(1831 – 1895)
Leskov Nikolai Semenovich (1831-95), Russian writer. Antinigilisticheskie novels (“Nowhere”, 1864; “On the knives”, 1870-71); novels-chronicles of the Russian province (about the clergy “Soboryane”, 1872, about the nobility “The Rape”, 1874); novels and stories about the righteous (“Enchanted Wanderer”, 1873; Odnodum, 1879), talented craftsmen (“Lefty”, 1881); Christian legends; satirical works (“Hare’s Remise”, 1891-1894); memoirs and journalism. Criticizing modern social relations, painting the traditional way of life and justifying the rootedness of the Christian faith in Russia, recreates reality in a paradoxical refraction (tragic, idyllic or anecdotal) of its diverse
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LESKOV Nikolai Semenovich [4 (16) February 1831, the village of Gorokhovo, Orel County, Oryol Province February 21 (March 5), 1895, Petersburg], Russian writer.
“Our clan… comes from the clergy…”
Grandson of the priest, Leskov always stressed his family relationship with the estate, the image of which he considered his “specialty” in literature. Although Leskov’s father “did not go to the priests,” the seminary education determined his spiritual appearance. The chairman of the Oryol Criminal Chamber, an “excellent investigator” who received a nobility of service and married a girl from a noble family, in 1839 he retired, bought a farm in the Kromsky district and left Orel with the whole family (of his seven children the writer was the eldest) . In the village Leskov fell in with peasant children, to “minute details” learned “common folk life.” Childhood memories gave him material for the stories “Undying Golovan” (1879), “Scarecrow” (1885), “Judole” (1892).
Primary education Leskov received in the house of wealthy relatives. In 1841 he entered the Orel gymnasium, but he studied unevenly and in 1846, unable to withstand the transfer exams, began serving as a scribe in the Oryol Chamber of the Criminal Court. In those years he read a lot, circled among the Oryol intelligentsia. The sudden death of his father and the “devastating devastation” of the family changed the fate of Leskov. He moved to Kiev, under the tutelage of his uncle, a university professor, and began to serve in the Kiev state bureau. The influence of the university environment, familiarity with the Polish and Ukrainian cultures, the reading of AI Herzen, L. Feuerbach, L. Buchner, G. Babeuf, friendship with the icon painters of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra laid the foundation for the writer’s versatile knowledge.
“The bondage to literature”
In 1857 Leskov began to serve in a private company of a distant relative, the Englishman A. Ya. Shkotta. The commercial service demanded incessant traveling, life “in the most remote backwoods”, which gave “an abundance of impressions and a stock of household information”, reflected in a number of articles, feuilletons, notes with which the writer appeared in the Kiev newspaper “Modern Medicine”, in St. Petersburg magazines “Domestic notes” and “Index economic” (here in 1860 his printed debut took place). Leskov’s articles dealt with practical issues and were mostly revealing, which created him many enemies.
Success and scandal
With the move to St. Petersburg in 1861, Leskov began his intensive work in periodicals. He quickly became a prominent publicist. Soon in the press appeared and his first fictional experiments genre pictures, travel notes, manuscript essays. Leskov entered the literature as a connoisseur of the spiritual and everyday life of the people. The social position of the writer in those years is evidenced by his polemic with Sovremennik, the most authoritative journal of the left orientation. Although Leskov himself apparently went through the hobby of socialism and surrounded his circle of writers-radicals, in the early 1860’s. he acted as a consistent opponent of revolutionary changes and held these views until the end of his life. A deafening resonance was acquired by his article on the St. Petersburg fires of 1862, accompanied by rumors of revolutionary incendiaries. The writer demanded that the government immediately refute or prove these rumors. The Radicals considered his statement for the denunciation and opened the campaign of persecution of the writer, which forever left a painful mark in his memory.
From January 1864, Leskov’s novel “Nowhere” began to be printed, finally undermining the writer’s reputation in the left circles. Contemporaries perceived the novel as a calumny of the “younger generation”, although, in addition to the “crazy stakes” of nihilism, the writer also painted young people sincerely devoted to socialism, placing them among the best characters in the novel (mainly supporters of gradual reform of the country). Leskov’s main idea of the hopelessness of the revolution in Russia and the danger of unjustified social sacrifices provoked the rejection of the novel in the 1860s. Leskov was declared a “spy” who wrote “Nowhere” for the order of the Third Department. Such a stormy reaction was explained by the frank pamphlet of the novel: Leskov painted recognizable caricatures of famous writers and revolutionaries. Antinigilistic motives, sounding in his other works of the 1860s, as well as the novel On the Knives (1870), which shows the inner collapse of the revolutionary dream and painted “scammers from nihilism,” exacerbated the dislike of Leskov in the circle of the radical intelligentsia. His best works of those years are the stories “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District” (1865), “The Warrior” (1866), the chronicles “The Old Years in the Village of Plodomasovo” (1869) and “The Rape” (1874) passed almost unnoticed.
A turning point in the fate of Leskov was the chronicle “Soboryane” (1872), which demonstrated even to prejudiced readers the scale of his artistic talent. Behind the seemingly unpretentious story of “life-be inhabitants of the Stargorod Popovka,” there emerges a generalized image of national existence and an independent concept of Russian life. The struggle of the main hero of the chronicle of the priest Tuberozov with the “pests of Russian development” (both nihilists and indifferent administrators) is the inner spring and the semantic center of the narrative. The clergy, contrary to the inertia of public opinion, is treated in the chronicle both as an estate that stores traditional values and as a social environment from which one can expect salvation for the post-reform Russia torn by contradictions. The stories that gained wide readership success “
“… Christianity is the teaching of life”
Since the 1860’s. and until the last days Leskov wrote a lot about the religious life of Russian society. He entered the world of Old Believers and sectarians, personally accepting the pathos of seeking true faith. By the 1880’s. in his views, interest in Protestantism and the break with Orthodoxy (“we have Byzantium, and not Christianity”), which led to the preaching of non-confessional Christianity and the rapprochement with Tolstoyism, became apparent. Evolution of the writer from the story “At the End of the World” (1875), the artistic apology of national Orthodoxy, to the essays “Trifles of the Hierarchical Life” (1878), “Synodal Persons” (1882), novels “The Midnightmands” (1891), where the writer acted as a caustic critic of the official churchliness, naturally led in the 1880s. to his “return” to the liberal press and to the gradual rehabilitation of Leskov in the public consciousness. Soon, on the material of the plots extracted from the Prologue (an ancient Russian collection of lives and legends), Leskov wrote a series of “legends” from the life of the first Christians (The Story of a God-Friendly Woodcutter, 1886, Skomorokh Pamphalon, 1887, Zeno the Golden-Smith, 1890), turning them into an artistic preaching of the “well-read Gospel.” These works, along with a lot of late stories and stories, permeated with rejection of “church piety, narrow nationality and statehood,” strengthened Leskov’s reputation as a writer of broad humanistic views. Leskov wrote a series of “legends” from the life of the first Christians (The Story of a God-Friendly Woodcutter, 1886, Skomorokh Pamphalon, 1887, Zeno the Golden-Smith, 1890), turning them into the artistic preaching of the “well-read Gospel.” These works, along with a lot of late stories and stories, permeated with rejection of “church piety, narrow nationality and statehood,” strengthened Leskov’s reputation as a writer of broad humanistic views. Leskov wrote a series of “legends” from the life of the first Christians (The Story of a God-Friendly Woodcutter, 1886, Skomorokh Pamphalon, 1887, Zeno the Golden-Smith, 1890), turning them into the artistic preaching of the “well-read Gospel.” These works, along with a lot of late stories and stories, permeated with rejection of “church piety, narrow nationality and statehood,” strengthened Leskov’s reputation as a writer of broad humanistic views.
“Leskov writer of the future” (Leo Tolstoy)
Until the end of the days Leskov remained an experimental artist. Genre novel novels-anecdotes, fairy tales, legends, memoirs of the story, “stories by the way,” presupposed and stylistic diversity. Leskov was a brilliant stylist, imitating the language of the 18th century. (the cycle of short stories “Notes of the Unknown”, 1884), who possessed the Aesopian manner (“Hare’s Remembrance”, 1894), who loved the colorful style (the legend “Beautiful Aza”, 1887), who could write and elegantly simple (the story “Under Christmas Offended,” 1890 ). Leskov-artist’s worth was appreciated only in the 20th century, when M. Gorky’s articles appeared about his innovation and dramatic creative destiny, the work of B. M. Eikhenbaum on Leskov’s fairy-tale style, the illustrations of B. B. Kustodiev, D. Shostakovich’s opera ” Katerina Izmaylova “(on the”