Aksakov, Sergei Timofeevich
Born Sept. 20 (Oct. 1), 1791, in Ufa; died Apr. 30 (May 12), 1859, in Moscow. Russian writer.
Aksakov, born into an old nobiliary family, spent his youth in Ufa and on the family estate in Novo-Aksakovo. He moved to St. Petersburg without having graduated from the University of Kazan. From 1827 to 1832 he worked as a censor in Moscow and from 1833 to 1838 as an inspector in the Konstantinovskii Institute of Surveying. From 1843, Aksakov lived on his estate, Abramtsevo, near Moscow. During the late 1820’s and early 1830’s he was involved in drama criticism. In his first books, Notes on Fishing (1847), Notes of an Orenburg Province Rifle Hunter (1852), and A Hunter’s Stories and Reminiscences of Various Hunts (1855), he showed himself to be an acute and intense observer of Russian nature. Aksakov revealed a talent for realism in the autobiographical books Family Chronicle (1856) and Childhood Years of Grandson Bagrov (1858), which were based on reminiscences and family legends. Drawing on the history of three generations of the Bagrov family, Aksakov re-created the daily life of the landowner in the late 18th century. N. V. Gogol had an important influence on Aksakov. After Gogol no one revealed the details of the landowner’s way of life with greater thoroughness than Aksakov; in his works reality is depicted in its concreteness, ordinariness, and daily routine. M. Gorky placed Aksakov’s landscape description among the highest artistic achievements of Russian realism (Sobr. soch., vol. 24, 1953, p. 265). The originality of Aksakov’s talent is strikingly shown in the character of his language, which is marked by simplicity, vividness, and expressiveness of lively colloquial speech.
Aksakov’s political views were very moderate. The writer depicted the viciousness and cruelty of serfdom but did not attempt to place any blame. At the same time, Aksakov’s realism, for all its inherent contemplative characteristics, possessed enormous descriptive power, and thus his honest picture of the tyranny of serfdom provided material for critical generalizations. For example, N. A. Dobroliubov valued Aksakov’s artistic works highly and used them in his criticism of the serf system.
WORKSSobr. soch. Introductory article and editing by A. G. Gornfel’d. Vols. 1–6. St. Petersburg, -10.
Sobr. soch. [Introductory article and editing by S. Mashinskii.] Vols. 1–5. Moscow, 1966.
REFERENCESDobroliubov, N. A. “Derevenskaia zhizn’ pomeshchika ν starye gody.” Sobr. soch., vol. 2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1962.
Turgenev, I. S. “O ‘Zapiskakh ruzheinogo okhotnika’ S. T. Aksakov.” Sobr. soch., vol. 11. Moscow, 1956.
Bialyi, G. A. “Aksakov.” In Istoriia russkoi literatury, vol. 7. Moscow-Leningrad, 1955.
Mashinskii, S. I. S. T. Aksakov: Zhizn’ i tvorchestvo. Moscow, 1961.
Istoriia russkoi literatury XIX v.: Bibliograficheskii ukazatel’. Edited by K. D. Muratova. Moscow-Leningrad, 1962. S. M.