Konstantin Leontev, 1831-1891: A Study in Russian "Heroic Vitalism"

Konstantin Leontev, 1831-1891: A Study in Russian "Heroic Vitalism"

Konstantin Leontev, 1831-1891: A Study in Russian "Heroic Vitalism"

Konstantin Leontev, 1831-1891: A Study in Russian "Heroic Vitalism"

Excerpt

Konstantin Leontev was born a premature child, on January 13/25, 1831, in Kudinovo, district of Meshchovsk, in the Kaluga province. According to Leontev's own account, immediately after birth he was wrapped in rabbit furs and suspended from the rafters of the family steam bathhouse to which steam was continuously supplied. It was in the sultry atmosphere of this makeshift incubator that Leontev's mother, Feodosia Petrovna, spent many a sleepless night, watching over the flickering life of her infant. After a long and agonizing struggle little Kostia survived and a fateful bond was established between him and his mother.

Leontev was the seventh and the last child of his highly disharmonious parents. His father, Nikolai Borisovich, was a member of the gentry and the owner of a middle-sized estate--Kudinovo. Little is known of him. As a young man, Nikolai Leontev had served for a short time in a guard regiment from which he was cashiered on account of his violent temper. Upon discharge, Nikolai Leontev returned to his estate, which he managed until his death. It seems that Konstantin's father was a plain and coarse individual. As a matter of fact, Leontev could never forget the following episode of his childhood: "When at the age of seven, I went to confession for the first time . . . my aunt ordered me to go and ask forgiveness from all who . . .

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