Apollon Grigorev

Grigor’ev, Apollon Aleksandrovich


Born circa July 20 (Aug. 1), 1822, in Moscow; died Sept. 25 (Oct. 7), 1864, in St. Petersburg. Russian literary critic and poet; the son of an official.

Grigor’ev graduated from the law department of Moscow University in 1842. In the 1840’s, Grigor’ev was attracted to Utopian socialism and Freemasonry. He became the head of the so-called young editorial board of the Moskvitianin and its leading critic (1850–56). Grigor’ev’s articles of the 1850’s are characterized by romantic utopianism and dreams of the people, free and gifted, living in a patriarchal society. (He saw these features in the Russian merchant class.) Grigor’ev formed his aesthetics under the influence of the idealistic philosophers P. Schelling and T. Carlyle. The essence of his “organic criticism” is the protection of the “heartfelt idea” in art, the synthesis of thought and soul in the artist, and the intuitive and complete understanding of life. Grigor’ev concentrated on the national and moral problems of contemporary art. In contrast to the revolutionary democrats, he refused to draw political conclusions. He was interested not so much in the objective essence of literary characters as in the relationship between author and hero and how the character reflected the author’s “nature.”

In the 1840’s, Grigor’ev became enthusiastic about the works of N. V. Gogol and defended the “patriarchal” plays of A. N. Ostrovskii in the Moskvitianin. After 1855 he recognized the rebelliousness as well as humility of the Russian national character and began to react favorably to the works of M. Iu. Lermontov, A. I. Herzen, and I. S. Turgenev; his ideal became A. S. Pushkin. In 1861 he joined F. M. Dos-toevsky and N. N. Strakhov to proclaim the ideas of pochvennichestvo, the movement back to the national cultural soil, to the people. He collaborated on Dostoevsky’s journal Vremia (1861–63). In this period the historicism of Grigor’ev’s critical method became more expressed, and his interest in the protest of the individual grew (On the Development of the Ideas of National Character in Our Literature, 1861–62). Nevertheless, Grigor’ev attempted to reconcile the Slavophiles and the Westernizers and to’combine the progressive ideas of the period with Christianity.

Grigor’ev’s poems reflect his indecision: he wrote both Masonic hymns and illegal revolutionary verses. His chief hero remained the suffering romantic, unable to control his passions that are fatally enigmatic. Grigor’ev’s best poems (“Oh, At Least Speak to Me” and “The Gypsy Hungarian Dance Woman”) are in the lyric cycle Struggle (1857). Grigor’ev translated Shakespeare, Byron, Goethe, and Be-ranger. His poetry influenced A. A. Blok.


Literaturnaia kritika. Moscow, 1967.
Izbr. proizv. Leningrad, 1959.
Vospominaniia. Moscow-Leningrad, 1930.


A. A. Grigor’ev: Materialy dlia biografii. Petrograd, 1917.
Egorov, B. F. “Apollon Grigor’ev—kritik.” Uch. zap. Tartuskogo un-ta, 1960, issue 98 (bibliography of Grigor’ev’s critical articles), and 1961, issue 104.