Mikhail Zoshchenko

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Zoshchenko, Mikhail Mikhailovich

 

Born July 29 (Aug. 10), 1895, in St. Petersburg; died July 22, 1958, in Leningrad. Soviet Russian satirical writer.

While a student in the law department of the University of St. Petersburg, Zoshchenko left for the front as a volunteer in World War I. He was wounded and demobilized with the rank of captain second grade. In 1918 he joined the Red Army as a volunteer. Zoshchenko began to appear in print in 1922. He belonged to the literary group known as the Serapion Brethren. His first book, Stones of Nazar IVich, Mr. Sine-briukhov (1922), and the stories that followed it brought the author wide fame. In each of these stories, a tale is told by a hero-narrator about petit bourgeois people attempting to feel comfortable in new conditions, confident that the revolution had occurred to provide them with a trouble-free existence. Zoshchenko often contrasts the foolishness, coarseness, and egotism of his “heroes” with dreams about the pure amicability and spiritual delicacy that will govern relations between people in the future (for example, his stories The Sorrows of Werther, 1933, and The Lights of the Big City, 1936).

Topical satires occupy a significant place in Zoshchenko’s creative work: in them the writer directly comments on contemporary events. He also wrote longer works differing in genre and manner of narration: the novellas Mishel’ Siniagin (1930), Restored Youth (1933), The Blue Book (1934), Kerensky (1937), and Taras Shevchenko (1939) and the satirical plays The Canvas Briefcase (1939) and Let the Unfortunate Cry (1946). Some of Zoshchenko’s works (among them, the novella Before Sunrise, 1943) were sharply criticized in the press. He translated the Finnish author Maiju Lassila’s novellas For Matches and Born Twice. His books have been reprinted many times and frequently translated into foreign languages. Zoshchenko was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor and several medals.

WORKS

Sobr. soch., vols. 1–6. Moscow, 1929–31.
Izbrannye rasskazy i povesti, 1923–1956. Leningrad, 1956.
Rasskazy, fel’etony, komedii: Neizdannye proizvedeniia. Moscow-Leningrad, 1963.
Izbr. proizv., vols. 1–2. Leningrad, 1968. (With a preface by P. Gromov.)

REFERENCES

Mikhail Zoshchenko: Stat’ii materialy. Leningrad, 1928. (Articles by V. Shklovskii, A. Barmin, V. Vinogradov, and others.)
Fedin, K. “Mikhail Zoshchenko.” In Pisatel’, iskusstvo i vremia. Moscow, 1961.
“M. Gor’kii i sovetskie pisateli: Neizd. perepiska.” In Literaturnoe nasledstvo, vol. 70. Moscow, 1963.
Russkie sovetskie pisateli-prozaiki: Bio-bibliograficheskii ukazatel’, vol. 2. Leningrad, 1964.

G. N. MUNBLIT

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