Daniel Andreev was a Russian poet and religious thinker of the middle of the 20th century. His best known book “Roza Mira” (“The Rose of the World”) which was written mostly in prison during Stalin’s time, is about religion in the modern world. Along with world religions such as Christianity, he also considers mythical revelations of different cultures which together compose the “religion of total”, the Rose of the World. For Daniel Andreev, the Rose of the World is a spiritual flower whose roots are in heaven: each petal is an unique image of the great world religions and cultures, and the whole flower is their joint co-creation with God.
Daniel Andreev was born on November 2, 1906, in Berlin. His father was the famous Russian writer Leonid Andreev. His mother, Alexandra Veligorsky, died during childbirth. Daniel’s father, overcome with grief, gave the baby to Alexandra’s sister, Elizabeth Dobrov, to raise in Moscow.
The revolution of 1917 saw many lives changed, including Daniel’s. After graduating from a Soviet high school, he found that university was closed to the son of a “nonproletarian” writer. He took continuing education courses in literature instead, and continued to write. Realizing that his gifts were incompatible with Soviet reality, he became a graphic artist and worked evenings on poetry and a novel Wanderers in the Night.
He was conscripted as a noncombatant in the Soviet Army in 1942, and he participated in bringing supplies across the frozen ice of Lake Ladoga to besieged Leningrad.
After the war he returned to writing his novel and poetry, but was arrested in April 1947, along with his wife and many of his relatives and friends. He was sentenced to twenty-five years of prison (by some chance the death sentence had been temporarily suspended in Soviet Union around the same time) and his wife was given twenty-five years of labor camp. All of his writing done previous to his arrest was destroyed.
The death of Stalin and the rise of Khrushchev eventually resulted in the review of prisoners’ cases; on reviewing Daniel Andreev’s case, the commission shortened his sentence to ten years. He was released to his already waiting wife in April 1957 with the health ruined, having suffered a heart attack in prison in 1954.
It was while in prison that Daniel Andreev wrote the first drafts of The Rose of the World, as well as Russian Gods (a collection of poetry) and The Iron Mystery (a verse play). It was a daily miracle that none of these works was confiscated by the Stalinist prison regime. It was an even greater miracle that hs wife was able to get the manuscripts out of the prison upon his release.
Daniel Andreev spent the last two years of his life finishing his work on the three books mentioned above. He died on March 30, 1959, entrusting the menuscripts to his wife, Alla.
Alla Andreeva, knowing the negative reception the books would get from the Soviet authorities, hid them until the mid-seventies when, through samizdat, a number of people were finally able to read them. But it wasn’t until Gorbachev and glasnost that she could even consider publishing them. In 1989 excerpts of The Rose of the World were published in the magazine Novy Mir, followed by publication of the full text in 1991. The first edition of 100,000 copies quickly sold out, and a Russian publishing phenomenon was born. Since then several editions have been similarly sold out, including a few pirated versions.
The Rose of the World and Andreev’s other works had a tremendous impact on contemporary Russian society, with its thirst for a spiritual approach to life. The Daniel Andreev foundation was founded in 1992, and numerous small groups and societies have formed in connection with his works.
Text of Rose of the World, Archive.org