Center for Open Education the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation
Names of Russia: great writers
Alexander Sergeyevitch Pushkin
Alexander Sergeyevitch Pushkin is the greatest Russian playwright, poet, prose writer and publicist. Pushkin has a reputation as a great poet who created the modern Russian literary language. He was born on June 6, 1799 in Moscow and was brought up in highly educated environment. From the poet’s biography it is known that Pushkin’s distant ancestor was the African Abram Petrovich Hannibal, who is famous for being a pupil and faithful servant of Tsar Peter the Great. The writer’s father was a true connoisseur of literature and had a huge library. Little Alexander spent a lot of time with him and with his nanny Arina Rodionovna. The poet felt a true kindred feeling for Arina Rodionovna, loved and respected her, took care of her health, called her “mother.” In long winter evenings he listened to fairy tales, which Arina Rodionovna knew a great many and told them masterfully. Later, from the words of the nanny, the poet wrote down seven fairy tales and several songs; he dedicated the poem “Winter Evening” to the nanny. Until the age of 12, Sasha was brought up at home. He was taught by his mother, then by tutors. He learned to read and write and knew French well. Young Pushkin was fascinated by the French language and French poetry, and he was nicknamed “French” by his peers. But he began to master his native Russian language much later. In the XVIII-XIX centuries, nobles preferred to speak French so that the courtiers would not understand them.
A.S. Pushkin showed the world how rich and euphonious the Russian folk language is. Great Russian literature began with Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin. In Pushkin’s poems, special attention is paid to the description of native nature, love, friendship, and the lofty meanings of existence.
Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol
Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol (Yanovsky) is an outstanding Russian writer, playwright and prose writer. He is a famous classic of Russian literature. He was born on April 1, 1809 in the Poltava region (Ukraine) in a noble family. He grew up and was brought up in atmosphere of Ukrainian identity, which was reflected in the writer’s works. One of Gogol’s most famous works is “Taras Bulba”, where the author recreates the image of real events that took place in the century before last. The writer was interested in mysticism and religion. Gogol’s most mysterious work is considered to be the story “Viy”, created, according to the author, on the basis of Ukrainian folk legend.
In 1828, Gogol he moved to St. Petersburg. There he served as an official, tried to get a job as an actor in the theater and studied literature. His acting career was not going well, and he did not like his service. And the writer decided to prove himself in the literary field.
Since Gogol was always attracted to the theater, he wanted to try his hand at drama. In 1835, the comedy “The Inspector General” was published. A year later it was staged in the Moscow theater. The writer’s most profound philosophical and at the same time lyrically subtle work is the novel “Dead Souls.”
A few months before his death, Gogol is tormented by a fatal premonition. On February 7, Gogol confessed and received communion. On the morning of February 21, Gogol died in his apartment in Moscow.
Mikhail Yurievich Lermontov
Mikhail Yurievich Lermontov was born in Moscow.
His parents were not very happy together, and Mikhail learned early what family problems were. His mother passed away when the boy was not even three years old. But what remains in his memories is how tenderly she sang lullabies to him. The poet’s teacher was his grandmother, who loved him very much. As a child, Lermontov was struck down by a serious illness, and he remained bedridden for a long time. Therefore, the world of sadness and melancholy is familiar to the future poet firsthand.
When Pushkin died in a duel, Lermontov wrote the famous poem “The Death of a Poet.” There he named the royal power as the culprit in the death of the poet. For this he was exiled to the Caucasus. Frequent clashes between the military and the highlanders took place there, and Lermontov could have died. This is what the authorities hoped for.
At this time, Lermontov wrote and published in fragments the novel “A Hero of Our Time,” and the only collection of his poems during his lifetime was published.
Lermontov’s enormous talent would have been fully developed if his life had not ended tragically. In Pyatigorsk, Lermontov met his old acquaintance Nikolai Martynov at one of the balls. There was a quarrel between them. Martynov challenged Lermontov to a duel, which took place at the foot of Mount Mashuk on July 15, 1841. Lermontov did not attach serious importance to it and fired into the air. Insulted, Martynov shot point-blank. Lermontov died. Emperor Nicholas I received a message about Lermontov and went to church, where he said his famous phrase: “… the one who could replace Pushkin for us was killed.”.
Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev
Outstanding Russian writer, poet and playwright. He had a significant influence on the development of Russian and foreign literature. He was the first in Russian literature who began to study the personality of the “new man”.
Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev was born on November 9, 1818 in Oriol. He was brought up in an old noble family. Turgenev had a rather difficult childhood. The father moved away from the family, the mother was very difficult, and sometimes very cruel. Images of these people can be seen in some of the writer’s works.
Turgenev entered Moscow University when he was quite young only 14 years old. Literally four years later, at 18, he became a candidate, and at 23, a master of philosophical sciences.
Turgenev wrote his first work when he was a three-year student. The writer often went to live abroad.
Thus, in the capital of France he communicated closely with outstanding French writers. The meetings, as it often happens, took place in restaurants. It was there when an unusual tradition arose – “dinners of five”. It happened once a year, and later monthly, and took place in one of the many Parisian restaurants. The main instigators of the “get-togethers” were Zola, Goncourt, Daudet, Flaubert, and at the “head of the table” there was Turgenev.
Turgenev translated the works of Byron and Shakespeare into Russian, they were his teachers of the literary technique mastery.
In August 1852, one of Turgenev’s most important books, “A Sportsman’s Sketches,” was published, a poetic hymn to the Russian soul, the character of a simple Russian person. Throughout his life, Turgenev actively advocated the abolition of serfdom.
He spent the last years of his life in Germany, where he actively initiated foreigners into Russian culture. During his lifetime, Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev achieved high popularity both in Russia and abroad.
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky is a great Russian realist writer, a classic of world literature, one of the most famous and widely read Russian authors abroad. Dostoevsky had a huge influence on world culture; he is considered the founder of an entire philosophical movement of the XX century – existentialism.
Dostoevsky’s work became innovative not only for the Russian, but also for the European novel genre. Already in the earliest texts – such as “Poor Folk” – the author destroyed the canons accepted in that era, turned to colloquial style and everyday subjects, in which he revealed deep philosophical and humanistic truths.
In the novels of the so-called “great pentateuch” (“Crime and Punishment”, “Idiot”, “Demons”, “Teenager”, “The Brothers Karamazov”), the most important works of Fyodor Dostoevsky, the author fully revealed both his special style of storytelling and a new type of novel plot, and a certain socio-political, moral and religious ideology. Each of Dostoevsky’s heroes has his own idea, his own special voice. Many famous works of Dostoevsky were repeatedly filmed and staged in the theater, ballet and opera performances were staged.
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky suffered from epilepsy, the first attack was probably when he was a teenager, and the disease was proved officially during the years of imprisonment and hard labor. Epilepsy, as epilepsy was then called, haunted the writer throughout his life and was even reflected in his literary work – the main character of the novel “The Idiot”, Prince Myshkin, suffered from the same disease.
Alexander Nikolaevich Ostrovsky
Alexander Nikolaevich Ostrovsky is a Russian playwright, whose work became the most important stage in the development of the Russian national theater. Alexander Nikolaevich was born on April 12, 1823 in Moscow, and was educated at home. His father had a large library, where Alexander first began to read Russian literature.
An entire era in the development of Russian theater is associated with the name of Ostrovsky. Ostrovsky was a famous polyglot. He spoke not only the obligatory languages for an educated person of that time – French, ancient Greek and Latin, but also spoke fluent English, German, Spanish and Italian. He translated into other languages both his own works and world classics into Russian – M. Cervantes, V. Shakespeare, N. Machiavelli, K. Goldoni.
It was Ostrovsky, thanks to his translations, who introduced many Russians to the works of Shakespeare.
In many works he describes the life of an ordinary person: a merchant, an official, an actor. A total of 57 plays were written. Some of Ostrovsky’s most famous plays are: “Poverty is no vice”, “Poor Bride”, “Stay in your own sled”, “A Profitable Position”, etc.
He died at the age of 63, in his estate at his desk, translating Shakespeare’s tragedy Antony and Cleopatra.
Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy
Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy is one of the greatest novelists in the world. He is not only the world’s largest writer, but also a philosopher, religious thinker and enlightener.
The most famous works of Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy are the novels “War and Peace” and “Anna Karenina”. Tolstoy rewrote the famous novel “War and Peace” 8 times. Tolstoy’s “Sevastopol Stories” are based on his own memoirs – in his youth he was a member of the defense of Sevastopol during the Crimean War.
Leo Tolstoy was an enthusiastic music fan. His most beloved composers were Bach, Handel and Chopin. He could play the piano works of Mozart, Chopin, Mendelssohn and Schumann for several hours.
During his lifetime, Leo Tolstoy had active correspondence with his readers from around the world. In adulthood, Tolstoy, in order to emphasize his proximity to the common people, plowed the land himself, mowed with the peasants, walked in simple clothes and barefooted. Feeling guilty before the serfs, he opened a school for peasant children in 1849. During the famine in the Ryazan province, Lev Nikolaevich opened canteens for the needy, where thousands of peasants fed.
Tolstoy was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature, but he made it clear to the organizers that if he was awarded it, he would be forced to refuse.
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov
Anton Chekhov, a writer with the education of a doctor, wrote more than 300 works. Nowadays, his plays are staged and filmed not only in Russia, but also abroad. In his texts, Chekhov raised a variety of topics, ridiculed the vices of society, studied the soul of a modern person, but he did not like to write about himself.
Chekhov signed his first short humorous stories with pseudonyms, for example, “A Man Without a Spleen” and “Antosha Chekhonte.”
Over the 25 years of his work, Chekhov created more than five hundred different works (short humorous stories, serious stories, plays), many of which became classics of world literature.
In 1892, the writer bought a house in the Melikhovo estate, where he had active charitable and social activities. Here he opened a school for peasant children, donated money for the construction of roads, was engaged in planting trees, received many guests. He built his own library, which he himself financed and replenished with new copies of interesting books. Medical practice took a lot of effort and time, but it was in Melikhov that Chekhov wrote his most famous works: the play “The Seagull,” the story “Chamber No. 6,” the stories “The House with the Mezzanine” and ” the Man Who Lives in a Shell ” – only about 40 significant works. The last thing that A.P. Chekhov wrote was the play “The Cherry Orchard.”
His works have been translated into more than a hundred languages. His plays, especially The Seagull, Three Sisters and The Cherry Garden, have been staged in many theaters around the world for over a hundred years.
Ivan Alekseevich Bunin
Ivan Alekseevich Bunin is a famous writer and poet, the first Russian winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, academician of St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. He spent many years of his life in exile, becoming one of the most famous writers of Russian abroad.
Bunin was a brilliant translator. He translated the works of A. Mickiewicz, Petrarch, Byron, T. Shevchenko, G. Longfellow.
Bunin wrote his first poems at the age of 17, imitating Pushkin and Lermontov, whose work he admired.
In the biography of Ivan Alekseevich Bunin there are a lot of moves, travels (Europe, Asia, Africa). In exile, Bunin actively continued his literary activities, wrote his best works: “Mitya’s Love,” “Sunstroke,” “Pure Monday,” as well as the main novel in the writer’s life – “The Life of Arseniev” (1927-1929), which brought Bunin the Nobel Prize in 1933.
Before his death, the writer was often sick, but at the same time he did not stop writing. In the last few months of his life, Bunin was busy working on a literary portrait of A.P. Chekhov, but the work remained unfinished.
Ivan Bunin died on November 8, 1953 at the age of 83. He was buried in Paris in the cemetery of Sainte-Genevier-de-Bois.
Mikhail Afanasevich Bulgakov
Mikhail Afanasevich Bulgakov is a Russian writer, playwright, director, one of the best authors of the first half of the XX century, creator of the brilliant novels “The Master and Margarita,” “The White Guard,” “The Heart of a Dog.” His plays had a huge success since the mid-1920s, but the novels were appreciated only after his death.
During the First World War and the Civil War, he worked as a front-line doctor. Bulgakov took up literature at the age of 30, as there he could self-express.
“The Master and Margarita” is the most important work of Mikhail Bulgakov, which he dedicated to his last wife Elena Sergeevna Bulgakova. The writer worked on the novel for more than a decade until his death. The novel is the most discussed and important work in the biography and work of the writer. During the life of the writer, “The Master and Margarita” was not published as it was prohibited by censorship. The novel was first published in 1967.
Bulgakov’s play “The Days of the Turbins” about the fate of officers of the tsarist army successfully went on in Soviet Russia for about 15 years. Although the production was banned several times, Stalin himself personally demanded to return it to the stage, so the leader liked the high idea of the play about officer fraternity and eternal life values.
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