Vorovskii, Vatslav

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Vorovskii, Vatslav Vatslavovich


(literary and party pseudonyms, P. Orlovskii, Shvarts, Zhosefina, and Favn). Born Oct. 15 (27), 1871, in Moscow; died May 10, 1923, in Lausanne. Soviet party and government figure, publicist, and literary critic. Member of the Communist Party from 1894.

The son of an engineer, Vorovskii studied at the Moscow Higher Technical School from 1891 to 1897 and took part in the student movement. After joining the Moscow Workers’ Union in the summer of 1894, he was persecuted by the government. He became a contributor to Lenin’s newspaper Iskra in 1902 and was one of the paper’s correspondents-at-large. In 1904 he helped organize the Southern Bureau of the RSDLP Central Committee in Odessa. He attended the Third (1905) and Fourth (1906) Congresses of the RSDLP and represented the Bolsheviks at the Fifth Congress of the Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania (1906).

An important part of Vorovskii’s public and revolutionary activity was his literary work for the Bolshevik newspapers, notably Vpered (Forward), Proletarii, and Pravda, and for progressive magazines. He was a passionate advocate of Marxism, and his articles were popular in working-class circles. His translation of the Communist Manifesto corrected certain inaccuracies that appeared in the translation by G. V. Plekhanov. Lenin included Vorovskii among “the main Bolshevik writers” (Poln. sobr. sock, 5th ed., vol. 22, p. 280). Along with Plekhanov and A. V. Lunacharskii, Vorovskii was one of the founders of Marxist literary criticism in Russia.

In the realm of aesthetics and literary criticism Vorovskii, basing himself on the heritage of the revolutionary democrats, especially the “real criticism” of N. A. Dobroliubov, examined the artistic problems that emerged with the rise of the proletarian movement. He was the author of essays on N. A. Dobroliubov, V. G. Belinskii, and D. I. Pisarev. In his unfinished work From the History of the New Russian Novel, chapters of which appeared between 1908 and 1911, Vorovskii was the first to analyze realism in proletarian literature from the Marxist point of view (the series of articles on M. Gorky, 1908-11) and to reveal the social and aesthetic causes for the artistic decline of L. N. Andreev’s work and of decadent literature (his articles on Andreev and others, 1908-10). He gave a class interpretation of the decadent school in his article “On the Bourgeois Nature of the Modernists” (1908) and examined the complex aesthetic relations between revolutionary publicism and realism. The dialectics of “real” and “ideal” truth and the aesthetic role of “the struggle for new social principles” were treated in his essays on the Russian writers A. I. Kuprin, I. A. Bunin, and S. S. Iushkevich and such foreign writers as M. Maeterlinck.

After the February Revolution in 1917, Vorovskii headed the Foreign Bureau of the Central Committee of the RSDLP (Bolshevik) in Stockholm. In November 1917 he became the Soviet ambassador to the Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Denmark, and Norway). In 1921 he was appointed Soviet plenipotentiary to Italy and negotiated the Italo-Soviet trade agreement that was signed on May 24, 1922. He also played an important part in the conclusion of the Rapallo Treaty with Germany in 1922. He was general secretary of the Soviet delegation at the Genoa Conference in 1922 and at the Lausanne Conference in 1922-23, where he was assassinated by White Guards. He was buried in Moscow on Red Square. In 1961 the annual Vorovskii prize was established for the best work in international journalism.


Soch., vols. 1-3. Moscow, 1931-33.
Izbr. proizv. o pervoi russkoi revoliutsii. Moscow, 1955.
Literaturno-kriticheskie stat’i. Moscow, 1956.1956.
Fel’etony. With an introductory article by Chernoutsan. Moscow, 1960.


Piiashev, N. F. Vorovskii. [Moscow, 1959.]
Lunacharskii, A. V. “V. V. Vorovskii kak literaturnyi kritik.” In Sobr. sock, vol. 8. Moscow, 1960.


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