Kondratii Ryleev

Ryleev, Kondratii Fedorovich

 

Born Sept. 18 (29), 1795, in the village of Batovo, in what is now Gatchina Raion, Leningrad Oblast; died July 13 (25), 1826, in St. Petersburg. Russian poet and Decembrist.

Ryleev came from a modest landholding family of the gentry. He was trained in the First Cadet Corps in St. Petersburg from 1801 to 1814 and took part in foreign campaigns of the Russian Army in 1814 and 1815. He left the army in 1818. In 1821 he became an assessor of the St. Petersburg Criminal Court, and in 1824 director of the Russian-American Company. In 1823 he became a member of the Northern Society of Decembrists, subsequently heading its most radical and democratic wing. In his political views, Ryleev evolved from a moderate constitutional monarchist to a republican. He played a leading role in organizing the uprising of Dec. 14, 1825. He was executed in the Peter and Paul Fortress along with four other leaders of the uprising.

Ryleev won literary recognition with his satire To a Court Favorite (1820), a denunciation of the practices instituted by Arakcheev. The further development of his creative principles was linked with the Free Society of Amateurs of Russian Literature, of which he became a member in 1821. From 1823 to 1825, Ryleev published the annual almanac The Polar Star in collaboration with A. A. Bestuzhev. From 1821 to 1823 he wrote the cycle of historical songs The Thought (published separately in 1825), including “Oleg the Wise” “Mstislav the Daring,” “The Death of Ermak,” “Ivan Susanin,” “Peter the Great in Ostrogozhsk,” and “Derzhavin.” Ryleev turned to Russia’s heroic past and reinterpreted it in the spirit of his own civic ideals.

Ryleev’s central work, the epic poem Voinarovskii (published separately in 1825), is imbued with the Decembrists’ love of freedom and foreshadows the approaching fate of the movement. Ryleev expresses his lofty thoughts on serving the country in the confession of the hero, Voinarovskii, who is exiled to Siberia for participating in the revolt against Peter I incited by Mazepa. Contradictions in Ryleev’s treatment of history appear in his romantic idealization of Mazepa and Voinarovskii and in his deviations from historical fact for the sake of publicizing Decembrist ideas. A. S. Pushkin valued Ryleev’s epic poem more highly than the cycle The Thought, although in his own narrative poem Poltava, Pushkin disputed the conception of history that Ryleev expressed in Voinarovskii.

In his unfinished narrative poem Nalivaiko, fragments of which were published in 1825, Ryleev addressed the theme of the Ukrainian Cossacks’ struggle for national liberation against the oppression of the Polish szlachta (nobility) in the 16th century. The most complete expression of civic zeal in Ryleev’s poetry was the section from his narrative poem The Citizen that begins “Will I, in the fateful time…” His agitational and satirical songs, written in collaboration with Bestuzhev, resound with hatred for the autocratic serfholding order and with direct calls for its overthrow. They include “Oh, where are those islands …,” “Our Tsar, Russian German …,” “As the smith walked along …,” and “Oh, I am sick at heart even in my native land…”

WORKS

Poln. sobr. soch. [Edited, introductory article, and commentaries by A. G. Tseitlin.] Moscow-Leningrad, 1934.
Stikhotvoreniia, Stat’i, Ocherki, Dokladnye zapiski, Pis’ma. [Introductory article by V. G. Bazanov.] Moscow, 1956.
“Delo K. F. Ryleeva.” In the collection Vosstanie dekabristov, vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1925.

REFERENCES

Bazanov, V. G. Poety-dekabristy. Moscow-Leningrad, 1950.
Oksman, lu. G. “Agitatsionnye pesni Ryleeva.” In Literaturnoe nasledstvo, vol. 59. Moscow, 1954.
Tseitlin, A. G. Tvorchestvo Ryleeva. Moscow, 1955.
Nechkina, M. V. Dvizhenie dekabristov, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1955.
Frizman, L. G. Poeziia dekabristov. Moscow, 1974.
Istoriia russkoi literatury XIX v.: bibliograficheskii ukazatel’. Moscow-Leningrad, 1962.

S. M. ALEKSANDROV

References in periodicals archive ?
Yet for all its pathos, the poetry of the Decembrists remained full of civic optimism, as illustrated by Kondratii Ryleev's epistle to Alexander Bestuzhev, preceding his narrative poem Voinarovsky.
(29) Matthews also details the number of Decembrists, including Kondratii Ryleev, who were closely associated with the RAC.
Otro civil, el poeta decembrista Kondratii Ryleev, en su creencia de que la tirania napoleonica habia sido sustituida por la de la Europa restaurada, insistio en que "el pueblo se ha dado cuenta, y por eso la Europa Occidental y Meridional han tratado de librarse del yugo del despotismo" (25).
Kondratii Ryleev cautivo a los asistentes a las reuniones con sus conversaciones sobre Espana: tambien Rusia--proclamo--necesitaba una constitucion y una rebelion militar (33).
Its author was the intrepid noble rebel Kondratii Ryleev (1795-1826), who later gained considerable fame because of his central role in the Saint Petersburg rebellion against the Tsar of December 1825 (the poet was eventually hanged for his part in the revolt).
This brings Prousis to a fuller consideration of literary responses to the Greek revolt, particularly those of the Decembrist civicism of Fedor Glinka, Vladimir Raevskii, and the foremost citizen-poet, Kondratii Ryleev. Prousis rightly emphasizes the inspirational association of Byron with the Greek cause, as in Ryleev's ode 'On the Death of Byron' which contrasts Greek and Turkish reactions to Byron's death.
Murav'ev-Apostol thus formed part of Trubetskoi's grand plan, which was apparently unknown to the Northern Society, least of all to its de facto leader, the poet Kondratii Ryleev. Kiianskaia explores the contingencies prepared by Trubetskoi, including the dispatch southward of designated couriers, and his doomed attempts to implement them, bringing some fresh insights to bear on the topic.
Another civilian, the Decembrist poet Kondratii Ryleev, believing that Napoleonic tyranny had been replaced by that of the European restoration, insisted that the "people have perceived this, and already Western and Southern Europe have tried to throw off the yoke of despotism." (23) In 1824, he wrote: "The kings united and by force tried to suppress aspirations to liberty.
familiarity (10: 80) with Decembrist Kondratii Ryleev's agitation
In his famous description of the "Russian dinners" given by the Decembrist Kondratii Ryleev in the 1820s, Lotman noted that the guests smoked cigars, while making a point of eating traditional Russian dishes, such as cabbage and rye bread.
(30) A similar observation could be made of Kondratii Ryleev's cycle of "Meditations" (written between 1821 and 1823).
Kiianskaia's book, however, is not only about Pestel': its focus ranges over military personnel and other Decembrists, including leading figures of the Northern Society, such as Sergei Trubetskoi and Kondratii Ryleev. She paints unflattering portraits of them both, arguing that Trubetskoi tried to marginalize Pestel' by liaising rather with Sergei Murav'ev-Apostol.