Iurii Olesha

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Olesha, Iurii Karlovich


Born Feb. 19 (Mar. 3), 1899, in Elizavetgrad, present-day Kirovograd; died May 10, 1960, in Moscow. Soviet Russian writer.

Olesha studied law at Novorossiia University from 1916 to 1918. His first works were published in 1918. In 1922, Olesha settled in Moscow, where from 1923 to 1929 he wrote feuilletons in verse for the newspaper Gudok under the pen name Zubilo. In 1924, Olesha wrote the fairy-tale novel Three Fat Men (film of the same name, 1967). His novel Envy, which made his reputation as a novelist, mirrors the turbulent epoch of the breakdown of the old society and the creation of a new one. Olesha was preoccupied with the question of whether the “industrial” age would impoverish man’s intellectual life.

In 1931, Olesha’s collection Cherry Pit, which incorporated short stories of various years, was published and his play A List of Blessings was premiered at the V. E. Meyerhold Theater. In 1934, Olesha completed the screenplay The Strict Youth. He also published articles on literary themes, as well as essays and memoirs. In 1958 the E. Vakhtangov Theater staged his adaptation of F. M. Dostoevsky’s novel The Idiot.

Olesha’s posthumously published Not a Day Without a Line (1961; 2nd ed., 1965) is a blend of diary and autobiography. Olesha himself conceived the book as a novel about his life, and entire sections are devoted to literary themes. Olesha’s narrative style is marked by vivid, imaginative descriptions and unexpected associations and comparisons. His works have been translated into many foreign languages.


Izbrannoe. Moscow, 1936.
Izbr. soch. [Foreword by V. Pertsov.] Moscow, 1956.
Povesti i rasskazy. [Foreword by B. Galanov.] Moscow, 1965.
P’esy. Stat’i o teatre i dramaturgii. [Introductory article by P. Markov.] Moscow, 1968.


Lunacharskii, A. “Zagovor chuvstv.” In A. V. Lunacharskii o teatre i dramaturgii, vol. 1. Moscow, 1958.
Chudakova, M. Masterstvo Iuriia Oleshi. Moscow, 1972.
Russkie sovetskie pisateli-prozaiki: Biobibliograficheskii ukazatel’, vol. 3. Leningrad, 1964.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
(11) Interestingly, the writers of the period between the 1920s and the early 1930s who admired Grin's works included Viktor Shklovskii, Yevgenii Zamiatin, and Iurii Olesha. See e.g.
(4) Recent research has established connections between Nabokov and early Soviet Russian writers such as Evgenii Zamiatin, Viktor Shklovskii, Isaak Babel', and Iurii Olesha, whose works shared a resistance to official Soviet ideological positions of the 1920s and early 1930s.
Hellbeck covers a somewhat wider range of materials than does Paperno, examining the diaries of well-known writers such as Dmitrii Furmanov, Iurii Olesha, and Aleksandr Afinogenov as well as those kept by members of the former intelligentsia, who resisted and then struggled to adapt to the new order, and, most symptomatic of all, those of several vydvizhentsy, men who ascended from obscure provincial or rural origins to acquire an education (typically technological) and some sort of public role (e.g., as brigade leader at work, as agitator, etc.).
It has appeared as a literary trope in the works of such Russian writers as Mikhail Zoshchenko, Mikhail Bulgakov, Iurii Olesha, the satiric team of Il'f and Petrov, and it has played an important role in memoirs of the Soviet period, including the essay, "In a Room and a Half," by the Nobel Prize laureate Joseph Brodsky.
This remark is applicable to numerous Soviet writers, such as Mikhail Svetlov and Iurii Olesha, Iurii Kazakov and Iurii Dombrovskii among numerous others: Berggol'ts's case represents a female variation on this strategy of intellectual survival that deserves special study.
(22) Finding signs of this mystical notion of personality is not difficult, as can be seen in the following text by Iurii Olesha in 1936 (Komsorg): "The manifestation of human qualities in physical labor is no longer only limited today to endurance, force, and precision: besides these mechanical qualities, there are expressed even certain traits of personality and character, the particular traits that constitute a being's individuality." (23)
Iurii Olesha (1899-1960), like many of his generation, believed that the poet's singular gift was an ability to see the world 'as if for the first time', 'as would a child', as, in fact, he himself had seen the world in childhood.
(11) 'Literaturnaia tekhnika', in Iurii Olesha, Izbrannye sochineniia (Moscow, 1956), p.
Elizabeth Klosty Beaujour points out that Olesha applied the term 'metaphor' to both metaphors and similes (The Invisible Land: A Study of the Artistic Imagination of Iurii Olesha (New York: Columbia University Press, 1970), p.
She discusses the cost of constructing Iurii Olesha's Envy; Marietta Shaginian and the changing Soviet author of Hydrocentral; Boris Pilniak, Mahogany and The Volga Falls to the Caspian Sea; Andrei Platonov and the end of the production novel; and other examples.