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The Shadow of Pushkin: How the Fates of the Descendants of Georges Dantes Developed
The Shadow of Pushkin: How the Fates of the Descendants of Georges Dantes Developed
Pushkin's Shadow: How the Fates of the Descendants of Georges Dantes Developed

Pushkinists diligently follow the fate of the heirs of the great poet, but they do not want to remember the descendants of Dantes. How can the children and grandchildren of the one who killed the Russian genius deserve attention? But fate wanted to forever write Dantes into history on a par with Pushkin, giving him immortality by that fatal duel. But the name of the Russian poet became a kind of curse for the heirs of Georges. The shadow of the ill-fated duel still surrounds the descendants of Dantes and does not allow them to find ways of reconciliation with the heirs of Pushkin.

Fatal attraction of Dantes's daughter

In 1840, a daughter, Leonia-Charlotte, was born on the Dantes family estate in Sulza. Admiring the growing baby, Georges could hardly have imagined that in her face an insidious fate would inflict a crushing blow on him in the back. It was Leonia who became his curse and an eternal reminder of the duel, the murdered Russian poet and Russia.

Dantes' daughters: From left to right: Leoni, Matilda, Bertha. Watercolor by Leopold Fischer. 1843

Leonia-Charlotte was distinguished by an extraordinary mind, innovative thinking and a penchant for the exact sciences. She easily completed the full course of study at the Polytechnic School at home. Already for these talents, a French girl of those years could have been dubbed abnormal, because ideally she should have been interested in other things. But it was not mathematics that became fatal for Leonia Dantes, but an incomprehensible love for Russia and Pushkin.

The Russian language was banned in the Dantes family, but the girl perfectly mastered it on her own. Pushkin became for Leonia a true idol, and in her father she saw the embodiment of a hated man who interrupted the life of a great genius. The fatal bullet of the poet overtook Dantes years later in the form of accusations against his own daughter.

Ekaterina Dantes (Goncharova) is the wife of the killer Pushkin and the mother of his children

The Russian poet has become a kind of icon for Leonia. Her room was hung with his portraits, and the bookshelves were filled with his writings. The girl memorized many works, like prayers, by heart. She knew not only poems, but even whole episodes from The Captain's Daughter. Pushkin's spirit for life became an impenetrable wall between Dantes and Leonia, who in one of the quarrels called her father a murderer and never communicated with him again.

Living in France, she was a real Russian with all her soul. Leonia deified Pushkin and was in love with his homeland - Russia, where she did not have a chance to visit. All this became the reason for the recognition of the girl as mentally ill. Dantes was annoyed by the constant reminder of Pushkin and Russia. He placed his daughter in a mental hospital in Paris, where she spent over 20 years and died in 1888.

The fate of Dantes and his other children

The image of Dantes the killer, which invariably arises in the minds of Russians, looks different for the French. Georges lived a long life, made an excellent political career and raised four children to his feet, never marrying after the death of his wife. He was an excellent mayor of the city of Sulza, where it was thanks to him that the first water supply and city sewerage system appeared. Only Leonia-Charlotte became a dark spot on the bright name of a well-behaved family man. But, without solid evidence, it is difficult to assert whether she was really mentally ill or simply annoyed her father with her Russian soul.

Georges Charles Dantes. Fragment of lithograph from a portrait by an unknown artist. Around 1830

The life of other children of Dantes was more prosaic, without special zigzags of fate. Daughter Matilda married General Louis Matman. Bertha-Josephine became a socialite and the wife of Count Vandal.Son Louis-Joseph did not make any career. He settled in the family castle and took care of the estate's numerous vineyards.

Paradoxes of the fate of Dantes' great-grandson

Pushkin's shadow haunts even the modern descendants of Dantes. Many surprising coincidences can be found in the fate of Baron Lotter de Heckern. None of Pushkin's heirs wrote a single line, fearing to be in the shadow of a glorious ancestor. Dantes' great-grandson not only writes poetry (also with a pen), but even published his own collection dedicated to the great poet of Russia. In translation, the title of the collection sounds symbolic - "To die with Pushkin." Lother hopes that his creation is bought for the sake of the poems themselves, and not to boast about the presence of a book by a descendant of Dantes. Like his great-great-grandfather, he himself raised children - his wife left him for another.

In a 2006 interview with a Russian journalist, the Baron showed the graves of Dantes and his Russian wife in the family crypt. At the same time, Lother noted that a teacher was also buried here, who instilled in him a love of literature. Contrary to tradition, a place was allocated for her in the noble crypt. Doesn't this story remind you of Arina Rodionovna? The Baron is sincerely saddened that none of the relatives cares about the further fate of the crypt.

Baron Lother is a descendant of Dantes living today

Living in Nantes, Lauter is another descendant of Dantes, for whom the name of Pushkin was not an empty phrase. Only, unlike Leonia, he is sure that his great-great-grandfather was in no way to blame for the death of the poet, because everything was fair. The Baron believes that Dantes just wanted to be loved, and the poet loved duels and "made his own shroud."

Duel of Pushkin with Dantes

Lother dreams of explaining himself to Pushkin's heirs, but they are not yet ready to show such an honor. The doors of their house are slammed shut for the Dantes, and no one seeks to be the first to give a hand of reconciliation, even after almost two centuries.

Historians still argue today who actually played a fatal role in the duel between Pushkin and Dantes.

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