Nikolai Stankevich

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Stankevich, Nikolai Vladimirovich

 

Born Sept. 27 (Oct. 9), 1813, in the village of Uderevka, Ostrogozhsk District, Voronezh Province; died June 25 (July 7), 1840, in Novi Ligure, Italy. Russian public figure, philosopher, and poet.

As a student at Moscow University, from which he graduated in 1834, Stankevich came under the influence of Professor M. T. Kachenovskii and shared the views of the “skeptical school” of historiography. This point of view was reflected in his article “On the Reasons for the Rise of Moscow in the 14th and 15th Centuries.” By the end of 1831 he was the leader of a literary and philosophical circle at the university. Suffering from tuberculosis, he went abroad for medical treatment in 1837.

Stankevich studied the philosophy of F. Schelling, I. Kant, J. Fichte, and later G. Hegel and L. Feuerbach. He regarded philosophy as a means of comprehending the truth and perfecting life—the only concerns worthy of a moral person. From 1833, Stankevich was under police surveillance for associating with an antigovernment group of Moscow University students headed by Ia. I. Kostenetskii. Stankevich believed that the principal force in historical progress was enlightenment and that the main task of the Russian intelligentsia was to disseminate enlightened humanistic ideas.

Stankevich’s literary and aesthetic views were formed largely under the influence of N. I. Nadezhdin. Upholding the principle of genuine narodnost’ (populism), Stankevich attacked sham and vulgarity in literature and art, which in his view were meant to serve the people. The few poems he left behind express the thoughts and feelings of the progressive Russian intelligentsia, seeking to understand and transform life in the face of political oppression.

Stankevich’s letters are a valuable source for the study of Russian intellectual life in the 1830’s. A man of integrity and high principles, Stankevich stands out for his breadth of mind, his learning, and his gift of “discovering the talents of others.” Russian literature is indebted to him for recognizing the talent of the poet A. V. Kol’tsov. He exerted an enormous influence on V. G. Belinskii, T. N. Granovskii, and I. S. Turgenev. N. G. Chernyshevskii and N. A. Dobroliubov highly esteemed Stankevich’s intellectual and spiritual qualities.

WORKS

Stikhotvoreniia. Tragediia. Proza. Moscow, 1890.
Perepiska N. V. Stankevicha (1830–1840). Moscow, 1914.

REFERENCES

Herzen, A. I. Sobr. soch., vol. 9. Moscow, 1956. Pages 16–18,39–45.
Belinskii, V. G. Poln. sobr. soch., vol. 13. Moscow, 1959. (See index of names.)
Chernyshevskii, N. G. Poln. sobr. soch., vol. 3. Moscow, 1947. Pages 197–98,210–23.
Dobroliubov, N. A. “N. V. Stankevich.” Sobr. soch., vol. 2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1962.
Mann, Iu. V. Russkaia filosofskaia estetika (1820–1830gg.). Moscow, 1969.

L. I. NASONKINA