Chukovskii, Kornei Ivanovich
(real name, Nikolai Vasil’evich Korneichukov). Born Mar. 19 (31), 1882, in St. Petersburg; died Oct. 28, 1969, in Moscow. Soviet Russian writer, critic, literary scholar, and translator. Doctor of philology (1957).
Chukovskii was expelled from a Gymnasium in Odessa in the fifth grade because of his social origin (his mother was a peasant). He subsequently worked and studied on his own. He began his journalistic career in 1901, publishing essays on contemporary writers that were later collected in such books as From Chekhov to Our Times (1908) and Faces and Masks (1914). Although sharp and penetrating, Chukovskii’s literary portraits at times exhibited excessive subjectivity and paradoxicality of judgment. In Nat Pinkerton and Modern Literature (1908), he mocked petit bourgeois literature with great skill.
In 1916, M. Gorky invited Chukovskii to work at the Parus Publishing House and advised him to write for children. Chukovskii’s fairy tales in verse “Moidodyr” (1923), “The Giant Roach” (1923), “Mukha-tsokotukha” (1924; under the title “The Fly’s Wedding”), “Barmalei” (1925), and “Aibolit” (1929; under the title “The Adventures of Aibolit”) were elegant, witty, and free of didacticism. They quickly found their way into the hearts of young readers. Chukovskii’s painstaking study of children’s speech, ability to create words, and psychology resulted in Little Children (1928), republished later as From Two to Five (21st ed., 1970).
Chukovskii dealt with the legacy of N. A. Nekrasov in Nekrasov as Artist (1922), the collection of articles Nekrasov (1926), and the 1927 edition of Nekrasov’s Complete Collected Poems. His work on Nekrasov culminated in his definitive study, The Mastery of Nekrasov (1952; Lenin Prize, 1962).
A translator for many years, Chukovskii was the first to acquaint Russian readers with W. Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (1907). He analyzed contemporary methods of translation in Principles of Artistic Translation (1919) and High Art (1968). In his literary and historical memoirs, such as Contemporaries (1962) and Chekhov (1967), Chukovskii drew vivid portraits of Russian cultural figures. He also worked extensively as an editor.
Chukovskii received an honorary doctorate in literature from Oxford University in 1962. Many of his books have been translated into languages of the USSR and foreign languages. Chukovskii was awarded the Order of Lenin, three orders of the Red Banner of Labor, and various medals.
WORKSSobr. soch., vols. 1–6. Moscow, 1965–69.
Aleksandr Blok kak chelovek i poet. Petrograd, 1924.
ll’ia Repin. Moscow, 1969.
Moi Uitmen, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1969.
REFERENCESPetrovskii, M. Kniga o Kornee Chukovskom. Moscow, 1966.
Rassadin, S. “Iskusstvo byt’ samim soboi.” Novyi mir, 1967, no. 7.
Slonimskii, M. “Kornei Chukovskii.” Zvezda, 1972, no. 8.
Vospominaniia o Kornee Chukovskom. Moscow, 1977.
V. V. ZHDANOV