Aleksandr Serafimovich Serafimovich

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Serafimovich, Aleksandr Serafimovich


(real surname Popov). Born Jan. 7 (19), 1863, in the stanitsa (large cossack village) of Nizhnekurmoiarskaia, now Tsimliansk Raion, Rostov Oblast; died Jan. 19, 1949, in Moscow. Soviet Russian writer. Member of the CPSU from 1918.

The son of cossack captain in the army of the Don, Serafimo-vich spent his childhood in Poland, later living in the stanitsa of Ust’-Medveditskaia (in 1933 the stanitsa became the city of Ser-afimovich). From 1883 to 1887 he studied in the faculty of physics and mathematics at the University of St. Petersburg. In 1887 he was arrested along with those in the group that included A. I. Ul’ianov, and exiled to Arkhangel’sk Province. Returning to the Don region in 1890, he established ties with Social Democratic groups.

Serafimovich’s first published short story, “On the Ice” (1889), like his other early works presenting impressions of exile, was praised by G. I. Uspenskii and V. G. Korolenko. The short stories “The Switchman” and “Under the Earth” vividly depicted the contradictions of capitalist society. After publishing Sketches and Stories (1901), Serafimovich moved to Moscow, where he joined the literary society Sreda (Wednesday), met M. Gorky, and worked in the Znanie publishing house.

Serafimovich’s sketches and short stories “In the Middle of the Night,” “The Pogrom,” and “In the Presnia” dealt with events of the Revolution of 1905–07. Succeeding works placed increasing emphasis on history and reflected a growing understanding of the bourgeois world; an example was the novella Sands (1908). The novel City in the Steppe (1912) was a generalized history of Russian industrial capitalism. Serafimovich’s stories and sketches written during World War I (1914–18) revealed a sober understanding of the people’s misfortunes and depicted the development of antiwar and revolutionary attitudes among the people.

Serafimovich hailed the February and October revolutions of 1917. His work as a war correspondent for Pravda brought him to many fronts of the Civil War of 1918–20. His wartime publicist works were praised by V. I. Lenin, who wrote to Serafimovich: “I very much want to say to you how necessary your work is for the workers and for all of us” (Poln. sobr. soch, 5th ed., vol. 51, pp. 198–99).

The novel The Iron Stream (1924), a classic of Soviet literature, was Serafimovich’s most important work. Based on a historical event—the heroic campaign of the Taman’ Army (1918) under the command of E. I. Kovtiukh—the novel focused on the popular masses as they passed through the crucible of the Revolution.

In the 1930’s, Serafimovich published the series of sketches on the collectivization of agriculture Across the Don Steppes (1931) and spent time writing an autobiographical work. During the Great Patriotic War (1941–45), the aged writer visited the front and again wrote publicist works.

Serafimovich took an active part in literary life over the course of half a century. He was editor of the journal Oktiabr’ (October) from 1926 to 1929 and was a founder of the Writers’ Union of the USSR. His works have been translated into many national languages of the USSR and into foreign languages. Serafimovich was awarded the State Prize of the USSR (1943). He also received the Order of Lenin and two other orders.


Sobr. soch., vols. 1–10. Moscow, 1940–48.
Sobr. soch., vols. 1–7. Moscow, 1959–60.


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A. S. Serafimovich v vospominaniiakh sovremennikov. Moscow, 1961.
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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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