Pavel Vasiliev

Pavel Vasiliev

Birth
Kazakhstan
Death 16 Jul 1937 (aged 27)
Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia
Burial Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia
Plot Ashes buried in Common Grave No. 1 (unmarked)
Memorial ID 64502619 · View Source
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Poet. One of the last great exponents of "peasant poetry", a movement in 20th Century Russian and early Soviet Literature, epitomized by Sergei Yesenin. Vasiliev used folkloric elements, musical rhythms and violent, colorful imagery in describing the Siberian countryside and its furious transformation under communism. He perished in Stalin's political purges at the age of 27. Pavel Nikolayevich Vasiliev was born in Zaysan, Kazakhstan, into a family of Cossacks. He was educated in Omsk, Siberia, and at 16 had his first poems published in Novosibirsk. Abandoning his studies at Novosibirsk University, he spent two years as a sailor and gold miner, experiences he later described in two books of essays, "Gold Exploration" and "People of the Taiga" (both 1930). In 1928 he settled in Moscow and established himself as a poet of exceptional promise. Boris Pasternak considered him a genius. His major publications of the period include the epic poem "Song About the Death of the Cossack Army" (1928 to 1932), "Troika" (c. 1933), "Fists" (1934), "The Salt Rebellion" (1934), and the lyric cycle "Poems for Natalya" (1934). Like Yesenin, whom he revered, Vasiliev had a reputation as a headstrong drunken rowdy, and as the Soviet regime came to view peasant poetry as "counter-revolutionary" he fell under suspicion. His first brush with the authorities was in 1932, when he was tried and acquitted on charges of belonging to an alleged Siberian conspiracy against the government. It was probably no coincidence this occurred after the secret police learned he was reciting a bitter lampoon of Stalin around Moscow: "Cutting thousands and thousands of nooses, you got your way to power by violence. / Well what have you have done, where have you pushed to, tell me, stupid seminary student! / These sacred texts should be put up in lavatories..." Vasiliev was not chastened by the experience and in a 1934 editorial entitled "Literary Follies", allegedly written by Maxim Gorky, he was reprimanded with a new spin on an old proverb: "The distance between bullying and fascism is shorter than a sparrow's nose". Within months he was expelled from the Union of Soviet Writers and barred from publishing. In 1935, following a denunciation signed by several authors (including Vera Inber), he was arrested again for "hooliganism" and spent several months in prison. Now writing "for the desk drawer" as the Russian saying had it, Vasiliev's work grew even bolder, culminating with "In Defense of the Peasant-Poets" (1936) and the remarkable long poem "In Search of Lost Harmony" (1935 to 1936). He remained suicidally outspoken in person, characterizing denunciations as "pornographic scribblings on the margins of Russian literature" and making incautious comments on the show trials of purged Soviet leaders, which were duly related to the NKVD. In February 1937 he was arrested once more, convicted of treason, and shot at Moscow's Lefortovo Prison on July 16. His ashes were buried in an unmarked mass grave at the Donskoi Cemetery. Vasiliev's widow managed to hide much of his unpublished poetry from the secret police, and after Stalin's death she worked hard to clear his name. He was posthumously rehabilitated in 1956 and his work began to see print again.

Bio by: Bobb Edwards


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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bobb Edwards
  • Added: 21 Jan 2011
  • Find a Grave Memorial 64502619
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Pavel Vasiliev (5 Jan 1910–16 Jul 1937), Find a Grave Memorial no. 64502619, citing Donskoi Monastery Cemetery, Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia ; Maintained by Find A Grave .