Authors: Aleksandr Blok

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

Russian poet

Author Works

Poetry:

Stikhi o prekrasnoy dame, 1904

Nechayannaya radost, 1907

Snezhnaya maska, 1907

Zemlya v snegu, 1908

Vozmezdie, wr. 1910-1921, pb. 1922

Nochyne chasy, 1911

Skazki, 1912

Krugly god, 1913

Stikhi o Rossii, 1915

Sobraniye stikhotvoreniy i teatr v 4 kigakh, 1916 (4 volumes; includes the poetic cycles Puzyri zemli, Gorod, Faina, etc.)

Solovinyy sad, 1918

Skify, 1918 (The Scythians, 1982)

Dvenadtsat, 1918 (The Twelve, 1920)

Iamby: Sovremennye stikhi, 1907-1914, 1919

Sedoe utro, 1920

Za granyu proshlykh dnei, 1920

Poems of A. B., 1968

Selected Poems, 1972

Drama:

Balaganchik, pr., pb. 1906 (The Puppet Show, 1963)

Korol’na ploshchadi, pb. 1907 (The King in the Square, 1934)

Neznakomka, pb. 1907 (The Unknown Woman, 1927)

Pesnya sudby, pb. 1909, revised pb. 1919 (The Song of Fate, 1938)

Roza i krest, pb. 1913 (The Rose and the Cross, 1936)

Ramzes, pb. 1921

Nonfiction:

Rossia i intelligentsia, 1918

Katilina, 1919

O simvolizme, 1921 (On Symbolism, 1975)

Pis’ma Aleksandra Bloka, 1925

Pis’ma Aleksandra Bloka k rodnym, 1927

Dnevnik Al. Bloka, 1911-1913, 1928

Dnevnik Al. Bloka, 1917-1921, 1928

Zapisnye knizhki Al. Bloka, 1930

Pis’ma Al. Bloka k E. P. Ivanovu, 1936

Aleksandr Blok i Andrey Bely: Perepiska, 1940

Biography

Aleksandr Blok (blawk) was born on November 28, 1880. His father was a jurist who later became professor of public law at the University of Warsaw; his mother was one of the daughters of the famous botanist, Beketov, who was also the rector of the University of St. Petersburg. Aleksandr’s parents were divorced when he was three years old, and afterward he lived with his mother in St. Petersburg and at the Shakmatovo estate near Moscow with his maternal grandparents. There he was protected from material cares in a setting of flowers, books, and music. He was in the constant company of cultured people whose abiding interests were literature and art. At the age of five, Blok began writing poems.{$I[AN]9810000709}{$I[A]Blok, Aleksandr}{$I[geo]RUSSIA;Blok, Aleksandr}{$I[tim]1880;Blok, Aleksandr}

Aleksandr Blok

(Library of Congress)

In 1898 he met fifteen-year-old Lyubov Mendeleeva, daughter of the famous chemist D. I. Mendelev. Five years later they were married, and at first they were very happy. Their love, however, coincided with another event–Blok’s discovery of the work of Vladimir Solovyov–and Blok’s feelings for his wife blended with those about Solovyov’s mystical adoration of Sophia, the feminine principle of divine wisdom.

In 1903 Blok was discovered by Dmitry Merezhkovsky, who arranged to have a few of his poems published. Blok’s first collection of poems, Stikhi o prekrasnoy dame (verses about the beautiful lady), was published in 1904. It particularly showed Solovyov’s influence. Soon, however, the realities of wedlock altered both Blok’s conception of Lyubov and his notions of Sophia.

After 1904 Blok turned to more earthly subjects. In the poetic cycles Puzyri zemli (earth’s bubbles) and Gorod (the city), he depicted hunchbacks and prostitutes. Blok never separated from his wife, but after 1904 they led independent lives. He graduated from the University of St. Petersburg in 1906 with a degree in philology. His poetic cycles Snezhnaya maska (the masque of snow) and Faina were dedicated to actress Natalia Volokhova. In them Blok became increasingly obsessed with the bizarre. After the deaths of his young child and his father in 1909, he went abroad, but his protracted travels did little to change his mood.

After 1909 Blok gradually became more interested in Russian history. In Vozmezdie (retribution), on which he worked from 1910 until a few months before his death in 1921, he realistically describes social conditions in Russia. Blok welcomed the revolution of 1917 as the fulfillment of a dream. Two 1918 works, The Twelve and The Scythians, praise the revolution as a confirmation and redemption of the Russian people.

In 1919 and 1920 Blok worked on translations and wrote Ramzes (Rameses), a historical drama. He became increasingly disillusioned with the revolution and neglected to conceal his attitude toward the government. In the early months of 1921 Blok’s depression grew uncontrollable. In July he broke down completely and lost his sanity. In pain and delirium he died on August 7, 1921.

BibliographyBerberova, Nina. Aleksandr Blok: A Life. Translated by Robyn Marsack. New York: George Braziller, 1996. A biography originally published in 1996 by Carcanet Press Limited, Britian, and by Alyscamps Press, France.Chukovsky, Kornei. Alexander Blok as Man and Poet. Translated and edited by Diana Burgin and Katherine O’Connor. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Ardis, 1982. A very good Soviet monograph, equally divided between biography and critical analysis of Blok’s work. Best known as a scholar of children’s literature, Chukovsky was a friend of Blok, and his account is enriched by personal reminiscence.Hackel, Sergei. The Poet and the Revolution: Aleksandr Blok’s “The Twelve.” Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1975. One of the best analyses of the contents and form of Blok’s best-known work, “The Twelve.” It covers the background of the poem, its characters, especially Jesus Christ, and the formalistic aspects.Hellman, Ben. Poets of Hope and Despair: The Russian Symbolists in War and Revolution, 1914-1918. Helsinki: Institute for Russian and East European Studies, 1995. Surveys and compares the work of half a dozen Russian symbolists of the World War I period, including Blok. Includes bibliographical references.Mochulsky, Konstantin. Aleksandr Blok. Translated by Doris V. Johnson. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1983. First published in 1948 and only recently translated into English, this lengthy critical biography is still worth consulting.Pyman, Avril. The Life of Aleksandr Blok. Vol. 2, The Release of Harmony, 1908-1921. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1980. On its completion, this two-volume critical biography was hailed as the definitive study of Blok’s life and works. Pyman’s narrative combines a novelistic richness of detail with a mastery of the literary and historical background. Illustrated, with extensive notes, a selected bibliography, and an unusually ample index.Pyman, Avril. The Life of Aleksandr Blok: The Release of Harmony, 1908-1921. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1980. One of the most exhaustive treatments of Blok as a man and a writer by a leading scholar of Russian literature. The emphasis is on biography, but there are also discussions of Blok’s poems. Excellent illustrations.Sloane, David A. Aleksandr Blok and the Dynamics of the Lyric Cycles. Columbus, Ohio: Slavica, 1987. A penetrating study of Blok’s lyrics, especially of his tendency to write in cycles throughout his career.Vickery, Walter, ed. Aleksandr Blok Centennial Conference. Columbus, Ohio: Slavica, 1984. A collection of twenty-one essays on various aspects of Blok’s life and work, prepared for a seminar in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in 1981, the centennial of Blok’s birth. The topics tend to concentrate on the stylistic elements of his poetry and other aspects of Blok’s portrait.Vogel, Lucy, ed. Blok: An Anthology of Essays and Memoirs. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Ardis, 1982. A collection of informative memoirs by Blok’s acquaintances, including his wife, Lyubov Mendeleeva, Maxim Gorky; Osip Mandelstam; and Boris Pasternak. Includes a twenty-six-page bibliography.
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