Mikhail Zoshchenko

Mikhail Zoshchenko

Birth
Poltava, Poltavs'ka, Ukraine
Death 22 Jul 1958 (aged 63)
Saint Petersburg, Saint Petersburg Federal City, Russia
Burial Saint Petersburg, Saint Petersburg Federal City, Russia
Memorial ID 8975074 · View Source
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Author. The most popular Soviet humorist of the Stalin era. As an officer in the Russian Army during World War I, he was gassed at the front, leading to lifelong health problems, obsessive hypochondria and depression. Thus like many comic writers Zoshchenko's humor derived from personal pain, and he took revenge on the world by laughing at its absurdities. He began writing in 1922 as a member of the Serapion Brothers, a Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) literary group, and by the end of the year he had published his first short story collection, "Tales of Mr. Bluebelly", about a middle-class dolt who refuses to adjust to a post-revolutionary world. Zoshchenko's tales (some 800 in all) appeared in daily newspapers and were read by millions in the Soviet Union during the 1920's and 30's. Written in a crisp, colorful first-person style, they usually dwelt on the mundane (communal housing, food shortages, etc.) but occasionally skirted forbidden topics, such as Stalin's political purges. Zoshchenko's crispness comes through in translation, but not much of his style - a funny blend of colloquial Russian, high-flown rhetoric and bureaucratese, often mocking tendentious communist slogans of the time. He was not a Soviet version of Andy Rooney, either. There's a subversive intent beneath Zoschenko's surface levity and tongue-in-cheek moralizing, and his stories offer the most vivid and honest picture of everyday life under Stalin in Russian Literature. Despite periodic criticism from the communist regime, Zoshchenko suffered no dire consequences until 1943 when, taking advantage of relaxed censorship during the war, he began to publish his masterpiece, "Before Sunrise," in the journal "October." An extraordinary mixture of autobiographical vignettes (the author called them "snapshots") and self-analysis, it was castigated by critics as "bourgeois self-indulgence" and suspended after two instalments; the complete text would not appear until 1972. In August 1946, Zoshchenko became the figurehead of a new political purge of the arts. Andrei Zhdanov, Stalin's cultural commissar, denounced him as "a brainless scribbler" whose work had no place in Soviet society. Zoshchenko was expelled from the Union of Soviet Writers and for the next seven years he lived in poverty and fear, barely supporting himself as a translator. He was allowed to publish again immediately after Stalin's death in 1953, but the spirit had gone out of his writing. He died bitter and disillusioned at 63. A few months after his death a retrospective collection of Zoshchenko's stories was issued in an edition of 100,000 copies; it sold out in two days, and he remains popular among Russian readers.

Bio by: Bobb Edwards


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bobb Edwards
  • Added: 23 Jun 2004
  • Find A Grave Memorial 8975074
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Mikhail Zoshchenko (10 Aug 1894–22 Jul 1958), Find A Grave Memorial no. 8975074, citing Sestroretsk Cemetery, Saint Petersburg, Saint Petersburg Federal City, Russia ; Maintained by Find A Grave .