Kotsiubinskii, Mikhail

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kotsiubinskii, Mikhail Mikhailovich


Born Sept. 5 (17), 1864, in Vinnitsa; died Apr. 12 (25), 1913, in Chernigov. Ukrainian writer and public figure; revolutionary democrat.

The son of a minor government official, Kotsiubinskii graduated from the Shargorod Seminary in 1880. He was arrested in 1882 for his association with members of the People’s Will, and after his release he was kept under police surveillance. He worked as a teacher and statistician. Kotsiubinskii began to publish in 1890. In his sociopolitical, philosophical, and aesthetic views, he traversed a complex path from liberal Narodnichestvo (Populism) and kul’turnichestvo (culture-mongering, or the promotion of cultural and educational activities to the exclusion of political questions) to a revolutionary-democratic world view, showing a deep interest in Marxism. After about 1895 his works began to transcend the confines of the national peasant way of life, portraying various strata of bourgeois society.

Kotsiubinskii’s principal works—the novella Fata Morgana (parts 1–2, 1904–10) and other stories written between 1904 and 1912—present a broad panorama of the Revolution of 1905–07 and the ensuing reaction. The author depicts the people’s vengeance against their oppressors and the birth of a new countryside that, together with the working class, was gathering force for the revolutionary onslaught. In his short stories he showed provincial towns racked by pogroms (”Laughter” and “He Comes,” 1906), angry discontent among the people (”How We Went to Krinitsa,” 1908; “What Is Written in the Book of Life,” 1911), the heroes of the revolutionary underground, as contrasted with the renegades (”On the Road” and “The Stranger,” 1907; “Dream,” 1911), and ugly masks of the reaction (”Persona Grata,” 1908; “A Name-Day Present,” 1912). Kotsiubinskii denounced the decadents as “marauders of the revolution” in art (”Intermezzo,” 1909) and the liberals as accomplices of the reaction (”The Horses Are Not To Blame,” 1912). His novella Ghosts of Forgotten Ancestors (1912) triumphantly affirms the all-conquering truth of life.

Kotsiubinskii entered the history of Ukrainian literature as an artist of the revolution and greatly influenced the development of soviet Ukrainian prose, notably the writers A. Golovko, A. Dovzhenko, lu. lanovskii, and O. Gonchar. M. Gorky, a close friend, praised his work highly. Kotsiubinskii’s stories have been translated into many languages, and the films Bloody Dawn (1957), The Horses Are Not To Blame (1957), At a High Price (1958), and Ghosts of Forgotten Ancestors (1965) were based on his works. Two literary memorial museums—in Vinnitsa (1927) and Chernigov (1935)—are dedicated to Kotsiubinskii.


Tvory, vols. 1–6. Kiev, 1961–62.
In Russian translation:
Sochineniia, vols. 1–4. Moscow, 1965.


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