Mikhail Mikhailov

Mikhailov, Mikhail Larionovich

 

Born Jan, 4(16), 1829, in Orenburg; died Aug. 3(15), 1865, in Kadaia, present-day Chita Oblast. Russian poet and revolutionary figure.

The son of a civil servant whose father had been a serf, Mikhailov was educated at home and at the University of St. Petersburg (1846–48). In 1845 his first poems and essays appeared in St. Petersburg journals, and in the early 1850’s he began writing prose in the style of the natural school. Among his best prose works are the novellas Adam Adamych and The Lace-maker and the novel Migratory Birds (1854). From 1852 he contributed poems, critical reviews, and publicistic articles to the journal Sovremennik (Contemporary). In such articles as “Women: Their Education and Importance in the Family and Society” (1860), he called for equal rights for women. After joining the circle that formed around N. A. Dobroliubov and N. G. Chernyshevskii, Mikhailov became an editor of Sovremennik in 1860 and headed the journal’s foreign-literature department. At this time he embarked on illegal activity, writing (with N. V. Shelgunov) and distributing the revolutionary proclamation To the Young Generation, printed in London by A. I. Herzen’s press. He was arrested in the fall of 1861 and sentenced to six years at hard labor and lifelong exile in Siberia.

In his lyric poetry and political satire, Mikhailov, a poet of the Nekrasov school, dealt with subjects from the life of the people, developed the traditions of the Decembrist poets and M. lu. Lermontov, and called for struggle against tyranny and oppression (“The Five,” “In Memory of Dobroliubov”). Several of his stirring poems, filled wiith civic ardor, became revolutionary songs (“In Memory of Dobroliubov,” “In a Firm and Warm Embrace”). Mikhailov’s excellent translations of P. J. Bėranger, A. Mickiewicz, H. Longfellow, T. Hood, and other poets made many works of progressive foreign poetry available to Russian readers. A. A. Blok considered his translations in Songs of Heine (1858) to be “genuine pearls of poetry” (Sobr. soch., vol. 11, 1934, p. 228).

WORKS

Soch., vols. 1–3. Edited by B. P. Koz’min. Moscow, 1958.
Sobr. stikhotvorenii. Introduction, text preparation, and notes by lu. D. Levin. Leningrad, 1969.
“Zapiski.” In N. V. Shelgunov. L. P. Shelgunova, and M. L. Mikhailov, Vospominaniia, vol. 2. Moscow, 1967.

REFERENCES

Lemke, M. K. “Delo M. I. Mikhailova.” In Politicheskie protsessy v Rossii 1860-kh gg., 2nd ed. Moscow-Petrograd, 1923.
Koz’min, B. P. “N. G. Chernyshevskii i M. I. Mikhailov.” In Literatura i istoriia. Moscow, 1969.
Fateev, P. S. M. Mikhailov—revoliutsioner, pisatel’ publitsist. Moscow, 1969.

V. V. ZHDANOV

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