Maikov, Valerian

Maikov, Valerian Nikolaevich


Born Aug. 28 (Sept 9), 1823, in Moscow; died July 15 (27), 1847, in the village of Novoe, present-day Lomonosov Raion, Leningrad Oblast. Russian literary critic and publicist. Son of academician and painter N. A. Maikov; brother of A. N. Maikov and L. N. Maikov.

V. N. Maikov graduated from the law department of the University of St. Petersburg in 1842. He was close to the Petrashevtsy, and he edited A Pocket Dictionary of Foreign Words (issue 1, 1845), for which he wrote articles propagating the social significance of art. In 1846, after V. G. Belinskii left Otechestvennye zapiski (Fatherland Notes), Maikov became head of the criticism section of the magazine; he also collaborated on the magazine Sovremennik (The Contemporary). In his articles Maikov propagandized the ideas of the Petrashevtsy, L. Feuerbach, and the Utopian socialists; he strove to create the ideal of a harmonious person, but he considered national traits to be “private” and, therefore, an obstacle on the path to the realization of this ideal (for example, his article “The Poems of Kol’tsov,” 1846). Belinskii sharply polemicized against Maikov’s “fantastic cosmopolitanism” (Poln. sobr. soch., vol. 10, 1956, pp. 25-35). Maikov’s efforts to understand the social nature of conceptions of beauty are also valuable; he was one of the first in Russian aesthetics to begin discussing the question of the specifics not only of form but also of the content of art (as distinct from science). Like M. V. Petrashevskii, Maikov considered that the task of contemporary art was to research the anatomy of the human soul, and he expressed this concept in his enthusiastic reviews of F. M. Dostoevsky’s writings (the article “On Russian Literature in 1846”). N. G. Chernyshevskii, in his article “The Poems of Kol’tsov,” evaluated Maikov as continuing the tradition of Belinskii.


Kriticheskie opyty. St. Petersburg, 1891. (With bibliography.)
Sochineniia, vols. 1-2. Kiev, 1901.


Goncharov, I. A. “V. N. Maikov.” In Literaturno-kriticheskie stat’i i pis’ma. Leningrad, 1938.
Plekhanov, G. V. “V. Belinskii i V. Maikov.” In Soch., vol. 23. Moscow-Leningrad, 1926.
Mann, Iu. “Valerian Maikov.” Voprosy literatury, 1963, no. 11.