Reference Guide to Russian Literature

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Gleb Ivanovich Uspenskii 1843-1902
Prose writer

Biography

Born in Tula, 25 October 1843. Attended schools in Tula and Chernigov, 1853-61; studied law at St Petersburg University, 1861: expelled within a year because of student disorders and his inability to pay, which also restricted studies at Moscow University, 1862. Made his literary debut, 1862; encouraged by his cousin N.V. Uspenskii.First major work, Nravy Rasteriaevoi ulitsy [Manners of Rasteriaeva Street] published in Nekrasov's Sovremennik in 1866. Later published in Saltykov‐ Shchedrin 's Otechestvennye zapiski. Met Turgenev in Paris, 1875; thereafter remained friends with the older writer, who much admired his work. Contributed to the liberal journals, Russkie vedomosti and Russkaia mysl', after 1884. Collected Works published, 1883-86. Visited Siberia, 1888-89. Suffered from schizophrenia in his last years. Died in St Petersburg, 6 April 1902. Buried in Volkovo cemetery.


Publications

Collected Editions

Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, 14 vols. Moscow and Leningrad, 1940-54.

Sobranie sochinenii, 9 vols. Moscow, 1955-57.


Fiction

"Mikhalych", Iasnaia Poliana, 1862.

Nravy Rasteriaevoi ulitsy [Manners of Rasteriaeva Street], Sovremennik ( 1866).

Razoren'e nabliudeniia Mikhaila Ivanovicha [Ruin Observations of Mikhail Ivanovich], Otechestvennye zapiski ( 1869).

Tishe vody, nizhe travy [Meak and Mild], Otechestvennye zapiski ( 1870).

Nabliudeniia provintsial'nogo lentiaia [Observations of a Lazy Man], Otechestvennye zapiski ( 1871).

Novye vremena, novye zaboty [New Times, New Anxieties], Otechestvennye zapiski ( 1873-78).

Iz derevenskogo dnevnika [From a Village Diary], Otechestvennye zapiski ( 1877-80).

Krest'ianin i krest'ianskii trud [The Peasant and Peasant Labour], Otechestvennye zapiski ( 1880).

Vlast' zemli [The Power of the Soil], Otechestvennye zapiski ( 1882).

Zhivye tsifry [Living Numbers], Severnyi vestnik ( 1888).


Travel Writing

Pis'ma iz Serbii [Letters from Serbia], Sankt-Peterburgskie vedomosti and Otechestvennye zapiski ( 1876).


Essays

Vypriamila [Straightened Out]. Russkaia mysl' ( 1885).


Critical Studies

Gleb Ivanovic Uspensky et le populisme russe, by Jean Lothe, Leiden, E.J. Brill, 1963.

G.I. Uspenskii: Zhizn' i tvorchestvo, by N. I. Sokolov, Leningrad, 1968.

Gleb Uspensky, by N. I. Prutskov, New York, Twayne, 1972.

G. Uspenskii, by Iu. A. Bel'chikov, Moscow, 1979.

Gleb Uspenskii was the most influential of the Populist writers, a group which included Pavel Zasodimskii, Filipp Nefedov, S. Karonin, and Nikolai Zlatovratskii.The dominant subject for these writers was the Russian village following the Emancipation of the Serfs in 1861. The Tula area, where Uspenskii was born, gave the world many writers, most notably Lev Tolstoi and Ivan Turgenev. Uspenskii was close to both, publishing his first story, "Mikhalych", in Tolstoi's own journal, Iasnaia Poliana, in 1862. Unlike these writers, however, Uspenskii was not of aristocratic origin but was instead a raznochinets (literally: "other-ranker"). Although he once contemplated writing a novel based on the life of a fellow Populist, A. Lopatin, Upenskii adopted as the basic unit of his writing the ocherk or sketch, which he arranged in cycles and linked through a central character. Within the sketch Uspenskii makes extensive use of dialogue and there are unexpected flashes of humour. Although Tolstoi accused him of writing in Tula dialect, his use of dialectisms is, in fact, very restrained.

His first major work, Nravy Rasteriaevoi ulitsy [ Manners of Rasteriaeva Street], is set in a fictional street in the working-class district of the town of "T". The reference to Tula is clear, the more so since the characters in the sketches are all kaziuki, workers in the booming metal-working industry of Tula in the years immediately before the Emancipation. Uspenskii coins the word rasteriaevshchina (roughly: Rasteriaeva-itis) to denote the all-pervasive moral corruption, compounded by drunkenness and illiteracy that pervades the street. Nowhere is this more evident than in the character who dominates the first four sketches, Prokhor Porfirych.Beginning as an apprentice, Prokhor stops at nothing to move upwards socially. The same

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