Aleksandr Ivanovich Polezhaev

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Polezhaev, Aleksandr Ivanovich


Born Aug. 30 (Sept. 11), 1804 (or 1805), in the village of Pokryshkino, now in Romodanovo Raion, Mordovian ASSR; died Jan. 16 (28), 1838, in Moscow. Russian poet.

Polezhaev was the son of a landowner and a peasant woman. After graduating from Moscow University in 1826, he was sentenced by Nicholas I to serve in the ranks of the army for writing the narrative poem Sashka, which satirized the autocracy. To the end of his life, Polezhaev remained in the lower ranks of the army. His contemporaries, including A. I. Herzen and N. P. Ogarev, perceived his tragic fate as a consequence of the increased reaction resulting from the suppression of the Decembrist movement. In a number of lyric poems, including “The Song of the Captive Iroquois,” “The Song of the Drowning Swimmer,” and “Indignation,” Polezhaev decried the “oppressors, the lords of the earth.”

From 1829 to 1833, Polezhaev fought in the Northern Caucasus. The narrative poems Erpeli and Chir-Iurt and such poems as “Again Something” (published 1925) reflected wartime events and the soldiers’ rebellious mood. Polezhaev’s narrative poems belonged to the tradition of works describing morals and manners. He made masterly translations of poems by A. Lamartine and V. Hugo. While continuing the Decembrist lyric tradition, he was also a forerunner of Russian revolutionary and democratic poetry. There are monuments to Polezhaev in Saransk (1940) and Groznyï (1950).


Stikhotvoreniia. [Edited, biographical sketch, and notes by V. V. Baranov.] Moscow-Leningrad, 1933.
Sochineniia. [Introductory article and notes by V. I. Bez”iazychnyi.] Moscow, 1955.


Belinskii, V. G. “Stikhotvoreniia Polezhaeva.” Poln. sobr. soch., vol. 6. Moscow, 1955.
Dobroliubov, N. A. “Stikhotvoreniia A. Polezhaeva.” Sobr. soch., vol. 2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1962.
Voronin, I. D. A. I. Polezkaev: Zhizn’ i tvorchestvo. Saransk, 1954.
Istoriia russkoi literatury XIX v.: Bibliograficheskii ukazateV. Moscow-Leningrad, 1962.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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