Dmitrii Merezhkovskii

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Merezhkovskii, Dmitrii Sergeevich


Born Aug. 2(14), 1866, in St. Petersburg; died Dec. 9, 1941, in Paris. Rus-sian writer. Son of a court official.

Merezhkovskii graduated from the division of history and literature of the University of St. Petersburg, and his first collection of poetry, Poems, 1883-1887, appeared in 1888. His On the Causes of the Decline and on the New Trends in Contemporary Russian Literature (1893), hailing symbolism and the “mystical content”of art in opposition to the realistic literature and civic poetry of the 1880’s, became one of the first manifestos of the Russian decadent school.

Merezhkovskii’s best-known work is the historical trilogy Christ and Antichrist (parts 1-3, 1895-1905), in which the unifying theme is the mystical idea of an eternal struggle between Christianity and paganism. Rigid categorization and metaphysics detract from the trilogy’s artistic merit. The Russian Revolution is portrayed as “the boor that cometh.”His antirealistic teachings of “the new religious consciousness,”which he propagated through the Religious-Philosophical Society and in the journal Novyi put’ (The New Way, 1903-04), were sharply criticized by G. V. Plekhanov in “So-called Religious Searchings in Russia: The Gospel According to Decadence” (1909). As a critic, Merezhkovskii interpreted literature from a religious and idealistic standpoint, for example, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky (vols. 1-2, 1901-02) and Gogol and the Devil (1906). He disparaged the works of M. Gorky.

Hostile to the October Revolution of 1917, Merezhkovskii emigrated in 1920. He wrote novels, religious-philosophical essays, poems, and anti-Soviet articles. During World War II, while living in France, he collaborated with the Nazi occupation forces.


Poln. sobr. soch, vols. 1-24. Moscow, 1914.
Taina trekh. Egipet i Vavilon. Prague [1925].
Rozhdenie bogov. Tutankhamen na Krite. Prague [1925].
Napoleon, vols. 1-2. Belgrade, 1929.
Taina Zapada. Atlantida-Evropa, parts 1-2. Belgrade, 1930.
Dante, vols. 1-2. Brussels-Paris, 1939.


Gorky, M. “Razrushenie lichnosti: O beloemigrantskoi literature. “Sobr. soch. , vol. 24. Moscow, 1953.
Plekhanov, G. V. “Iskusstvo i obshchestvennaia zhizn’.”In Literatura i estetika, vol. 1. Moscow, 1958.
Gorbov, D. “Mertvaia krasota i zhivuchee bezobrazie,” Krasnaia nov’ 1926, book 7.
Istoriia russkoi literatury, vol. 10. Moscow-Leningrad, 1954. Pages 764— 99.
Russkaia literatura kontsa XlX-nachala XX v. 1901-1907. Moscow, 1971.
Russkaia literatura kontsa XlX-nachala XX v. 1908-1917. Moscow, 1972.
Istoriia russkoi literatury kontsa XlX-nachala XX veka: Bibliograficheskii ukazateV Moscow-Leningrad, 1963.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
While Dmitrii Merezhkovskii is often cited, his crucial 1893 text that heralded the birth of Russian decadence, the Causes of the Decline and on the New Tendencies in Contemporary Russian Literature" is not--unless I am mistaken.
Anton Chekhov through the eyes of Russian thinkers; Vasilii Rozanov, Dmitrii Merezhkovskii and Lev Shestov.
When Dmitrii Merezhkovskii (like many others before and after him) asserted in 1906 that Chekhov together with his characters wallowed in his boredom, getting high on the tediousness of his life like an alcoholic who gulps glasses of wine to make himself happy, he could not be farther from the truth.
Against this backdrop, it is clear that the two critics whom Frank credits partially as his Russian forerunners in rehabilitating Pushkin's philosophical and religious mind are neither Dostoevsky nor Solov'ev nor Rozanov, but Dmitrii Merezhkovskii (despite their bitter polemics around Logos and Vekhi) and Mikhail Gershenzon (despite their near fall-out after Vekhi).
The philosophical school, represented by the Symbolists (Vyacheslav Ivanov, Lev Shestov, Dmitrii Merezhkovskii, and Mikhail Gershenzon), played at interpreting the esoteric meaning of works: they found religious and philosophical doctrines in them, arrayed in symbols and allegories.