(1881 – 1972)
The prose writer.
He was born on January 29 (February 10, 2001) in Orel in the family of a mining engineer. Children’s days were spent in the village of Usty in the Kaluga province “in an atmosphere of freedom and the kindest relations with their parents.” From this time on, he experiences “magical power”, which he enjoys all his life – the power of the book.
In Kaluga, he finishes the classical gymnasium and the real school. In 1898, “not without the impressions of his beloved father” stands exams at the Imperial Technical School. Only one year is spent: he is expelled for participating in student unrest. He goes to St. Petersburg, goes to the Mining Institute, but soon leaves him, returns to Moscow
Zaitsev gives his first literary experiments to the court of the patriarch of criticism and journalism N. Mikhailovsky, editor of the magazine Narodism “Russian Wealth” and receives his benevolent parting words. In 1900 he meets in Yalta with Chekhov, a reverential attitude to which preserves for life. Chekhov noted the talent of the young writer. Leonid Andreev published in the “Courier” Zaitsev’s story “On the Road,” which announced; about the birth of an original prose writer. In 1902 he entered the Moscow literary circle “Wednesday”, which united N. Teleshov, V. Veresaev, I. Bunin, L. Andreev, M. Gorky, and others.
The first successful publications open Zaitsev’s way to any magazines. About him started talking, there were first reviews and essays of creativity. The main advantage of his stories, novels, novels, plays was the joy of life, the bright optimistic beginning of his worldview.
In 1906, his acquaintance with Bunin passes into a close friendship, which will last until the last days of their lives, although at times they quarreled,
In Moscow in 1912 formed a cooperative “Book Publishing Writers”, which includes Bunin and Zaitsev, Teleshov and Shmelev, etc.; here in the collections “The Word” Zaitsev prints such significant works as “The Blue Star”, “Mother and Katya”, “Travelers”. Here begins the publication of his first collection of works in seven volumes.
In 1912 he married, Natasha’s daughter is born. Among these events of his personal life, he finishes work on the novel “The Far Edge” and proceeds to translate the “Divine Comedy” of Dante.
Zaitsev lives and works for a long time in his father’s house in Pritykino, Tula Province. Here receives the news of the beginning of the first world warrior and the agenda of mobilization. A thirty-five-year-old writer in 1916 became a cadet military school in Moscow, and in 1917 – an officer of the reserve infantry regiment. He did not have to fight, the revolution began. Zaitsev tries to find in this destructive world a place for himself, which is given with great difficulty, a lot of outrage, is unacceptable.
Participates in the work of the Moscow Enlightenment Commission. Further joyful events (publication of books) are followed by tragic ones: the son of his wife (from his first marriage) is arrested and shot, his father dies. In 1921 he was elected chairman of the Writers’ Union, in the same year, cultural figures join the committee to help the hungry, and a month later they are arrested and taken to Lubyanka. Zaitsev is released in a few days, he leaves for Pritykino and returns in the spring of 1922 to Moscow, where he suffers from typhus. After recovery, he decides with his family to go abroad for a health amendment. Thanks to the assistance of Lunacharsky receives a visa and leaves Russia. First he lives in Berlin, works hard, then in 1924 he comes to Paris, meets Bunin, Kuprin, Merezhkovsky and remains forever in the capital of emigrant overseas. Zaitsev actively works till the end of his days, writes a lot, prints. He carries out his long-conceived work-writes art biographies of his dear people, writers: “The Life of Turgenev” (1932), “Zhukovsky” (1951), “Chekhov” (1954).
In 1964 he wrote his last story “The River of Times”, which will give the title and the last of his book.
Zaitsev also owns: autobiographical tetralogy – “The Journey of Gleb” (1937), “Silence” (1948), “Youth” (1950), “The Tree of Life” (1953); collections of novellas: “Travelers” (1921), and others; several plays; translation into Russian of the “Ada” by Dante. Zaitsev’s works, a subtle stylist, are characterized by ethical problems, psychologism, and a seal of a religious-mystical worldview.
January 21, 1972 at the age of 91 years, Zaitsev died in Paris. He was buried in the cemetery of Saint-Genevieve-des-Bois.