Vsevolod Garshin


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Garshin, Vsevolod Mikhailovich

 

Born Feb. 2 (14), 1855, on the Priiatnaia Dolina Estate, Bakhmutskii District, in present-day Donetsk Oblast; died Mar. 24 (Apr. 5), 1888, in St. Petersburg. Russian writer.

Garshin’s father was an officer in the Crimean War (1853-56). In 1874, Garshin entered the Mining Institute in St. Petersburg. His first publication appeared in 1876. He became associated with the peredvizhniki (the “wanderers,” a progressive art movement) and wrote a series of articles on painting. In 1879 he volunteered for the Russo-Turkish war, where he was wounded and received an officer’s commission. Garshin’s war impressions are found in the short stories “Four Days” (1877), “The Coward” (1879), and “The Memoirs of Private Ivanov” (1883). Garshin admired the moral strength of the soldier and judged war from a humanitarian point of view. The tragedy of a woman who has to sell herself is portrayed in the stories “An Incident” (1878) and “Nadezhda Nikolaevna” (1885). The problem of the intelligentsia’s path (choosing between bourgeois prosperity and the deprivation that comes with serving the people) is posed in the stories “The Meeting” (1879) and “The Artists” (1879). “Attalea Princeps” (1880) and “The Red Flower” (1883) are allegorical depictions of the revolutionary sacrifices of Narodniks (the Populists) of the 1870’s.

Garshin is a master of the short story that is rich in emotional and philosophical content and in dramatic suspense; in this respect the influence of Dostoevsky is evident. Garshin also explored the genres of the folk tale, the fantastic novella, and the sketch. Garshin’s works are close to L. N. Tolstoy’s popular “folk” stories in their search for a moral ideal and for new forms in mass literature (“The Tale of the Proud Aggei,” 1886, “The Signal,” 1887), but Garshin did not accept Tolstoy’s philosophy of nonresistance to evil. Garshin was painfully sensitive and tended to overreact morbidly to social injustice. In 1880, shaken by the execution of the revolutionary I. O. Mlodetskii and by the failure of his own attempt to help him, Garshin fell gravely ill. He spent nearly two years in a psychiatric hospital and committed suicide during one of his attacks.

WORKS

Poln. sobr. soch. v trekh tomakh, vol. 3: Pis’ma. [Introduction and commentary by Iu. G. Oksman.] Moscow-Leningrad, 1934. (Volumes 1-2 were not published.)
Soch. [Introduction by G. Bialyi.] Moscow-Leningrad, 1963.
La Guerre. Paris, 1897. (Preface by Guy de Maupassant.)

REFERENCES

Pamiati Garshina: Khudozhestvenne-literaturnyi sbornik. St. Petersburg, 1889.
Korolenko, V. G. “V. M. Garshin.” Sobr. soch., vol. 5. Moscow, 1953.
Porudominskii, VI. Garshin. Moscow, 1962.
Evnin, F. I. “F. M. Dostoevskii i V. M. Garshin.” Izv. AN SSSR: OLIa, 1962, vol. 21, issue 4.
Bialyi, G. A. V. M. Garshin. Leningrad, 1969.
Gurgulova, M. Tvorchestvoto na V. M. Garshin. [Sofia] 1966.
Istoriia russkoi literatury XIX v.: Bibliografich. ukazatel’. Moscow-Leningrad, 1962.

N. I. AZAROVA

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While Brunson vividly recounts Repin's out-of-studio adventures, the historical and institutional context that both fostered interart collaboration and exacerbated interart competition, especially in the intriguing and well-documented case of Repin and Vsevolod Garshin, is rather lightly sketched.
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That was to have been held in 1993 to celebrate the centenary of a translation of Vsevolod Garshin's stories done by Ethel Voynich, a writer much better known in the Soviet Union as the author of the much-translated The Gadfly.
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Vsevolod Garshin: The Man, his Works, and his Milieu.
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