A prose writer, a playwright.
Born August 9 (21 N. s.) In the city of Orel in the family of an official. In six years I learned to read “and read very much, everything that came to hand.” In 11 years he entered the Orel gymnasium, which he graduated in 1891. From early childhood, “I felt a passion for painting,” he painted a lot, but since there were no schools or teachers in Orel, “the whole affair was limited to sterile dilettantism.” Despite Andreyev’s rigorous assessment of his painting, his paintings were subsequently exhibited at exhibitions near the works of professionals, reproduced in magazines. In his youth, he did not think to become a writer.
At the age of 26, after graduating from the law faculty of Moscow University, he was going to become a sworn attorney and took this activity very seriously, but he unexpectedly received an offer from a familiar lawyer to take the place of a judicial reporter in the newspaper Moskovsky Vestnik. Having received recognition as a talented reporter, in just two months he had already moved to the newspaper “Courier”. So the birth of the writer Andreev began: he wrote numerous reports, feuilletons, essays. The first story “Bargamot and Garaska” (1898), published in the “Courier”, attracted the readers’ attention and enthralled Gorky. Plots of many works of this time are directly suggested by life, for example, the story
Andreeva worried about the increasing estrangement and loneliness of the modern man, his lack of spirituality – the stories “The City” (1902), “In the Grand Slam” (1899). Early Andreev worried about the fateful accident, insanity and death – “Thought” (1902), “Life of Basil of Thebes” (1903), “Ghosts” (1904).
In 1904, in the midst of the Russo-Japanese War, Andreev wrote the story “Red Laughter”, which determined a new stage in his work. The insanity of war is expressed in the symbolic image of Red Laughter, which begins to dominate the world.
During the revolution of 1905, Andreev helped revolutionaries, for which he was arrested and imprisoned. However, he was never a convinced revolutionary. His doubts were reflected in his work: the play “To the Stars,” imbued with revolutionary pathos, appeared simultaneously with the story “So it was,” skeptical about the possibilities of the revolution.
In 1907 – 10 published such modernist works as “Savva”, “Darkness”, “The King of the Famine”, philosophical dramas – “The Life of Man”, “Black Masks”, “Anatema.” During these years Andreev began to actively cooperate with the modernist almanacs of the publishing house “Shipovnik”.
In 1910, none of Andreev’s new works became a literary event, nevertheless Bunin writes in his diary: “After all, this is the only modern writer to whom I am attracted, whose every new thing I immediately read.”
The last major work of Andreev, written under the influence of world war and revolution, is “The Notes of Satan.”
October revolution Andreev did not accept. He lived at that time with his family at the dacha in Finland and in December 1917, after gaining independence in Finland, he found himself in exile.
Andreev died on September 12, 1919 in the village of Neuwola in Finland.