(1821 – 1876)
Nekrasov Nikolai Alekseevich (1821-1876) – poet, novelist, critic, publisher.
Children’s years of Nekrasov were on the Volga in the village. Greshnevo of the Yaroslavl Province. Nekrasov’s father was one of those landowners, which were then many: ignorant, rude and violent. He oppressed his family, mercilessly beat the peasants. The poet’s mother, a loving, kind woman, fearlessly interceded for the peasants. She also protected children from being beaten by her husband.
It seems that there was no other poet who, so often, with such a reverent love would resurrect in his poems the image of his mother. According to Nekrasov, it is under the influence of memories of his mother that he wrote so many works that protest against the oppression of women (“Troika”, “Frost, Red Nose,” “In full swing, suffer the village…”, etc.). It was from Greshnev that Nekrasov the poet made an exceptional sensitivity to the suffering of others.
When Nekrasov was 10 years old, he was sent to the Yaroslavl gymnasium, from which he left after the fifth grade, since his father refused to pay a fee for his education. In these years Nekrasov fell in love with books and read a lot. At the age of 17 he traveled to the capital, to St. Petersburg, but there he found it very difficult to live. Father wanted for his son a military career, and he decided to go to university. For his self-will, his father deprived him of any material support, and the youth remained without means of subsistence.
In order not to die of hunger, a talented young man began to compose verses and stories for the order of the capital booksellers. Nekrasov wrote day and night, but received for it a pittance.
At this time, he met and closely met with the great Russian critic VG Belinsky, who exerted a tremendous influence on Nekrasov – moral, literary, ideological, and then his fresh, versatile talent flashed especially brightly.
In 1847 the writer I. I. Panaev together with Nekrasov purchased the journal Sovremennik founded by A. S. Pushkin. Nekrasov’s editorial talent blossoms in Sovremennik, which rallied around the magazine the best literary forces of the 40s and 60s. IS Turgenev publishes here “Notes of a Hunter”, IA Goncharov – the novel “Ordinary History”, VG Belinsky – late critical articles, AI Herzen – the story “Soroka-thief”
and “Doctor Krupov “. Here Nekrasov also put his poems. After the death of Belinsky, Nekrasov drew the Belinsky-Chernyshevsky and Dobrolyubov cases to work in the journal.
The influence of “Contemporary” grew every year, but soon a disaster erupted over him. In 1861, died Dobrolyubov, then arrested and exiled to Siberia Chernyshevsky. In 1862, the government suspended the publication for eight months, and in 1866 completely banned it.
After a year and a half, Nekrasov rents the “Notes of the Fatherland” and from 1868 until his death remains the editor of this magazine uniting the progressive forces. “Domestic notes” enjoyed the same success as “Contemporary”.
The highest flowering of Nekrasov’s creativity began in 1855. He finished the poem “Sasha”, in which he wanted to show how “new people” are born and how they differ from the former “heroes of time”, “superfluous people” from the cultural gentry. At the same time he wrote poems “The Forgotten Village”, “Shkolnik”, “The Unhappy”, “Poet and Citizen”. In these works the powerful forces of the national singer were discovered.
The first collection of poems by Nekrasov (1856) brought the poet fame. “Peasant children” (1856), created simultaneously with the “Peddlers”, continue the success of the poet. The poem “Frost, Red Nose” (1863-1864) is filled with bright faith and good hope.
The poem “Orina, Mother of the Soldier”
The poem “Grandfather” and “Russian Women” are opened in the Decembrist theme (see “Russian Women”). In “Princess Trubetskoy” (1871) and “Princess Volkonskaya” (1872) Nekrasov opens in the best women of the noble circle the same qualities of a national character as he found in peasant women poems “Korobeiniki” and “Frost, Red Nose.” That is why works about the Decembrists became facts of not only literary, but also social life. They inspired young people to fight for the people’s freedom.
Studying the peasant life closely, the poet prepared for a great literary feat – to create a great poem that glorifies generosity, heroism, the mighty spiritual strength of the Russian people.
The hero of the poem “To Whom in Russia Live Well” (1865-1877) – all the multi-million “peasant kingdom”. Such poetry has never happened in Russia. The consciousness of the moral “people’s strength”, which foreshadowed the people’s victory in the struggle for a happy future, was the source of that optimism felt in Nekrasov’s great poem (see “Who Lives Well in Russia”).
In 1876, after a break, Nekrasov again returned to the poem, but he no longer had the strength to finish it, because at the beginning of 1875 he fell seriously ill. Neither the famous surgeon nor the operation could stop the deadly cancer disease. It’s time to sum up, and the poet creates “The Last Songs”. Nekrasov understands that by his work he is paving new paths in poetic art.
He decided on a bold combination of elegiac, lyrical and satirical motifs within a single poem, which had previously been completely unacceptable. Nekrasov significantly expanded the range of Russian poetry, using colloquial speech, folk phraseology, boldly including various speech styles – from everyday to publicistic, from folk vernacular to poetic vocabulary, from oratorical to parodic-satirical style.
But Nekrasov still preserves the sanctity of the mother image. In the poem “Baiushki-bai” with the lips of the mother, Motherland turns to the poet with the last song of comfort:
Do not be afraid of bitter oblivion:
I already hold in my hand the
crown of love, the crown of forgiveness, the
gift of your mild homeland.