Aleksei Pleshcheev

Pleshcheev, Aleksei Nikolaevich

 

Born Nov. 22 (Dec. 4), 1825, in Kostroma; died Sept. 26 (Oct. 8), 1893, in Paris; buried in Moscow. Russian writer; member of the Petra-shevskii circle.

The son of an impoverished nobleman, Pleshcheev studied at the University of St. Petersburg from 1843 to 1845. In 1849 he was sentenced to death for his membership in the Petrashevskii circle; the sentence was commuted to exile as a common soldier in the Orenburg line troops. He returned to Moscow in 1859.

Pleshcheev began publishing in 1844. The socialist ideals of the Petrashevskii circle are expressed in romantic and abstract images in his first collection, Poems (1846). His poems “Forward! Without Fear or Doubt” and “In Feelings We Are Brothers, You and I” became revolutionary songs. After his exile, he joined the revolutionary democrats and contributed to the journals Sovremennik (The Contemporary) and Otechestvennye zapiski (Fatherland Notes).

Pleshcheev did his best work in the 1860’s, when he published three collections of poetry (1858, 1861, 1863) and the two-volume Novellas and Stories (1860). N. A. Nekrasov’s influence is visible in Pleshcheev’s poems about the people’s life, such as “A Dreary Picture” and “Native and Dear,” and in his satires on liberals. Civic motifs are found even in Pleshcheev’s love and nature lyrics, for example, “Summer Songs.”

Pleshcheev also wrote verse for children, published in the collection Snowdrop (1878). He translated poetry from German (H. Heine, M. Hartmann, R. Prutz), French (V. Hugo, M. Monnier), English (G. Byron, A. Tennyson, R. Southey, T. Moore), Hungarian (S. Petõfi, J. Arany), Italian (G. Leopardi), and the Slavic languages (T. G. Shevchenko, A. Sova, V. Syrokomla). He wrote vaudeville-like plays, critiques, and topical satire that defended and promoted the revolutionary democrats’ aesthetics. Many of Pleshcheev’s poems have been set to music, including Tchaikovsky’s “Not a Word, O My Friend” and Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Night Flew Over the World.”

WORKS

Sbornik teatral’nykh p’es dlia domashnikh i liubitel’skikh spektaklei, vols. 1–3. St. Petersburg, 1880.
Povesti i rasskazy, vols. 1–2. [Introductory article by P. V. Bykov.] St. Petersburg, 1896–97.
Stikhotvoreniia, 4th ed. [Introductory article by P. V. Bykov.] St. Petersburg, 1905.
Poln. sobr. stikhotvorenii. [Introductory article by M. Ia. Poliakov.] Moscow-Leningrad, 1964.

REFERENCES

Mikhailov, M. L. “Stikhotvoreniia A. Pleshcheeva.” Soch., vol. 3. Moscow, 1958.
Dobroliubov, N. A. “Stikhotvoreniia A. N. Pleshcheeva.” Sobr. soch., vol. 3. Moscow-Leningrad, 1962.
Dobroliubov, N. A. “Blagonamerennosf i deiatel’nost’.”Sobr. soch., vol. 6. Moscow-Leningrad, 1963.
Saltykov-Shchedrin, M. E. “Novye stikhotvoreniia A. Pleshcheeva.” Sobr. soch., vol. 5. Moscow, 1966.
Shchurov, I. A. “Lirika A. N. Pleshcheeva.” In the collection Pisatel’ i zhizn’, fasc. 3. Moscow, 1966.
Istoriia russkoi literatury XIX v.: Bibliografich. ukazatel’. Moscow-Leningrad, 1962.

I. A. SHCHUROV