Dmitrii Narkisovich Mamin-Sibiriak

Mamin-Sibiriak, Dmitrii Narkisovich

 

(pseudonym of Dmitrii Narkisovich Mamin). Born Oct. 25 (Nov. 6), 1852, at the Visim-Shaitanka Factory, present-day Visim, Sverdlovsk Oblast; died Nov. 2 (15), 1912, in St. Petersburg. Russian writer.

Mamin-Sibiriak was the son of a priest. From 1868 to 1872 he studied at the Perm’ Theological Seminary. In 1872 he entered the veterinary department of the St. Petersburg Medical and Surgical Academy. Without completing this course of study, he transferred to the department of law at St. Petersburg University. In 1877, Mamin-Sibiriak was forced to leave the university for lack of money and traveled to the Urals, where he lived until 1891.

After returning from the Urals, Mamin-Sibiriak lived in St. Petersburg and Tsarskoe Selo. He began to publish in 1875. He gained recognition for his cycle of novels concerned primarily with life in mining settlements, namely, Privalov’s Millions (1883), The Mountain Nest (1884), Wild Happiness (1884, originally called The Veinlet), Three Ends (1890), Gold (1892), and Bread (1895), as well as a cycle of essays, short stories, and novellas, including Ural Stories (vols. 1-2, 1888-89; vol. 3, 1899; vol. 4, 1901) and Siberian Stories.

The works of Mamin-Sibiriak are a satirical chronicle of bourgeois rapaciousness and an epic of folk life on an enormous scale. His novels are many-leveled and complex in composition; they present a true picture of everyday bourgeois life and show concern with the life of the working masses, especially with the complex processes of the formation of worker self-consciousness. The author’s world view was influenced by the democratic philosophy and revolutionary movement of the 1860-80’s. In the history of Russian literature, Mamin-Sibiriak is regarded as an outstanding realistic writer and poet of the heroic labor of the working man. He worked in various genres: dramatic works, legends, historical novellas, and autobiographical works (the novel Traits From Pepko’s Life, 1894, and From the Distant Past, 1902). Some of Mamin-Sibiriak’s works were influenced by naturalism. His stories and fairy tales about and for children are notable for their profound understanding of child psychology; these include Alenushka’s Fairy Tales (1894-96) and the stories “Emelia the Hunter” (1884), “The Winter Lodge on the River Studenaia” (1892), and “Gray Neck” (1893).

Mamin-Sibiriak’s talent was greatly esteemed by N. S. Leskov, A. P. Chekhov, I. A. Bunin, and A. I. Kuprin. M. Gorky spoke of the writer as his friend and teacher. Lenin’s words about Mamin-Sibiriak’s work are highly significant: “In his writings this author vividly portrays the specific life of the Urals, which differs very little from that of the preReform period, with the lack of rights, ignorance and humility of a population tied down to the factories, with the ’earnest, childish dissipations’ of the ‘gentry,’ and the absence of that middle stratum of society (middle class and other intellectuals) which is so characteristic of capitalist development in all countries, not excluding Russia” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 3, p. 488, footnote).

WORKS

Poln. sobr. soch., vols. 1-12. Introductory article by P. V. Bykov. Petrograd, 1915-17.
Sobr. soch., vols. 1-12. Introductory article and notes by E. A. Bogoliubov. Sverdlovsk, 1948-51.
Sobr soch., vols. 1-8. Introductory article by F. Gladkov. Moscow, 1953-55.
Sobr. soch. vols. 1-10. Introductory article by F. Gladkov and A. Gruzdev. Moscow, 1958.

REFERENCES

Bogoliubov, E. A. Tvorchestvo D. N. Mamina-Sibiriaka, issues 1-4. Perm’, 1944.
Kremianskaia, N. I. D. N. Mamin-Sibiriak kak detskii pisatel’. Sverdlovsk, 1952.
D. N. Mamin-Sibiriak: Sto let so dnia rozhdeniia. 1852-1952. Sverdlovsk, 1953.
Gruzdev, A. I. D. N. Mamin-Sibiriak: Kritiko-biograficheskii ocherk. Moscow, 1958.
D. N. Mamin-Sibiriak v vospominaniiakh sovremennikov. Sverdlovsk, 1962.
Udintsev, B. D., and K. V. Bogoliubov. Pevets Urala. Sverdlovsk, 1969.

A. I. GRUZDEV

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