1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Saltykov, Michael Evgrafovich

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1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 24
Saltykov, Michael Evgrafovich
20050161911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 24 — Saltykov, Michael Evgrafovich

SALTYKOV (STCHEDRIN), MICHAEL EVGRAFOVICH (1826–1889), Russian satirist, was born on his father's estate in the province of Tula, 15th (27th) January 1826. His early education was completely neglected, and his youth, owing to the severity and the domestic quarrels of his parents, was full of the most melancholy experiences. Left entirely to himself, he developed a love for reading; but the only book in his father's house was the Bible, which he studied with deep attention. At ten years of age he entered the Moscow Institute for the sons of the nobility, and subsequently the Lyceum at St Petersburg, where Prince Lobánov Rostofski, afterwards minister for foreign aliairs, was one of his schoolfellows. While there he published poetry, and translations of some of the works of Byron and Heine; and on leaving the Lyceum he obtained employment as a clerk in the Ministry of War. In 1884 he published Zaputennoye Dyelo (“ A Complicated Affair ”), which, in view of the revolutionary movements at that time in France and Germany, was the cause of his banishment to Vyatka, where he spent eight years as a minor government official. This experience enabled him to study the life and habits of civil servants in the interior, and to give a clever picture of Russian provincial officials in his Gubernskie Otcherki (“ Provincial Sketches ”). On his return to St Petersburg as he was quickly promoted to administrative posts of considerable importance. After making a report on the condition of the Russian police, he was appointed deputy governor, first of Ryazan and then of Tver. His predilection for literary work induced him to leave the government service, but pecuniary difficulties soon compelled him to re-enter it, and in 1864 he was appointed president of the local boards of taxation successively at Penza, Tula and Ryazan. In 1868 he finally quitted the civil service. Subsequently he wrote his principal works, namely, Poshekhonskaya Starina (“ The Old Times of Poshekhona ”), which possesses a certain autobiographical interest; Istoria odnavo Goroda (“ The History of a Town ”); A Satirical History of Russia; Messieurs et Mesdames Pompadours; and Messieurs Golovloff. At one time, after the death of the poet Nekrasov, he acted as editor of a leading Russian magazine, the Contemporary. He died in St Petersburg on the 30th of April (12th May) 1889. (G. D.)