And then Andrei said that myth-making began.

And then Andrei said that myth-making began.

So, in several stages, he read the book from beginning to end, and then it always turned out that he knew every word in it.

He wrote wonderful memoirs about B. L. Pasternak, M. A. Leontovich, A. D. Sakharov. Part of his memoirs about Andrei Sakharov, entitled "Walks with Pushkin", was published in the magazines "Zvezda" and "Syntax".

Friends of M.L. Levin often fell out of favor with the omnipotent power, they were defamed in the press, arrested, tried, exiled, and given sentences. M.L. Levin not only did not shy away from those who were under surveillance, who were threatened with arrest, but tried as best he could to alleviate the situation of people in trouble. When A. D. Sakharov was exiled to Gorky and isolated there, M. L. Levin, in spite of all the prohibitions, visited his comrade four times. Friends set the day and place of the meeting in advance. They both knew the city well. They were hunted down, M.L. Levin was detained, documents were checked, intimidated, but this did not stop him.

ML Levin had a wonderful, friendly family, a loving, understanding and caring wife Natalya Mikhailovna, three children, now adults, two sons and a daughter. An amazing atmosphere of optimism, kindness and harmony captured everyone who came to this hospitable house, and made every visit memorable.

The memory of the bright man Mikhail Lvovich Levin will give us strength in this difficult life.

First published in the newspaper "Russian Thought" (August 28, 1992).

On the danger of mythmaking

From the speech of M. L. Levin at the Sakharov Readings in Gorky on January 27, 1990 [2]:

My speech at the very beginning of the readings is justified only by the fact that I am the only one among those sitting in the hall who knew Andrei Dmitrievich from his youth. Today, as I understood from the words of the presiding officer, there are no general speeches that are appropriate for scientific readings, but there will be speeches similar to memories. So I would like to start with Sakharov’s young years

And further. During all the seven years of Andrei Dmitrievich’s stay in Gorky, I am the only physicist among those present who was not with him because of the official need, not on a business trip, not on behalf of the institute, but on his own.

I am also speaking because it is a request from the widow of Andrei Dmitrievich, Elena Georgievna, to tell about the Gorky years of their life. As she said, "for a lesson." I don’t know what lesson will come out here, but maybe it’s true, some benefit will come out.

Great people are not often born without light. An example that can be drawn from the events of ten years ago is hardly needed by those living today. When Mayakovsky died, there were some overlays at the funeral, and the policeman reassured the writers: don’t worry, next time everything will be all right. He did not know that great poets are born and die less often.

I want to warn you right away: there is a danger of some kind of myth-making, it already began during the life of Andrei Dmitrievich, continues after his death, and I would not want to take part in this. Although, you yourself understand, it is very easy to create a myth about a young genius, which was immediately understood as a genius by everyone around him. You can go to the other extreme, that he was a "double oak", and then suddenly became a remarkable scientist.

Andrei Dmitrievich was neither an oak tree, nor the most brilliant student in our course. True, both teachers and students understood its extraordinary power very soon.

But he himself, perhaps, was not understood. They simply did not understand, because the way of reasoning, its logical steps, have always been much larger than the steps of ordinary people. And only later, when I was an adult, I read about the wonderful mathematicians Galois and Ramanujan, whom my contemporaries did not understand, that I somehow compared them a little with Andrei Dmitrievich. … Much that for those around him needed steps, for Sakharov it was obvious.

I would not want another minor myth to arise: I was not a close friend of Andrei Dmitrievich. I have a feeling that in his younger years and in the middle years he had no close friends. There were comrades at work, in recent years there were comrades in the struggle. But I know only one really close friend – this is his wife.

I was an old university friend for him. This rigid definition belongs to him, and it was said to the State Security Commissioner, whom we encountered during our first meeting on the streets of Gorky.

An old university friend is actually quite a lot. Old university comrades, especially if they did not work together later, did not crowd in some kind of business brew or academic backstage or non-backstage relationships, remain beloved comrades: after all, everyone loves his youth, everyone loves his youth, and university friends bear the seal of this love …

I don’t want to compare us with the lyceum students of the last century, but there is something similar. I think this explains the joy that I was lucky enough to give him. I myself was very happy. Because here, in Gorky, we crossed paths four times, and this is connected with some kind of personification of the returned youth.

Back to where I started. Andrei was really difficult to understand, and he had this for a very long time. Could he learn to express his thoughts so that they were understandable to those around him? Apparently, yes. But this did not come to him. His results, final conclusions were always correct, he solved problems correctly, he gave correct answers to physical questions. And it was difficult to understand him. So all three university years. And when I met with him after a rather long break (we studied for three years before the war, and then really met after the XX Congress), I suddenly noticed that he was very clear in expressing his thoughts. He explained to me: yes, he learned, because I had to deal with big bosses with general’s shoulder straps and in general it was necessary to speak so that they did what was needed. I had to learn to speak a language understandable to those around me.

And now the newspapers sometimes write that he was tongue-tied. This is not true, this is not tongue-tied. This is a search for the clearest words: after all, everything is clear to him at once, in advance.

When I met his first wife, Klavdia Alekseevna, she told me, jokingly or not jokingly, with some pride that they met at the end of the war and that she might be the only woman in the Soviet Union who received an explanation and marriage proposal in writing. He wrote. Not from shyness, but because he was afraid that he would say something incomprehensible, the girl would not understand what was being said.

Now about Gorky.

For me, this is a truly painful, some kind of non-healing wound. When it became known 10 years ago that he was in Gorky, everyone, of course, was upset and outraged. But for me there was some relief from the thought that he was in Gorky, because I really love this city. I spent six years of my life in it, and at first, too, in difficult conditions.

I came to Gorky with the right to teach at the university and with the right to live in Bor, the time was dashing and cool, and, however, I felt very good in Gorky. There was a feeling of will after Butyrok and Sharaga. Friends and students appeared. And, apart from external griefs, the brightest impressions remained from life in Gorky. And I thought: since there are so many wonderful physicists in Gorky, so many real people, Sakharov will be fine.

I don’t know how it happened, and it’s not for me to try to explain it to you, but on the day of Sakharov’s deportation, January 22, 1980, by an amazing coincidence in the evening newspaper, in “Gorkovsky Rabochy”, a note appeared dedicated to some semicircular anniversary of Korolenko 95 years since the beginning of exile in Nizhny Novgorod. I don’t think it was on purpose, otherwise the editor wouldn’t have lost his head. But such an amazing coincidence … A normal note: just about how in 1885, after a long Yakut exile, Korolenko was transferred to exile here and how everything was fine in Nizhny Novgorod.

Korolenko ended up in Nizhny Novgorod, and the progressive local intelligentsia immediately began to group around him. There was no university, no polytechnic or academic institutes in Nizhny Novgorod. There was a gymnasium, a theological seminary. There were progressive officials, there were doctors, lawyers, and immediately such an intellectual nucleus formed around Korolenko. It was in Nizhny Novgorod that M. Gorky received a blessing from Korolenko. His words are given in the note: you can, they say, talk about the era of Korolenko in Nizhny.

But there was no Sakharov era in Gorky. There were Gorky years in Sakharov’s life. Only. I then subconsciously hoped that in a hundred years something similar would happen … The Gorky intelligentsia, and, above all, physicists … After all, it is a rare, unique opportunity to have such a wonderful physicist in your midst. Both a theoretician and an incomparable specialist in applied physics. I stayed in this hope for a while, until it turned out that it was sterile.

These are some of my most bitter memories and experiences. Because, you know, when some metropolitan academic cattle, who thinks only about money and travel abroad, about power and the director’s chair, signs all these vile papers and letters (against A.D. Sakharov. – Ed. TrV), this is all very disgusting, but I personally do not really bother.

I’ll run a little ahead. During the first Sakharov hunger strike, there was a great deal of excitement in the corridors of the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences. Various people wandered there. But the dominant tone among those who swarmed there was this: if Andrei Dmitrievich dies, then no one abroad will shake hands with us, and we have nothing to do there. This was what worried them!

But this is not the case here. There are real people here that I love and respect. Perhaps today Gorky physicists will also speak, they will reveal their secret in the name of publicity, freedom and pluralism. What, in the end, made them accept the conditions set by their superiors? I do not understand. I understand that living with the collective is like howling like a wolf, that you need to do your job and, so to speak, the tsar favors, and not the huntsman … and you have to celebrate Christ. But maybe it was worth trying. Moreover, I’m not sure that there were any bans, orders on paper. Looks like they were counting on intelligence? ..

I had great hope just in the middle of the Gorky period of Andrei Dmitrievich’s life, when the president of the Academy of Sciences announced to the whole world how humanely our government acted by sending Andrei Dmitrievich to Gorky, where there are wonderful working conditions, where there are a lot of academic institutes and the local scientists of academic rank are by no means eager to leave Gorky.

This was an interview with News Week magazine, the most famous interview in which the president said that Andrei Dmitrievich had a serious mental shift. It is on the conscience of Alexandrov. The assertion of the President of the Academy of Sciences about paradise conditions in Gorky was repeatedly repeated by professional visiting scientists, when they were asked abroad what you and Sakharov have got there.

Against this background, of course, we should have tried: let’s invite Andrei Dmitrievich to our conferences. Let’s invite him to meetings, let him take part, let’s go to him for advice on science. It was necessary not to catch at a glance the will of the authorities, but to repeat and repeat the president’s statement published in the press with wise Shvekov stupidity.

Unfortunately, nothing of the kind happened. It still torments me. And then it was just hard for me – both for Sakharov and because in Moscow I had a reputation for being bitter. Everyone knew that I worked in Gorky, they knew how much I love this city, and they asked me what was going on there? And I could not answer this question.

Today I was at the opening of the commemorative plaque and listened attentively to all the speeches. I’m afraid, in a sense, a wrong picture has been created, justifying the incomprehensible behavior of the Gorky residents. Andrei Dmitrievich, they say, was here in such a deep siege that there was no way for us to break through to him. What could we have done? At least take a tank in the Gorky garrison and with it in Shcherbinki.

In fact, it seems to me that such a blind raid was carried out on Moscow dissidents. They really tried to keep them out and didn’t allow them to see Andrei Dmitrievich, it was difficult for them to break through.

When they went to Andrei Dmitrievich in Gorky, Moscow knew about their intentions. It is difficult to resist and not tell at least two closest friends: but I will go to Andrei Dmitrievich. Even I knew, although I am not a professional dissident, that such-and-such is going and such-and-such is going … And the first three times I was by prior arrangement, but I did not tell anyone about it in advance.

The first time, however, made a mistake. I didn’t realize that I could let my masters down. I met with Andrey Dmitrievich at the end of the conference. This happened two months after he was deported here. And then the organizers of the conference, according to them, were "stuck" and a warning that if this happens again, then Muscovites will not be allowed in, or the conferences will be shut down altogether. After that, I never came here to see Andrei Dmitrievich, at public expense, but came to my own on vacation and did not let anyone down, and before Gorky my conscience is clear.

So, the maximum that threatened most of those who visited Andrei Dmitrievich or tried to visit, in my opinion, was sending him to Moscow. And sometimes even free. It is unlikely that such a measure of restraint could threaten the residents of Gorky.

It was easier with me. Having made sure that I was not a representative, not an emissary of this or that group, but a really old university friend of Andrei Dmitrievich, they did not send me anywhere, and I left myself. And then, neither on the streets, nor in the Green City, no one bothered me to communicate with him. True, the photo and film was consumed without regret. It seems to me that Elena Georgievna had this late lesson in mind when she asked me to speak in Gorky.

Finally, I will tell you about the amazing intersection of two events spaced apart in time and space, about which I did not have time to ask Sakharov.

The last time I spoke with Andrei Dmitrievich was on December 8, six days before his death. It was a sad day. The funeral of a remarkable woman, lawyer Sofia Vasilievna Kallistratova, who participated in the proceedings of the 60s, and at the same time it was the third anniversary of the death of Anatoly Marchenko. The civil funeral service was held in the Bar Association on Pushkinskaya, and the funeral service was performed in Obydensky Lane, near the Kropotkinskaya metro station. We drove there together in a car and passed through the area of ​​our common youth.

In those ancient times, we were additionally brought together by the fact that we lived in the same area and sometimes, after optional courses or seminars, we walked together along Mokhovaya to Nikitskiye Vorota, talking on different topics. And then, in the car, student memories arose about these places, about what happened in our time. Speech, in particular, went about the 110th school. And then Andrei said that myth-making began. He did not study at the 110th Moscow school for very long and really knew and remembered very few people. But already some old students of this school told what a brilliant student Andrei Sakharov was, and how all the teachers prayed for him, and how all the girls admired him, and how all the boys envied him.