Leonid Nikolaevich Andreev

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Andreev, Leonid Nikolaevich


Born Aug. 9 (21), 1871, in Orel; died Sept. 12, 1919, in Neuvola, near Mus-tamäki (now, Iakovlevo), Finland. Russian writer.

Andreev graduated from the department of law at Moscow University in 1897. He began publishing as a feuilletonist in 1895. Andreev’s early work expressed a democratic mood and developed in the mainstream of critical realism—for example, his “Bergamot and Garas’ka” (1898), “The Grand Slam” (1899), “The City” (1902), and “Phantoms” (1904). At the beginning of the 1900’s he became friendly with M. Gorky and joined the Znanie (knowledge) writers’ group. In conjunction with this, there had already appeared in Andreev’s early works, such as “Thought” (1902), “The Wall” (1901), and “The Life of Vasilii Fiveiskii” (1904), a skepticism—a lack of faith in human reason and in the possibility of a social restructuring of life. In “The Red Laugh” (1904) he exposed the horrors of war; in the short stories “The Governor” (1906), “Ivan Ivanovich” (1908), and “The Seven Who Were Hanged” (1908), and in the play To the Stars (1906), he expressed sympathy for the revolution of 1905–07 and registered a protest against the inhumanity of bourgeois society.

However, Andreev departed from the progressive traditions of Russian literature. The dissatisfaction with life felt by his heroes is replaced by passivity or by anarchistic and nihilistic rebellion—for example, “Savva” (1907), “Darkness” (1907), the play King Hunger (1908), and the novel Sashka Zhigulev (1912). The cycle of philosophical dramas that includes The Life of Man (1907), The Black Masks (1908), and Anathema (1910) are filled with thoughts of the helplessness of reason and the triumph of irrational forces. During his last period Andreev also created realistic works, such as the plays Days of Our Life (1908), Anfisa (1909), and He Who Gets Slapped (1916), in which a protest is sounded against the bourgeois order. Andreev’s creative work, with its subjectivism, sketchiness, sharpness of contrasts, and elements of the grotesque, is close to expressionism.


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Gorky, M. “Leonid Andreev.” In his book Lit. portrety. Moscow, 1963.
Vorovskii, V. V. “Leonid Andreev.” In his book Lit.-kritich. stat’i. Moscow, 1956.
Mikhailovskii, B. V. “Leonid Andreev.” In his book Rus. lit-ra XX v. Moscow, 1939.
Afonin, L. Leonid Andreev. Orel, 1959. Kaun, A. Leonid Andreyev. New York, 1924. Istoriia rus. lit-ry kontsa XIX—Nachala XX veka: Bibliografich. ukazatel’. Moscow-Leningrad, 1963.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.