On July 12 (23), 1792 in Moscow in the family of a senator, Prince A.I. Vyazemsky, was born Pyotr Andreevich Vyazemsky, Russian poet, literary critic, privy councilor, Academician of the Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg (1841), member of the State Council of the Russian Empire (1866); friend of A.S. Pushkin and supporter of his literary views.
Vyazemsky received a brilliant home education, and after that he studied in the Boarding School for the Nobility at Petersburg Gymnasium. In 1807 Vyazemsky returned to Moscow where he took private lessons by professors of Moscow University. Many prominent Russian poets like I.I. Dmitriev, V.A. Zhukovsky used to come to Moscow house of Vyazemsky family and their Ostafyevo estate near Moscow. Great influence on the young Prince had N.M. Karamzin, who became his guardian when his father passed away. In 1808 Vyazemsky debuted in the press: he published his poem “The Letter to Zhukovsky” and critical articles “Trifles” and “Two words of a stranger”.
During the Great Patriotic War of 1812 the gentleman of the monarch's bed chamber (Kammerjunker) Vyazemsky, like many Russian aristocrats, entered volunteer corps, took part in the Battle of Borodino. Literary ties, which developed during these years, determined the life and career of the poet. He became close friends with V.A. Zhukovsky, V.L. Pushkin, D.V. Davydov, K.N. Batyushkov and other poets-supporters of Karamzin. In 1815 to oppose the conservative society of the Lovers of the Russian Word led by A.S. Shishkov they set up the literary society called “Arzamas”.
In 1817 Vyazemsky succeeded in getting the position of Collegiate Assessor and a post of foreign correspondence official in the office of N.N. Novosiltsev in Warsaw. In 1820 he signed the note on liberation of peasants, sent by Count M.S. Vorontsov to the Emperor Alexander I. As a result, Vyazemsky was dismissed and several years lived in disgrace under secret surveillance.
By this time Vyazemsky has become a recognized lyric poet, whose elegies were highly appreciated by Pushkin. In the verses of Vyazemsky (“Petersburg”, 1818; “Indignation”, 1820) were expressed his opposition views. The poet supported constitutional monarchy, civil rights and freedoms. Having refused to participate in secret societies, Vyazemsky entered the history of Decembrist movement as a “Decembrist without December” (expression of literary critic S.N. Durylin). Feeling very hurt after the reprisal against the Decembrists, the poet remained committed to radical beliefs and in 1828 he wrote one of his best satires “Russian God”.
The work of Vyazemsky as a critic promoted the establishment of romanticism in Russia, played a major role in self-determination of Russian literature. Over two decades he had been working over the book about Russian writer D.I. Fonvizin, which became the first Russian literary monograph.
In 1829 Vyazemsky started looking for a chance to enter the service. Due to the efforts of Zhukovsky and Grand Prince Constantine in 1830 the poet took the position of an official of special commissions at the Ministry of Finance and occupied the position until 1846. Vyazemsky lived in Petersburg, Moscow and Ostafyevo estate, travelled to Italy, Germany, France and England. In 1839 he was elected the full member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Between the 1860s-70s, having reached high public status — being a wine keeper (Oberschenk) of the court, Senator and member of the State Council — Vyazemsky lived mainly abroad.
Pyotr Andreevich had eight children, however only one of them — Pavel Petrovich — lived to a ripe old age.
During the last decade of his life Vyazemsky wrote memoir essays about the mode of life of the nobility in the “pre-fire”, “Griboyedov’s” Moscow. From 1813 he had been keeping notebooks — a valuable document, that features evidences of not eminent contemporaries, anecdotes, thoughts, household news, documents. In 1870 the Prince published part of this material entitled “An old notebook”.
Pyotr Andreevich Vyazemsky passed away on November 10 (22), 1878 in Baden-Baden and was buried in the Saint Alexander Nevsky Monastery in St. Petersburg.
Lit.: Акульшин П. В. П. А. Вяземский. Власть и общество в дореформенной России. М., 2001; Гиллельсон М. И. П. А. Вяземский. Жизнь и творчество. Л., 1969; Грот К. Я. К автобиографии князя П. А. Вяземского. СПб., 1908; Ивинский Д. П. Князь П. А. Вяземский и А. С. Пушкин: Очерк истории личных и творческих отношений. М., 1994; Кутанов Н. Декабрист без декабря // Декабристы и их время. Т. 2. М., 1932. С. 201—90; Ледодаев В. Ю. Князь П. А. Вяземский в общественно-политической жизни России 1830-1850-х годов: дис. ... к. и. н. Самара, 1999; Митрофанова О. И. Базовые концепты русской ментальности в поэтическом языке П. А. Вяземского : дис. ... филол. и. н. Казань, 2006; Письма И. И. Дмитриева к князю П. А. Вяземскому 1810-1836 годов: Из Остафьевского архива. СПб., 1898; Пономарёв С. И. Памяти князя П. А. Вяземского. СПб., 1879; Шереметев С. Д. Князь Пётр Андреевич Вяземский. Остафьево, 2008.
Works: Граф Алексей Алексеевич Бобринский: Воспоминания кн. П. А. Вяземского. М., 1868; Записные книжки. М., 1963; Сочинения. М., 1982. T. 1—2; Стихотворения. Л., 1986; Эстетика и литературная критика. М., 1984.
Based on the Presidential Library’s materials:
Нет, нет, не для меня… Стихотворение князя П. А. Вяземского // Татаевский сборник С. А. Рачинского: с прил. портр. А. С. Хомякова / Общество ревнителей русского исторического просвещения. СПб., 1899. С. 105;
Формулярный список, составленный на 1836 г., о службе вице-директора Департамента внешней торговли князя П. А. Вяземского с записью об участии его в Московском ополчении в 1812 г. [Документ]. 1836. 10 л.