Dmitrii Ovsianiko-Kulikovskii

Ovsianiko-Kulikovskii, Dmitrii Nikolaevich


Born Jan. 23 (Feb. 4), 1853, on the estate of Kakhovka, Tavrida Province; died Oct. 9, 1920, in Odessa. Russian literary critic and linguist. Honorary academician of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences (1907).

Ovsianiko-Kulikovskii studied at St. Petersburg University from 1871 to 1873 and at Novorossiia University in Odessa from 1873 to 1876. He also studied in Prague and Paris. In 1882 he became a privatdocent; later he was a professor at Novorossiia, Kazan, Kharkov, and St. Petersburg universities. He was one of the first persons in Russia to study Sanskrit and Vedic mythology and philosophy. He also wrote a number of works on Russian syntax. A follower of A. A. Potebnia, Ovsianiko-Kulikovskii further developed Potebnia’s ideas on the primordial imagery of language—the primary source of poetic thought— and on the analogousness of the word and the artistic work and the similarities of scientific and artistic thought.

Ovsianiko-Kulikovskii’s attention was devoted primarily to the psychology of creativity; he participated in work on the Kharkov collections Voprosy teorii i psikhologii tvorchestva. In studying a writer, he proceeded from a “psychological diagnosis” of the writer to an examination of the writer’s method, as can be seen in his books on I. S. Turgenev, A. S. Pushkin, N. V. Gogol, L. N. Tolstoy, and A. P. Chekhov. He believed that the evolution of social and philosophical thought in Russian society sprang from differences within the “spiritual organization of generations” (A History of the Russian Intelligentsia, parts 1–3, 1906–11). Ovsianiko-Kulikovskii was one of the editors of the journal Vestnik Evropy (1913–18) and editor of A History of Nineteenth-century Russian Literature (vols. 1–5, 1908–10).


Sobr. soch., vols. 1–9, 2nd ed. St. Petersburg, 1923–24.
Teoriia poezii i prozy (Teoriia slovesnosti), 5th ed. Moscow-Petrograd, 1923.


Rainov, T. “‘Psikhologiia tvorchestva’ D. N. Ovsianiko-Kulikovskogo.” In the collection Voprosy teorii i psikhologii tvorchestva, vol. 5. Kharkov, 1914.