Petr Pavlenko

Pavlenko, Petr Andreevich


Born June 29 (July 11), 1899, in St. Petersburg; died June 16, 1951, in Moscow. Soviet Russian writer. Member of the CPSU since 1920.

The son of an office worker, Pavlenko studied at the Baku Secondary Specialized Polytechnic in 1919 and 1920. In 1920 he began party work in the Red Army and continued this work later in Transcaucasia. He was a member of the Soviet trade delegation in Turkey from 1924 to 1927. Pavlenko began publishing in 1928. His first short stories and essays, among them the collections Asian Stories (1929) and Istanbul and Turkey (1930), dealt with the non-Soviet East.

Pavlenko’s travels in the Soviet East in the early 1930’s furnished him with abundant material for reevaluating and overcoming the heritage of oriental romanticism, a literary manner characteristic of the Pereval (The Pass) group of writers. His new approach was reflected in the novella The Desert (1931) and the book of essays Journey to Turkmenistan (1932). In the novel The Barricades (1932), which dealt with the Paris Commune of 1871, he attained the realism he had sought. Defense of the homeland is the central theme of the novel In the East (books 1–2, 1936–37; film title In the Far East, 1937, in collaboration with S. Radzinskii) and of the film script for Alexander Nevsky (1938, in collaboration with S. M. Eisenstein; State Prize of the USSR, 1941). Pavlenko also wrote the film script for Iakov Sverdlov (1940; in collaboration with B. M. Levin).

Pavlenko was a war correspondent during the Soviet-Finnish War of 1939–40 and the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45. The novel Happiness (1947; State Prize of the USSR, 1948) was inspired by his experience during the restoration of the Crimea’s economy. The hero, the Communist Voropaev, is depicted comprehensively and in depth. In collaboration with M. E. Chiaureli, Pavlenko also wrote the scripts for the films The Oath (1946; State Prize of the USSR, 1947) and The Fall of Berlin (1949; State Prize of the USSR, 1950), both of which were oversimplified and glossed over reality. He was the author as well of three books of essays, American Impressions (1949) and Young Germany and Italian Impressions (both 1951). The novella Steppe Sun (1949) is clear and graphic in its language and well-defined in its aim. Pavlenko’s novel Toilers of the World (partly published in 1952) remained unfinished.

Pavlenko’s works have been translated into many foreign languages and national languages of the USSR. He was a deputy to the third convocation of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. Pavlenko was awarded the Order of Lenin, two other orders, and several medals.


Sobr. soch, vols. 1–6. [Introductory article by L. Skorino.] Moscow, 1953–55.
Golos v puti. Moscow, 1952.
Pisatel’ i zhizn’: Stat’i, vospominaniia, iz zapisnykh knizhek, pis’ma. Moscow, 1955.


Novikova, M. P. A. Pavlenko: Ocherk tvorchestva. Simferopol’, 1955.
Levin, L. P. A. Pavlenko, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1956.
Pavlenko v vospominaniakh sovremennikov. Moscow, 1963.
Istoriia russkoi sovetskoi literatury, vol. 3. Moscow, 1968. Pages 275–87.