Death of Nikita Struve
Priest Georgy Kochetkov: He was one of the last remaining great Russian immigrants (possibly the very last one) of the first wave who was faithful to its spirit, culture, work and word. It is impossible to overestimate his contribution to establishing continuity between that culture and the ‘post-Russian’ and ‘post-Soviet’ culture of today.
Memory eternal to him! May the Risen Lord grant him eternal rest!
Nikita Struve was born in 1931 in a family of Russian immigrants living in the Parisian suburb of Boulogne. He was a grandson of the famous politician Peter Struve who had left Russia following the 1917 revolution.
A Sorbonne graduate, he taught Russian there and was Emeritus Professor at the University Paris X-Nanterre. He successfully defended a PhD thesis on Osip Mandelshtam. In 1960, his elder brother met Andrei Blum (who was to become Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh), which served to introduce Nikita to the Russian Student Christian Movement (RSCM) that brought together Russian-speaking young Christians living in Europe. He was Editor-in-Chief of the Russian Christian Movement’s ‘Vestnik’ (‘Le Messager’), the oldest Russian journal abroad that had been first published in 1925 as an RSCM information bulletin. It was ‘Vestnik’ that published the first article by Fr. Georgy Kochetkov ‘Becoming Part of the Church and Confessing the Church in the Church’ under the pen-name ‘Nikolai Gerasimov’ thought up by Struve himself. In 1978, Nikita Struve became Director of the Parisian publishing house YMCA-Press that made available to the world (and Soviet Russia) books by Sergius Bulgakov and Nikolai Berdyaev, protopresbyters Alexander Schmemann and Nicholas Afanasiev, along with many other Russian thinkers and writers. In the early 1970-s, for the first time in the West, YMCA-Press published Solzhenitsin’s ‘August 1914’ and ‘The Gulag Archipelago’.
It was in 1990 that Struve visited Russia for the first time bringing with him a collection of samizdat literature – thousands of books and magazines that went to our libraries. In 1991, he launched the Moscow publishing house ‘Russky Put’ [‘Russian Way’] that carried out the majority of its work in the same spirit as YMCA-Press. Nikita Struve was an SFI trustee, participated in research and theology conferences held by the Institute and supported the Transfiguration Brotherhood’s ecclesiastical activities even throughout the years when the movement was being openly persecuted.
He was greatly influenced by his exposure to the best members of the Russian émigré community including Ivan Bunin, Aleksey Remizov, Boris Zaitsev, Semyon Frank and Nikolai Berdyaev. He authored the French-language research ‘70 Years of the Russian Immigration’. He also published an anthology of the Russian Gold and Silver Age poetry featuring his own translations of poems by Pushkin, Lermontov, Fet, Akhmatova and other authors into French.