(1717 – 1777)
Sumarokov Alexander Petrovich (1717 – 1777), poet, playwright. He was born on November 14 (25 BC) in Moscow in an old noble family. Until fifteen years he was trained and brought up at home.
In 1732 – 40 he studied in the Landed Gentry Corps, where he began to write poetry, imitating Trediakovsky. He served as adjutant to Count G. Golovkin and Count A. Razumovsky and continued to write, at this time experiencing a strong influence of Lomonosov.
After a while he finds his own genre – love songs, which were recognized by the public and disagreed on the lists. He develops poetic methods of depicting psychic life and psychological conflicts, later applied to them in tragedies.
The lyrics of Sumarokov were greeted disapprovingly by Lomonosov, a supporter of the civil subject. The polemics between Lomonosov and Sumarokov on questions of poetic style represented an important stage in the development of Russian classicism.
From love songs Sumarokov passes to the poetic tragedies – Khorev (1747), Hamlet (1748), Sinav and Truvor (1750). In these works, for the first time in the history of the Russian theater, the achievements of French and German educational dramaturgy were used. Sumarokov combined in them personal, love topics with social and philosophical problems. The emergence of tragedies served as an incentive... for the creation of the Russian Theater, which was headed by Sumarokov (1756 – 61).
In 1759 he published the first Russian literary magazine “The Hard-Working Bee”, speaking on the side of the court group, which was guided by the future Empress Catherine II.
At the beginning of the reign of Catherine II literary glory Sumarokova reaches the zenith. Young satirists, grouped around N. Novikov and Fonvizin, support Sumarokov, who writes fables directed against bureaucratic arbitrariness, bribery, inhuman treatment of landlords and serfs.
In 1770, after moving to Moscow, Sumarokov came into conflict with the Moscow commander-in-chief P. Saltykov. The Empress took the side of Saltykov, to which Sumarokov responded with a mocking letter. All this worsened his social and literary position.
In the 1770s he created his best comedies (“Cuckold according to the imagination”, “Slander”, 1772) and the tragedy “Dmitri the Pretender” (1771), “Mstislav” (1774). Participated as a director in the theater at Moscow University, published collections of “Satire” (1774), “Elegy” (1774).
The last years of life are marked by material deprivation, loss of popularity, which led to a predilection for alcoholic beverages. This was the cause of Sumarokov’s death on October 1 (12th century) in 1777 in Moscow.
A short biography from the book: Russian writers and poets. A short biographical dictionary. Moscow, 2000.