XVIII century literature
Derzhavin Gabriel Romanovich (1743 - 1816), a poet.
He was born in the family of owning a small estate Kazan noblemen. Derzhavin early lost the father. Not ending grammar school, Derzhavin was called up for military service. "In this academy of needs and patience I learned and educated myself", he would say later. The first poetic works of Derzhavin go back to the time when he was a soldier in Preobrazhensky regiment in St. Petersburg. Along with the regiment he participated in the palace revolution, which enthroned Catherine the Great.
Resolute and courageous, independent in judgments, with strongly developed self-respect, Derzhavin invariably caused sharp dislike on the part of his superiors.
Derzhavin was wrongly left without awards, they declared, that he was 'unworthy' to continue military service". Having been in public service for some years under command of prince Vyazemsky, Derzhavin was compelled to retire. In these difficult for Derzhavin years his literary talent really blossomed.
His verses, though anonymously, appeared in magazines and deserved the attention of readers. Creation of one of the most significant in idea and energy of poetic expression works of Derzhavin dates to this time - it is the ode "On the death of prince Meshchersky". But the real fame came to him only in 1783, after appearance of his well known, addressed to Catherine II, "Ode to Felice" (from the Latin word meaning "happiness").
He combined in the "Ode to Felice" two various poetic forms and created unknown before work - ode-satire. In addition to this, in the "Ode to Felice" instead of conventional abstract and ode-like "singer" there is endowed with autobiographical features vivid personality of the author. All these became a real literary revolution. Under the pen of Derzhavin the elevated ode poetry became lifelike and simpler.
Catherine, flattered by Derzhavin's ode, brought him back to public service. He obtained the highest state posts - the senator, the state treasurer, Minister of Justice. In the life of the poet there were a lot rises along with headlong falls. So, for example, he was relieved of the post of governor and brought before court. Empress, having appointed the poet her personal secretary, fired him soon. Derzhavin was in disfavour with Paul I and Alexander I in 1803 finally removed him of all state posts.
Derzhavin bravely deprecated abuse of power and lawlessness in his verses. "The duty of a poet in the world is to tell world the truth", - he declared. Becoming convinced during personal contact with Catherine, that created in "The ode to Felice" image of empress is idealized, he refused to write any more laudatory verses for her. In a marvelous satirical ode "Grandee" the poet ridicules proud of their ancestors' coat of arms "gilded dirt":
A donkey will remain a donkey,
Even if you shower it with stars;
Where it must use its mind,
It falls on deaf ears
As bitter is the poem "To rulers and judges", where the poet calls heaven thunders to burst above heads of "earthly gods" - not only princes and grandees, but also above tsars. Derzhavin became one of the forefathers of civil poetry - predecessor of Radishchev, Pushkin and poets-Decembrists. At the same time in Derzhavin's verses the heroic spirit of his time, brilliant victories of the Russian armies were brightly reflected. In a person he most of all appreciated the greatness of civil and patriotic feat. In victorious odes "On seizure of Izmail", "On victories in Italy", "On march over the Alpine mountains" Derzhavin glorifies not only remarkable Russian commanders like Rumyantsev and, especially, Suvorov but also Russian soldiers.
Your spirit is invincible,
In heart you are simple,
in feelings kind,
In happiness you are silent,
in misfortune cheerful...
-addresses he to 'glorious' Russian people in one of the late poems devoted to Patriotic war of 1812. Derzhavin, one of first of poets-ode writers vividly and figuratively recreates private life and lifestyle of his epoch, paints colourful pictures of nature ("Invitation to dinner" etc.).At the same time, even in his best works, such, as an ode "Waterfall", alongside with passages amazingly impressive and beautiful, there are a lot of artificial, rhetorical lines in his work.
Fonvizin Denis Ivanovich 3(14). 4.1744 or 1745, Moscow, - 1(12).12.1792, St. Petersburg
Russian writer, enlightener. In the comedy "Brigadier" satirically depicted the customs of nobility, their passion for all French. In the comedy "Young Oaf", landmark work of Russian literature, Fonvizin, seeing the root of all Russian troubles in serfdom, derided system of nobiliary education and upbringing. "The Notes of the First Travel" played essential role in formation of Russian prose.
Fonvizin was born in a rich noble family. In 1755-62 he studied at grammar school of Moscow university. In 1762 Fonvizin became the interpreter at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and moved to St. Petersburg. In 1763-69 he served as the secretary to the cabinet-minister I.P. Elagin. By the 1760s the enlightener outlook of Fonvizin had finally formed: he supported universal schooling, gradual - as far as "education" allowed - abolition of serfdom. His ideal of a political system was the educated monarchy. Fonvizin translated from German language "Moralizing Fables" (1761) by Danish enlightener L.Holberg, from French language - tragedies by Voltaire "Alzira, or the Americans" (1762), the treatise "Short story about liberty of the French nobility and benefit of the third rank" (1764-66). In this period Fonvizin also wrote the first original works: "Message to my servants Shumilov, Vanka and Petrushka" (published in 1769) and moralizing comedy of everyday life "Brigadier" (1768-69, published in 1792-95).
In 1769 Fonvizin became the secretary of the head of Ministry of Foreign Affaires N.I.Panin with whom he shared opposition to the government of Catherine II and hatred for favoritism, Fonvizin was sure that "fundamental laws" were necessary in Russia. In 1777-1778 Fonvizin visited France; his letters to P.I. Panin comprised "Notes of the First Travel" (published in the 1800s), where the bright picture of national crisis of pre-revolutionary France was given.
In 1781 Fonvizin wrote the most important work - the comedy "Young Oaf" (staged in 1782, published in 1783) in which he depicted life in the house of Prostakovy landowners with its ridiculous customs as a system of relations based on serfdom, showed negative influence of serfdom on forming of personality. In the image of the positive hero of the comedy Starodum, contemporaries of Fonvizin for the first time saw the type of an educated Russian humanist, patriot, fighter against serfdom and despotism. Comedy of Fonvizin exerted significant influence on development of Russian realistic theatre, in particular on creativity of I.A. Krylov, A.S. Griboedov, N.V. Gogol, A.N. Ostrovsky.
In 1782 Fonvizin resigned, deciding to devote himself to literary work. In 1783 he published a number of satirical works: "Experience of Russian citizen, belonging to some class", "Narration of a sham deaf and dumb person", and also "Some questions, which could excite special attention of clever and fair people", on which empress herself answered with irritation. Further attempts by Fonvizin to appear in print were stopped by Catherine II: in 1788 he was not allowed to issue five volumes of collected works and magazine "The friend of fair people, or Starodum" (comprising the magazine satire "General court grammar" was distributed in lists). Fonvizin managed only to publish (anonymously) the story "Kalisfen" (1786).
Last years of life Fonvizin was seriously ill. In 1789 he began to write "Confession of my deeds and plans' (it was not finished, published in 1830); evidently, the sketch of the comedy "The choice of family tutor" goes back to 1790. Fonvizin is one of the largest representatives of Russian enlightener realism, the founder of the first Russian national comedy, "a friend of freedom", by A.S. Pushkin's definition.
Kantemir Antiokh Dmitrievich (1708-1744)
Prince, a Russian poet-enlightener, translator, diplomat, well-known Russian satirist and founder of modern belles-lettres.
He was born on September 10 (21) in the family of the scientist and person of encyclopaedic knowledge Moldavian prince D.Kantemir, one of brother-in-arms of Peter I. He received good home education.
Kantemir's love for science had utilitarian character, as Peter I did: he valued both science, and his literary activity only so much as they might advance Russia to well-being, and Russian people to happiness. This, mainly, defines importance of Kantemir as a public figure and a writer.
Asking himself a question, even in early youth, of means of distribution in Russia of suitable for life knowledge and about eradication of ignorance and superstitions, he recognized as the most important means the founding of schools and thought that the government was responsible for it. Captivated by Peter's mighty activity, Kantemir pinned all hopes on monarchical power and counted very little on independent initiative of clergy and nobility, in whose mood he saw obvious dislike or even hatred for education.
In his strongest satirical works he assails "ill-natured noblemen" and ignorant representatives of church. When, after accession to the throne of empress Anna Ioannovna, there were propositions on granting political rights to nobility (Polish gentry) Kantemir point-blank supported preservation of the political system established by Peter the Great.
On January 1, 1732 Kantemir went abroad as Russian ambassador to London. He did not take part in internal political life of Russia any more, representing Russia at first (up to 1738) in London, and then in Paris.
Kantemir started to write very early. In 1726 he wrote 'Psalter Symphony", which was the imitation of work by Ilyinsky 'The 4thGospel'. In the same year Kantemir translates from French "Some Italian letter containing funny and critical description of Paris and the French" - a book in which the French customs, which were being taken up in Russia, were derided.
In 1729 Kantemir translates philosophical conversation: "Table of Kevik-philosopher" in which the views on life quite complying with ethical views of Kantemir himself were expressed. In the same year there also appears his first satire, which was very enthusiastically received by Feofan Prokopovich. It at once made them very close friends. All subsequent satires (9 in all) are only more detailed development of the ideas stated in the first satire.
The first place in his satires occupy people with their superstitions, ignorance and drunkenness as the main reason of all happening disasters. Do ruling classes give a good example to people? The clergy is a little different from simple people. The merchants think only of deceiving people. The nobility is completely incapable of practical business and not less than simple people is inclined to gluttony and drunkenness, at the same time thinking themselves to be better than other classes and is surprised, that authority and influence is hardly given them. Administration is generally corrupted.
Kantemir castigates not only representatives of the lowest administration. The satirist addresses the words of bitter truth also to state authorities. He, with great courage and extraordinary for his time expressiveness of verse, proclaims, that "pure should be those, who there, not turning pale, ascend, where all people look at them". He thinks that he himself and others may freely proclaim such ideas being "citizens" (he was the first to introduce this great word into our literature) and deeply understands a "civic' duty. Kantemir should be recognized as the ancestor of Russian accusatory literature.
1729 and 1730 were the years of the greatest bloom of talent and literary activity of Kantemir. He had not only written the most brilliants satires (the first 3 ones) during this period, but also had translated a book by Fontenel "Conversations on multitude of worlds" supplying it with detailed comments. Translation of this book was a real literary sensation because its conclusions absolutely contradicted superstitious cosmography of Russian society. Under Elisabeth Petrovna the book was prohibited as "contrary to belief and morals". Besides Kantemir made a literary exposition of psalms, began to write fables.
He was the first to resort to "Aesopian language" speaking about himself in epigram "On Aesop". After moving abroad Kantemir, except for the first three years, continued to enrich the Russian literature with his own and translated works.
He wrote lyrical songs in which he gave expression to his religious feeling or praised science, acquainted Russian readers with classical works of antiquity (works by Anakreon, K.Nepot, Horatio, Epiktet and others), continued to write satires in which he showed the ideal of happy person or specified sensible pedagogical methods (satires, VIII), predetermining, to certain extent, the task subsequently accomplished by Betsky; showed the ideal of a good manager anxious to be just, to make "the truth blossom for the benefit of people" and that "passions don't swing the balance' of justice, 'tears of poor people do not drop on the ground" and seeing "his own benefit in the benefit of people" (in the letter to prince N.Y. Trubetskoy). He translated modern writers (for example "Persian letters" by Montesque), made an algebra manual and discourse on prosody. Unfortunately, many of these works had not been preserved.
In the letter about 'composing of Russian verses' he speaks against dominating Polish syllabic verse and makes an attempt to replace it with the tonic one, which is more natural for Russian. At last, he writes also a religious-philosophical discourse under the title: 'Letters on nature and person' which is filled with deep religious feeling of the person standing at height of erudition.
The painful death very early interrupted this tireless activity. Kantemir died on March 31, 1744, in Paris, and was buried at Moscow Nikolsky Greek monastery.
Nikolai Mikhailovich Karamzin
The Russian writer, publicist and historian, the honorary member of Petersburg Academy of Science (1818).
N. M. Karamzin was the son of a wealthy provincial family. He received a fine education which began with domestic tutors and ended at the University of Moscow. After a brief period of service in the army, Karamzin settled in Moscow in 1784. He joined the leading literary and intellectual circle of the time, which was led by the publisher and journalist, N. I. Novikov. Here, two main influences were exerted upon Karamzin. First, he was impressed with a favorable attitude toward the goals of the Enlightenment, a movement, experienced throughout Europe, in favor of the spread of education and the advance of material progress. Novikov was the acknowledged leader of this movement in Russia. The second major influence on the young Karamzin was that of Freemasonry, at that time of great intellectual and cultural importance in Russia. Nearly all of the well- known figures of that period were Masons. Especially important to Karamzin was the work and friendship of M. M. Kheraskov, a Mason who had been one of Karamzin's teachers at the University of Moscow. Early Masonry (1740-1780) had provided enthusiastic support for the goals of the Enlightenment, but in the 1780s the emphasis (especially in that offshoot of the Masons known as the Rosicrucians) began to shift from social to personal concerns, and a cult of emotional friendship became very popular.
Karamzin began his literary career in the mid-1780s. His first efforts were as a journalist and a translator. He read widely, especially contemporary European authors such as Rousseau, Richardson, Sterne, Thomson, and Young. He derived the basic elements of the Sentimentalist style from these writers. Karamzin's first original work was published in the late 1780s. His first celebrated success was his Letters of a Russian Traveller, which he published serially during and after a lengthy tour of Europe. Following his return to Russia in 1791, Karamzin settled down in Moscow to the life of a professional writer. He founded a literary magazine called The Moscow Journal and edited it for two years. Later in the 1790s he edited a number of literary almanacs. In 1802, he founded one of the most important of the nineteenth-century Russian journals, The Messenger of Europe.
Also in this period, from 1791-1804, Karamzin established himself as the first major short-story writer in Russia. He wrote more than a dozen stories. All were in the Sentimentalist style and most were extremely popular. The best remembered are "Poor Liza" (1792) and "The Island of Bornholm" (1793). These stories inspired a large number of imitations and provided the basis for literary Sentimentalism in Russia.
In 1804 Karamzin was named historiographer to the court of Tsar Alexander I. He devoted the rest of his life mainly to the compilation of his mammoth History of the Russian State. At his death he was halfway through the twelfth volume and had carried the story of the Russian state as far as the early seventeenth century.
Kheraskov Mikhail Matveyevich (1733 - 1807), poet, prose writer.
He was born on October 25 (November 5 according to New Style) in Pereyaslavl in Poltavshina in a noble family. He received good home education. Then he studied at Land Polish gentry corps in St. Petersburg, from which he graduated in 1751. From youth he was seriously interested in creativity.
In 1760 - 1762 he issued magazines "Useful Amusement", in 1873 - "Spare Hours".
In 1763 - 1802 Kheraskov was (with breaks) the principle, then the curator of the Moscow university. In the history of Russian literature he is known as the large representative of Russian classicism in whose creativity movement to sentimentalism was evident. He is well known as the author of epic poems: "Fruits of Sciences" (1761), "Chesmensky Battle" (1771), "Rossiyada" (1779), "Vladimir Vozrozhdenny" (1785), "Tsar or the Rescued Novgorod " (1800).
In dramatic art Kheraskov was known as the follower of classicism. He had written 20 plays among which especially known were: tragedies "Flame" (1765), "Borislav" (1774), "Unfettered Moscow" (1798); comedies "Atheist" (1761), "Hater" (1774).
However in dramas "The friend of unlucky ones" (1774), "Persecuted" (1775) Kheraskov uses methods and motives of sentimentalism. Prose of Kheraskov evolved from the philosophic-moralizing novel about the ideal state with the king-philosopher on the throne ("Numa Pompily, or Prospering Rome", 1768) to the novel with intricate amorous-adventurous plot ("Kadm and Harmony", 1786).
To Khersakov's dispersed through genres lyrics the propagation of moderateness, complaint about perversity of modern society are peculiar. All this is confronted to simple, close to nature life ("True Well-being", "About Reason", "To A.Rzhevsky" etc.).
At the age of 74 M.Kheraskov died in Moscow on September 27 (October 9 according to New Style).
Lomonosov Mikhail Vasiliyevich (1711-65)
The first Russian scientist-naturalist of universal importance, poet who laid the foundation of modern Russian literary language, artist, historian, advocate of development of domestic education, science and economy.
In 1748 he founded the first in Russia chemical laboratory at the Academy of Sciences. On his initiative the Moscow university (1755) was founded as well. Scientific discoveries of Lomonosov enriched many branches of knowledge. He developed atomic-molecular conception of substance structure. During the domination of teplorod theory he asserted, that heat is caused by movement of corpuscles. Lomonosov formulated the principle of matter and movement conservation. He excluded phlogiston from chemical agents and laid the basis of physical chemistry. Lomonosov examined atmospheric electricity and gravity. He put forward the colour doctrine. He created a number of optical devices. Lomonosov discovered atmosphere on Venus, described the structure of Earth, explained the origin of treasures of the soil and minerals, published a manual on metallurgy. He emphasized the importance of North sea route, research and development of Siberia. Being the deism supporter, he materialistically examined natural phenomena.
Lomonosov was the author of works on Russian history; he criticized Norman theory. Lomonosov was the largest Russian poet-enlightener of the 18th century; he was one of the founders of syllabic-tonic versification. Lomonosov was the founder of philosophical and high civil character Russian ode. The author of poems, epistles, tragedies, satires, fundamental philological works and scientific grammar of Russian, he revived the art of mosaic and production of smalt, created mosaic pictures in cooperation with his pupils. Lomonosov was a member of the Academy of Arts (1763).
Lomonosov was born in November 8 (19 according to New Style) in the village of Mishaninskaya of Arkhangelsk province in a peasant family. He was taught reading and writing early and read a lot. In 1724 he received books: "Grammar" by M.Smotritsky (1721), "Arithmetics" by L.Magnitsky (1703) and "Rhyme psalm-book' by Semeon Polotsky (1680) - which he subsequently called the gates of his erudition.
Lomonosov tried to enter Kholmogorsk school, but he was not accepted being a peasant's son, so he went to Moscow. In 1730, having hidden the background, Lomonosov entered Slavic-Greek-Latin academy, where in 1735 he reached the penultimate course - that of "philosophy". Thorough mastering of Latin and Greek languages opened before him riches of antique and European culture.
In 1734 he listened to lectures in Kievo-Mogilyanskaya academy, studied the Ukrainian language and culture. After returning from Kiev he was sent among other students to St. Petersburg as a student of the university at the Academy of Sciences.
In 1736 Lomonosov was sent to Saxony to study mining. There he got extensive knowledge in the field of physics, chemistry, studied German, French, Italian and English languages, which enabled to get acquainted with the literature of new time. Abroad Lomonosov seriously worked in the field of Russian poetry and created the harmonious theory of the Russian syllabic-tonic verse, which was presented by him in "Letter on rules of Russian versification" (1739) and which is still actual now. He understood, that there wasn't a uniform Russian literary language as well as uniform Russian culture. He decided to do everything possible to lay the foundation of new Russian culture, science, literature and literary language.
After coming to Russia Lomonosov was appointed junior scientific assistant to the Academy of Sciences in physics and in 1745 became the first Russian elected to the professorial post. From 1741 and up to the end of his life Lomonosov worked in the Academy of Sciences. Lomonosov was in constant struggle against I.Shumakher (manager of the academic chancellery), his supporters and successors inimically treated the patriotic activity of the young scientist. Range of interests of Lomonosov was extraordinary wide: physics, chemistry, mathematics, astronomy, engineering, mining, geology, metallurgy, production of glass, mosaic production, geography, history, philology - in each of these fields his contribution is remarkable. Lomonosov wrote major philological works. His "Russian grammar" (1755), which defined features of Russian literary language, was the first real Russian grammar; "Eloquence compendium" is a course of general theory of literature; the treatise "About benefits of church books in Russian language" (1757) is the first experience of Russian stylistics.
Poetry occupies importance place in life of Lomonosov: "Conversation with Anakreon" (1759 - 61), "The Hymn to Beard" (1757), plays "Tamira and Selim", "Demofont", numerous odes.
Caring about distribution of education in Russia, Lomonosov insisted on creation of Russian University of European type accessible to all layers of population. His efforts were crowned with success in 1755 - on his project there was founded university in Moscow, which has been carrying his name. Lomonosov did a lot so that the Russian science developed, gave rise to scientists, so that the Russian professors taught at the university.
In the spring of 1765 Lomonosov caught a cold, fell ill with pneumonia and on April 4 (15 according to New Style) died. He was buried at Lazarevskoye cemetery of Alexandro-Nevskaya lavra in St. Petersburg.
Radishchev Alexander Nikolayevich (1749 - 1802), writer.
He was born in a landowner's family. He spent his childhood in the village of Verkhneye Ablyazovo (nowadays Penzenskaya oblast). The first educators of the boy were serfs: nurse Praskovya Klementyevna and under-tutor Peter Mamontov taught him reading and writing. They introduced him into the world of national creativity, interest and love for which writer preserved all his life. In 1762 Radishchev entered elite educational institution - Petersburg page corps. All subjects to the pupils of the corps were taught by one French teacher, but young pages served at the palace for the empress. There Radishchev observed palace atmosphere and court customs.
After graduation Radishchev among the best pupils was sent abroad, to Leipzig, for receiving of special legal education.After graduation from university Radishchev came home, ready, in his own words, "to sacrifice life for the benefit of Motherland". He expected to take part in the big work on drawing up of the promised by Catherine new legislation. However, Radishchev had to fill the modest post of registering clerk in the Senate. There he saw the line of serfs' criminal cases: tortures by landowners of peasants, country revolts and disorders, suppressed with "small calibre gun and a cannon". Later he retired.
In those years Radishchev got acquaintances in literary circles, became close friends with N.I.Novikov. In notes to translation of the book by French philosopher- enlightener Mabli he wrote: "Autocracy is the most repugnant to human nature condition... " After this he emphasized, that "injustice of the sovereign" gives people the right to judge and punish him as the worst criminal. There he briefly expressed the idea, which later the writer would develop in the well-known ode "Liberty" (1783). There he glorified tyrants - Broot, William Tell, he extoled and summoned "terror for kings" - revolution, "voice" which should convert darkness of slavery into the light. At the same time "Liberty" by Radishchev is a hymn to people, their labour.
In 1789-1790, one by one, four works by Radishchev on different subject were published. It is "Life of Feodor Vasiliyevich Ushakov", which tells about life of Russian students in Leipzig; "A letter to a friend...', which gives historically true estimation of activity of Peter I; "Conversation on what is the real son of fatherland", where the right to be called patriot is refused to the majority of representatives of noblemen's society, and, at last, the main work and deed of Radishchev - "Travel from St. Petersburg to Moscow".
In "Travel... " Radishchev set a task to show modern to him Russian reality. After publication of "Travel", on order of Catherine II, Radishchev was placed in a casemate of Petropavlovskaya fortress. Court sentenced him to death penalty, which was later replaced by 10 years of exile in Siberia. Passing through Tobolsk he wrote:
You want to know: who am I? What am I? Where do I go?
I'm the same, as I've been and will always be:
Not an animal, not a tree, not a slave,
but a human being!..
In exile Radishchev continued to work: studied local territory and wrote a historical work devoted to Siberia.
After the death of Catherine II Radishchev was allowed to return to Central Russia. Up to the end of his life the writer lived under supervision of police in small Kaluga estate of Nemtsovo. There he continued literary work. In the unfinished poem "Songs, sung during the competitions in honour of ancient Slavic gods" the author of "Travel... " speaks about future of his fellow-countrymen:
Oh, nation, glorious nation!
Your future descendants
Will exceed you in glory...
All barrier, all strongholds
Will be broken with a strong hand,
Will vanquish... the nature even,
- And before their mighty look,
Before their faces, lit up
By glory of victories famous,
Kings and empires will perish...
On March 11, 1801 there was another palace revolution: Paul I was killed and his son Alexander I acceded to the throne. Radishchev was called to take part in work of the commission on drawing up of laws, and he got to work. But none of his project was set going. Radishchev committed suicide by drinking the fatal doze of poison.
Alexey Andreyevich Rzhevsky (1737-1804)
In February of 1759 the empress Elisabeth Petrovna paid attention to 'Monthly compositions serving for good and amusement', a madrigal, which was devoted to actress, Libera Sakko, from the Italian troupe, who was acting in that year with big success on Petersburg stage.
Your eyes shine with heavenly flame,
Shadow presents us delicate features,
Eyes are charming, and bearing is incomparable.
Though some ladies revile and slander you,
But their envy should be regarded as a praise:
You were really born to captivate hearts..
Elisabeth thought herself to be the first beauty of St. Petersburg and was displeased when the beauty of another woman was admired. Besides empress understood the mention of "some ladies" to be allusion to her.
The publisher was reprimanded, and the sheet with "indecent" verses was cut out from all unsold numbers of magazine.
The author of the madrigal, which caused such a sensation, was guards corporal 22 year-old Alexey Andreyevich Rzhevsky, who for the first time published his work in the press.
After it within three years in the magazines issued by Sumorokov and Kheraskov, the literary apprentice of which he was, Rzhevsky placed 225 works - stanzas, elegies, sonnets, rondels, parables, madrigals, riddles, epigrams.
In Rzhevsky's lyrics many poetic genres are present, the form of his poems is often masterly; he writes an ode composed of monosyllables; a sonnet which could be read in the usual way, then you read only the first hemistiches, at last, only the second hemistiches - in result appeared three different sonnets.
In those years Rzhevsky was the most active member of Moscow poetic circle of Kheraskov.
His friends-poets and fans of poetry expected, that the talent of Rzhevsky would blossom with time. But in 1763 his name disappeared from pages of magazines: he stopped writing.
That year empress Catherine II came to the Russian throne. To the descendant of an ancient appanage princes there opened a new way to ranks, and he, leaving literary activity, rushed into the whirlpool of court life.
As though summing up poetic activity of Rzhevsky, N.I.Novikov in "Russian writers' historical dictionary" in 1772 wrote that Rzhevsky's poems "are rather good and show keen mind and talent for versification. His verses are beautiful, style is pleasant, ideas are sharp, and images are strong and creative."
Gradually Rzhevsky moved forward into the first line of statesmen, became senator.
To Rzhevsky-senator devoted his message Kheraskov. He recollected past years, friendly chats, simple life in village, the main charm of which were "simple" verses. "Now... you are different", - asserted Kheraskov and, speaking about present life of his friend in the circle of magnificent and flattering grandees, asked:
Do you enjoy your life?
Of two lives
Which do you praise?
You are modest in your answer,
-So I'd better break it up.
Probably, Rzhevsky, nevertheless, more than once doubted, whether he was right to exchange poetry for luxury of palace. He did not break off connections with writers - friends of youth. Later he made friends with Derzhavin, who in an ode "Happy family" berhymed the fireside of Rzhevsky. Occasionally Rzhevsky himself put pen to paper, but inspiration that so frequently visited corporal Rzhevsky, never condescended to Rzhevsky-grandee.
Verses of Rzhevsky has never been collected together and issued by a separate book - they have remained forgotten on pages of old magazines.
One of Rzhevsky's contemporaries devoted to him these verses, which expressed the opinion of many friends and fans of the poet:
By features Rzhevsky has us shown,
That he praiseworthy passion for literature had:
He with taste, knowledge and style in it shone.
And, if he had not chosen to have a high rank,
He would have been a great writer.
Sumarokov Alexander Petrovich (1717 - 1777)
He was born on November 14 (25th according to New Style) in Moscow in an ancient noblemen's family. Till fifteen he was educated and brought up at home.
In 1732 - 40 he studied at Land Polish gentry corps, where he began to write verses imitating Trediakovsky. Sumarokov served as aide-de-camp to counts G.Golovkin and A.Razumovsky and continued to write, at that time strongly influenced by odes of Lomonosov.
A bit later he finds his own genre - love songs, which were very popular with public. He develops poetic technique of portrayal of private life and psychological conflicts, which later he will apply in tragedies.
Lomonosov, a developer of civic consciousness subjects, disapproved of Sumarokov's lyrics. A polemic between Lomonosov and Sumarokov on questions of poetic style represented an important stage in the development of Russian classicism.
From love songs Sumarokov passes on to poetic tragedies - "Khorev" (1747), "Hamlet" (1748), "Sinav and Truvor" (1750). In these works for the first time in the history of Russian theatre achievements of the French and German enlightener dramatic art were used. Sumarokov combined in them personal, love themes with public and philosophical problems. The appearance of tragedies served as a stimulus for creation of Russian theatre, the director of which became Sumarokov (1756 - 61).
In 1759 Sumarokov published the first Russian literary magazine "The Industrious Bee", which was on the side of palace party that supported future empress Catherine II.
In the beginning of reign of Catherine II the literary glory of Sumarokov reached its zenith. The young satirists, grouping around N.Novikov and Fonvizin, supported Sumarokov, who wrote fables directed against bureaucratic tyranny, bribery, brutal treatment of serfs by landowners.
In 1770, after moving to Moscow, Sumarokov conflicted with Moscow commander-in-chief P.Saltykov. Empress took Saltykov's side, on what Sumarokov answered by a humiliating letter. All this worsened his public and literary position.
In the 1770s he created the best comedies ("Imaginary Cuckold", "Squabbler", 1772) and tragedies "Dmitry Impostor" (1771), "Mstislav" (1774). Sumarokov was a stage manager at the theatre of Moscow University, published poetic collections: "Satires" (1774), "Elegies" (1774).
The last years of his life were marked by material deprivations, loss of popularity that resulted in hard drinking. It also was the reason of Sumarokov's death on October 1 (the 12th according to New Style), 1777 in Moscow.
Trediakovsky Vasily Kirillovich (1703 - 1769), poet, prose writer, theorist.
Trediakovsky was one of the writers who determined the development of the Russian literature of the XVIII century - the century, which paved the way for "Golden Age of Russian literature".
Trediakovsky was born in a family of Astrakhan priest, studied at school of Capuchin monks and was to enter the Church. But science, not religion, attracted him. He ran away from parents' house and went to Moscow. There he entered Slavic-Greek-Latin academy, but soon, attracted by the same thirst for knowledge, went abroad -absolutely without money, hoping only on his talent and "keen mind". About two years Trediakovsky spent in Holland, after it he went to France, to Sorbonne on foot - from Hague to Paris.
Having returned home, he made his debut by translation of the French novel under name "Travel to Island of Love " - and at once incurred universal displeasure for obscene sensuality of the novel. However Trediakovsky became well known, both his erudition and literary talent were noticed. Anna Ioannovna granted Trediakovsky the dignity of the court poet, and in 1733 he was taken on the staff with the Academy of Sciences as secretary. In 1745 Trediakovsky became the first Russian professor. Before Trediakovsky among professors of the Academy of Sciences there had been only invited to Russia foreigners, and they, to put it mildly, didn't like such progress of Russian "upstart". Trediakovsky tried to struggle against intrigues, but, nevertheless, was dismissed from the Academy in 1759. However, he continued to work for the benefit of Russian science.
Little by little he put out the translation of works of Sorbonne professor S.Rellen: ten volumes of "Ancient history" and sixteen volumes of "Roman history", and also 'Stories about Roman emperors" by Z.-B. Krevye. The largest literary work by Trediakovsky became "Telemahida" - exposition of the novel "Adventures of Telemak" by a French writer Fenelon. "Telemahida" incurred displeasure of then reigning Catherine II (these events began in 1766), the imperial anger was followed by disfavour.
Trediakovsky was among the reformers of Russian system of versification. In 1735 he wrote the treatise "The new and short way for composing of Russian verses". The syllabic system of versification was used at that time. A basis for it was equalizing of number of syllables in each of lines of a poem. The syllabic system used rhyme, but did not take in account word stresses. Trediakovsky asserted, that the syllabic system was suitable only for languages, in which words had fixed stresses. In Russian language the stress was mobile. Hence, concluded Trediakovsky, the syllabic system mutilated Russian poetry. He proposed to introduce elements of tonic system of versification, it was based on alternation of stressed and unstressed syllables. Such system of versification he named syllabic-tonic. But, to tell the truth, he limited the application of syllabic-tonic system only to verses with a large number of syllables in a line - there should be 11 or 13 syllables. The small number of syllables, in his opinion, could be organized according to the syllabic rules.
In the treatise he also spoke about application of poetic meters, it was the consequence of introduction of syllabic-tonic system. Trediakovsky believed, that the main meter of Russian poetry should be trochee. Iambus for Russian poetry he considered to be of little use, trisyllabic meters he excluded at all. In 1755 another important work by Trediakovsky: "About ancient, middle and new Russian poetry" saw the light of the day. It was the first work on the history of Russian poetry. As it follows from the name, Trediakovsky distinguished three stages of versification development. The first - he called it "pagan" - the most ancient, is characterized by dominance of tonic versification system (it is the closest to national poetic creativity). The second stage - from the XVII up to the beginning of the XVIII century - dominance of syllabic system. And at last, the third - modern - should affirm syllabic-tonic system.
Works of Trediakovsky, really, as was mentioned above, defined the ways of Russian literature development. But life of Trediakovsky lasted longer than recognition and glory. He died in severe poverty on August 6, 1769.