Aleksandr Shishkov

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Shishkov, Aleksandr Semenovich


Born Mar. 9 (20), 1754; died Apr. 9 (21), 1841, in St. Petersburg. Russian state figure and writer.

Shishkov graduated from the Naval Cadet Corps (Naval Cadet School) in 1771. He later served as an admiral, as secretary of state (stats-sekretar’) to Alexander I, as a member of the Council of State, and, from 1824 to 1828, as minister of public education. Shishkov became a member of the Russian Academy in 1796 and was its president from 1813 to 1841; he became an honorary member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences in 1800. He served on the court that tried the Decembrists and was one of the initiators of the censorship statute of 1826.

Shishkov headed the Society of the Lovers of the Russian Word. He opposed sentimentalism and attacked N. M. Karamzin and Karamzin’s followers in his book Treatise on the Old and New Styles of the Russian Language (1803). Shishkov believed that literature should be oriented toward Old Church Slavonic and toward folklore; he stressed the importance of church books and of The Tale of Igor’s Campaign. He was the author of an original work on the poetics of Russian folklore entitled Conversations About Philology (1811). Shishkov wrote plays, odes, occasional verse, and adaptations of psalms.

Politically, Shishkov was a conservative. A rabid opponent of the influence of the French Revolution and the Enlightenment in Russia, he vigorously attacked arguments for the abolition of serfdom. At the same time, his literary theories contributed to the lofty style of Decembrist political poetry, as seen in the works of F. N. Glinka and W. K. Küchelbecker. Shishkov’s linguistic ideas exerted some influence on A. S. Griboedov and I. A. Krylov.


Sobr. soch. i perevodov, vols. 1–17. St. Petersburg, 1818–39.
[“Stikhotvoreniia.”] In Poety 1790–1810-x gg. Leningrad, 1971.


Aksakov, S. T. “Vospominanie ob A. S. Shishkove.” Sobr. soch., vol. 2. Moscow, 1966.
Tynianov, Iu. N. “Arkhaisty i Pushkin.” In his Pushkin i ego sovremenniki. Moscow, 1968.
Al’tshuller, M. G. ‘“Slovo o polku Igoreve’ v krugu ‘Besedy liubitelei russkogo slova.’” Tr. ODRL, 1971, vol. 26.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The book begins with a discussion of Admiral Aleksandr Shishkov, an early Counter-Enlightenment thinker who promoted "Russian values" as an antidote to eighteenth-century cosmopolitanism.