History of Literature








Russian literature

 


 


Ivan Krylov




 

Ivan Andreyevich Krylov (Russian: Ива́н Андре́евич Крыло́в) (February 13, 1769 – November 21, 1844) is Russia's best known fabulist. While many of his earlier fables were loosely based on Aesop and Jean de La Fontaine, later fables were original work.

Ivan Krylov was born in Moscow, but spent his early years in Orenburg and Tver. His father, a distinguished military officer, died in 1779, leaving the family destitute. A few years later Krylov and his mother moved to St.Petersburg in the hope of securing a government pension. There, Krylov obtained a position in the civil service, but gave it up after his mother's death in 1788. His literary career began already in 1783, when he sold a comedy he had written to a publisher. He used the proceeds to obtain the works of Molière, Racine, and Boileau. It was probably under the influence of these writers that he produced Philomela, which gave him access to the dramatic circle of Knyazhnin.

 

Krylov made several attempts to start a literary magazine. All met with little success, but, together with his plays, these magazine upstarts helped Krylov make a name for himself and gain recognition in literary circles. For about four years (1797-1801) Krylov lived at the country estate of Prince Sergey Galitzine, and when the prince was appointed military governor of Livonia, he accompanied him as a secretary. Little is known of the years immediately after Krylov resigned from this position, other than the commonly accepted myth that he wandered from town to town in pursuit of card games. His first collection of fables, 23 in number, appeared in 1809. From 1812 to 1841 he was employed by the Imperial Public Library, first as an assistant, and then as head of the Russian Books Department.

Honors were showered on Krylov even during his lifetime: the Russian Academy of Sciences admitted him as a member in 1811, and bestowed on him its gold medal; in 1838 a great festival was held under imperial sanction to celebrate the jubilee of his first publication, and the Tzar granted him a generous pension. By the time he died in 1844, 77,000 copies of his fables had been sold in Russia, and his unique brand of wisdom and humor gained popularity. His fables were often rooted in historic events, and are easily recognizable by their style of language and engaging story. Though he began as a translator and imitator of existing fables, Krylov soon showed himself an imaginative, prolific writer, who found abundant original material in his native land. In Russia his language is considered of high quality: his words and phrases are direct, simple and idiomatic, with color and cadence varying with the theme; many of them became actual idioms. "Krylov spent almost thirty years adding to this collection. The last edition, which he compiled shortly before his death and which appeared in print in December 1843, contained 197 fables."

Krylov's statue in the Summer Garden (1854-55) is one of the most notable monuments in St.Petersburg. It is also the first monument to a poet erected in Eastern Europe.[citation needed] All four sides of the pedestal represent scenes from Krylov's archetypal fables.
 

 

 
 
 
 
 

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