(1818 – 1883)
Pavel Ivanovich Melnikov was born on November 6, 1818 in Nizhny Novgorod in the family of Ivan Ivanovich Melnikov and his wife Anna Pavlovna in the house of her grandfather on the mother of the outward counselor Pavel Petrovich Sergeyev, in honor of whom the first-born was named. The Melnikov family belonged to the old nobility, but it was neither noble nor rich. Neither the father nor the grandfather of the future writer had extracted any special material benefits from the service and therefore could not give their children the elementary education and upbringing that many children of people of their circle and their classes received. Up to ten years P. Melnikov studied at home, and then a special role in his development was played by his mother, Anna Pavlovna, who instilled in her son a love of reading, a love of literature and history. Ten-year-old boy copied in the notebook poems of Pushkin, Zhukovsky, Delvig, Baratynsky.
In 1829 Pavel Melnikov entered the Nizhny Novgorod Gymnasium, which he successfully graduated in 1834. In July 1834, Melnikov successfully passed the final exams among the other twelve and received a certificate from the hands of the prince of Oldenburg, who arrived at the solemn act in the Nizhny Novgorod gymnasium. However, the parents of his first-born were not allowed to go to Moscow University, and he, along with three of his comrades and a teacher of Russian literature, went along the Volga to Kazan.
In the year graduating from the university, Melnikov will be deprived of his father, and his mother died as early as 1835. But now fate smiled at him. In the university P. Melnikov acted as a student of his own, which gave him the right to choose the field at his own discretion, but from the second year (in connection with a difficult material situation) he was transferred to a state kosht, and state-student students, according to the then existing order, after the graduation of the university had several years to serve “on the educational department.” Usually they were sent to teach in the most remote or deaf places. But P. Melnikov, who graduated with honors with honors, was left at the university for a year so that he prepared for a trip abroad to replenish his knowledge. Later he had to return to the university and take his place at the chair of Slavic dialects. Before nineteen Paul opened a direct path to the professor.
But fate decreed otherwise: instead of traveling to the west, it goes to the east. Once, at one of the parties, he unnecessarily “got excited”, it came to the authorities, and as a result, Melnikov was sent to Perm as a history and statistics teacher to a local gymnasium, which meant that the scholarly career had collapsed.
A year later he managed to transfer to the same post in Nizhny Novgorod, where he had both relatives and acquaintances, which somehow facilitated his position, but did not change his fate. Melnikov’s teaching work satisfied little, and he had a lot of energy, and he, after hitting Perm, rushes to study a new edge for himself, his people.
Collected for a year of stay in Perm information and accumulated impressions will allow Melnikov already in 1839 to publish in the “Notes of the Fatherland” the head of his “Road notes on the way from Tambov province to Siberia.” Thus began the literary activity of PI Melnikov. Over the next three years, he prints a number of articles of historical, regional and statistical nature in Otechestvennye zapiski, Literaturnaya gazeta and Moskvityanin. At the same time, he will begin to try himself and in the field of elegant literature. He plans to write a great novel about the life of provincial and county cities of different ranks. At that time there was a heated debate in literature between romanticists and realists, and P. Melnikov unconditionally rose to the position of realists.
In 1840 on the pages of the Literary Gazette appeared his poem “The Great Artist” and two stories about a certain Elpidifor Perfilievich, who, in fact, were excerpts from a novel he conceived. Melnikov himself was a fairly strict judge of his own talent. So, but he confesses to his brother who served in the Caucasus and somewhere got the number of the Literary Gazette: “I will never forgive myself for having printed such filth… I still do not know people enough to write novels, I give you and honest a word not to write poetry or prose until I know a better life. ” He kept his word, a vow of literary silence dragged on for twelve years: his next fictional work (the story “Krasilnikov”) appeared only in 1852.
During the years of “silence” Pavel Melnikov made a good career and his contemporaries could seem as if he threw literature in the name of a career. His zeal in the work was not official, but scientific, at times, in order to acquire some important document or an old book on the split, PI Melnikov had to spend his own money; sometimes he penetrated into such corners as any of his business trips did not. And how much time he spent in the archives, meticulously studying the old days!
Upon his arrival in Nizhny Novgorod in 1839, Melnikov approached the director of the Nizhny Novgorod Fair, Count D. N. Tolstoy, who, according to P. Melnikov, drew his activity to study Russian history, antiquities and Russian schisms…
In particular, Melnikov in one of the merchants discovered that the full name of the famous Cosmas Minin – Kozma Zakharych Minin-Sukhoruk, which he published an article in 1842 in the “Notes of the Fatherland.” And his materials sent to the Archeographic Commission attracted the attention of the Minister of Education Count SS Uvarov, and on April 8, 1841, bypassing the representation of the curator of the educational district, Melnikov was confirmed as the correspondent of the Archaeographic Commission. In 1845, he took over the editorial of the unofficial part of the “Provincial Gazette” and from the following year left teaching in the gymnasium. Almost all materials for the newspaper Melnikov wrote himself, and although Vedomosti took a lot of time from him, he did not stop working in archives, studying antiquities and everything related to the split. His activities did not go unnoticed, and in 1850 he was enlisted to serve in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, an official of special assignments. Although Pavel Ivanovich still lives in Nizhny Novgorod, but now he is inspecting city institutions as an official of special assignments, which gives him the opportunity to study the life of merchants and philistines.
In 1849, V. Dal, came to Nizhny Novgorod, before Melnikov was only acquainted with him, but now they are close. Of course, it was not easy for the fourth decade to recapture the pen and again appear in the writers’ field, but Vladimir Ivanovich succeeded in motivating Pavel Melnikov’s special assignments to such a step of the official, and in 1851 he wrote the story “Krasilnikovs”, and, having received Dahl’s approval, sent him MP Pogodin in the “Moskvityanin.” In the eighth issue for 1852, the Krasilnikovs were published. The story was seen.
“For a long time we have not read in Russian literature,” Contemporary wrote, “nothing that would affect us so deeply that it would amaze us with such simplicity and fidelity to the image, such a lack of any artificiality as an excellent story called Krasilnikov, placed in the 8th book of the “Moskvityanin” and signed by Andrei Pechersky. This story is denounced in the author, whose name we meet for the first time in print (unless it is a pseudonym), subtle and intelligent observation and a great ability to master the language… “
Indeed, it was a pseudonym. PI Melnikov lived in Nizhny Novgorod on Pecherskaya Street, he coined this pseudonym in 1850, when he published an article in Gubernskie Vedomosti “Concerts at the Nizhny Novgorod Theater,” however, then he signed “P. Pechersky,” in the literature he came in as “Andrew Caves.”
In 1857, Russky Herald published his stories one after another: “The Old Years”, “Grandfather Polycarp”, “Poyarkov”, “Bear Corner”, “Indispensable”. At this time, Dobrolyubov puts Pechersky next to Shchedrin, and the articles of Chernyshevsky and Dobrolyubov on “Provincial Sketches” make it possible to judge how highly they assessed the creativity of the latter.
Since 1859 Melnikov-Pechersky has become editor of the newspaper “Russian Diary”, however, the publishing business brought him only troubles: on the one hand, there were few subscribers, and the newspaper brought only losses; on the other hand, Minister of Internal Affairs Lanskoy, who was fond of Melnikov, posed the question directly: either a newspaper or a service. Not having sufficient means for life Melnikov from July 5, 1859 stopped the newspaper. In addition, at the beginning of the year, the collection of his stories was banned by censorship, although all of them were published separately in the periodical press.
In “Russian Diary” Melnikov-Pechersky managed to print the story “At the Station,” several editorials and seven “satirical articles” about “Zouzoltsy.” To some extent, “Zouzoltsi” will be a kind of prototype of his future novel “In the Woods”. After the closure of the “Russian diary,” Melnikov-Pechersky actively collaborates in the newspaper Severnaya Bchela, in which he published many articles, including an article about Ostrovsky’s play Groza, stories by Makarya, Chudovo and five Letters about the split “. Since 1863, Melnikov-Pechersky again renews his relations with the “Russian Herald” and from 1863 to 1869 published in it a number of materials on the split (“Old Believers Bishops”, “Historical Sketches of Popovshchina,” “
With the beginning of the reforms persecution of the dissenters stopped. Now the split as a state problem Melnikov has ceased to interest, although he is still interested in both the split and the schismatics, but that is not the interest of the official, but of the historian and writer. In 1864-1865 Melnikov worked as an editor of the internal department of the newspaper of the Ministry of Internal Affairs “Northern Mail”. In April 1864 he was promoted to the actual state councilors, and in August 1866 he retired and moved to Moscow. The following year, in the “Russian Herald” published a historical story “Princess Tarakanova and Princess Vladimirskaya.” From now on he lives only with literary work. In 1868, Melnikov-Pechersky began work on the novel “In the Woods”.
Now Melnikov usually lives and works in the winter in Moscow, and in the summer – in a small estate of his wife, in Lyakhov, located eight versts from Nizhny Novgorod. In 1874, the novel “In the Woods” was completed. The new work forced to talk about Andrei Pechersky as a first-rate novelist, and the writer himself immediately takes up a new work – the novel “On the Mountains”, the work on which will take five years. Finished his last work Melnikov-Pechersky, being already very seriously sick man. Unable to write himself – he dictated to his wife. In 1881, Pavel Ivanovich moved to his permanent residence in his native Nizhny Novgorod, and there, in a house on Petropavlovskaya Street, on February 1, 1883, he died. He was buried in the cemetery at the women’s Holy Cross Monastery.