Kapnist, Vasilii

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kapnist, Vasilii Vasil’evich


Born Feb. 12 (23), 1758 (according to other data, 1757), in the village of Velikaia Obu-khovka, in present-day Mirgorod Raion, Poltava Oblast; died Oct. 28 (Nov. 9), 1823, in the village of Kibintsy, in present-day Mirgorod Raion, Poltava Oblast. Russian writer.

Kapnist was a son of a rich Ukrainian landowner. From 1770 to 1775 he served in the Guards in St. Petersburg. There he joined the circle of poets who gathered around G. R. Derzhavin. From 1783, Kapnist lived in Obukhovka. He began publishing his works in the magazine Sankt-Peterburgskii vestnik His Satire 7(1780), written in verse, brought him fame. The writer’s moderate ideals of enlightenment were reflected in it. Many of Kapnist’s poems depict the everyday life of the Ukraine of his time and its natural scenery (“Obukhovka” and “In Memory of the Smooth-leaved Elm,” for example). The Ode on Slavery (1783, published in 1806) contained a strong protest against the enslavement of the Ukrainian peasants. His most important work is a comedy in verse, The Chicane (1793–98), a sharp satire on the bureaucracy and the court, which was banned after the first few performances (1798). This play was on the theater repertoire until the 1840’s (the contemporary production was prepared in 1970). Kapnist’s preromantic poetry (odes, elegies, anacreontic verses) played an appreciable role in the development of literature in the period preceding Pushkin.


Sobr. soch., vols. 1–2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1960.


Berkov, P. N. V. V. Kapnist. Leningrad-Moscow, 1950.
Matsai, A. I. “Iabeda” V. V. Kapnista. [Kiev] 1958.
XVIII vek: Sb., vol. 4. Moscow-Leningrad, 1959. Pages 257–312.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.