Pervomaiskii, Leonid Solomonovich

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Pervomaiskii, Leonid Solomonovich


(pen name of Il’ia Shlemovich Gurevich). Born May 4 (17), 1908, in Kon-stantinograd, now Krasnograd, Kharkov Oblast; died Dec. 9, 1973, in Kiev. Soviet Ukrainian writer. Member of the CPSU from 1954.

The son of a bookbinder, Pervomaiskii began publishing in 1924. He joined the literary organizations Plow, The Young, and the All-Ukrainian Union of Proletarian Writers. From 1941 to 1945 he was a war correspondent for the All-Union radio, and beginning in 1943 a war correspondent for Pravda. In the short-story collections Komsomols (1926), Sunspots (1928), and On a Local Scale (1930) and in such poetry collections as Tart Apples (1929), Heroic Ballads (1932), New Lyrics (1937), and Periwinkle World (1940) he portrayed the heroism of the class struggle during the Civil War of 1918-20, the enthusiasm for building socialism, and the romance of everyday Komsomol life.

Pervomaiskii’s wartime poetry collections The Birthday and The Land (both 1943) were awarded the State Prize of the USSR (1946). His lyrics of this period were collected in the book Soldiers’ Songs (1946). A deeper philosophical comprehension of reality marks his poetry of the 1960’s and 1970’s, as seen in the collections The Word (1960), Poetry Lessons (1968), and The Tree of Knowledge (1971).

Pervomaiskii’s prose included the books Loyal Blood (1944), Fires in the Carpathians (1945), Stories From Various Years (1960), and Instead of Poems About Love (1962). The intensely psychological novel Wild Honey (1963) is devoted to the wartime feats of the Soviet people. Pervomaiskii’s plays Unknown Soldiers (1931), Wagram Night (1934), and The Beginning of the Battle (1942), written in an elevated romantic manner, are filled with tragic conflicts. He also translated the foreign authors H. Heine, S. Petőfi, and J. Fučik and wrote critical articles and literary studies, published in the book Creative Working Days (1967). Pervomaiskii was awarded four orders and several medals.


Tvory, vols. 1-3. Kiev, 1958-59.
Tvory, vols. 1-7. Kiev, 1968-70.
In Russian translation:
Stikhotvoreniia i poemy. Moscow, 1955.
Dikii med. Moscow, 1968.
Drevo poznaniia: Stikhi poslednikh let. Moscow, 1972.


Tarasenkov, A. “Leonid Pervomaiskii.” In Druzhba narodov, book 18. Moscow, 1948.
Kudin, A. “Leonid Pervomaiskii.” In Literaturnye portrety, vol. 1. Kiev, 1960.
Prisovs’kyi, Ie. Poeziia Leonida Pervomais’koho. Kiev, 1968.
Bocharov, A. “Provereno voinoi.” Novyi mir, 1970, no. 7.
[Obituary.] Literaturnaia gazeta, Dec. 19, 1973.


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