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Michael Mihajlovich Zoshchenko - biography

Михаил Михайлович Зощенко

Michael Mihajlovich Zoshchenko (Михаил Зощенко) (1894-1958) - the Russian[ru] writer, the satirist and the playwright. Zodiac - Leo.

In stories of 20th years mainly in shape tale has created a comic image of the hero-inhabitant with poor morals and a primitive sight at the surrounding. «The blue book» (1934-35) - a cycle of satirical short stories about defects and passions of historical characters and the modern petty bourgeois. To lead «Michel Sinjagin» (1930), «the Returned youth» (1933), the story-essay «Before sunrise» (a part 1, 1943; the part 2, under the name «the Story about reason», is published in 1972).

Interest to new language consciousness, wide use of forms tale, construction of an image of «author» (the carrier of «naive philosophy»). Michael Zoshchenko's products have undergone to the destroying criticism in the decision of the Central Committee of All-Union communist party (Bolsheviks) (VKP(b) «About magazines» «Stars» and «Leningrad» (1946) as slander on the Soviet validity.

Early years

Michael Zoshchenko was born on July, 28th (on August, 10th) 1894, in Petersburg (under other data - in 1895, on Poltava) in a rather poor intelligent family (the father - the artist-Itinerant, mother - the writer; burdened with a family where was eight children, it sometimes printed the stories in the newspaper «Copeck»).

In 1894, at the age of 20 years, having interrupted study at university, Zoshchenko has left on front where was the commander of a platoon, the ensign and the commander of a battalion. For personal bravery has been awarded by five awards among which there was the rare - a soldier's Georgievsky cross. Then has been wounded, poisoned by gases, has received a heart disease and the depression which was becoming aggravated during abrupt crises of its destiny. After February revolution, at Provisional government, worked as the chief of mail and telegraph, the commandant of the Main post office in Petrograd, the secretary of regimental court in Arkhangelsk.

After October revolution Michael Zoshchenko served as the frontier guard in Strelna and Kronstadt, then the volunteer has left in Red army where was the commander of a machine-gun command and an aide-de-camp near Narva and Jamburg. In 1919 has been demobilised and has started to write. The first experiences - literary-critique (the book «On crisis», it is not finished). In 1921 in «the Petersburg almanac» has published the first story. Having got demobilise, tested in set of trades and never about it regretted: internal experience military and the first post October revolution post has laid down years in the basis of its art vision.

Literary environment Zoshchenko

The desire to become the professional writer has resulted Zoshchenko (1921) in group «Serapionovy brothers» (Lion Natanovich Lunc, Vsevolod Vjacheslavovich Ivanov, Veniamin Aleksandrovich Kaverin (an ice crust. Surname Zilber), Konstantin Aleksandrovich Fedin, Michael Leonidovich Slonimsky, Elizabeth Grigorevna Polonskaja, Nikolay Semenovich
Tikhonov, Nikolay Nikolaevich Nikitin, Vladimir Pozner). «Serapionovy brothers» avoided demagogy, tried to make art independent of a policy, in the reality image intentionally went from the life facts, instead of from slogans. The realised independence which they opposed early generated ideological timeserving in the Soviet literature was their position. Critics, cautiously concerning to «serapionam», considered nevertheless, that Zoshchenko is the «strongest» figure among them.

Michael Zoshchenko's creative installation

Consciousness Zoshchenko developed in sociocultural a context of Russian vital creativity. Revolution has strengthened in it idea of direct participation in life transformation. Having torn with the class even before revolution as he declared repeatedly, Zoshchenko has apprehended it as «destruction of the old world», «a birth of the new life, new people, the country». Its outlook settled down in a channel «intellectual-populist» (Alexander Konstantinovich Voronsky) of the tendency of 1920th years. «I always, - wrote it to Maxim Gorkij in 1930, - sitting down a desk, felt any fault any if so it is possible to tell, literary fault. I recollect the former literature. Our poets wrote about colours and birdies, and along with it terrible people went wild, illiterate and even. And here something is terribly started. And all it forced me to alter anew work and to neglect respectable and convenient position» (The literary inheritance, volume.70, Moscow, 1963, pagination 162).

So prose Zoshchenko which parodists named the literature «for rather poor» was born («Literary Leningrad », 1935, on January, 1st, pagination 4).

The former literature was the writer rejected as languid and passive. He was afraid of «restoration of noble family» in the literature, Alexander Bloka considered as «Knight of the Rueful Countenance» and hopes assigned to the literature with heroic pathos, modelling it on Gorkij and to Vladimir Majakovskomu (the book «On crisis»).

In Michael's Zoshchenko early stories («Love», «War», «the Fish female», etc.) was notable Anton Pavlovicha Chekhov's school, soon, however, rejected: the big form of the Chekhovian story seemed Zoshchenko mismatching to requirements of the new reader. It has selected the short form in 100-150 lines which for a long time became an initial form of its satirical stories. He wished to write language where syntax of street would be reproduced «... The people» (Before sunrise. «October», № 6-7, pagination 96). Itself he considered as the person temporarily replacing «the proletarian writer».


«Stories Nazara of Ilyich, mister Sinebrjuhova» (1921-1922) were Michael Mihajlovicha's first victory. About loyal hero, «the small person», visited on the German war, it has been told ironically, but it is mild; the writer, apparently, makes laugh more likely, than afflicts, and humility Sinebr'uhova which «understands, of course, the rank and a post», and its «boasting», and that there is to it from time to time «a regrettable case». Business occurs after February revolution, slave of habit in Sinebr'uhove still it seems justified, but it already acts as a disturbing symptom: there was a revolution, but the mentality of people remains former. The narration is painted by a word of the hero - the tongue-tied person, the gawk getting to various funny situations. The word of the author is curtailed. The centre of art vision is moved to consciousness of the story-teller.

In a context of the main art problem of time when all writers solved a question «How to come out the winner from constant, wearisome struggle of the artist with interpret» (Konstantin Aleksandrovich Fedin), Zoshchenko was the winner: the image and sense parity in its satirical stories was extremely harmonious. The language comedy, the form of an author's estimation - irony, a genre - comic tale became the basic elements of a narration. This art structure became initial for satirical stories Zoshchenko.

Amazed Zoshchenko rupture between scale of revolutionary events and conservatism of human mentality has made the writer especially attentive to that sphere of a life where as he considered, high ideas and epoch-making events are deformed. The phrase which has done many noise of the writer «And we slowly, and we little by little, and we level with Russian validity» grew from sensation of disturbing rupture between «precipitancy of imagination» and «Russian validity». Not calling in question revolution as idea, M. Zoshchenko considered, however, that, passing through «Russian validity», the idea meets the obstacles deforming her rooting in eternal psychology of the yesterday's slave on the way. He has created special - and new - type of the hero where ignorance has been alloyed with readiness for a mimicry, a natural grasp - with aggression, and behind new phraseology former instincts and skills have been hidden. As model such stories, as «the Victim of revolution», «the Grimace New Economic Policy», «Brake Vestingauza», «Aristocrat» can serve. Heroes are passive, yet do not understand, «that to what and whom to beat is not shown» but when «is shown» - they does not stop before what, and their destructive potential is inexhaustible: they scoff at native mother, quarrel because of ruff develops into «integral fight» («Nervous people»), and a pursuit for in what not the guilty person turns to spiteful prosecution («Terrible night»).

The new type became Michael's Zoshchenko opening. It often compared to «the small person» Nikolay Vasilevicha Gogol, Feodor Mihajlovicha Dostoevsky, later - with hero Charli Chaplin. But Zoshchenkoвский the type - the further, the more - deviated all samples. The language comedy which became a print of absurdity of consciousness of its hero, became the form and its self-exposures. He any more does not consider itself(himself) as the small person. Whether «has a little put on light at the average person!» - the hero of the story «Wonderful rest» exclaims. The pride relation to «business» - from demagogy of an epoch; but Zoshchenko it parodies: «understand: that you will a little drink, visitors will be secured, a leg to a sofa to paste it is necessary... The Wife too here sometimes will start claims to express». So in the literature 1920 satire Zoshchenko has formed special, «the negative world» as he spoke, - so that it «has been mocked and would push away from itself».

In Gogol's waterway: «sentimental to lead»

Since the middle of 1920 Michael Zoshchenko publishes «sentimental to lead». Their sources had a story «Goat» (1922). Then have appeared to lead «Apollo and Tamara» (1923), «People» (1924), «Wisdom» (1924), «Terrible night» (1925), «About what the nightingale» (1925) sang, «the Cheerful adventure» (1926) and «the Lilac blossoms» (1929). In the foreword to them Zoshchenko for the first time openly sarcastically spoke about «planetary tasks», heroic pathos and «high ideology» which from it wait. In deliberately plain form it brought an attention to the question: with what the  destruction human in the person begins, that it determines and that is capable it to prevent. This question has appeared in the form of reflecting intonation.

Heroes of «sentimental stories» continued to discredit imaginary passive consciousness. Evolution Bylinkina («About what the nightingale sang») which went in the beginning in a new city «shy, looking back on the parties and shuffling the feet», and, having received «a strong social status, public service and the salary under the seventh category plus for loading», has turned to the despot and the boor, convinced that moral passiveness zoschenskogo the hero is still illusory. Its activity revealed itself in regeneration of sincere structure: in it lines of aggression distinctly appeared. «Very much it is pleasant to me, - wrote Gorkij in 1926, - that the hero of story Zoshchenko «About what sang a nightingale» - the former hero of «the Overcoat», anyway near relation Akakija, raises my hatred thanks to clever irony of the author» («The literary inheritance». Tome 70. Moscow, 1963).

But, as has noticed Roots Ivanovich Chukovsky in the late twenties - the beginning 1930, at Zoshchenko there is one more type of the hero - the person, «the lost human shape», «righteous person» («Goat», «Terrible night»). These heroes do not accept morals of environment, at them other ethical standards, they would like to live on high morals. But their revolt comes to an end crash. However unlike revolt of «victim» at Chaplin who is always fanned by compassion, revolt of hero Zoshchenko is deprived tragic element: the person is put before necessity of spiritual resistance to customs and representations of the environment, and rigid insistence of the writer does not forgive it the compromise and capitulation.

The reference to type of heroes-righteous persons gave out immemorial uncertainty of the Russian satirist in self-sufficiency of art and was original attempt to continue Gogol searches of the hero, «live soul». However it is necessary to notice: in «sentimental stories» the art world of the writer became two-polar; harmony of sense and the image has been broken, the graphic fabric became less dense. The word, phraseological fusion with an author's mask dominated; on stylistics it was similar to stories; meanwhile character[ru] (type), stylistic motivating a narration, - has changed: he is the intellectual of an average hand. The former mask has appeared grown to the writer.

Zoshchenko and criticism

The relation of criticism to Michael's Zoshchenko talent - tragical misunderstanding. Up to last days he was accused of narrow-mindedness, by platitudes, naturalism, political apathy (article «About itself and the work» became the first occasion, the last - products of 1940th years). To it advised to cease to write about «a petty-bourgeois bog which and without that becomes obsolete also nobody interests» («the Literary contemporary», 1941, №3, pagination 126). The real refutation of this point of view has been put in pawn in wide range Zoshchenkoвских of heroes: their social circle was great and was beyond those who has «any small property» - here were both workers, and peasants, both employees, and intellectuals, and «were».

Protecting the adherence to the image of special type of heroes, Zoshchenko wrote: «I do not wish to tell, that at all of us petty bourgeoises and swindlers, and all proprietors. I wish to tell, that almost in each of us there is after all this or that line, this or that instinct of the petty bourgeois and the proprietor». He explained taking narrow-mindedness to that it «collected centuries». At such understanding narrow-mindedness was deduced for limits of class partitions and joined in other number - ethical, socially-psychological. «Narrow-mindedness» became not so much attribute of consciousness of the hero, how many a sign on the special form of existence of the person in the world, special way to see and feel the world, life system where the life is not spiritualised and where it has not risen to life level. Hence, its concentration on human nature was the true reason of divergence Zoshchenko and critics: it was not entered in orthodox Soviet idea of fast «alteration» of the person, its hero dropped out of the canonised sample of the Soviet literature - the carrier of advanced views, the representative of «perfect qualities» class. The criticism reproached Zoshchenko also in not explained author's estimations. Sarcastic intonation, irony seemed to it insufficiently the vigorous form of the author's tendency.

It has led to a deep and unproductive reflexion of the writer over the creativity. He has obeyed to it. He has started to feel an «ironical» fold of the character as own insufficiency. In its reflexions the huge place was occupied with searches «the light formula». «Mind should not stop on the gloomy decision», - he wrote in article about Nikolay Alekseeviche Zabolotsky (1937). «Gloomy qualities are unsuitable to the Soviet satirist... - he wrote in article of the same years about Il'e Il'fe, - and made comments: «to the People unusually such outlook». Before confidently rejecting «friable» as he spoke, thought on necessary presence at satire of the hero, Zoshchenko has in the course of time started to identify the requirement of semi-official criticism with «opinion national».


The case of products Zoshchenko written to 1930th years, is great enough: into it enter about two tens plays («the Dear companion», 1930; a «Crime and punishment», 1933; «the Fallen down leaves», 1941; «Under lindens of Berlin» (together with Evgenie Lvovichem Schwarz, 1941), «Soldier's happiness», etc.) And also to lead «Returned youth», «History of one life», «the Black prince», «Kerensky», «Belkin's Sixth story», «Taras Shevchenko». Stylistic devicethey are written in neutral style, in them there is no language comedy Zoshchenko, their rhetoric is moralizing and banal. More others were drawn to itself attention the by «the Blue book» (1935). On purpose to strengthen influence of the ideas on the person, Zoshchenko, according to the advice of Gorkij, has grouped stories in cycles «Money», «Love», «Insidiousness», «Failure», «Surprising events». Short stories on historically-instructive themes adjoined with censorial the writer old stories. For the sake of optimistic sounding from them the satirical sting has been taken out.

Contradictions in a narrative fabric of products Zoshchenko of the end 1930 testified to deep internal displacement in structure of its art world: as though having ceased to trust breaking force of laughter, Zoshchenko takes out moralism on a surface. And then in its stories there is an edification, reorganisation of the hero on eyes at readers («Fires of the big city») and intonation the preacher («Commemoration»). Occasionally being in the true shape, satire Zoshchenko all the same appeared deeper and well-aimed, and such stories as «Case record», convinced of not dissipated forces of the Zoshchenko-satirist.

The past through all life of the writer similarity to Gogol aloud makes itself felt and during last period. Investigating human in the person, Zoshchenko, judging by products 1930-1940, in particular, under the book «Before sunrise», as research model used also itself. Having gone through revolution, he on itself knew also feeling of fear before «case», and sensation of «unsteadiness», and «any artful dirty trick in a life», and discrepancy of the person with itself, and «laziness» the consciousnesses, not managed to overcome the terrible truth of a real life.

On June 22, 1941, Mikhail Mikhailovich was among the first volunteers of the red Army to come to the recruiting station and was refused as unfit for military service. He took up another weapon-began to write anti-fascist feuilletons for Newspapers and radio. Together with Eugene Schwartz created a play "near the Linden trees of Berlin."

The personal discrepancy with surrounding life, gnaw it erected its impossibility of merge to it to «gloom». Just as Gogol considered, that, struggling with illness, he is engaged in «exile of demons», Zoshchenko in the book «Before sunrise» (1943-1944), going down in depths of the subconsciousness, on Freud investigating the children's traumas, investing early impressions in a word, hoped to get rid of depression. It divided the Soviet sight on subconscious as into a crude cellar in which it is necessary to intrude and to which the reason should resist. In it he saw value of the work during the Great Patriotic War[ru]. But the publication to lead in magazine «October» (1943) has caused the sharp criticism. The second part and was not issued during lifetime of the writer (for the first time left in 1972, textual not verified, under the name «the Story about reason»). The wave of political charges has swept in a press and in 1945 - after a reprint in «Star» of children's story Zoshchenko «Adventures of a monkey» (originally - magazine «Murzilka»). The guarded relation of critics to its «humiliating» as they wrote, about revolution has been put «jokes» in a direct communication with «political apathy» «Serapionovyh brothers» (which have recollected in 1944 in connection with an exit of the first part of the book of Konstantin Aleksandrovicha Fedin «Gorkij among us»).

In 1946 has burst a thunder that costed Zoshchenko health and has strongly reduced his life. In Andrey Aleksandrovicha Zhdanova's report «About magazines» «Stars» and «Leningrad»» and the subsequent then Central Committee VKP (b) decision from August, 14th 1946 Zoshchenko has been named by «geek«, «slanderer« and «rascal«. It have excluded from the Union of writers and have deprived of pension and cards. The decision has been cancelled only in days of reorganisation.

In a condition of the hardest depression Zoshchenko tried to write (feuilletons and guerrilla stories). Its feather posesses also translations of the novels «Behind matches» and «Revived of dead» Majju Lassily, «From Kareliya to Carpathians» Antti Nikolaevicha Timonena, etc. (translational work with which friends arranged to it, in particular Veniamin Aleksandrovich Kaverin, was unique means of existence of his family). Health Zoshchenko has been thoroughly undermined. The poverty, not deserved insults and loneliness in which it has appeared, have strengthened its disease state.

Michael Zoshchenko has died on July, 22nd, 1958, in Leningrad. It is buried in Sestroretsk.

Satirical types Zoshchenko have complicated traditional Russian national search. The satirical image of a life already in the method bore in itself a dethronement populist illusions. It amplified concentration Zoshchenko on research of the person and its conviction that only in spiritual, moral updating of the person prospects of revival of a society are covered. (G. A. Belaja)

The song about Michael:

«Mishka, where's your smile» — Margarita Suvorova

Look other well-known namesakes by name of Michael.

Value and origin of a name Michael.

100 Most Common U.S. Surnames[ru].

And as value of patronymic Mihajlovich.

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