Kniazhnin, Iakov Borisovich

Kniazhnin, Iakov Borisovich


Born Oct. 3 (14), 1742 (or 1740), in Pskov; died Jan. 14 (25), 1791, in St. Petersburg. Russian author, member of the Russian Academy (1783). Son of a vice-governor.

Kniazhnin studied at the Gymnasium of the Academy of Sciences in 1750–55. He began military service in 1762. In 1778 he became secretary to I. I. Betskoi. He wrote tragedies, comedies, and comic operas, in which he revealed himself as a typical representative of Russian classicism. The patriotic enthusiasm and opposition to tyranny in his tragedies made them a success among contemporaries. Most popular was the tragedy Rosslav (1784). The tragedy Vadim of Novgorod (1789) was not staged; Catherine II saw its antimonarchical thrust and in 1793 ordered that all copies be burned. Kniazhnin’s comedies, which treated pressing questions of Russian life in the second half of the 18th century, were distinguished by the liveliness of their language and simplicity of composition (The Braggart, 1784 or 1785; The Eccentrics, 1790). He is also known as the translator of Voltaire, Corneille, Goldoni, and other writers.


Izbr. proizv. Introduction, preparation of text, and comments by L. I. Kulakova. Leningrad, 1961.


Gukovskii, G. A. “Kniazhnin. . . .” In Russkaia literatura XVIII v. Moscow, 1939.
Blagoi, D. D. Istoriia russkoi literatury XVIII v, 4th ed. Moscow, 1960.