Shaginian, Marietta Sergeevna

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Shaginian, Marietta Sergeevna


Born Mar. 21 (Apr. 2), 1888, in Moscow. Soviet Russian writer. Hero of Socialist Labor (1976); doctor of philological sciences (1946); corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of the Armenian SSR (1950). Member of the CPSU from 1942.

Shaginian, the daughter of an Armenian scholar and physician, graduated from the history and philosophy department of the Ger’e Advanced Courses for Women in 1912. From 1906 to 1912 she contributed to the Moscow press and later to the newspapers Priazovskii krai (The Azov Region), Kavkazskoe slovo (The Caucasian Word), and Baku (Baku). She published the books of poetry First Encounters (1909) and Orientalia (1913) and the short-story collections Narrow Gates (1914) and Seven Conversations (1915). In her novel One’s Destiny (published in full in 1923), she appealed to the intelligentsia to reconsider their own destiny from the point of view of the people’s destiny.

The October Revolution of 1917, which Shaginian enthusiastically welcomed, provided new themes for her writing, for example, the novella The Change (1923). Under the pen name Jim Dollar she published the series of agitation-adventure novellas Mess-Mend (1924–25), consisting of A Yankee in Petrograd, Lori Len, Metalworker, and The Road to Baghdad, which were published throughout the world by the working-class press and enjoyed enormous success; the series was adapted for the screen in 1926.

Shaginian’s novel Hydrocentral (1930–31) deals with socialist construction and new human relationships. The novel reflects the years the author spent at the construction site of hydroelectric power plants in Armenia. It reveals her gift for exploring a literary theme, developing a plot, and providing an abundance of technical information. These qualities make Hydrocentral one of the best examples of the Soviet industrial novel.

In her numerous essays, including “Journey Through Soviet Armenia” (1950; State Prize of the USSR, 1951), Shaginian examines important phenomena of modern life against the scrupulously depicted panorama of Armenian culture and history. The book of sketches Letters From Abroad (1964) depicts postwar Europe’s complex ideological struggle in the face of the growing forces of the socialist camp. Shaginian, a master of the literary portrait, wrote sketches of G. B. Iakulov, V. F. Khodasevich, S. V. Rachmaninoff, and W. Blake, as well as full-length biographical works, including T. Shevchenko (1941), I. A. Krylov (1944), Studies on Nizami (1955) and Resurrection, which is devoted to the Czech composer J. Mysliveček. Shaginian was also the author of various studies, essays, and articles, including several about Goethe, for example, Journey to Weimar (1914, published 1923) and Goethe (1950).

Themes drawn from Lenin’s life occupy a special place in Shaginian’s works. The historical and philosophical interpretation of various problems determined her success as a writer. Her chronicle novels The Ul’ianov Family (1938, rev. ed. 1957) and The First All-Russian Exhibition (1965) were awarded the Lenin Prize in 1972, along with several of her sketches. In the two novels, Shaginian details the history of Russia in the 1870’s, shows the profound validity of Leninism as a historical phenomenon, and creates a vital image of Lenin as a man and thinker.

Shaginian’s works have been translated into many languages of the peoples of the USSR, as well as foreign languages. She has been awarded two Orders of Lenin, the Order of the October Revolution, seven other orders, and several medals.


Sobr. soch., vols. 1–5. Moscow, 1971–73.
Sobr. soch., vols. 1–9. Moscow, 1971–75.
Ob iskusstve i literature, 1933–1957. Moscow, 1958.
Chetyre uroka u Lenina. Moscow, 1972.
“Chelovek i vremia: Vospominaniia.” Novyi mir, 1971, no. 4; 1972, nos. 1–2; 1973, nos. 4–6; 1975, no. 3; 1977, no. 1; 1978, no. 4.


Gol’dina, R. Leninskaia tema v tvorchestve M. Shaginian. Yerevan, 1969.
Rus. sov. pisateli-prozaiki: Biobibligrafich. ukazatel’, vol. 6, part 1. Moscow, 1969.
Skorino, L. I. Marietta Shaginian—khudozhnik: Zhizn’ i tvorchestvo. Moscow, 1975.
Goriachkina, M. “Mnogogrannyi talant.” Pravda, May 21,1975.
Serebriakov, K. B. Uroki zhizni. Moscow, 1977.


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