Birthday anniversary of Vissarion Belinsky

11 June 1811

30 May (11 June), 1811 in Sveaborg (now Suomenlinna, Finland) was born literary and theater critic, historian and theorist of literature and art, publicist Vissarion Belinsky.

Vissarion’s father, Gregory Nikiforovich Belinsky, served as a naval doctor, and from 1816 - a district doctor in the town of Chembar (now Belinsky, Penza region), and in 1830 received the hereditary nobility. His mother, Maria Ivanovna Ivanova, was the daughter of a skipper.

His childhood Vissarion Belinsky passed in Chembar. In 1820 he entered a district school, and in 1825 - in the Penza school. Not having finished it, he managed, however, to enter the verbal department of Moscow University (1829).

The time spent in Chembar and Penza, influenced the life of the critic. Despite poor health, rudeness of parents, the constant lack of funds, he deeply absorbed what he saw and heard during the reception of patients by his father, their travels through the countryside, while observing nature, playing with peers, reading. Later, these experiences were reflected in numerous "lyrical digressions" of his mature articles. In Penza, the young man saw for the first time the theatrical performances in a private theatre of V. Gladkov. They amazed the boy and predetermined his passion for theater for the whole life.

Love for Russian literature has evolved in Belinsky from a young age. He himself wrote about how he re-read indiscriminately everything that was printed then in magazines, almanacs and collections of essays. While still a student of a district school, Vissarion copied "into huge piles of copybooks" poems of classics of Russian literature: Derzhavin, Karamzin, Krylov and celebrities of the time: Stanevich, Nevzorov, and others. In the Penza period he was particularly impressed by writings of Prince Odojevsky, and later he was fascinated by Derzhavin, Zhukovsky, Pushkin. Belinsky himself tried to write poetry and prose. In 1830, he wrote out the tragedy “Dmitri Kalinin”. Directed against serfdom, it did not pass the censorship, and the novice writer was expelled from the university.

At the university, Belinsky began collaborating with Moscow periodicals ("Telescope", "Moscow Observer") and slightly changed his surname, which is why he was given his noble rights only in July 1847, after completing the necessary forms. From 1839 his works were published in periodicals of the capital (“Notes of the Fatherland" and "Contemporary").

Vissarion Belinsky had written about 1,100 articles and reviews. His assessment of works by M. V. Lomonosov, A. D. Cantemir, D. I. Fonvizin, N. M. Karamzin, I. A. Krylov, K. N. Batjushkov, G. R. Derzhavin, V. A. Zhukovsky, A. S. Griboedov, A. V. Koltsov, A. S. Pushkin, N. V. Gogol, M. Yu. Lermontov, I. S. Turgenev, F. M. Dostoevsky became paradigmatic.

Belinsky gave impetus to the development of the history of Russian literature, identifying periods and directions of its development; of literary theory as a scientific discipline, explaining the concept of genera and species, genres, the specifics of literature work; of aesthetics, denoting its main categories, introducing the concept of folk art; of theater criticism.

Vissarion Belinsky died on 26 May (7 June) 1848 in St. Petersburg and was buried at the Literatorskie Mostki (Literature gangway), Volkovo Cemetery.

Lit.: В. Г. Белинский в воспоминаниях современников. М., 1977; В. Г. Белинский и Пензенский край: Указ. лит. Пенза, 1996. (Рукопись. Хранится в Пенз. обл. б-ке); Вопросы изучения творчества В. Г. Белинского на современном этапе. Пенза, 1998; Литературное наследство. Т. 55–57. М., 1948–1951; Нечаева В. С. В. Г. Белинский. Кн. 1–4. М., 1949–1967; Максяшев П. Он честно Родине служил // Сура. 1996. № 3; Оксман Ю. Г. Летопись жизни и творчества В. Г. Белинского. М., 1958; Пыпин А. Н. Белинский, его жизнь и переписка. 2-е изд. СП, 1908; Тихонова Е. Ю. Мировоззрение молодого Белинского. 2-е изд. М., 1998.

Соч.: Полн. собр. соч. Т. 1-13. М; Л., 1953-1959; Полн. собр. соч. Т. 1-11, под ред. С. А. Венгерова. СПб, 1900-1917, Т.12-13, под ред. В. С. Спиридонова, М; Л., 1926-1948; Собр. соч. Т. 1-3, М., 1948; Избр. пед. соч., М; Л., 1948.

From the Presidential library materials:

Богучарский В. Я. Три западника сороковых годов. СПб., 1901;

Иванов-Разумник Р. В. Великие искания. Т. 3. СПб., 1911;

Иванов-Разумник Р. В. Сочинения. СПб., 1916. Т. 5;

Скабичевский А. М. Очерки развития прогрессивных идей в нашем обществе. 1825-1860 г. СПб., 1872.

The materials are provided by M. Yu. Lermontov Regional Library, Penza