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a type of journalistic fiction that is often humorous and satirical. The feuilleton is topical and deals with a variety of subjects. It is written without a preconceived plan and is free in structure.
The feuilleton parodies literary and nonliterary genres and styles. It is unique in that it is both literary and journalistic in its aims and its approach to facts. The genre’s form, content, and functions have changed over the course of history.
The feuilleton originated on Jan. 28, 1800, when the Paris newspaper Journal des Débats included a supplementary sheet, or feuilleton, that printed announcements, theater and music reviews, articles on fashion, and light verse—material that was non-political and nonofficial. At this time the feuilleton was merely a section of a newspaper, rather than an actual genre. When newspapers became larger in size, the feuilleton was printed as a special section. Even novels were printed in this section, for example, E. Sue’s The Mysteries of Paris and A. Dumas’s The Three Musketeers. This was the origin of the roman-feuilleton, which was oriented toward the general public. The style of the materials printed in the feuilleton was in contrast to the seriousness, triteness, and abstractness of the canonical literary style, although these materials often tended to be superficial, amusing descriptions of mores.
The first sociopolitical feuilletons were the journalistic lampoons and articles written by C. Desmoulins, E. Loustalot, and J.-P. Marat during the French Revolution. Political feuilletons were written in the West during the 19th century by L. Börne, H. Heine, H. Rochefort, G. Weerth, and F. Freiligrath.
In Russia, the writer of feuilletons was looked down on for a long time and was regarded as an unscrupulous newspaper hack. The feuilleton was russified in the 1820’s in F. V. Bulgarin’s newspaper, Severnaia pchela; Bulgarin’s feuilletons were reactionary and authoritarian and constituted pedantic admonitions. The feuilletons of Baron Brambeus (O. I. Senkovskii), published in the journal Biblioteka dlia chteniia (Library for Reading), satirized mediocrity in literature, but they often manifested a lack of moral principles and were outdated from a literary point of view.
The best examples of the feuilleton during the first half of the 19th century were A. A. Bestuzhev’s keenly satirical literary critiques and Pushkin’s brilliant articles, faultless in terms of style and literary discrimination and published under the pseudonym of Feofilakt Kosichkin.
In the mid-19th century, feuilletons were produced by writers of the natural school and also by V. G. Belinskii, N. A. Dobroliubov, N. A. Nekrasov, I. I. Panaev, and M. E. Saltykov-Shchedrin. These feuilletonists drew on the traditions of the satirical journals of the late 18th century that had been edited by N. I. Novikov and I. A. Krylov. The 19th-century Russian feuilletonists used literary and journalistic materials as a basis from which to draw sociopolitical conclusions; they also denounced specific persons guilty of crimes and abuses of power. The political feuilleton became one of the leading genres published by the democratic periodicals of the second half of the 19th century—Iskra, Gudok, and Budil’nik—which printed the feuilletons of D. D. Minaev, N. S. Kurochkin, and G. I. Uspenskii.
The style of the Russian feuilleton was influenced by the works of Saltykov-Shchedrin and by A. I. Herzen’s essays and topical articles in Kolokol. In the tradition of revolutionary democratic journalism, M. Gorky (under the pseudonym Iegudiil Khlamida) published political feuilletons in 1895 and 1896 in Samarskaia gazeta. The feuilletons of the Marxist critics V. V. Vorovskii and M. S. Ol’minskii, written in the first two decades of the 20th century, were marked by political acuity and ideological clarity.
Prominent feuilletonists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were A. A. Iablonskii, A. R. Kugel’, A. V. Amfiteatrov, and particularly V. M. Doroshevich, who gave the humorous narrative feuilleton a topical, publicist slant. The contributors to the journals Satirikon and Novyi satirikon (The New Satyricon—A. T. Averchenko, N. A. Teffi, and Sasha Chernyi—were instrumental in the development of the Russian feuilletons. Novyi satirikon published V. V. Mayakovsky’s feuilleton poems “Hymn to the Judge” and “Hymn to Graft.” Mayakovsky and D. Bednyi were instrumental in establishing the Soviet feuilleton.
The Soviet feuilletonists of the 1920’s and early 1930’s who developed the best traditions of the progressive Russian feuilleton included Iu. K. Olesha, M. A. Bulgakov, M. M. Zoshchenko, V. P. Kataev, I. Il’f and E. Petrov, A. Zorich, O. Vishnia, and Ia. Sudrabkaln. Outstanding publicist feuilletons devoted to specific problems were published by M. E. Kol’tsov in the 1930’s. In the 1940’s and 1950’s the feuilletonists G. E. Ryklin, L. S. Lench, D. I. Zaslavskii, S. D. Narin’iani, and S. I. Oleinik were well known. Outstanding feuilletonists of the 1960’s and 1970’s have been N. I. Il’ina, L. I. Likhodeev, and I. M. Shatunovskii. Modern romans-feuilletons have recently been published.
An original type of feuilleton, published since the 1920’s, is the Soviet denunciatory and ideological feuilleton dealing with international politics. Writers of this type of feuilleton have included Mayakovsky, Zaslavskii, and Ia. Galan.
The feuilleton, mastered in the prerevolutionary Bolshevik newspaper Pravda, remains a vital, topical genre in the Soviet press.
REFERENCESFel’eton: Sb. statei. Leningrad, 1927.
Fel’etony sorokovykh godov. Moscow-Leningrad, 1930.
Zaslavskii, D. Istoki i puti fel’etona. [Moscow] 1931.
Zaslavskii, D. “Fel’eton.” In the collection Gazetnye zhanry. Moscow, 1955.
Russkii fel’eton. Moscow, 1958.
Sovetskii fel’eton. Moscow, 1959.
Kol’tsov, M. E. Pisatel’ v gazete. Moscow, 1961.
Zhurbina, E. I. Teoriia i praktika khudozhestvenno-publitsisticheskikh zhanrov. Moscow, 1969.
I. A. DEDKOV