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Chukovsky, Kornei Ivanovich


(18821969); pseudonym of Nikolai Vasilievich Korneichukov; best known as author of children's fairy tales and poetry; also a journalist, translator, editor, and literary critic and scholar.

Kornei Chukovsky grew up in Odessa, where he began his career in 1901 as a correspondent for Odesskie novosti (Odessa News ). He spent 19031904 in London, where he immersed himself in British and American literature. Returning to Russia, he settled in St. Petersburg and wrote literary criticism for the journal Vesy (Scales ), although his satirical publication Signal led to his arrest and brief detention. In 1907 he published a translation of Walt Whitman's verse and translated the works of many other English-language writers after 1918. Until the mid-1920s, Chukovsky also wrote numerous books of literary criticism. In 1914 he completed Poetry of the Coming Democracy, which for political reasons was not published until 1918. Chukovsky was also the foremost authority on Nikolai Nekrasov, writing approximately eighty publications on the poet and editing the 1926 edition of Nekrasov's collected works.

During the 1920s Chukovsky turned to writing children's literature as a "safe" genre. His first tale Krokodil (The Crocodile ) had been published in 1917, and between 1923 and 1926 he wrote a number of others. Although his tales were widely published and very popular, the author came under attack from writers and educators, including Nadezhda Krupskaya, who called The Crocodile "a bourgeois fog." Chukovsky's children's stories were forbidden and, with the exceptions of two new stories in the 1930s, not republished until after Stalin's death. Chukovsky's response to this critique was Malenkie deti (Little Children, 1928; From Two to Five in later editions), a study of children's language, games, and creativity.

While Chukovsky himself did not directly experience persecution during the 1930s, he knew many, such as his son-in-law, who did. Chukovsky worked tirelessly to help those who suffered, writing letters and petitions on their behalf. In 1962, toward the end of his life, he received the Lenin Prize and was awarded an honorary doctor of letters from Oxford University.

See also: chukovskaya, lydia korneyevna; krupskaya, nadezhda konstantinovna; nekrasov, nikolai alexeyevich


Chukovskaia, Lidiia Korneevna. (1978). "Chukovskii, Kornei Ivanovich." In The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet Literature, ed. Harry B. Weber, 4: 126137. Gulf Breeze, FL: Academic International Press.

Forrester, Sibelan (1998). "Kornei Ivanovich Chukovskii, 18821969." In Reference Guide to Russian Literature, ed. Neil Cornwell. London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers.

Elizabeth Jones Hemenway

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