Surikov, Ivan

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Surikov, Ivan Zakharovich


Born Mar. 25 (Apr. 6), 1841, in the village of Novoselovo, Uglich District, Yaroslavl Province; died Apr. 24 (May 6), 1880, in Moscow. Russian poet.

The son of an enserfed peasant, Surikov lived in poverty, first as a tradesman in Moscow with his father beginning in 1849 and later as the owner of a small grocery store. He taught himself to read and write and to compose poetry. In 1862, Surikov met A. N. Pleshcheev, who helped develop his talent.

Surikov began publishing in 1864; three collections of his poems appeared in 1871, 1875, and 1877. His poetry dealt mainly with the hard life of impoverished village and city dwellers. Surikov’s simple, melodious lyrics, which at first depicted everyday life, later expressed social protest; examples are “The Laborer” and “To a Toiling Brother.” His works drawn from Russian history reflected rebellious sentiments, for example, the narrative poems The Execution of Sten’ka Razin and Sadko; the latter was the basis of N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera of the same name.

Many of Surikov’s poems dealt with children and with the Russian landscape. His work is related to the democratic tradition in Russian literature and to folklore. Some of his poems have become popular folk songs, for example, “The Mountain Ash” (“Why do you sway”) and “In the Steppe” (in the popular version, “All Around There Is Only the Steppe”). On Surikov’s initiative, the joint collection The Dawn (1872) was published; its appearance marked the establishment of the Surikov Literary and Musical Circle.


I. Z. Surikov i poety-surikovtsy. [Introductory article by E. S. Kalmanovskii.] Moscow-Leningrad, 1966.
Stikhotvoreniia. [Afterword by V. M. Sidel’nikov.] Moscow, 1974.


Losev, P. Pesni poeta: I. Z. Surikov. [Introductory article by N. Rylenkov.] Yaroslavl, 1966.


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