Zaitsev, Varfolomei

Zaitsev, Varfolomei Aleksandrovich


Born Aug. 30 (Sept. 11), 1842, in Kostroma; died Jan. 8 (20), 1882, in Clarens, Switzerland. Russian journalist and literary critic.

Zaitsev, the son of a clerk, studied in the department of medicine at Moscow University until 1862. Between 1863 and 1865 he was one of the principal staff members of the journal Russkoe slovo (The Russian Word). A major figure in the struggle against reactionary and liberal journals, he was a well-known leader in the long-drawn-out polemics between Russkoe slovo and Sovremennik (The Contemporary).

Existing conditions of censorship necessitated that Zaitsev’s literary critiques serve simply as a form of journalism. For this reason, his approach in several reviews on works by A. S. Pushkin, M. lu. Lermontov and M. E. SaltykovShchedrin was antihistorical. His journal articles were impassioned, yet at the same time had a tendency to arrive at hasty conclusions. His social and political views reflected the collapse of the hopes for the peoples’ revolution of 1861–63 cherished by revolutionary democrats. Zaitsev was a firm supporter of socialism and was in favor of industrial development in Russia. It was his opinion that industrialization would bring about the education of the people so necessary for the coming revolution.

In 1866, Zaitsev was arrested in connection with the assassination attempt by D. V. Karakozov. In 1869 he emigrated and worked in the Italian section of the First International. From 1877 to 1882 he was a contributor to and one of the editors of the journal Obshchee delo (Common Cause) in Geneva. His sharp political pamphlets directed against the tsarist regime, against its defenders, and against the liberals earned him the nickname “the Russian Rochefort.”


Izbr. soch., vol. 1. Edited and with a preface by B. P. Koz’min. Introduction by G. O. Berliner. Moscow, 1934.
“Varfolomei Zaiisev v ‘Obshchem dele.’” In the almanac Prometei [vol. 1. Moscow] 1966.


Kuznetsov, F. “Varfolomei Zaitsev.” In his bookPublitsisty 1860-x gg.: Krug “Russkogo slova.” Moscow, 1969.
Istoriia russkoi literatury XIX v.: Bibliographicheskii ukazatel’. Moscow-Leningrad, 1962.