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Vissarion Belinsky – literary critic

Vissarion Belinsky – literary critic. Picture by K. Gorbunov

Vissarion Belinsky – literary critic. Picture by K. Gorbunov

Vissarion Belinsky was Russian literary critic. He was a major force in the intellectual and literary life of his country, and his writings form the foundation of Russian literary criticism. He established a symbiotic relationship between the writer and the critic whose creative interaction he considered a tool of societal self-exploration.
Vissarion Grigorievich Belinsky was born on May 30, 1811, in Suomenlinna (Sveaborg), Finland into the family of a naval doctor.
Vissarion spent his youth in Penza Province, Russia, where his father was district physician. He studied at the local grammar school and the Penza Gymnasium.
From 1829 to 1832 he studied at the literary department of the Philosophy Faculty of Moscow State University. In 1831 he published some reviews and poems in Listok. The following year he was expelled from the university because he attacked serfdom.

In 1834 Belinsky published a series of critical articles Literary Reveries. This ‘elegy in prose’ brought Belinsky instant fame.
In St. Petersburg Belinsky became chief literary critic for the magazine Fatherland Notes. During this period he was greatly influenced by the German philosopher G. W. F. Hegel and German idealism.
In 1843 Belinsky married his childhood friend M. V. Orlova. On June 13, 1845 their daughter Olga was born. The younger two children died in infancy.
Belinsky met all leading Russian authors of his day, from Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin and Mikhail Yurievich Lermontov to Ivan Andreyevich Krylov and Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev, befriending and deeply influencing many of them.
In 1846 Belinsky joined the journal Contemporary and served as its chief literary critic until his death.
Belinsky died on May 26, 1848 in Saint-Petersburg.
In addition to Annual Review of current literature, articles about the theater and political and bibliographical notes, in “Notes of the Fatherland” (1840-1846) Belinsky placed article about Derzhavin, Lermontov, Maikov, Polezhaev, Marlinsky, about Russian folk poetry and a number of great articles, that present the history of Russian literature from Lomonosov to Pushkin’s death.
In 1985, a crater on Mercury was named in honor of Belinsky.
On September 25, 1988, an asteroid discovered on November 5, 1975 by L.I. Chernykh, was awarded the title “3747 Belinskij”.

Vissarion Belinsky – literary critic