repressed Ethnographers. Iss. 1. M., 2002. Pp. 308-341];

Гаген-Торн (Торн) Нина Ивановна (1900—1986). Люди и судьбы. Биобиблиографический словарь востоковедов — жертв политического террора в советский период (1917—1991) / Издание подготовили Я.В. Васильков и М.Ю. Сорокина. СПб.: Петербургское востоковедение, 2003. С. 108—109 [Gagen-Torn (Torn) Nina Ivanovna (1900-1986). People and Fates. A Bibliographical Dictionary of Orientalists, Victims of Political Terror in the Soviet Era (1917-1991) / Comp. by Ya.V. Vasilkov and M.Yu. Sorokina. SPb.: Saint-Petersburg Oriental Studies, 2003. Pp. 108-109];

Ревуненкова Елена. Жизнь и судьба Нины Ивановны Гаген-Торн — этнографа и поэта // Антропологический форум. № 16. 2012 [Revunenkova Yelena. The Life and Fate of Nina Ivanovna Gagen-Torn – Ethnographer and Poet // Anthropological Forum. № 16. 2012];

О.В. Творогов. Гаген-Торн Нина Ивановна. // Фундаментальная электронная библиотека «Русская литература и фольклор» [O.V. Tvorogov. Gagen-Torn Nina Ivanovna // Fundamental e-library “Russian Literature and Folklore”.

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