Nadezhdin, Nikolai

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Nadezhdin, Nikolai Ivanovich


Born Oct. 5 (17), 1804, in the village of Nizhnii Beloomut, the present-day settlement of Beloomut, Lukhovitsy Raion, Moscow Oblast; died Jan. 11 (23), 1856, in St. Petersburg. Russian critic, journalist, historian, and ethnographer.

The son of a deacon, Nadezhdin graduated from the Moscow Divinity School in 1824. From 1831 to 1835 he was a professor in the subdepartment of fine arts and archaeology at Moscow University. In 1831 he began publishing the journal Teleskop (The Telescope) with its supplement, the newspaper Molva (Rumor). V. G. Belinskii contributed to both publications. In 1836, Teleskop was shut down by the police for publishing P. Ia. Chaadaev’s “Philosophical Letter.” Nadezhdin was exiled, first to Ust’-Sysol’sk, then to Vologda (1836–38), where he began research on historical ethnography.

From 1843 to 1856, Nadezhdin edited the Zhurnal Mini-sterstva vnutrennikh del (Journal of the Ministry of Internal Affairs). Influenced by F. von Schelling’s philosophy, he developed and applied dialectic ideas to literature. Viewing art as one of the manifestations of the World-Spirit (Weltgeist), Nadezhdin traced the course of poetry from its objective, classical form in antiquity through its subjective, romantic form in the Middle Ages to the synthetic poetry of modern times. He regarded the principal features of synthetic poetry as natural feeling, simplicity, and the expression of “essence.”

Nadezhdin reacted favorably to Pushkin’s Boris Godunov and works by Gogol and Balzac; at the same time, however, he considered such works by Pushkin as Eugene Onegin and Count Nulin as lacking in philosophical depth. In N. G. Chernyshevskii’s words, Nadezhdin was “the first to implant firmly in our abstract thinking a profoundly philosophical orientation” (Poln. sobr. soch., vol. 3, 1947, p. 163). The forerunner of V. G. Belin-skii, Nadezhdin played an important role in the formation of the aesthetics of realism.

Nadezhdin was an energetic worker in the ethnographic division of the Russian Geographic Society; he became chairman of the division in 1848. He was one of the pioneers of historical geography in Russia, for example, his “Essay on the Historical Geography of the Russian World” (Biblioteka dlia chteniia, 1837, no. 6, part 2). His historical views were reflected in his articles “Europeanism and National Character in Russian Literature” (Teleskop, 1836, part 31) and “On Historical Works in Russia” (Biblioteka dlia chteniia, 1837, no. 1), which strongly echo the official viewpoint on nationality. Nadezhdin’s world view was contradictory: although he supported monarchism and rejected revolution, he nevertheless was in favor of the democratization of society.


Literaturnaia kritika: Estetika. [Introduction by Iu. Mann.] Moscow, 1972.


Chernyshevskii, N. G. “Ocherki gogolevskogo perioda russkoi literatury.” Poln. sobr. soch., vol. 3. Moscow, 1947.
Pypin, A. N. Istoriia russkoi etnografii, vol. 1. St. Petersburg, 1890.
Kozmin, N. K. N. I. Nadezhdin. St. Petersburg, 1912.
Mann, Iu. “N. I. Nadezhdin: Predshestvennik Belinskogo.” Voprosy literatury. 1962, no. 6.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.