Author Topic: My Empress by Marfa Mouchanow - who actually wrote it and why?  (Read 80913 times)

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Offline griffh

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Re: My Empress by Marfa Mouchanow - who actually wrote it and why?
« Reply #75 on: September 05, 2010, 12:22:38 PM »
 It appears to have been written prior to the fall of the Provisional Government and it is not as critical of the IF as other publications would prove to be.   Possibly this is because the Provisional Government had not been overthrown by the Bolsheviks.
griffh, I think they were kinder to Alix and the Tsar because they knew the IF would soon be dead...or at least permanently imprisoned .  While it speaks of Alix  and the family in the present tense, it seems to be speaking of people  forever gone. The book seeks to create a sweet legend  to replace a person.  imo...And it's a legend  that stood for many years. Alix:  kind hearted but wrong headed ...and at least partly responsible for her demise. I don't think you had to be psychic to know the family was doomed by the Spring of 1918 , if not before.  Just well placed enough to know not a finger was being raised to help them in any manner and attentive enough to notice the trajectory of their captivity.  Week by week , it was always getting worse. 
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I had forgotten that Rasputin and the Russian Revolution,  was published by John Lane.
Well  that's interesting.
 

This period beteen the rise and fall of the Provisional Government was so limited that it is amazing that three authors were able to publish their works during that narrow window of opportunity.  I makes our work all the harder in determing their point of view as these authors world was gone by the time their books were being read.  I believe that all three authors speak of their inabilitiy to predict the future but I am not sure that any of them suspected that they were about to be swollowed up.  Some of them even speak of the power of the Provisional Government to have kept the Left members of the Duma under controll and that the revolution had freed Russia from the threat of a "separate peace," and the "dark forces."   I can't help thinking that while the Provisonal Govenment lasted the Tsar and his family would have been treated in a civilized manner and exiled to another country after the conclusion of war. 

   

Offline griffh

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Re: My Empress by Marfa Mouchanow - who actually wrote it and why?
« Reply #76 on: September 05, 2010, 12:27:32 PM »
griffh - as usual you put everything in perspective.  I didn't realize that so many books were already in production and publication before the murder of the family in 1918.

It seems that quite a few people rushed to get their opinion of the story told.  My Empress is not as critical of Alix, but it is much more critical of Ella and now, in another thread, there is discussion about Ella and her hatred of Rasputin and her maneuvering of facts.  Perhaps Ella was not the "saint" that she was thought to be and the author of My Empress somehow knew that.

Who would know something like that?  Only someone who was very close to those people involved and had an "ear to the ground" but was not seen to be an intruder.

I am getting "thread confusion".  I know this happens when posting in several threads that have tie ins to the same people.  But I know that in your thread "Alexandra Fights Back" we were just discussing Ella and the facts that have come to light about her hatred of Rasputin and her condoning his murder.  (However many of the members of the Imperial Family not only condoned the murder but rejoiced in it.) 

That thread on Ella sounds really interesting.  Ella's knowledge of Rasputin's murder is one of the most stunning aspects of Margarita's book on Rasputin.   

Perhaps the publisher - John Lane - had something to do with the proliferation of books published after Nicholas's abdication in 1917 and the murders in 1918.

That seems to be one of the common facts about all of the books even if the author's are subject to question.

I think that it is compelling that John Lane published both the Radziwill book and My Empress the same year and that they had published Under the Veil of the Russian Court in 1913 using the same formula as they did with My Empress.   

Alixz

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Re: My Empress by Marfa Mouchanow - who actually wrote it and why?
« Reply #77 on: September 05, 2010, 02:14:02 PM »
Perhaps John Lane Company did not do proper research on their authors.  How many publishers actually check the sources that they are given for the information in the books they publish?

If they actually did that there would have been no publication of The Hunt for the Czar by Guy Richards.

The other thing that stands out is that some of the chapters seem to be written by different people with different styles and different information.  Some of the chapters conflict with previous ones as if they were written separately without first checking what had been said in the prior chapters.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2010, 02:18:20 PM by Alixz »

Offline blessOTMA

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Re: My Empress by Marfa Mouchanow - who actually wrote it and why?
« Reply #78 on: September 05, 2010, 11:22:58 PM »
Perhaps John Lane Company did not do proper research on their authors.  How many publishers actually check the sources that they are given for the information in the books they publish?
I think if a request to  publish something comes from a high enough place,  just about any firm  will publish it. That would help explain the speed of publication. It seems to me to be about influencing  the public  mind about events as they  read about in the news paper at the same time. Near trick that, given how long it takes to get something printed in hardback....But this book was  out just as reports of the family's demise were getting about too .
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The other thing that stands out is that some of the chapters seem to be written by different people with different styles and different information.  Some of the chapters conflict with previous ones as if they were written separately without first checking what had been said in the prior chapters.
I certainly agree it appears to be done by different people with  different  temperaments . Some chapters  are very level headed and others the writer gets quite worked up ...it's a hodgepodge  ( slang for : a mixture). The author doesn't just dislike Ella, but makes her into a fantastic cartoon. Which is starling after the level headed opening chapters. But do any of the forum's historians know of someone who with Alix  as a lady in waiting from the beginning of AF's Russian life to her captivity ? The author is in the thick of things remarkable.

"Give my love to all who remember me."

  Olga Nikolaevna

Alixz

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Re: My Empress by Marfa Mouchanow - who actually wrote it and why?
« Reply #79 on: September 06, 2010, 09:16:31 AM »
I think that someone already has said that they were unable to find any lady who was with Alexandra from day one to the day the train pulled out for Tobolsk.

This author says she was Mistress of the Robes and that is a position that should have made it into written history some where, but so far nothing.  That is why we are on this hunt.

Offline griffh

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Re: My Empress by Marfa Mouchanow - who actually wrote it and why?
« Reply #80 on: September 06, 2010, 12:22:19 PM »
It is indeed a mystery which I hope will be solved one of these days.  

In the meantime, I returned to the 1913 -1918 section of my books on Russia and found three more books written during the Great War.  One that is really intersting is Princess Catherine Radziwill's Sovereigns & Statesmen of Europe, (1915) which has a very kind and patriotic tone and is supportive of Nicholas II.  Then I found Baroness Souiny's Russia of Yesterday and Today, (1917).  The book appears to be written prior to the Oct. Revolution and the Baroness warns her readers in the West that Russia has not quite won its freedom.  The other book that I completely forgot was Rita Childe Dorr's book, Inside the Russian Revolution, (1917) and it appears to have been written just after her trip to Russia in May of 1917 but not published just before the Oct. Revolution.  Dorr's judgment of Kerensky is interesting and I will have to really read it carefully.  She also appears to have no faith in the Bolsheviks and encourages the intervention of the Allies to rid Russia of them.  

What I love about my library is the penciled notes in the margins and I found one in Dorr's book.  She tells the reader that: Somewhere in Russia, in one of the universities perhaps, in some farmhouse, or on some lonely steppe, there lives a ruthless boy who can and will some day do the kind of ruling and guiding Kerensky talks about and would have enforced if he could. [Ref: Rita Childe Dorr, Inside The Russian Revolution, (1917), p. 201.]  Just next to the quote and written in pencil is a short question {Prediction of Stalin?}  It is interesting that Dorr admits that she is a Socialist but not an anarchist which is the way she characterizes the Bolsheviks.  In this early period of transition and change the perspectives are all so interesting to study.  As a Socialist Dorr is not opposed to a Constitutional Monarchy for Russia.  Well anyway it seems clear that, if nothing else is certain, the Court society of the Late Imperial Period were highly literate.    

« Last Edit: September 06, 2010, 12:36:41 PM by griffh »

Offline blessOTMA

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Re: My Empress by Marfa Mouchanow - who actually wrote it and why?
« Reply #81 on: September 07, 2010, 02:20:36 AM »
I think that someone already has said that they were unable to find any lady who was with Alexandra from day one to the day the train pulled out for Tobolsk.
Exactly...so this book  lies to us from the start...but what is so odd is it's a lie  that would be easily exposed in Russia...but not in the West...which I believe this book was created for... to influence Western attitudes . It's almost a novel readlly   

"Give my love to all who remember me."

  Olga Nikolaevna

Alixz

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Re: My Empress by Marfa Mouchanow - who actually wrote it and why?
« Reply #82 on: September 07, 2010, 07:39:10 AM »
I think that someone already has said that they were unable to find any lady who was with Alexandra from day one to the day the train pulled out for Tobolsk.
Exactly...so this book  lies to us from the start...but what is so odd is it's a lie  that would be easily exposed in Russia...but not in the West...which I believe this book was created for... to influence Western attitudes . It's almost a novel really   


But that is why we are looking for someone who may have written under another name - a nom de plume. 

We know from some of the information that I gathered from J Ferrand's books Noblesse Russe: Portraits that there was indeed a family named Muchanow or Mukhanov as there are pictures of children by that name and also one young girl is shown as the "future wife of Ilya Muchanow.

Offline blessOTMA

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Re: My Empress by Marfa Mouchanow - who actually wrote it and why?
« Reply #83 on: September 07, 2010, 11:08:20 PM »
  Let's review. There was no lady in waiting that served Alix for her 23 years  on the throne....so the first thing the book  says, the very thing that  is supposed to make us feel confident the author knows what she  is talking about , is a falsehood. Now the whole book is in question.  If Muchanow is a false name for the author ,  a nom de plume,  then it doesn't matter there was a  family with that name as well.   The more I think on it , the more I come down on the clever fraud side....and it's this fantastic claim of serving Alix for 23 years in such a high profile position that seals it for me. If there was such a person,  we would know of them. I think the book was  whipped up for timely Western consumption. Just my opinion

"Give my love to all who remember me."

  Olga Nikolaevna

Alixz

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Re: My Empress by Marfa Mouchanow - who actually wrote it and why?
« Reply #84 on: September 08, 2010, 05:11:54 AM »
You are right.  If someone served Alexandra in the capacity of Mistress of the Robes for 23 years, no matter what name was used in the book, that person would show up some where with her real name.

A false name wouldn't matter because the number of years would give the author away.

That is why I tend to think it was more than one person who wrote the book and the experiences of these "authors" were combined into one 23 year block.

However, if that is true, then it is even more amazing that all of these "authors" could get together in such a short period of time and compile notes and write their chapters.  That would explain, though, why some events are written about in different chapters from a different view point.

But knowing from posting in and reading this forum that writing even just chapters in a book takes time, talent, and hard work (EuroHystory has published several books that draw on the individual talents and expertise of the authors who post here and each chapter is by a different author) it again brings us to how this book was published so fast and who was behind it.  And, of course, why.

Offline griffh

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Re: My Empress by Marfa Mouchanow - who actually wrote it and why?
« Reply #85 on: September 08, 2010, 09:56:46 AM »
It is funny but I had the same feeling when I first read Iliodor's book on Rasputin.  I felt exactly the same thing that there was such a change in mood from chapter to chapter.  One chapter sounded fairly sane and then another chapter would sound totally insane.  I think I actually posted this impression; however the more I read and studied the book the more the impression wore off. 

I am inclined to feel from spot reading My Empress this weekend that there is a good chance that it was not written by someone in the Empress' suite and that my memory of the book being attributed to Mme. Geringer is a false memory.  However this makes me all the more interested in learning who wrote the book. 

The thing that really makes me feel that the book could not have been written by anyone close to the Empress is the statement near the end of the book that Alix felt a sense of peace when she learned that Guchkov was going to Pskov.  I think the author even said something to the effect that the Empress had always admired Guchkov.  Anyone familiar with the Empress' views on Guchkov knows that this is absolutely untrue. 

The other thing is that I had not appreciated blessOTMA's point that the book had to be written in the Summer of 1918 [It was reviewed in the Ladies' Home Journal and in Nation Mag. in August 1918] just as the Civil War was starting and Russia's future was lost.  While the book may not have been written by one of the Empress' suite, it still seems that it was written by a fairly powerful, if uninformed member of Court Society.  Certainly some of the mistakes are no less ridiculous than some of the French Ambassador's that came from his belief in Court gossip.  His 3 vol. work is filled with ridiculous misinformation.  Whoever wrote the book had money and some kind of importance.  I say this because of the gold and whiite embossed reproduction of the Imperial crown on the cover of the book, a crown that the Empress wore at the opening of the Duma in 1906 is accurate.  Perhaps it is written as somekind of half-apology by a member of the right-liberail mileu.  Anyway I cherish everything that comes out of the Late Imperial Period and find it all worthwhile in one way or another.  That is why it will be so interersting to learn who worte this book. 


Offline blessOTMA

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Re: My Empress by Marfa Mouchanow - who actually wrote it and why?
« Reply #86 on: September 08, 2010, 10:57:31 PM »
Quote
Whoever wrote the book had money and some kind of importance.
I agree with this,  the speed of publication and the handsomeness of the book speaks to this. And I would say whoever this was , knew the family would not be around to refute its contents. The book's task seems to be one of closing the book ( no pun intended ) on the family. And,  as I have said,  made for the West. I don't think it would have been difficult to gather stories about  the court to then weave them into this book. By this time, much could be had in Russia  for a good meal . Intelligence agencies , to this day , are engaged in this sort of mental manipulation by book to influence the public's  thinking about an event . One can find themes and ideas  in My Empress about Alix's character that would be taken as good coin nearly all the time since this book's 1918 publication. So in that sense, it has been a great success. 

"Give my love to all who remember me."

  Olga Nikolaevna

Offline griffh

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Re: My Empress by Marfa Mouchanow - who actually wrote it and why?
« Reply #87 on: September 09, 2010, 01:29:04 AM »
Quote
Whoever wrote the book had money and some kind of importance.
I agree with this,  the speed of publication and the handsomeness of the book speaks to this. And I would say whoever this was , knew the family would not be around to refute its contents. The book's task seems to be one of closing the book ( no pun intended ) on the family. And,  as I have said,  made for the West. I don't think it would have been difficult to gather stories about  the court to then weave them into this book. By this time, much could be had in Russia  for a good meal . Intelligence agencies , to this day , are engaged in this sort of mental manipulation by book to influence the public's  thinking about an event . One can find themes and ideas  in My Empress about Alix's character that would be taken as good coin nearly all the time since this book's 1918 publication. So in that sense, it has been a great success.  

In some ways I suppose the John Lane publication of Behind the Veil of the Russian Court could be considered a similar kind of book as Radziwill has set perceptions about the Empress that are still being quoted and are wrong.  I don't know if I would characterize My Empress as an entire invention but possibly as something akin to Behind the Veil, as the work of someone with a strong agenda.  

I think that it is helpful to remember that the distance between Russia  and the  "West" was far less pronounced in the Late Imperial Period.  Just quickly to review:  in 1907 novelist Elinor Glynn had written the first 20th century "sex novel" Three Weeks (1907) that was falsely rumoured to be based on the real paternity of Alexis and which aroused great interest in Alexandra even if it was the "unwanted" kind ;  in 1909 Diaghileff's Ballet Russe  took Paris by storm transforming the entire creative world's concept of "the modern" from dance to fashion :  in 1911 Elinor Glynn struck once again but with more aplomb when she was invited to Russia by the Grand Duchess Vladimir to write a contemporary novel on the Russian Court and several Romanovs had helped in the construction of her novel, HIs Hour,; this was the period when  Photoplay magazine reviewed  all the Russian movies and movie stars as Russian cinema reached an international audience (because movies were silent they could be seen in every country);  by 1914 the New York heiress  Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney was being dressed by Leon  Bakst(Diaghileff's costume and set designer) and Bakst's  gowns were appearing in Vogue and worn in Paris, London and Berlin.  There were any number of wealthy Americans and international members of the "Smart Set" who had attended the 1913-1914 Winter Season and were back in the Summer of 1914 visiting friends among the Russian Aristocracy.  World premieres were attended in St. Petersburg just as they were in Paris, London, Berlin and NYC.  The Late Imperial Period was far more integrated and socially connected to the West than anything that has followed in the past one hundred years

And it is also true that Interest in the Young Empress was never far from the public's mind:  first came Richard Harding Davis' romantic novel on the young Empress, Aline (1895) that even Queen Victoria read as well as all of the civilized world; then came Gillson Willets portrait of the young Empress in Rulers of The World at Home, (1899) and the Countess A. Von Bothmer's depiction of the young Empress in The Sovereign Ladies of Europe, (1899); then followed the period in late 1902 - 1903 when the young hostess of the Russian Embassy in Washington D.C., Countess Cassini  received  hundreds of letters from American women who were concerned for the  young Empress because she had not been able to produce an heir.  The Countess Cassini tells us:  When it was thought the Empress could have no heir, hundreds wrote me giving me advice for her and I learned much I had not know.  [Ref:  Countess Marguerite Cassini, Never a Dull Moment, (1956), p. 187].  And of course there was great rejoicing when Alexis was born.   1904 also saw the publication of Helene Vacaresco's  Kings and Queens I Have Known, with its delightful pen portrait of the young Empress as a young woman.  Then came in 1911 two portraits of the Empress; Kellog Durland's in his book, Royal Romances of Today, (1911), and Xavier Paloi in his Their Majesties as I Knew Them (1911); and these works were followed by Catherine Radziwill 's Behind the Veil in 1913 as already mentioned.    

One of the books I forgot to mention that was published in 1916 and contained a description of the Empress was the Infanta Eulalia of Spain's Court Life From Within.  I think it is safe to say that between the novels and Court memoirs, interest in the Empress Alexandra never appears to have wane.  I know my list is very incomplete and does not begin to tap both newspaper accounts or magazine articles.  

The world in some ways was a much smaller place in the early twentieth century.   The distance between Russia and the "West" was not separated by light years as became the case.   St. Pete's was just another stop on the international itinerary of the "Smart Set," and Alix was a woman who without any effort on her part attracted attention.   I guess what I am trying to get at is that works on the Empress are naturally varied and express the informed or uninformed perspective of the writer.  Mistakes are not necessarily lies.      

« Last Edit: September 09, 2010, 01:33:11 AM by griffh »

Offline blessOTMA

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Re: My Empress by Marfa Mouchanow - who actually wrote it and why?
« Reply #88 on: September 09, 2010, 06:16:17 AM »
griffh , excellent post, very informative!

By  the "West"  I meant  readers of  The Ladies Home Journal,  where  sections  of the book appeared in Aug 1918 , ( beautifully illustrated, I might add ) ....certainly not other members of the international smart set ! lol!  That's another kettle of fish. I don't think of the smart set as being in one location , for  many of  reasons you point out.   

"Give my love to all who remember me."

  Olga Nikolaevna

Offline griffh

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Re: My Empress by Marfa Mouchanow - who actually wrote it and why?
« Reply #89 on: September 09, 2010, 09:34:43 AM »
griffh , excellent post, very informative!

By  the "West"  I meant  readers of  The Ladies Home Journal,  where  sections  of the book appeared in Aug 1918 , ( beautifully illustrated, I might add ) ....certainly not other members of the international smart set ! lol!  That's another kettle of fish. I don't think of the smart set as being in one location , for  many of  reasons you point out.   

Thanks blessOTMA for explaining and now I understand what you mean by the "West."  That makes perfect sense.  I didn't know that the book appeared in serial form in The Ladies Home Jounal.  I thought that it was only reviewed in the magazine.  Thanks so much for all your information and insights.  You and Alixz have really made me take a more careful look at My Empress and I cannot see how Mme. Geringer could have made the kind of mistakes, especially the one about Guchkov.  Now I am really interested in Mme. Geringer for her own sake.  Well thanks again and I will keep everyone informed as I continue my search.