The Papers document the life and activities of Russian symbolist poet Zinaida Gippius (1869-1945); her husband, Russian philosopher and writer, Dmitrij Merezhkovsky (1865-1941); and their longtime secretaries, editors and writers, Dmitrij Filosofov (1872-1940) and Vladimir Zlobin (1894-1967).
Zinaida Gippius was a prolific poet, fiction writer, playwright, essayist, memoirist, and critic. Gippius wrote many critical essays on literature, religion, and political issues. They were published in leading Moscow and St. Petersburg literary journals and newspapers under various pseudonyms including Anton Krajny and Roman Arensky.
Merezhkovsky's literary work included poetry, novels, dramas, critical essays, and translations from several languages including Greek. His significance was primarily cultural. He was a popularizer of French symbolism in the 1890s; formulator and chief proselytizer of the "new religious consciousness" after 1900; and a prophet of a religious revolution after 1905.
Gippius and Merezhkovsky fled Russia in December 1919. They lived in Poland until October 1920 and then moved to Paris.
These Papers cover the period of Gippius' and Merezhkovsky's lingering departure from Russia in 1906-1907 and their years in emigration in Paris (1920-1945).
The largest series in the Papers is Series 1: ZINAIDA GIPPIUS PAPERS which is further divided into three subseries: Correspondence-Incoming, Correspondence-Outgoing and Manuscripts. This correspondence is the most significant subseries of the Papers. These subseries contain Gippius' correspondence with leading Russian and foreign intellectuals, such as G. Adamovich, K. Balmont, A. Bely, N. Berberova, A. Blok, I. Bunin, G. Ivanov, A. Remizov, V. Rozanov, M. Shaginian, F. Sologub, B. Zajtsev and others. The subseries Manuscripts includes published and unpublished poems by Gippius, the manuscript of "Dante in Hell", the transcript of a conversation with P. Suvchinsky, a draft of the article "Le Possede" in French, and several versions of Gippius' and Merezhkovsky's motion picture play "Boris Godunov".
Series 2: DMITRIJ MEREZHKOVSKY PAPERS is subdivided into two subseries: Correspondence and Manuscripts. The Papers contain more than 200 items, mostly handwritten, from such Russian philosophers, writers and artists as N. Bakhtin, K. Balmont, A. Bely, A. Blok, V. Briusov, I. Bunin, I. Fondaminsky, G. Ivanov, E. Liatsky, S. Prokofjev, L. Shestov, P. Struve, F. Sologub, B. Zajtsev. The subseries Manuscripts includes several versions of Merezhkovsky's and Gippius' motion picture play "Boris Godunov", two drafts of his untitled thesis, and poems.
The Papers also include correspondence, documents and manuscripts of Russian emigres belonging to the Merezhkovskys' circle, such as G. Adamovich, K. Balmont, N. Berberova, I. Fondaminsky, G. Ivanov, A. Kartashev, M. Markovich, P. Solovjeva.