Simonov, Konstantin

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Simonov, Konstantin (Kirill) Mikhailovich


Born Nov. 15 (28), 1915, in Petrograd; died Aug. 28, 1979. Soviet Russian writer and public figure. Hero of Socialist Labor (1974). Member of the CPSU since 1942.

Simonov, who graduated from the M. Gorky Institute of Literature in 1938, published his first work in 1934. His narrative poems The Victor (1937), about N. Ostrovskii, The Battle on the Ice (1938), and Suvorov (1939) expressed a vivid sense of impending war. Simonov’s main theme, which took form before the war, was the courage and heroism displayed by people deeply involved in contemporary upheavals; examples were the plays Story of a Love (1940) and A Lad From Our Town (1941; State Prize of the USSR, 1942; film of the same name, 1942).

During the Great Patriotic War, Simonov was a front-line correspondent for the newspaper Krasnaia Zvezda. He was one of the first writers to turn to the theme of the Russian at war, in the play The Russian People (1942; State Prize of the USSR, 1943) and the novella Days and Nights (1943-44; State Prize of the USSR, 1946; film of the same name, 1945). Simonov’s lyrics became widely popular during the war; examples were “Do you remember, Alesha, the roads of Smolensk?” “Wait for Me,” and “Kill Him!” Also popular were the poems from Simonov’s collections With You and Without You (1942) and War (1944), which united themes of patriotism, courage, and heroism with those of front-line friendship, love, and loyalty.

The cold-war period was reflected in Simonov’s ideologically topical plays The Russian Question (1946; State Prize of the USSR, 1947) and Another’s Shadow (1949; State Prize of the USSR, 1950) and in the book of poems Friends and Foes (1948; State Prize of the USSR, 1949). In the mid-1950’s, after the publication of the novel Comrades in Arms (1952; new edition, 1971), Simonov began work on the trilogy The Living and the Dead (Lenin Prize, 1974), comprising the novels The Living and the Dead (1954–59; film of the same name, 1964), Nobody Is Born a Soldier (1963–64; filmed as Retribution, 1969), and The Last Summer (1970-71). The trilogy is an epic panorama of the Soviet people’s path to victory during the Great Patriotic War. In this work, Simonov sought to unite two artistic goals: to depict an authentic chronicle of the war’s main events as seen through the eyes of their witnesses and participants Serpilin and Sintsov, and to analyze these events from a contemporary viewpoint. Closely linked to the trilogy were Southern Tales (1956-61) and the novellas From the Notes of Lopatin (1965) and Twenty Days Without War (1972), as well as Simonov’s multi-volume war diaries, which included commentaries added by the author at the time of publication.

Simonov also published the novella Smoke of the Fatherland (1947), the play The Fourth (1961), and many other plays. He has written scenarios for feature and documentary films, narrative poems, books, travel essays, articles, and addresses on literary topics and subjects of public interest. Many of his works have been translated into the national languages of the USSR and into foreign languages.

Simonov’s public activities have been varied: he was editor of Literaturnaia gazeta in 1938 and from 1950 to 1954 as well as of the journal Novyi mir (New World) from 1946 to 1950 and from 1954 to 1958. He served as deputy general secretary of the administrative board of the Writers’ Union of the USSR from 1946 to 1954. Simonov was a candidate member of the Central Committee of the CPSU from 1952 to 1956 and a member of the Central Auditing Commission of the CPSU from 1956 to 1961; in 1976 he once again became a member of the commission. He was a deputy to the second and third convocations of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. In 1949 he became a member of the presidium of the Soviet Committee for the Defense of Peace. Simonov served as secretary of the administrative board of the Writers’ Union of the USSR from 1954 to 1959. In 1967 he once again became secretary of the union’s administrative board. He has been awarded three Orders of Lenin, five other orders, and several medals.


Sobr. soch., vols. 1-6. Moscow, 1966-70.


Vishnevskaia, I. L. Konstantin Simonov: Ocherk tvorchestva. Moscow, 1966.
Fradkina, S. Tvorchestvo Konstantina Simonova. Moscow, 1968.
Lazarev, L. I. Voennaiaproza Konstantina Simonova. Moscow, 1975.
Russkie sovetskiepisateli-prozaiki: Biobibliograficheskii ukazatel’, vol. 4. Moscow, 1966.


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