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 Mikhail Zoshchenko


Born:   July, 29th, 1895 (August, 10th)
Deceased:   July, 22nd, 1958

Mikhail Zoshchenko (1895 - 1958) prose writer and playwright feuilletons Crocodile comedy Ogonyok

      

Mikhail Mikhailovich Zoshchenko was born on July, 29th (August, 10th) 1895 into a family of an artist in Poltava. After finishing a grammar school in Petersburg in 1913 he entered the Law Faculty of the Petersburg University. World War I broke his education. In 1915 after training in a military school Mikhail Zoshchenko went to the frontline and took part in many battles. He was wounded and exposed to gas poisoning. He was awarded four military awards.

In 1915 - 1917 he took different military posts and after the February revolution he was the commandant of the Main Post Office and Telegraph of Petrograd. After October Revolution he joined the Red Army and served in frontier troops in Kronstadt and then was shifted to the field army and till spring 1919 he was an aide-de-camp of a regiment of the rural poor at the frontline.

In April 1919 he was demobilized due to a heart disease and started service of an inspector in Criminal Supervision. In 1920 he started working as a clerk in Petrograd Military Port, and from then on his literary career started. In 1921 Mikhail Zoshchenko's first book of short stories was published and it was followed with a hole range of books, such as "Sentimental stories" (1923 - 36), "Blue Book" (1935), "Historical Stories", etc.

An important place in his work belonged to feuilletons, which were direct responses to reports from districts and letters of readers. He worked in Leningrad newspapers, on radio and in the comics magazine "Crocodile".

From the beginning of Patriotic War he was in evacuation in Alma-Ata, where he worked in the scenario studio of "Mosfilm". In spring 1943 he returned to Moscow and became the associate editor of the magazine "Crocodile".

In 1944 - 1946 he worked much for theaters. His two comedies were staged at the Leningrad Drama Theater, one of which - "Canvas Portfolio" - stood out 200 shows within a year.

In Mikhail Zoshchenko's books the tragic and sad aspects of life came to cause laughter instead of tears and horror. He asserted that in his stories "there is not even a drop of invention. Everything here is naked truth".

K.Fedin wrote about him: "Zoshchenko came to literature with his own voice, hero, and theme". Zoshchenko's writing was incompatible with the dogmas of "socialist realism". After the decree of the Central Committee of Communist Party of 1946 .. Zhdanov characterized Zoshchenko's works in the report as follows: "Zoshchenko as a petty bourgeois and vulgar person has chosen digging in the lowest and pettiest sides of life as his constant theme... He deliberately depicts life of the Soviet people as ugly and comical... Let him get out from the Soviet literature". Zoshchenko's letter to Stalin saying "I have never been an anti-Soviet person... I have never been a literary rascal or mean person" was never answered.

In August 1946, after the Central Committee's decision about the journals "Stars" and "Leningrad" Zoshchenko's creativity was subjected to sharp criticism, and he was expelled from the Writers' Union. In 1946 - 1953 he was mainly involved in translation work. Not a single book of his was published before 1956.

In June 1953 after the death of Stalin and start of related rehabilitation processes Zoshchenko was accepted to the Writers' Union again. In the last years of his life he worked in the journals "Crocodile" and "Ogonek".

Mikhail Zoshchenko died in Leningrad on July, 22nd, 1958. He was laid to rest in Sestroretsk at a cemetery near St.Petersburg.

A museum was founded in the last apartment he had occupied. In Sestroretsk, where the writer had his summer residence, annual readings of his works take place in a library near the Mikhail Zoshchenko monument in August.


Tags: Russian literature Russian writers    




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