Vikenty Veresayev
Vikenty Vikentyevich Veresaev , (January 16, 1867 – June 3, 1945), was a Russian writer and medical doctor. His real last name was Smidovich.

Early life

Veresaev was born in Tula
Tula, Russia
Tula is an industrial city and the administrative center of Tula Oblast, Russia. It is located south of Moscow, on the Upa River. Population: -History:...

, where his father was a doctor. After graduating from the Tula gymnasium
Gymnasium (school)
A gymnasium is a type of school providing secondary education in some parts of Europe, comparable to English grammar schools or sixth form colleges and U.S. college preparatory high schools. The word γυμνάσιον was used in Ancient Greece, meaning a locality for both physical and intellectual...

 in 1884, he attended Saint Petersburg University
Saint Petersburg State University
Saint Petersburg State University is a Russian federal state-owned higher education institution based in Saint Petersburg and one of the oldest and largest universities in Russia....

, taking a master's degree in history in 1888. He then enrolled in Derpt University
University of Tartu
The University of Tartu is a classical university in the city of Tartu, Estonia. University of Tartu is the national university of Estonia; it is the biggest and highest-ranked university in Estonia...

 and successfully completed a course in medicine.
His first work to appear in print was a collection of poems in 1885. His first short story, The Puzzle, was published in 1887. In 1890 he toured the coal mines of Donetsk
Donetsk , is a large city in eastern Ukraine on the Kalmius river. Administratively, it is a center of Donetsk Oblast, while historically, it is the unofficial capital and largest city of the economic and cultural Donets Basin region...

 with his brother, gathering material for a collection of sketches called The Underground Kingdom, detailing the struggles and hardships of the exploited miners, which he published in 1892.


During the 1890s, Veresaev joined a group known as the Legal Marxists, and he published works in such journals as New Word, Inception and Life. During this period he wrote a cycle of works concerning the intelligentsia’s frame of mind at the turn of the 20th century, including the novella Without a Road (1895), the short story The Craze (1898) and the novella At the Turning Point (1902). He also wrote about the difficult position of the Russian peasantry, such as in the short story Lizar (1899) which was praised by Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years , as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a...

. His short story On a Dead-end Road (1896) and the novella Two Ends (1899–1903) were devoted to the life of the workers.

During the first decade of the 20th century Veresaev was a member of the Sreda
Sreda (literary group)
The Moscow Literary Sreda was a Moscow literary group founded in 1899 by Nikolay Teleshov. The name Sreda means Wednesday, taken from the day of the week on which writers and other artists met at Teleshov's home. The last meeting of the Sreda took place in 1916...

 (Wednesday) literary group and published his works in Maxim Gorky
Maxim Gorky
Alexei Maximovich Peshkov , primarily known as Maxim Gorky , was a Russian and Soviet author, a founder of the Socialist Realism literary method and a political activist.-Early years:...

's Znanie
Znanie (publishing company)
Znanie , was a publishing company based in St. Petersburg, Russia founded by Konstantin Pyatnitsky and other members of the Committee for Literacy. It operated from 1898 until 1913.-History:...

 collections. He published his Memoirs of a Physician in 1901. In April 1901 he was dismissed from the hospital where he'd been working because of his political views, and was forbidden to live in Moscow or Saint Petersburg for a period of two years.

In 1904, at the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War
The Russo-Japanese War was "the first great war of the 20th century." It grew out of rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and Japanese Empire over Manchuria and Korea...

, he joined the army as a doctor. He told of his experiences in his book In the War, published in 1906. In this work he showed the heroism of Russian soldiers and officers and, at the same time, the corruption of the tsarist army.

Veresaev also wrote a long critical and philosophical work entitled Vital Life, the first book of which (1910) was devoted to a comparative analysis of Fyodor Dostoevsky
Fyodor Dostoevsky
Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky was a Russian writer of novels, short stories and essays. He is best known for his novels Crime and Punishment, The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov....

 (Man Accursed) and Leo Tolstoy
Leo Tolstoy
Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy was a Russian writer who primarily wrote novels and short stories. Later in life, he also wrote plays and essays. His two most famous works, the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, are acknowledged as two of the greatest novels of all time and a pinnacle of realist...

 (Long Live the Whole World!); the second book, Apollo and Dionysius (1915), was a critique of Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a 19th-century German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist...

's views. In 1911 Veresaev established the Pisately v Moskve Publishing House which he headed until 1918.

Later life

After the 1917 Revolution, which he welcomed, he devoted much of his time to cultural development and education. He also completed his cycle of works about the intelligentsia, including the novels In a Blind Alley (1922- translated into English as The Deadlock) and The Sisters (1933). He published his reminiscences In the Years of My Youth in 1927 and In My Student Years in 1929. He also translated works by ancient Greek and Roman authors, including Homer’s Hymns, Sappho
Sappho was an Ancient Greek poet, born on the island of Lesbos. Later Greeks included her in the list of nine lyric poets. Her birth was sometime between 630 and 612 BC, and it is said that she died around 570 BC, but little is known for certain about her life...

, Archilochus
Archilochus, or, Archilochos While these have been the generally accepted dates since Felix Jacoby, "The Date of Archilochus," Classical Quarterly 35 97-109, some scholars disagree; Robin Lane Fox, for instance, in Travelling Heroes: Greeks and Their Myths in the Epic Age of Homer , p...

 and others. At the end of the 1930s he began to translate the Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

 (published in 1949) and the Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

 (published in 1953).

For his outstanding achievements in the field of literature Veresaev was awarded the State Prize of the USSR
USSR State Prize
The USSR State Prize was the Soviet Union's state honour. It was established on September 9, 1966. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, the prize was followed up by the State Prize of the Russian Federation....

 in 1945. He was also awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor. He died in Moscow in June 1945.

English translations

  • Memoirs of a Physician, (Autobiography), Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1916. from
  • In the War, (Autobiography), Mitchell Kennerley, New York, 1917. from
  • The Deadlock, (Novel), Hyperion Press, 1974.
  • Sisters, (Novel), Hyperion Press, 1974.
  • In the Steppe, (story), from The Salt Pit, Raduga Publishers, Moscow, 1988.


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