Prishvin, Mikhail Mikhailovich
Born Jan. 23 (Feb. 4), 1873, on the estate of Krushchevo, now in Elets Raion, Lipetsk Oblast; died Jan. 16, 1954, in Moscow. Soviet Russian writer.
The son of a merchant, Prishvin studied at the Riga Polytechnic School from 1893 to 1897. He was arrested for membership in Marxist groups. In 1902 he graduated from the agronomy division of the University of Leipzig. During World War I he was a war correspondent, and in 1917 and 1918 a journalist. From 1918 to 1922 he was a rural schoolteacher.
Prishvin began publishing in 1898; his first short story was published in 1906. He was employed as an agronomist, and a number of his trips were the source of his travel sketches. His books based on life in the north, marked by a poetical quality and an unusual perceptiveness, provided authentic descriptions of nature and everyday life. Examples of these works are In the Land of Unfrightened Birds (1907), In Search of the Magic Loaf (1908), and the novellas and short stories in The Black Arab (1910) and Glorious Tambourines (1913). The influence of the literary trend of decadence is perceptible in the collection At the Walls of the Invisible City (1909). Prishvin’s sketches, short stories, and phenological short stories, including Shoes (1923) and The Springs of Berendei (1925–26), depict new features of “the face of life itself.”
Prishvin’s lyric prose includes the novella Ginseng (original title The Root of Life, 1933), the narrative poem in prose Facelia (1940), and the cycle of miniatures Thaw in the Forest (1943). These works are permeated with a deeply felt summons to “creative conduct in life”: in Prishvin, cognition of nature is inextricably linked with an awareness of man’s social and moral essence. A similar unity marks the historical and modern scenes of such work as the novel-tale The Royal Road (published 1957), the tale The Storeroom of the Sun (1945), the novella-tale The Ship Timber Forest (1954), and the autobiographical novel Kashcheiv’s Chain (1960, begun 1923).
Prishvin praised Russian nature and was a poet-philosopher and a refined and original stylist. Many of his works have become part of the heritage of Soviet children’s literature and have been translated into foreign languages. He was awarded two orders.
WORKSSobr. soch., vols. 1–7. [Introductory article by M. Gorky and essay by N. Zamoshkin.] Moscow-Leningrad, 1927–30.
Sobr. soch., vols. 1–6. [Introductory article by K. Paustovskii.] Moscow, 1956–57.
Izbr. proizv., vols. 1–2. [Introductory article by V. D. Prishvina.] Moscow, 1972.
“Avtobiografiia.” In Sovetskie pisateli: Avtobiografii, vol. 2. Moscow, 1959.
REFERENCESKhmel’nitskaia, T. Tvorchestvo Mikhaila Prishvina. Leningrad, 1959.
Khailov, A. Mikhail Prishvin: Tvorcheskii put’. Moscow-Leningrad, 1960.
Motiashov, I. Mikhail Prishvin: Kritiko-biografich. ocherk. Moscow, 1965.
Trefilova, G. P. “M. M. Prishvin.” In Istoriia russkoi sovetskoi literatury v chetyrekh tomakh, vol. 3, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1968.
Ershov, G. Mikhail Prishvin: Zhizn’ i tvorchestvo. Moscow, 1973.
“Mikhail Prishvin.” In Istoriia russkoi sovetskoi literatury, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1970.
Russkie sovetskiepisateli-prozaiki: Biobibliograficheskii ukazatel’, vol. 3. Leningrad, 1964.
L. P. PECHKO