Glossary of Names




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Orlov, Vladimir Nikolaevich (1908–96), Russian-Soviet literary scholar and critic who originally studied art history. Orlov published a considerable body of critical work on the radical democratic movement in Russia in the late eighteenth century and the early nineteenth, including studies of the Decembrist poets, the liberal reformer Aleksandr Radishchev and the playwright Aleksandr Griboedov (q.v.). He is best known as the editor-in-chief of the Biblioteka Poeta series, and was a specialist on the poetry of Aleksandr Blok (q.v.), editing his collected works (1936, 1955, 1960–3). At the time of his death Orlov was Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of Teaching Skills, St Petersburg, and a member of the Russian Academy of Arts. Berlin met him at Gennady Rakhlin’s bookshop in Leningrad in 1945: see ‘A Visit to Leningrad’ in The Soviet Mind (see 000 above).
Panaev, Ivan Ivanovich (1812–62), editor, journalist and novelist. Although not a major literary figure, Panaev helped Nekrasov (q.v.) turn Sovremennik (The Contemporary) into a profitable journal. He is best known for his ‘physiological sketches’, a genre that exhibited the details of daily life by briefly portraying the activities of ordinary individuals (usually petty bureaucrats). Such sketches were typically used to display the grim circumstances of urban life. His novel L´vy v provintsii (Provincial Lions, 1852), notable for its treatment of women’s emancipation, was a modest success.
Peter I (1672–1725), Tsar of Russia 1682–1725, known as Peter the Great. Having travelled throughout Europe as a young man, Peter returned to Russia and introduced a series of sweeping reforms that were meant to modernise the nation. His main concern was to transform the army and the civil service, and to this end he instituted a ‘Table of Ranks’. According to the Table, nobility entailed the obligation to serve, and military service became mandatory for all nobles. This integrated the interests of the nobility with those of the State, and undermined the power of hereditary nobles. Peter also founded St Petersburg (which became the new seat of government), and engaged in wars with the Ottoman Empire and Sweden in an attempt to turn Russia into a maritime power. Ultimately, the controversial nature of his innovations split the nobility into those who wanted further reforms and those who wanted a return to the ‘old ways’ – a division that foreshadowed many of the debates of the nineteenth century.
Petrashevsky, Mikhail Vasil´ievich (1821–66), lawyer and translator. An interpreter and translator for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Petrashevsky’s reputation stems from his hosting weekly meetings that eventually led to a confrontation with the authorities. He was a voracious reader who was able to use his job to amass a large personal library, and he and his friends originally met informally on Fridays to discuss topics of personal interest. Given the repressive atmosphere of the time, in which public discussion had been severely restricted by Nicholas I (q.v.), the ‘Petrashevsky Circle’ quickly grew in size, as it provided one of the few outlets for philosophical debate. Public figures such as Dostoevsky and Pleshcheev (qq.v.) started to attend meetings, which became more overtly political. Eventually Nicholas ordered Petrashevsky’s arrest, and the authorities rounded up the most active members of the group. After a trial involving extensive hearings – as recorded in Delo petrashevtsev (The Petrashevsky Affair, 1937–51) – a mock execution was staged, in which Petrashevsky and other members were lined up before a firing squad. A last minute reprieve was then read, whereupon the most prominent figures of the group were exiled to Siberia.
Pisarev, Dmitry Ivanovich (1840–68), journalist and literary critic. Along with Chernyshevsky and Dobrolyubov (qq.v.), Pisarev was one of the leading literary critics after Belinsky. A self-proclaimed nihilist, he insisted that literature be judged not by its aesthetic qualities, but by its truthfulness. Praising Turgenev’s (q.v.) portrait of Bazarov in Ottsy i deti (Fathers and Children, 1862) he held that science provided the correct standard for ascertaining truth, and dismissed the historical philosophy associated with Hegel and his followers as speculative. This set him at odds with many socialists and radicals, who accused him of being too materialistic. Undaunted by the charge, he produced a body of work notable for its clarity of argument and its rigorous analysis. Among his more influential essays were ‘Bazarov’ (1862), ‘Razrushenie estetiki’ (‘The Abolition of Aesthetics’, 1865) and ‘Pushkin i Belinsky’ (Pushkin and Belinsky, 1865). His career was cut short when he drowned while bathing in the Baltic Sea.
Plekhanov, Georgy Valentinovich (1856–1918), revolutionary and leading Marxist thinker. Plekhanov’s political activities began in the populist movement of the 1870s, but he soon rejected the terrorism of the extremists and left Russia in 1880. He lived in exile in Geneva until 1917, founding a political group based on German Marxism in 1883. In 1898 this group would be renamed as the Russian Social Democratic Workers’ Party. A close colleague of Lenin’s, he edited the Marxist newspaper Iskra (The Spark) with him from 1900, but in 1903 their association ended with the split in the RSDWP between the Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, and the Mensheviks, led by Plekhanov. He returned briefly to Russia in 1917, but, being opposed to the Revolution, left soon after for Finland. Although he never held political power, and was profoundly disillusioned by the new Bolshevik hegemony in Russia, he is still revered for contributing a massive body of theory – in twenty-six volumes – to European Marxism that remains an inspiration to Marxist thinkers worldwide. An essay on him by Berlin appears in The Power of Ideas (see 000 above).
Pleshcheev, Aleksey Nikolaevich (1825–93), journalist, literary critic, poet, playwright and translator. A close friend of Dostoevesky (q.v.), Pleshcheev was known for his religiously infused poetry and short stories. An aristocrat with socialist leanings, he was exiled to Siberia for his involvement in the Petrashevsky (q.v.) Circle. Eventually pardoned, he returned to Moscow and resumed his literary career. Though fairly conventional, his works were well received by his contemporaries, who appreciated his concern for ordinary individuals. He was especially praised for portraying ‘active’ characters, which critics like Dobrolyubov (q.v.) contrasted favourably with the image of the ‘superfluous man’.
Pobedonostsev, Konstantin Petrovich (1827–1907), adviser to the Tsar, lawyer, university teacher, and procurator-general of the Orthodox Church. Son of a priest, Pobedonostsev taught law at Moscow University and wrote a three-volume text on civil law. He was appointed tutor to Alexander III, and became one of Alexander’s closest advisors when he assumed the throne. A radical conservative, he urged Alexander to avoid concessions to reformers, on the grounds that this would only encourage revolutionary violence. He is credited with being the intellectual architect of Alexander’s Manifesto of 1881, which reiterated the absolute sovereignty of the tsar. Known as highly critical but unimaginative, he later distilled his ideas in Moskovskii sbornik (Reflections of a Russian Statesman, 1896), in which he argued that contemporary society was threatened by a moral degeneration that could be redressed only through the institutions of the Church and State. Like many conservatives, he believed Western ideals were inappropriate for Russia, whose large size and disperse population required a centralised autocracy.
Pogodin, Mikhail Petrovich (1800–75), historian, journalist, university teacher and editor. A teacher at Moscow University, Pogodin was a conservative historian who provided a strongly nationalistic reading of Russia’s past. Influenced by German philosophers such as Schelling and Schlegel, he belonged to a group of scholars known as the ‘romantic nationalists’, who idealised Russian history, claiming that the simplicity of the peasantry and their agrarian way of life had insulated the nation from revolution. They further argued that since Russia had avoided the moral degeneracy that afflicted Europe, she could serve as the source of the moral regeneration of humanity. Pogodin popularised these ideas in his lectures, which were published in collected form in the multi-volume Issledovaniya, zamechaniaya i lektsii o russkoi istorii (Studies, Lectures and Remarks about Russian History, 1846–1956).
Polevoy, Nikolay Alekseevich (1796–1846), author, historian, journalist and literary critic. Son of a Siberian merchant, Polevoy was one of the first successful non-aristocratic writers. With his brother, he ran the progressive journal Moskovsky telegraf (The Moscow Telegraph), which was suspended when he published a highly critical review of a popular conservative play. He was primarily known for his Istoriia russkogo naroda (History of the Russian People, 1829–33), which was his response to Karamzin’s Istoriya gosudarstva rossiskogo (History of the Russian State, 1818–29). Like most of his contemporaries, he was influenced by German romanticism, and believed that there are laws of historical development that govern societies. However, contrary to Karamzin, he believed that these laws applied directly to peoples rather than to institutions. Pushkin (q.v.) parodied Polevoy’s ideas in Istoriya sela Goryukhino (The History of the Village of Goryukhino, 1837).
Pugachev, Emel´yan Ivanovich (c.1740–75), rebel. A Cossack who had served in the Russian military, Pugachev led a major peasant rebellion against Catherine II (q.v.) in 1773. Claiming to be Catherine’s husband Peter III (who had died under questionable circumstances), he fomented an insurrection which lasted for some two years, during which he was able to conquer a great expanse of territory stretching from the Ural mountains to the Volga river. Catherine dispatched troops to put down the rebellion, but their initial efforts failed. Eventually the rebels were defeated and Pugachev was publicly executed, but not before he had acquired a legendary reputation. He inspired later revolutionaries, who regarded his challenge to authority as comparable to their own. Pushkin (q.v.) was particularly fascinated by Pugachev: he wrote a history of the rebellion, and also used it for the basis of his novel Kapitanskaya dochka (The Captain’s Daugher, 1836).
Pushkin, Aleksandr Sergeevich (1799–1837), poet, playwright and novelist. Russia’s national poet, Pushkin was the foremost writer of his generation. Though born into the gentry, he was among the first to write extensively in the vernacular and to incorporate the daily existence of ordinary individuals into his work. Although his political sympathies became more conservative as he grew older, his writings exhibit progressive tendencies that strongly inspired later liberals, and provided the foundation for modern Russian literature. His poems are known for their lyricism and elegance, and his prose for its clarity of expression. ‘Russia’s Shakespeare’, Pushkin is best-known for his narrative poems, including the ‘novel in verse’ Evgeny Onegin (Eugene Onegin, 1825–32), for which he invented his own verse form, the ‘Onegin stanza’. Among his other works are Boris Godunov (1825), Poltava (1829), Povesti pokoinogo Ivana Petrovicha Belkina (The Tales of Ivan Petrovich Belkin, 1830), Mednyi vsadnik (The Bronze Horseman, 1833), Pikovaya dama (The Queen of Spades, 1833), Istoriia Pugacheva (The History of Pugachev, 1834) and Kapitanskaia dochka (The Captain’s Daughter, 1836). He was fatally wounded in a duel with his brother-in-law, fought over the latter’s relationship with Pushkin’s wife.
Ryleev, Kondraty Fedorovich (1795–1826), poet and friend of Pushkin, leader of the Decembrist Revolt of 1825. A romantic poet, Ryleev celebrated civic pride in his revolutionary lyrics, satirised the autocracy in his so-called ‘agitational songs’, and in epic verse recounted the glorious martyrdom of past historical heroes, for example the Ukrainian nationalist Mazepa in his poem Voinarovsky (1824–5). From 1823 to 1825 he edited the journal Polyarnaya zvezda (The Polar Star). Prominent in the Northern Society, a group of republicans who plotted the overthrow of the imperial family, he was one of the five ringleaders of the abortive Decembrist Revolt, after which he was arrested and hanged in 1826.
Saltykov, Mikhail Evgrafovich (he also used the pseudonym N. Shchedrin, and is sometimes referred to as Saltykov-Shchedrin) (1826–89), novelist and satirist. Saltykov entered the tsarist civil service in 1844. Some early short stories critical of the regime led to his exile in Vyatka, although he remained a civil servant, returning to Moscow in 1855. Here he co-edited the journals Sovremennik (The Contemporary) and Otechestvennye zapiski (Notes of the Fatherland) with Nekrasov (q.v.), leaving the civil service in 1868. His satirical sketches, published from the 1850s, were the forerunners of his finest works, Istoriya odnogo goroda (History of a Town, 1869–70), and his bitter attack on the decaying Russian gentry, Gospoda Golovlevy (The Golovlev Family, 1876–80).
Samarin, Yury Fedorovich (1819–76), Slavophil philosopher, essayist and civil servant. From the 1850s Samarin contributed to the Slavophil journal Russkaya beseda (Russian Colloquy), collaborating with Konstantin Aksakov (q.v.) and other leading figures. In his capacity as a civil servant he worked on Alexander II’s Great Reforms of the 1860s, drafting the declaration under which the serfs were emancipated in 1861. He died in Berlin.
Speransky, Mikhail Mikhailovich (1772–1839), statesman. Son of an impoverished priest, Speransky was one of Russia’s most prominent liberals. Known for his intelligence, he quickly rose through the ranks of the civil service to become an advisor to Alexander I, who consulted closely with him. Given permission to reform the State civil service, Speransky drafted a constitutional framework that would have introduced the equivalent of a parliament. He planned gradually to transform the tsarist autocracy into a European-style constitutional monarchy. An initial success was the establishment of the State Council, an advisory body on legislation. But court intrigues undermined his relationship with Alexander, when conservatives claimed that he privately disparaged the Tsar, and called into question his ties to France, against whom Russia was preparing to go to war. Dismissed from court service, he briefly served as governor-general of Siberia, before eventually being given a post on the State Council. In his later years he was appointed by Nicholas I (q.v.) to codify the legal code.
Stankevich, Nikolay Vladimirovich (1813–40), philosopher and poet. Though not a major literary figure in his own right, Stankevich played a pivotal role in the development of Russian philosophy. As the leader of an informal discussion group at Moscow University, he provided a forum for the individuals who would eventually shape nineteenth-century Russian thought. Herzen, Granovsky, Bakunin and Katkov (qq.v.) – among others – were all participants in the ‘Stankevich Circle’, which served as the model for similar groups that arose later, e.g. Petrashevsky’s (q.v.). Deeply interested in German romanticism, he travelled to Europe, where he studied Hegelian philosophy in Berlin. But he had contracted tuberculosis, and succumbed to the disease while abroad.
Strakhov, Nikolay Nikolaevich (1828–96), literary critic and philosopher. Trained in zoology, Strakhov was one of the foremost theorists of the pochvenniki (‘men of the soil’). Influenced by Hegel, he believed that the world had a spiritual unity that gave meaning to human existence. He argued that the denial of such meaning was symptomatic of nihilism and its mechanistic conception of reason. The only way to combat the atomistic tendencies of nihilism was to acknowledge the ‘organic’ aspects of existence associated with religion and the nation, which he saw as situated in ‘the soil’. A friend of Dostoevesky and Tolstoy (qq.v.), he influenced the conservative tendencies of their later works.
Tkachev, Petr Nikitich (1844–86), journalist and radical. An acquaintance of Nechaev’s (q.v.), Tkachev was one of the more influential Russian writers of the late nineteenth century. His main contribution to radical thought was the idea that the peasantry, too lethargic to act on its own, needed to be prompted by a cadre of dedicated revolutionaries. This placed him in opposition to Bakunin and Kropotkin (qq.v.), both of whom believed the revolution would be a spontaneous occurrence. He also disputed Marx’s view of history, claiming that Russia did not need to pass through all the phases of economic development in order to achieve communism. This led to a celebrated exchange with Engels, who took the contrary view. Ultimately Tkachev’s ideas influenced Lenin, who, having encountered his essays while exiled in Geneva, agued a similar case in Gosudarstvo i revolutsia (State and Revolution, 1917).
Tolstoy, Count Lev Nikolaevich (1828–1910), author. Tolstoy is one of the greatest Russian writers. His literary career began with Detstvo (Childhood,1854), written while he was in the army. After retiring from military service in 1856 he devoted his full attention to writing, and published a variety of short stories and articles, as well as Sevastopolskie rasskazy (Sevastopol Sketches, 1855–56), Kazaki (The Cossacks, 1863) and Voina I mir (War and Peace,1865–9). The latter work – an epic chronicle of the Franco-Russian War – was met with great acclaim, and established his reputation as an author without peer. After a brief respite he wrote Anna Karenina (1875–7), a tragic love story that was also a critical and popular success. However, while composing it he suffered from periodic bouts of depression, and eventually he became so distressed that he contemplated suicide. At this point he experienced a spiritual awakening – the subject of Ispoved´ (A Confession, 1882) – which marked a new period in his life. Henceforward his writings were overtly religious and philosophical, and show a preoccupation with mortality and morality. Among his best-known later works are Smert´ Ivana Ilicha (The Death of Ivan Il´ich, 1886), Kreitserova sonata (The Kreutzer Sonata, 1889), Tsarstvo Bozhie vnutri vas (The Kingdom of God Is Within You, 1894), Hozjain i rabotnik (Master and Man, 1895), Chto takoe iskusstvo? (What is Art?, 1897) and Voskresenie (Resurrection, 1899). Although banned in Russia, Tsarstvo Bozhie vnutri vas proved especially influential, since it led to a correspondence with Ghandi in which Tolstoy clarified his ideas about non-violence.

Tredyakovsky, Vasil´y Kirilovich (1703–69), essayist, poet, playwright and university teacher. A contemporary of Lomonosov (q.v.), Tredyakovsky was a respected scholar who taught at the Academy of Sciences. Educated at the University of Paris, where he studied linguistics, philosophy and mathematics, he is known for his translations of Tallemant’s Voyage à l’isle d’amour (Voyage to the Isle of Love, 1730) and Fénelon’s Les Aventures de Telemaque (The Adventures of Telemachus, 1766), as well as for the highly theoretical Novyi i kratkii sposob k slozheniyu rossiskikh stikhov (A New and Brief Method for Composing Russian Verse, 1735). His historical significance derives primarily from the latter work, which pushed poetry towards a form of versification more suitable to the Russian language.


Trotsky, Leon (pseudonym of Lev Davidovich Bronstein) (1879–1940), international revolutionary and political theorist, born in the Ukraine into a family of Russified Jews. Trotsky abandoned his studies for revolutionary activities (1897–8) which resulted in the first of many imprisonments. In exiled revolutionary circles in London he sided with the Mensheviks against Lenin, and operated as a political freewheeler back in Russia in 1905, leading strikes and demonstrations and becoming an outstanding public speaker. In prison again in 1905, he worked feverishly on his theory of ‘permanent revolution’, and was at the centre of activities during the 1917 Revolution. He was appointed to the important post of Commissar for War (1918–25) and founded the Red Army, becoming notorious for his use of brutal coercive measures during the ensuing Civil War. He failed to seize power after Lenin’s death in 1924, and Stalin rapidly marginalised him. Exiled to Central Asia, he was deported in 1928. He spent the remainder of his life pouring out invective against Stalin in a succession of political works. He found refuge in Mexico City in 1936, where an agent of the NKVD finally assassinated him.
Turgenev, Ivan Sergeevich (1818–83), novelist, short story writer and poet. Son of an aristocrat, Turgenev was a leading literary figure, known for his realism and lyricism. His writings embody the liberal aspirations which defined the ‘Westerners’. He established his reputation with Zapiski okhotnika (A Sportsman’s Sketches, 1852), a provocative account of rural life which portrayed the hardships of serfdom (and has been compared with Uncle Tom’s Cabin). He followed it with Rudin (1856), Dvorianskoe gnezdo (A Nest of Gentlefolk, 1859) and Nakanune (On the Eve, 1860), each of which was critically acclaimed and consolidated his reputation. His best known work was Ottsy i deti (Fathers and Children, 1862), a novel about the intergenerational tensions between the ‘fathers of the ’40s’ and the ‘sons of the ’60s’. Unlike his earlier novels, however, Ottsy i deti proved deeply controversial, since liberals, conservatives and radicals all found reasons to condemn it. Turgenev’s account of the moral dilemmas facing Russia indicted each party in some way, which proved inflammatory. He attempted to respond to his critics – notably in Dym (Smoke, 1867) and Nov (Virgin Soil, 1877) – but without much success, as his reputation had been damaged by the perceived insults of Ottsy i deti. After this he spent his time in Europe (where he continued his lifelong relationship with the mezzo-soprano Pauline García-Viardot), and eventually died in France.
Tyutchev, Fedor Ivanovich (1803–73), outstanding nature poet, ranked with Pushkin and Lermontov. Born into the nobility, Tyutchev became a diplomat in 1822 and was posted to Germany and then Italy, living abroad until 1844. He corresponded with Heine, whose poetry he translated, while much of his own verse, inspired by Schelling’s Naturphilosophie, was published anonymously in Sovremennik (The Contemporary) during 1836–7 under the rubric ‘Poems Sent from Germany’. Returning to Russia, he worked as an official censor and finally published work under his own name in 1854, having been discovered by Nekrasov (q.v.). His nature- and love-lyrics gave way in later life to more political verse which expressed his Pan-Slavist sentiments. Interest in his work fell into decline until he was rediscovered by Russian symbolist poets at the end of the nineteenth century.
Venevitinov, Dmitry Vladimirovich (1805–27), literary critic, philosopher and poet. A founder of ‘The Society of Wisdom Lovers’, Venevitinov was one of the earliest proponents of Russian romanticism. Influenced by German philosophers such as Schelling and Fichte, he believed that art is a divinely inspired vehicle for the expression of truth. Among his best-known works are ‘Poët’ (The Poet, 1826), ‘Poët i drug’ (The Poet and his Friend, 1827) and ‘Elegiya’ (Elegy, 1826-7). His literary output was brief – comprising around 40 poems – as his life was cut short by influenza.
Vorovsky, Vatslav Vatslavovich (1871–1923), literary critic and journalist, leading Bolshevik writer on the editorial board of the Party newspaper Vpered (Forward). A close associate of Lenin, after the Revolution Vorovsky served in Stockholm as one of the first Russian envoys to the West. In 1922 he was a delegate at the International Economic Conference. He was assassinated in Lausanne by the Russian-born Swiss Maurice Conradi while attending an international conference on the Turkish question. Vorovsky published several books, including Russkaya intelligentsia i russkaya literatura (The Russian Intelligentsia and Russian Literature, 1923).
Vyazemsky, Prince Petr Andreevich (1792–1878), civil servant, literary critic, poet, soldier and translator. An ardent liberal who served briefly as the head of the Censorship (1856–8), Vyazemsky was acquainted with many of the leading literary figures of the early nineteenth century, including Karamzin (his brother-in-law), Pushkin, Baratynsky and Gogol (qq.v.). A stern polemicist, he frequently engaged in heated literary debates, and was known for his criticisms of conservatives as well as radicals. Among his best-known works is his biography of Fonvizin (q.v., 1848), and his notebooks and letters have provided valuable information on the intellectual climate of the early nineteenth century.
Zasulich, Vera Ivanovna (1849–1919), editor, revolutionary and translator. One of three daughters of an impoverished noble, Zasulich achieved notoriety for trying to assassinate the governor-general of St Petersburg in 1878. Her attempt was prompted by an incident in which a young prisoner failed to remove his hat before the governor-general, who then ordered that the youth be flogged. Acquitted at her trial, she subsequently fled to Europe, where she helped found the group ‘The Emancipation of Labour’, the first Russian Marxist organisation. During this time, she also helped edit two journals, Iskra (Spark) and Zarya (Sunrise), wrote articles, and translated some of Marx’s works into Russian. She eventually returned to Russia after the Revolution of 1905 and settled in Petersburg. Her revolutionary fervour having `abated, she condemned the October Revolution of 1917 as a perversion of Marxism.
Zhukovsky, Vasily Andreevich (1783–1852), poet and translator, whose poetry was influenced by English and German pre-Romantic literature. In 1808 Zhukovsky became editor of the literary journal Vestnik Evropy (Messenger of Europe). His appointment as tutor to the future Alexander II in 1825 allowed him the opportunity quietly to inject a liberal element at Court, and he frequently offered his protection to writers, including Pushkin, when they were in dispute with the authorities. After his retirement from Court in 1839, he settled in Germany, where he became a notable translator of Goethe and Schiller. He also translated the English poets Gray, Southey and Byron; his translation of Homer’s Odyssey was a lifetime’s labour of love. A melancholy preoccupation with the supernatural and the gothic in his work, which comprised mainly meditative elegies, reflected his own growing interest in mysticism.

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