Viazemskii, Petr

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Viazemskii, Petr Andreevich


Born July 12 (23), 1792, in Moscow; died Nov. 10 (22), 1878, in Baden-Baden. Prince; Russian poet and literary critic.

Viazemskii received his education at home. In 1812 he joined the militia and took part in the Battle of Borodino. After the conclusion of the Patriotic War of 1812 he associated with the future Decembrists. Viazemskii was dis-missed from the service for his attitude of opposition. The satire ’The Russian God” (1828), published by A. I. Herzen in London (1854), was directed against the tsarist bureaucracy. Later, Viazemskii was close to the tsar’s court, and during 1856-58 he was head of the censorship. From 1863 he lived almost continuously abroad.

Viazemskii’s first poems were published in 1808. In the genre of the civic lyric and the satire he created poems that were close to the poetry of the Decembrists (“St. Petersburg,” 1818; “Indignation,” 1820; and others). Some of his poems were printed in the journal Poliarnaia zvezda, which was edited by K. F. Ryleev and A. A. Bestuzhev. As a member of the literary group Arzamas, Viazemskii was a supporter of Karamzin’s followers. During 1825-28 he took part in publishing the journal Moskovskii telegraf, in which he appeared as a literary critic defending romanticism against the epigones of classicism and the literary “old believers.” In this sense the essay by Viazemskii that was printed as a foreword to A. S. Pushkin’s The Fountain of Bakhchiserai (1824) was programmatic. A friend of Pushkin, Viazemskii collaborated with him in editing Literaturnaia gazeta and Sovremennik. In articles on literary criticism written during the 1840’s, Viazemskii argued against the ideas of V. G. Belinskii. His poems written after the Revolution of 1848 are permeated with antirevolutionary and monarchical attitudes. They were subjected to ridicule in the progressive satirical journals. In 1855 his Letters of a Russian Veteran of 1812 were published in Lausanne. Over a period of many years Viazemskii published excerpts from his Old Notebook, which included sketches drawn from political and literary life.

Viazemskii was a poet of high artistic standards—a master of many genres who made easy transitions from romantic landscapes to the couplet form, from lofty feelings to feuilleton poems and conversational speech. His mastery of epi-grams and salon puns inspired Pushkin’s characterization of Viazemskii as a “scathing poet, an intricate wit, rich in the glitter of his biting words and jests.”


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Zapisnye knizhki (1813-1848). Afterword by V. S. Nechaeva. Moscow, 1963.


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