The Sergei O. Prokofieff Archive in Dornach
Sergei Olegovich Prokofieff died in July 2014. At the beginning of 2015 Astrid Prokofieff and Hans Hasler decided to establish an archive for Sergei’s literary legacy. This archive was intended to fulfil certain particular tasks.
A first task is the publication of the works of Sergei O. Prokofieff, whose literary output consisted of 56 books. There are at present over 300 translations in 20 different languages. The work on translations is on-going; every year some new editions are published. New editions of previously published books also appear.
Liaising with translators and publishers is Astrid’s main task. Sergei re-read every book published in German, making corrections and often including additions. Shortly, for example, the second, corrected and augmented German edition of his fundamental book May Human Beings Hear It will appear. Thus all new editions of translations would also need to be revised in accordance with such corrections and additions.
Sergei worked until the end of his life. After his death two further books appeared which he was unable to see through the publication process himself. One of these – Rudolf Steiner and the Masters of Esoteric Christianity – was duly published in 2018. The second manuscript – Rudolf Steiner: Fragment of a Spiritual Biography – appeared in 2020. Sergei had begun to write this book already in the 1980s; it was the beginning of a great project which was to encompass all the known incarnations of Rudolf Steiner. He thoroughly researched the first incarnation of Enkidu, and in the last months before his death he again worked through the three chapters that he had written in Russian. Hans Hasler translated these chapters into German. At the same time a friend of Sergei’s from England, Simon Blaxland-de Lange, translated them into English. It was not possible for Sergei to write with a similar degree of thoroughness about the further incarnations, but he dictated to his secretary a fourth chapter in German about the subsequent incarnationsfrom Aristotle to Thomas Aquinas. Both books have also been published in Russian and in several other languages.
A second task consists in the assembling, organising and electronic registration of the many documents: manuscripts, drafts, letters, notes and study materials. This is essentially Hans Hasler’s task. His most recent task, for example, was to look through not only the many letters in paper form but also 103,000 emails and 1600 letters from the computer of Sergei’s secretary; every letter had to be read and then a decision made as to whether it is worth keeping it in such a way that it can also be systematically found via the databank. For the documents, the content of around 80 archive boxes has been organised and registered.
A third task, which it has only recently been possible to begin, is the preservation and registration of Sergei’s large library of anthroposophical and other books in Russian and German. When Sergei became a member of the Executive Council at the Goetheanum in 2001, he had a large room for a library and also an office included in the house that the architect Ulrich Oelssner designed for him. In order that this library of over 7000 books can be used in future, an inventory and some systemisation are necessary.
A fourth task is the establishing and further development of the Internet site, where all Sergei’s books together with the translations into the various languages are listed and retrievable. However, the site is still in its early stages of development, and it needs to be extended and further supplemented.
A few words can also be added about forthcoming projects. At the beginning of 2021, Astrid and Hans invited friends of Sergei to express their recollections of him in writing. From these accounts a book is emerging which will appear in German before the end of 2023, and there is a hope that it will also be published in other languages. A further project which is still in its initial stages is a collection of the many articles written by Sergei which were published in various journals during his lifetime.
At the end of 2022, Astrid, Hans and a few friends founded the association bearing the name of the ‘Sergej O. Prokofieff Archive’. This association will serve to guarantee that the archive’s tasks will in future be professionally carried out. A circle of advisers has also been formed which meets once a year.
It is also important to note that the Sergei O. Prokofieff Archive is intended to be a place or central focus for any questions that anyone may have concerning Sergei’s works, the library and other documents and also events associated with his legacy. What is important is not so much to direct one’s attention back to the past but to cast one’s eye towards the future by asking: How can Sergei’s research help us better understand Rudolf Steiner, Anthroposophy, the problems of our time and our future tasks? Those working together in the archive are always ready to answer questions.We hope that the collaboration especially with Russian friends, translators and publishers will be able to intensify and broaden in a variety of ways.
Interview conducted by Misha Sayanov with Hans Hasler in Russian, June 4, 2023 in Moscow.
English translation by Simon Blaxland-de Lange