Dimitri Merezhkovsky (1865-1941)

Christian mystic thinker
Author of historical novels, religious philosophical texts,
poems, biographies.

French Symbolism
Symbolism originated in France toward the end of the 19th century in reaction to naturalism and realism. Designed to convey impressions by suggestion rather than by direct statement, symbolism found its first expression in poetry but was later extended to the other arts. In poetry, the early symbolists experimented with form, revolting against the rigidity of the Parnassians with free verses. The precursors of the school, all influenced by Baudelaire, included Verlaine, Mallarmé, and Rimbaud. They were accused of writing with a decadent morbidity, partly as the result of their utilization of imagination as a reality.

the Gnostic Khlysty community
The Khlysty, known as "God's people," were heirs of the Bogomils and early Gnostic Christians. Persecuted by the official Orthodox Church they preserved their teachings in secret. They met not in a church but in an isolated meeting place usually known as "Jerusalem" or "Mount Zion." They conducted not a solemn service but a "rejoicing." Their congregation were called an "Ark," and their priests "pilots" for the voyage from the material to the spiritual world - into the seventh heaven where men could rediscover their lost divinity. The means of ascent lay partly in the "alchemy of speech" - spiritual songs and chants which produced a state of ecstasy, a sense of liberation from the material world. They were numerous spiritual Christian communities in Russia at the time refusing allegiance to the official Church, pretending to submit only to the Third Kingdom, the Holy Spirit. The Khlysty were the most influential. The official report of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church in 1900 recognised the Khlysty as the most influential of all sects. A prominent church missionary reported in 1915 that Khlysty had invaded all Russia and that there was no province where the sect did not exist in one form or another.

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