Fedor Gladkov

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Gladkov, Fedor Vasil’evich


Born June 9 (21), 1883, in the village of Chernavka, in present-day Saratov Oblast; died Dec. 20, 1958, in Moscow. Soviet Russian writer. Member of the CPSU from 1920. Born into a family of peasant Old Believers.

Gladkov graduated from a city school in Ekaterinodar (now Krasnodar) and began teaching in Transbaikalia in 1902. He began to publish in provincial newspapers in 1900 (the story “Toward the Light”). In 1906, Gladkov participated in the revolutionary social democratic movement in Eisk. He was soon arrested and exiled for three years to Verkholensk District. From 1914 to 1917 he was a schoolteacher in the Kuban’ region. During the occupation by the White Guards he was in the Bolshevik underground. He volunteered for the Red Army. Gladkov edited the newspaper Krasnoe Chernomor’e (Novorossiisk) in 1920. In 1921 he arrived in Moscow and in 1923 joined the literary group The Smithy. Gladkov’s early works were concerned with the life of working people, the peasant poor, and tramps. In 1908-09 he wrote The Outcasts (published in 1922), a story about political exiles. In 1917, M. Gorky, with whom he had been corresponding since 1902, published Gladkov’s story “The Only Begotten Son” (“The Abyss”) in Letopis’. When Gladkov turned to burning issues of the day in the early years after the revolution, he paid tribute to formalistic innovation (“The Fiery Steed,” 1923; the plays Windswept Trees, 1921, and The Gang, 1923).

Gladkov’s novel Cement (1925) became widely known. It gave an account of the heroic accomplishments of the working class, conveyed the power of the Communist Party’s inspiring ideas, and portrayed Communists. A heroic treatment of events and an elevated style were characteristic of the novel. Gorky, who valued Cement highly, noted that the book was the “first since the revolution to firmly seize and clearly illuminate the most important theme of the times— labor.” Nevertheless, Gorky criticized the language of the book as being mannered and marred by dialectical phrases (Sobr. soch., vol. 29, 1955, p. 438; see also p. 439). Subsequently, Gladkov made corrections in each new edition of the novel. Cement is one of the classic works of Soviet literature. Small Trilogy, a collection of satirical stories (“The Cephalopodan Man,” “The Virtuous Devil,” and “The Inspired Goose”) written by Gladkov in 1926-30, appeared in 1932. The tales The New Land (1930) and The Drunken Sun (1932) were accounts of new people and the Soviet village. The novel Power (1932-38), based on the construction of the Dnieper Electric Power Plant and other projects of the early Soviet five-year plans, marked a significant stage in Gladkov’s creative work. He tried to depict the energy of the masses, swept up by the idea of socialist construction. The language of the first book of the novel was severely criticized by M. Gorky in his article “On Prose” (ibid., vol. 26, 1953, pp. 401-02). Gladkov repeatedly reworked the novel and still never considered it completed. During the Great Patriotic War (1941-45), he wrote stories about the people of the Ural defense plants. The Vow (1944) was an account of the inspired production work of Leningrad workers evacuated to the Urals.

In the postwar years Gladkov wrote the autobiographical trilogy A Story of My Childhood (1949; State Prize of the USSR, 1950), The Freemen (1950; State Prize of the USSR, 1951), and An Evil Year (1954). Here, in many respects, Gladkov continued Gorkian traditions. A deep knowledge of the life of the people enabled him to create vivid portraits of peasants and workers of prerevolutionary Russia, to affirm the greatness of their labor, and to show the awakening of the people. The language of the autobiographical tales is rich, clear, poetic, and filled with folk sayings. In his last years Gladkov worked on the fourth part of his epic (A Stormy Youth, which was never completed), created a number of literary portraits of writers and public figures, and published articles on literature and language (the collection On Literature, 1955), as well as publicistic articles. He was awarded two Orders of Lenin, the Order of the Red Banner of Labor, and medals.


Sobr. soch., vols. 1-8. Moscow, 1958-59.
Miatezhnaia iunost’, Ocherki, Stat’i, Vospominaniia. Moscow, 1961.
“Avtobiografiia.” In Sovetskie pisateli: Avtobiografii, vol. 1. Moscow, 1959.
“M. Gor’kii—F. V. Gladkov (Perepiska).” In Literaturnoe nasledstvo, vol. 70. Moscow, 1963.


Ukhanov, I. P. Tvorcheskii put’ F. Gladkova. Moscow, 1953.
Brainina, B. Ia. Fedor Gladkov: Ocherk zhizni i tvorchestva. Moscow, 1957.
UI’rikh, L. Gor’kii i Gladkov. Tashkent, 1961.
UI’rikh, L. Tvorchestvo Fedora Gladkova. Tashkent, 1968.
F. Gladkov: Vospominaniia sovremennikov (collection). Moscow, 1965.
Pakhomova, M. F. Avtobiograficheskie povesti F. V. Gladkova i traditsii M. Gor’kogo. Moscow-Leningrad, 1966.
Volozhenin, A. P. Fedor Gladkov: Zhizn’ i tvorchestvo. Moscow, 1969.
Russkie sovetskie pisateli-prozaiki: Biobibliografich. Ukazatel’, vol. 1. Leningrad, 1958.
Bibliografiia tekstov F. V. Gladkova, 1900-1964. Moscow, 1965.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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