First Published

Noelle MANN


Among the researchers working with documents at the Serge Prokofiev Archive, some have found it “bizarre” that Prokofiev should have solicited a graphological study in 1931.
     But was it that peculiar at a time when the psychological theories of behaviourism were fast developing? Generations of educated people have argued as from the late eighteenth century that handwriting reveals the uniqueness of a person. (1)
     By the early twentieth century, research led by neurologists, physiologists and psychologists established that “handwriting is brainwriting”. (2) In Paris, interest in graphology was such in the 1920s that even serious periodicals, such as the literary review Le Mercure de France included features on what was being increasingly perceived as a science. Prokofiev’s search for ways to know his own self better in order to control his weaknesses, is revealed through his involvement with the Christian Science movement in the 1920s; the graphological study
published here in translation can only be interpreted as yet another illustration of this search.
     The artistic and creative side of Prokofiev is still to be investigated in relation to his rational stance, an issue powerfully illustrated in a second document from the Archive. In a fascinating statement where he explains his non-belief in the Church, Prokofiev reveals himself as a man whose thinking was determined by a powerful and unbendable belief in reason.



1) See Tamara Plakins Thornton, Handwriting in America: a Cultural History, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996).
2) www.handwriting.org/main/hwawhat.html, (24 March 2004).

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