Saltykov-Shchedrin, Mikhail Yevgrafovich

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(18261889), one of Russia's greatest satirists.

Writing for leading radical journals of his time, Sovremennik (The Contemporary) (18621865) and Otechestvennye zapiski (Notes of the Fatherland) (18681889), Saltykov (pen name Shchedrin) created the most biting satires in Russian literature.

Among his best-known books are Istoriia odnogo goroda (History of a Town ) (18691870) and Gospoda Golovlevy (The Golovlyov Family ) (18751880). History is an account of despotic mayors' rule of a fictitious town Glupov (Foolsville). The mayors can be distinguished from each other only by the degree of their incompetence and ill will. The book is a satire on the whole institution of Russian statehood and the very spirit that pervades the Russian way of life: routine mismanagement, needless oppression, and pointless tyranny. At the same time, it is an attack on the Russian people for their passivity toward their own fate, for their acceptance of violence and oppression of their rulers.

The Golovlyov Family is a study of the institution of the family as cornerstone of society. In this novel, Saltykov describes moral and physical decline of three generations of a Russian gentry family. The nickname of the novel's protagonist, Iudushka ("Little Judas"), whose treacherous behavior toward his nearest family is a matter of daily business, became part of Russian speech.

Among Saltykov's other better-known works are Pompadur i pompadurshi (Pompadours and Pompadouresses ) (18631874), Sovremennaia idilliia (Contemporary Idyll ) (18771883), and Skazki (Fairy Tales ) (18691886).

See also: intelligentsia; journalism


Draitser, Emil. (1994). Techniques of Satire: The Case of Saltykov-Shchedrin. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Saltykov-Shchedrin, M. E. (1977). The Golovlyov Family. Ann Arbor, MI: Ardis.

Saltykov-Shchedrin, M. E. (1984). The Pompadours. Ann Arbor, MI: Ardis.

Emil Draitser