(3.10.1742 – 14.1.1791)
Knyazhnin Yakov Borisovich [3.10.1742 (or 1740), Pskov – 14.1.1791, St. Petersburg], playwright, poet, translator, member of the Russian Academy (1783). Of the nobility. From 1750 he studied at the Academic Gymnasium. From 1755 the Junker junior of the College of Livonian, Estland and Finnish Affairs, from 1757 the translator of the Chancellery from the buildings; in 1762 he transferred to military service [the secretary of the Adjutant General KG Razumovsky, from 1764 the secretary (in the rank of captain) with the duty adjutant general on duty]. In 1773 for the embezzlement of treasury money, the court sentenced him to death by hanging. Thanks to the intercession of Razumovsky, NI Panin, I. I. Betsky, the verdict was relaxed: Knyazhnin was demoted to the ranks, deprived of noble dignity. At the request of his mother in 1777 received a pardon Empress Catherine II (Knyazhnin returned nobility and officer rank) and soon retired. In 1778-1790 Betsky’s personal secretary, at the same time taught Russian literature in the Landed Gentry Cadet Corps, collaborated in the St. Petersburg Herald, The Interlocutor of the Lovers of the Russian Word (1783-1784), The New Monthly Compositions (1787), participated in the compilation of the Dictionary of the Academy of the Russian. Among the works of Knyazhnin are tragedies (Didona, 1769, Rosslav, 1784, Vadim Novgorodsky, 1785, etc.), comedies (Khvastun, 1784-1785, Eccentrics, 1790, Mourning, or The Comfortable Widow, 1794, and others), comic operas (The Misfortune of the Coach, 1779, The Sbitenik, 1783, and others), the melodrama Orpheus. The definition of “peremptory Knyazhnin,” given by Pushkin, became almost determinant for Russian literary criticism of the XIX-XX centuries. (the use of plot schemes, motifs and scenic positions of plays by Western European authors is a trait common to all Russian classicism of the 18th century. Knyazhnin borrowed dramatic collisions from Voltaire, Metastasio, Moliere, C. Goldoni, etc., complicating the composition). The greatest popularity among contemporaries enjoyed the tragedy of Dido, where in the guise of the Carthaginian tsarina all the dignities of the “enlightened monarchy” are embodied. The theme of Russia, the fate of the Fatherland goes through the works of Knyazhnin in the 80’s. In the tragedy “Vladimir and Yaropolk” (1772, based on a chronicle story about the assassination of Prince
Yaroslavl’s brother by Prince Vladimir Svyatoslavich) Knyazhnin condemned the fratricidal war. The plot of the tragedy “Olga” (1772) served as an episode of the revenge of Princess Olga to the prince of Malia for the murder of Prince Igor. In the 1784 tragedy “Rosslav,” Knyazhnin wrote that in her “the passion of great souls to the Fatherland is depicted”: the main character – “the Russian commander” Rosslav, captured by the Swedish king Christiern, rejects the plan of his prince, who intended to release him in return for the return to the Swedes of the cities conquered by Rosslava. The patriotic pathos of tragedies, stories from domestic history, tyrannical motifs created success for contemporaries. At the heart of the last tragedy Knyazhnin “Vadim Novgorod” – the struggle of Republican Vadim against the ruler of Novgorod Rurik. Although the tragedy ends with the victory of a virtuous monarch, the image of Vadim, who preferred the death of the power of a tyrant, gave tragedy an anti-monarchical character. The tragedy was never put; in 1793 Dashkova tried to publish it in the collection of plays “The Russian Theater” and a separate edition, but at the direction of Empress Catherine II the entire edition was destroyed. In the comedies of Princess Knyazhnin, who successfully marched on the stages of St. Petersburg and Moscow, mockery and idleness, gallomania, the scantiness and backwardness of the Russian nobility, and inhuman treatment of serfs were laughed at. Knyazhnin translated Voltaire’s poem Henryrad (1777), the tragedies Sid, Cinna and Pompeev’s Death (1779), Rodogunda (1788; translation of the tragedy “Horace” and comedy “Liar” (not published)], JB Marino’s poem “Beating the Babies” (1779), Goldoni’s comedy “The Wicked Widow”, “Woman’s Vanity” (not published), etc. The fate of the last tragedy Knyazhnin “Vadim Novgorod” contributed to the emergence of different versions of the death of Knyazhnin; Knyazhnin’s son, in a biographical sketch about his father, wrote that he died of a “cold fever”; according to another version, Knyazhnin “died under the birch” (from torture in the Secret Chancery).
The materials of the book are used: Sukhareva O. V. Who was who in Russia from Peter I to Paul I, Moscow, 2005