Forsh, Ol’ga Dmitrievna
(née Komarova). Born May 16 (28), 1873, in the fortress at Gunib, in what is now the Dagestan ASSR; died July 17, 1961, in Leningrad. Soviet Russian writer.
Forsh was the daughter of a general. Her works began appearing in print in 1907. In her early books—The Knight From Nuremburg (1908) and the unfinished novel Bogdan Sukhovskoi (originally titled Children of the Earth, 1910)—the intellectualism of her prose was already evident, and her typical protagonist took shape as a man characterized by spiritual searching, dissatisfaction with reality, and a rebellious youth.
Forsh devoted several novels to the history of revolutionary thought and the revolutionary movement in Russia. Among them are Clad in Stone (1924–25), which deals with the fate of the revolutionary M. S. Beideman, The Fervid Workshop (1926), which is about the Revolution of 1905–07, and Freedom’s Firstborn (1950–53), which deals with the Decembrists. She also wrote the three-part biographical novel Radishchev, which comprises the books Jacobin Leaven (1932), The Landlady of Kazan (1934–35), and The Pernicious Book (1939). The fate of the creative individual under a despotic regime is treated in the novels The Contemporaries (1926), which is about N. V. Gogol and A. A. Ivanov, and Mikhailovskii zamok (1946), which is about V. I. Bazhenov, A. N. Voronikhin, and K. I. Rossi, representing three generations of Russian architects. In the novels The Lunatic Ship (1931) and The Raven (originally titled The Symbolists, 1933), Forsh portrayed life among the Petrograd artistic intelligentsia in the early 20th century and the first postrevolutionary years and created portraits of such contemporaries as M. Gorky, A. A. Blok, and F. Sologub.
The most important characteristics of Forsh’s prose are expressiveness, a skillful handling of psychological elements, and a keen sense of the period she is writing about. Her works played a significant role in the development of the Soviet historical novel. Forsh also wrote short stories depicting urban and rural life in prerevolutionary Russia. These include the collections Ordinary Men (1923) and Yesterday (1933), a book of satirical short stories on foreign themes called Beneath the Cupola (1929), the film scripts The Palace and the Fortress (1924, with P. E. Shchegolev) and Pugachev (1936), and several plays, including The Mooring Mast (1929) and The 122nd (1937). Her works have been translated into various foreign languages and into national languages of the USSR.
Forsh was awarded three orders and various medals.
WORKSSobr. soch., vols. 1–7. Moscow-Leningrad, 1928–30.
Sobr. soch., vols. 1–8. Moscow-Leningrad, 1962–64.
REFERENCESLugovtsov, N. Tvorchestvo Ol’gi Forsh. Leningrad, 1964.
Messer, R. Ol’ga Forsh. Leningrad, 1965.
Tamarchenko, A. Ol’ga Forsh: Zhizn’, lichnost’, tvorchestvo, 2nd ed. Leningrad, 1974.
Ol’ga Forsh v vospominaniiakh sovremennikov. Leningrad, 1974.
Skaldina, R. A. Ol’ga Forsh: Ocherk tvorchestva 20–30-x gg. Riga, 1974.
Russkie sovetskie pisateli-prozaiki: Biobibliograficheskii ukazatel’, vol. 5. Moscow, 1968. I. I.
I. I. PODOL’SKAIA