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Bryusov, Valery Yakovlevich

BRYUSOV, VALERY YAKOVLEVICH

(18731924), poet, novelist, playwright, critic, translator.

Born in Moscow, Valery Bryusov was an early proponent of Symbolism in Russia. As editor of the almanac Russkie Simvolisty (Russian symbolists, 18941895), Bryusov presented the first articulation of the tenets of Modernism in Russia. Bryusov's poetry in this almanac illustrated the points set forth in the declarations, with elements of decadence, synaesthesic imagery, and Symbolist motifs.

In 1899 Sergei Polyakov invited Bryusov to participate in the founding of the Skorpion Publishing House. In addition to publishing the works of leading Symbolists, Skorpion Publishing House in 1904 sponsored the literary journal Vesy (The scales), which became the leading forum for writers of that time. By 1906 Bryusov became increasingly critical of writers and poets with whom he disagreed, instituting a vitriolic polemic against the proponents of mystical anarchism and the socalled younger generation of Symbolists, especially those involved with the journal Zolotoye runo (The golden fleece).

In the 1910s Bryusov continued to work in all aspects of artistic culture, writing plays, a novel, and literary criticism, and engaging the Futurists in a lively debate on poetry. In 1913 Bryusov wrote a book of poems under the pseudonym Nelli, combining an ironic life story of a tragic poet with experimental, Futurist-inspired poems. The ironic mystification met with consternation and derision by the Futurists.

Bryusov was an enthusiastic supporter of the Russian Revolution, believing it to be a transformative event in history. Bryusov became a member of the Communist Party in 1920 and was active in Narkompros (The People's Commissariat for Enlightenment), serving as head of its printing and library divisions. In 1921 Bryusov organized the Higher Institute of Literature and Art and was the director until his death.

See also: futurism; silver age

bibliography

Pyman, Avril. (1994). A History of Russian Symbolism. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Rice, Martin. (1975). Valery Briusov and the Rise of Russian Symbolism. Ann Arbor, MI: Ardis.

Mark Konecny

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Bryusov, Valery Yakovlevich

Valery Yakovlevich Bryusov (vəlyĕ´rē yä´kəvlyĬvĬch brēōō´səf), 1873–1924, Russian poet, novelist, and critic. He was the spearhead of the symbolist movement and wrote highly polished and esoteric verse celebrating sensual pleasures. Of his poetry, Stephanos (1906) is perhaps the best-known collection. His two novels are The Fiery Angel (1903), concerning 16th-century German practitioners of black arts, and Altar of Victory (1911–12). Bryusov was revered for his scholarly criticism. He also translated a number of works by French, American, and Armenian poets.

See study by M. P. Rice (1975).

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