Prose writer and translator
Born Mahomet-Ali Emin, probably in Constantinople, 1735, son of Russian parents (possibly Islamic converts). Details of early life and education unknown. Claimed to have served in Turkey as a janissary. Travelled widely in the Middle East and throughout Europe.Applied to the Russian Embassy in London for Russian citizenship, granted on condition of conversion to Orthodoxy, 1758. Moved to St Petersburg and became Russian citizen, 1761. Studied, then taught, at the Cadet Corps in St Petersburg.Worked as a translator. Titular Counsellor and member of Imperial Cabinet. Died in St Petersburg, 29 April 1770.
Nepostoiannaia fortuna, ili Pokhozhdenie Miramonda [ Inconstant Fortune, or Miramond's Peregrinations], parts I-3. St Petersburg, 1763; 3rd edition, St Petersburg, 1792 (includes a brief, unreliable description of the author's life).
Prikliucheniia Femistokla, i raznye politicheskie, grazhdanskie, filosoficheskie, fizicheskie i voennye ego s synom svoim razgovory; postoiannaia zhizn' i zhestokost' fortuny ego goniashchei [ The Adventures of Themistocles . . . ]. St Petersburg, 1763; znd edition, Moscow, 1781.
Nagrazhdennaia postoiannost', ili Prikliucheniia Lizarka i Sarmandy [ Rewarded Constancy or the Adventures of Lizark and Sarmanda]. St Petersburg, 1764; znd edition, St Petersburg, 1788.
Pis'ma Ernesta i Doravry [ The Letters of Ernest and Doravra], parts I-4. St Petersburg, 1766; znd edition, St Petersburg, 1792; extracts reprinted in Khrestomatiia po russkoi literature XVIII veka, compiled by A. V. Kokorev, 2nd edition, Moscow, 1956, 574-79.
Nravouchitel'nye basni [ Edifying Fables]. St Petersburg, 1764; 3rd edition, St Petersburg, 1793.
[Italian, author unknown], Besschastnyi Floridor. Istoriia o printse rakalmutskom. St Petersburg, 1763.
[Portuguese, author uncertain, possibly Emin himself], Liubovnyi vertograd, ili Nepreoborimoe postoianstvo Kambera i Ariseny. St Petersburg, 1763.
[Spanish, author unknown], Gorestnaia liubov' markiza de Toledo. St Petersburg, 1764.
"Emin i Sumarokov", by G. A. Gukovskii, XVIII Vek, 2, Moscow and Leningrad, 1940.
"Iz istorii literaturnoi bor'by 60-kh godov XVIII veka. (Neizdannaia komediia Fedora Emina Uchenaia shaika)", by I. Z. Serman, XVIII Vek, 3, Moscow and Leningrad, 1958.
"F. Emin i sud'ba rukopisnogo naslediia M.V. Lomonosova", by D. D. Shamrai, XVIII Vek, 3, Moscow and Leningrad, 1958.
"Novoe o F. Emine", by M. A. Arzumanova, Russkaia literatura, I ( 1961).
"Fedor Emin and the Beginnings of the Russian Novel", by David E. Budgen, in Russian Literature in the Age of Catherine the Great. A Collection of Essays, edited by A. G. Cross , Oxford, Meeuws, 1976, 67-94.
A History of I8th Century Russian Literature, by William Edward Brown , Ann Arbor, Ardis, 1980.
What remains of Fedor Aleksandrovich Emin is his books. No other aspect of his life as a novelist in I8th-century Russia can be spoken about with any confidence. The circumstances of his life are obscure to the point of opaqueness. No satisfactory memoir has ever been written, and the various autobiographical accounts are inconsistent. It may be that the elusiveness was a deliberate decision, or at any rate an exorcism of a personal history that is best described as turbulent — an unnecessary complication for one who, from a Turkish Muslim background, chose to throw in his lot with ordinary middle-class Russian life as a civil servant and novelist, whose writings were largely protective of the bourgeois value-system, which he was pleased to embrace and which was happy to welcome him. None of this is to decry — in the infelicitous manner of much Soviet scholarship on Emin — his assured place in the early days of the Russian novel. If not quite the only begetter, he was at least one of the originators of the form in Russia and in that regard alone is worthy of serious scrutiny.
Emin's life was short, and his writing career lasted for little more than nine years, but in that fertile period he produced more than 25 books. His erudition and uncommonly wide-ranging linguistic prowess are discernable chiefly in his translations, but a more general sympathy with western-European modes, acquired