Kataev, Valentin Petrovich

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kataev, Valentin Petrovich


Born Jan. 16 (28), 1897, in Odessa. Russian and Soviet Russian writer. Member of the CPSU since 1958.

Kataev is the son of a teacher and the brother of the writer E. P. Petrov. His first works were published in 1910. Between 1915 and 1917 he served as a soldier at the front. During the Great October Socialist Revolution and the Civil War of 1918–20 he fought in battles against troops of Denikin’s White Guard and worked for IugROSTA (the southern division of the Russian Telegraph Agency). The short stories he wrote during that period, including “In the Besieged City” (published in 1922) and “Notes On the Civil War” (published in 1924), already showed clearly the two main trends of his work: heroic ardor and satire. Beginning in 1923, Kataev worked for the newspaper Gudok, the magazine Krokodil, and other publications. Kataev’s satire in the 1920’s was directed against petit-bourgeois philis, tinism, as illustrated by the novella The Embezzlers (1926; play of the same name, 1928) and the comedy Squaring the Circle (1928). Heroic, revolutionary, and patriotic themes became dominant in Kataev’s work in the 1930’s. This is seen in the novel Time, Forward! (1932) and the novellas I Am the Son of the Working People (1937) and Son of the Regiment (1945; State Prize of the USSR, 1946; film of the same name, 1946).

In 1936, Kataev published the work that brought him world fame, the novella Lonely White Sail (film of the same name, 1937), the first part of the tetralogy The Waves of the Black Sea. The second part of the tetralogy is A Small Farm in the Steppe (1956); the third part, Winter Wind (1960–61); and the fourth part, For the Power of the Soviets (film of the same name, 1956; another name for the fourth part is The Catacombs: first version, 1948; second version, 1951). The tetralogy affirms the succession of revolutionary traditions. Kataev is the author of the publicists novella The Small Iron Door in the Wall (1964), dedicated to V. I. Lenin, and the lyrical, philosophical memoir-novellas The Holy Well (1967), The Grass of Oblivion (1967), and The Little Cube (1969).

Kataev was editor in chief of the magazine Iunost’ from 1955 to 1961. His works have been translated again and again into foreign languages and into the languages of the peoples of the USSR. Kataev has been awarded two Orders of Lenin, two other orders, and various medals.


Sobr. soch,, vols. 1–5. (Introductory article by L. Skorino.) Moscow, 1956–57.
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“Avtobiografiia.” In Sovetskie pisateli: Avtobiografii, vol. 1. Moscow, 1959.


Sidel’nikova, T. Valentin Kataev. Moscow, 1957.
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Nagibin, Iu. “Vverkh po krutizne: K 75-letiiu so dnia rozhdeniia Valentina Kataeva.” Moskva, 1972, no. 1
Russkie sovetskie pisateli-prozaiki. Biobibliograficheskii ukazatel’, vol. 2. Leningrad, 1964.


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