Polonskii, Viacheslav Pavlovich
(real surname Gusin). Born June 23 (July 5), 1886, in St. Petersburg; died Feb. 24, 1932, in Moscow. Soviet Russian critic, journalist, and historian. Member of the CPSU from 1919.
Polonskii first took part in the revolutionary movement in 1905, siding with the Mensheviks. He studied at a psychoneurological institute beginning in 1907 and was expelled for taking part in a student strike. During the Civil War of 1918–20 he headed the Literary and Publishing Department of the Political Administration of the Red Army.
Polonskii published a brief biography of M. A. Bakunin (1920; 3rd ed., 1926), the study M. A. Bakunin: Life, Works, and Thoughts (1922), the book The Controversy About Bakunin and Dostoevsky (1926), and the three-volume work Materials for a Biography of Bakunin. He also published anthologies of literary criticism, including Fading Rus (1924), Marxism and Criticism (1927), On Modern Literature (editions in 1928, 1929, and 1930), and Consciousness and Creativity (posthumously, 1934). Writers studied by Polonskii included D. A. Furmanov, I. E. Babel’, Artem Veselyi, Iu. K. Olesha, A. A. Fadeev, and B. A. Pil’niak. Polonskii did not assess in a fair manner Mayakovsky’s postrevo-lutionary poetry. He criticized the peasant literature of the 1920’s in the spirit of the “unified stream” and together with the Pereval (The Pass) critics was known for an idealistic approach in his interpretations of some literary works.
Polonskii founded the House of the Press and was its chairman from 1919 to 1923. He edited the journal Pechat’ i revoliutsiia (The Press and the Revolution) from 1921 to 1929 and the journal Novyi mir (New World) from 1926 to 1931. He served as rector of the V. Ia. Briusov Institute of Literature and the Arts in 1925 and from 1926 to 1932 was editor of the section of literature, art, and language of the first edition of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia. From 1929 to 1932 he was director of the Museum of Fine Arts, now the A. S. Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts.
WORKSNa literatumye temy. [Introductory article by A. G. Dement’ev.] Moscow, 1968.
REFERENCESMayakovsky, V. Poln. sobr. soch., vol. 12. Moscow, 1959. Pages 321–50.
“Perepiska A. M. Gor’kogo s V. P. Polonskim.” In the collection M. Gor’kii isovetskaia pechat’: Arkhiv Gor’kogo, vol. X, book 2. Moscow, 1965.
Dement’ev, A., and N. Dikushina. “Proidennyi put’.” Novyi mir, 1965, no. 1.
A. G. DEMENT’EV