Veresaev, Vikentii Vikent’evich
(pseudonym of V. V. Smidovich). Born Jan. 4 (16), 1867, in Tula; died June 3, 1945, in Moscow. Soviet Russian writer. Born into a physician’s family.
In 1888, Veresaev graduated from the department of history and philology at the University of St. Petersburg and in 1894 from the department of medicine at the University of Dorpat (Tartu).
He first appeared in print with poems in 1885. His first short story, “The Puzzle,” was published in 1887. During the 1890’s, Veresaev joined the group known as the Legal Marxists, and he published works in such journals as Novoe slovo, Nachalo, and Zhizn’. In this period Veresaev wrote a cycle of works concerning the intelligentsia’s frame of mind at the turn of the 20th century, including the novella Without a Road (1895), the short story “The Craze” (1898), and the novella At the Turning Point (1902). He also wrote about the difficult position of the Russian peasantry, such as in the short story “Lizar” (1899), which was noted by V. I. Lenin (see Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 3, p. 270). The short story “On a Dead-end Road” (1896) and the novella Two Ends (1899-1903) were devoted to the life of the workers. During the first decade of the 20th century Veresaev was a member of the Sreda (Wednesday) literary group and published in M. Gorky’s Znanie collections.
Based on autobiographical material, A Physician’s Notes (1901) is devoted to the complex moral, social, and professional problems arising to confront a young doctor and citizen. Veresaev took part as a physician in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05. In War Stories (1906) and the notes At War (1907-08) he showed the heroism of Russian soldiers and officers and, at the same time, the corruption of the tsarist army. The year 1909 marked the publication of Veresaev’s novella Toward Life, at the center of which were the renegades of the Revolution, intellectuals that had shut themselves up within the sphere of their own personal experiences. Veresaev also wrote a long critical and philosophical work entitled Vital Life, the first book of which (1910) was devoted to a comparative analysis of F. M. Dostoevsky (“Man Accursed”) and L. N. Tolstoy (“Long Live the Whole World!”); the second book—Apollo and Dionysius (1915)—was a critique of F. Nietzsche’s views. In 1911 the Pisateli v Moskve Book Publishing House was established on Veresaev’s initiative; he headed this enterprise until 1918.
After the October Revolution, Veresaev completed his cycle of works about the intelligentsia, including the novels In a Blind Alley (1922) and The Sisters (1933). He published his reminiscences In the Years of My Youth (1927) and In My Student Years (1929) and a number of books based on documentary and memoir sources, such as Pushkin in Life (1926-27), Gogol in Life (1933), and Pushkin’s Companions (1934-36). In his artistic method Veresaev was close to the realistic writers of Gorky’s Znanie (Knowledge) group. The merit of his prose lies in its progressive, democratic tendency and in its clearly expressed journalistic pathos. Veresaev was most successful in depicting the intellectual life of his heroes, their searchings for paths in life amid circumstances of intense social conflict. Veresaev also translated works by ancient Greek and Roman authors, including Homer’s Hymns, Sappho, Archilochus, and others. At the end of the 1930’s he began to translate the Iliad (published in 1949) and the Odyssey (published in 1953). For his outstanding achievements in the field of literature Veresaev was awarded the State Prize of the USSR (1945). He was also awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor.
WORKSSochineniia, vols. 1-5. St. Petersburg, 1898-1910.
Poln. sobr. soch., vols. 1-16. Moscow, 1928-29.
Soch., vols. 1-4. Moscow, 1946-48.
Sobr. soch., vols. 1-5. Moscow, 1961.
Nevydumannye rasskazy. Moscow, 1968.
REFERENCESBotsianovskii, V. V. V. Veresaev: Kritiko-biograficheskii ocherk. St. Petersburg, 1904.
Voronskii, A. Literaturnye portrety, vol. 1. Moscow, 1928.
Vrzhosek, S. Zhizn’ i tvorchestvo V. Veresaeva. Leningrad, 1930.
Geizer, I. M. V. V. Veresaev: Pisatel’-vrach. Moscow, 1957.
Brovman, G. A. V. V. Veresaev: Zhizn’ i tvorchestvo. Moscow, 1959.
Babushkin, Iu. U. V. V. Veresaev. (K stoletiiu so dnia rozhdeniia). Moscow, 1966.
Istoriia russkoi literatury kontsa XIX-nachala XX veka: Bibliograficheskii ukazatel’. Moscow-Leningrad, 1963.
D. D. BREGOVA