Nikolai Pavlovich Smirnov-Sokolskii

Smirnov-Sokol’skii, Nikolai Pavlovich

 

(real surname Smirnov). Born Mar. 5 (17), 1898, in Moscow; died there Jan. 13, 1962. Soviet variety performer, writer, and bibliophile. People’s Artist of the RSFSR (1957).

Smirnov-Sokol’skii studied at a commercial school. He worked in a bookstore and was a newspaper reporter and columnist. In 1915 he began acting in summer theaters and in the Odeon theater of the miniature in Moscow. His monologues and satirical songs were intensely topical. During the Civil War (1918-20), Smirnov-Sokol’skii performed in concerts in barracks and workers’ clubs and on warships. In the 1920’s he created the satirical role of a philistine.

Smirnov-Sokol’skii composed his earliest topical satires and humorous songs in the form of the raeshnik (rhymed satirical monologue). By the 1930’s, he no longer played the roles of stock characters and was beginning to carry on dialogues between the audience and himself as author and actor. He performed his own topical satirical monologues, devoted to contemporary life. Smirnov-Sokol’skii’s typically agitational satires mercilessly denounced and mocked vestiges of the past. His many successful topical satires included “I Wish to Complain,” “I Cannot Remain Silent,” “Othello,” “Perfidy and Love,” “Leaving the Theater,” and “Check Your Noses.”

Smirnov-Sokol’skii collected a unique library, which included literary almanacs and miscellanies, books forbidden by the tsarist censorship, first editions of 18th- to 20th-century Russian literary classics, and editions published during the lifetime of these works’ authors. He wrote studies on the history of books, devoted to A. N. Radishchev, A. S. Pushkin, and other writers.

WORKS

Rasskazy o knigakh. Moscow, 1959.
Moia biblioteka, vols. 1-2. Moscow, 1963.

REFERENCES

Vishnevskii, V. S. “Artist-Politrabotnik.” Rabochii i teatr, 1932, no. 3.
Dmitriev, lu. A. “N. Smirnov-Sokol’skii.” In Ezhegodnik In-ta istorii is-kusstv, 1958: Teatr. Moscow, 1958.

IU. A. DMITRIEV [23–1826–]

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