Nikolai Leskov

Nikolai Leskov
Nikolai Leskov

Portrait of Leskov by Valentin Serov, 1894
Born February 16, 1831(1831-02-16)
Oryol, Russia
Died March 5, 1895(1895-03-05) (aged 64)
St. Petersburg, Russia
Pen name M. Stebnitsky
Occupation Writer
Nationality Russian
Period 1860s-1890s
Genres Fiction/Satirical Fiction
Subjects Social issues
Spouse(s) Olga Smirnova
Partner(s) Ekaterina Bubnova
Children Andrey Leskov


Nikolai Semyonovich Leskov (Russian: Никола́й Семёнович Леско́в; 16 February [O.S. 4 February] 1831 — 5 March [O.S. 21 February] 1895) was a Russian journalist, novelist and short story writer, who also wrote under the pseudonym M. Stebnitsky. Praised for his unique writing style and innovative experiments in form, held in high esteem by Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov and Maxim Gorky among others, Leskov is credited with being arguably the only writer who succeeded in creating the comprehensive picture of contemporary Russian society using mostly small literary forms.[1] His major works include The Enchanted Wanderer (1873), Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (1865) (which was later made into an opera), The Tale of Cross-eyed Lefty from Tula and the Steel Flea (1881), and the novel The Cathedral Clergy (1872).[2]



Nikolai Leskov was born on February 4, 1831, in Gorokhovo village, Oryol gubernia, to Semyon Dmitrievich Leskov (1789-1848), a respected criminal investigator and local court official, and Maria Petrovna Leskova (nee Alfe′ryeva, 1813-1886),[3] daughter of an impoverished Moscow nobleman who first met her future husband at a very young age, when he worked as a tutor in their house. Leskov's ancestor of father's side were all clergymen in village Leska in Oryol Governorate, hence the second name, Leskov. Semyon Dmitrievich was a highly educated man, friends referred to him as a 'homegrown intellectual'.[4][5] One of Nikolai's aunts on his mother's side was married to a rich Oryol landlord Strakhov who owned the Gorohovo village ("a beautiful, wealthy and well-groomed estate... where hosts lived in luxury," according to Leskov)[6] another was the wife of an Englishman, the chief steward for several local estates and a large trade company owner.[7] His first eight years Leskov spent in Gorokhovo, where his grandmother lived and mother was only occasionally guesting, and where he's got his early education, in the house of the Strakhov, who employed tutors from Germany and France for his own children.[1] As the German teacher started to praize the boy for his gifts, life for the latter became difficult, due to hosts' jealousy. At the grandmother's request, father took Nikolai back to Oryol where he settled in the family house on the 3rd Dvoryanskaya street.[3] In 1839 Semyon Leskov lost his job - through a row and intrigue, having brought upon himself the wrath of the governor himself. "So we left our house in Oryol in the 3rd Dvoryanskaya Street, sold what we've had in the city and bought 50 peasants from general A.I.Krivtsov in Kromy region. The purchase has been made mostly on credit, for mother was still hoping to get her 5 thousand off Strakhov which was never coming, so this tiny village father had bought has been sold for debts," Leskov later remembered.[6] What Leskovs, with their three sons and two daughters have been left with was a small Panin khutor, one very poor house, watermill, garden, two peasants' houses and 40 dessiatins of land. Here young Nikolai had his first experiences with oral folklore and the 'earthy' Russian dialecticisms he would later become famous for reviving in his literary work.[8]

In August 1841 Leskov began his formal education at the Oryol lyceum.[8] After five years of poor progress all he could manage was a two-years graduation certificate. Later, scholar B. Bukhstab, comparing Leskov's school failures with those of Nikolay Nekrasov who'd had similar problems, argued that, "…apparently, in both cases the reasons were - on the one hand, the lack of a guiding hand, on the other – [both young men's] loathing for the tiresome cramming routine and the deadly dumbness of state education, both having lively temperaments and an eagerness to learn more of real life".[7]

Owners of the business I found myself in were all the English, had no Russian reality experience whatsoever and were squandering the capital they've brought with them in the most optimistic manner.
Nikolai Leskov on Scott & Wilkins.[3]

In June 1847 Leskov joined the Oryol criminal court office, the same one that Sergey Dmitrievich had once workied in. In May 1848 all of the family's property was destroyed in a fire.[9] In July of the same year Leskov's father died of cholera.[8] In December 1849 Leskov asked his bosses for a transfer to Kiev, where he joined the local government treasury chamber as an assistant clerk and settled at his uncle's, S. P. Alferyev, a professor of medicine.[5] In Kiev he attended lectures at the University as an auditor student, studied the Polish and Ukrainian languages and the art of icon-painting, took part in the students's religious and philosophical circles, and met pilgrims, sectarians and religious dissenters. Dmitry Zhuravsky, an economist and critic of serfdom in Russia, was said to be one of his major influences.[10] In 1853 Leskov married Olga Smirnova; they had one son (who died two years later) and daughter Vera.[11]

In 1857 Leskov quit his job in the office and joined the private trading company Scott & Wilkins (Шкотт и Вилькенс) owned by Alexander Scott,[12] his aunt Polly's English husband. Later he wrote of this in one of his short autogiographical sketches: "Soon after the Crimean War I've got infected with the then popular heresy, something I've been often reproaching myself for since. I abandoned the state official career which seemed to be staring promisingly and joined one of the newly-born trade companies. Owners of the business I found myself in were all the English, had no Russian reality experience whatsoever and were squandering the capital they’ve brought with them in the most optimistic manner. I was the only Russian among them."[3]

In May 1857 Leskov with his family moved to Raiskoye village in Penza Governorate where the Scotts were based, and later that month embarked upon his first business trip, involving the transportation of Oryol-based serfs of Count Perovsky to Southern Russian steppes, not entirely successful, as later described in his autobiographical short story "The Product of Nature".[13][8] It was working for this company which, in Leskov's words, "was eager to exploit whatever the region could provide", that gave him priceless experience, making him an expert in numerous branches of industry and agriculture. The firm employed him and an agent envoy; while travelling through remote regions of Russia, the young man learned local dialects and became keenly interested in customs and ways of the different ethnic and regional groups of Russian peoples. "Those were the best years of my life. I saw a lot and life was easy for me", he later remembered.[7] "I think I know the Russian man down to the very bottom of his nature but I give myself no credit for that. It's just that I've never tried to investigate 'people's ways' by having conversations with Petersburg's cabmen. I just grew up among common people", he wrote in Russian Society in Paris.[14] Until 1860 Leskov resided with members of his family (and that of A. Scott) in Raisky village in Penza governorate. In the summer of 1860, when Scott & Wilkins closed, he returned to Kiev where he worked as a journalist for a while, then in the end of the year moved to Saint Petersburg.[7]


Leskov began writing in the late 1850s, making detailed reports to the directors of Scott & Wilkins, and recounting his meetings and contracts in personal letters to Scott. The latter, marveling at his business partner's obvious literary gift, showed them to Ilya Selivanov, a well-known contemporary writer, who found these pieces "worthy of publication".[15] Leskov considered his long essay "Sketches on Wine Industry Issues", written in 1860 about the 1859 anti-alcohol riots and published first in local Odessa newspaper, then in Otechestvennye zapiski (April 1861), to be his proper literary debut.[8]

Leskov had never identified himself with any party and had to take the consequences. (D.S.Mirsky)

In May 1960 he returned with his family to Kiev, and in summer started to write both for Sankt-peterburgskye vedomosty newspaper and the Kiev-based Sovremennaya meditsina (his article "On the Working Class", and several essays on medical issues) and the Ukazatel ekonomitchesky (Economy Guide). His series of October 1860 articles on corruption in the sphere of police medicine ("Some Words on the Police Medics in Russia") caused direct confrontations with colleagues and led to his being fired from Sovremennaya meditsina. In 1860 his articles started to appear regularly in the Saint Petersburg-based paper Otechestvennye zapiski where he had a friend and mentor in Oryol-born publicist S. S. Gromeko.[7]

In January 1861 Leskov moved to Saint Peterburg where he stayed at I.V.Vernadsky's and met Zemlya y volya member A.I.Nechiporenko[16] and Taras Shevchenko. For a short while he moved to Moscow and started to work for Russkaya retch newspaper, all the while contributing to Otechestvennye zapiski. In December he left Russkaya rech (for personal, rather than ideological reasons) and moved back to Saint Peterburg where in January 1862 he joined the stuff of Severnaya ptchela, a liberal newspaper edited by Pavel Usov. There Leskov met journalist Arthur Benni (1839-1867), a Polish-born British citizen, who Leskov forged great friendship with and whom he defended ardently, as leftist radicals in Petersburgh started to spread rumours about his alleged links with the 3rd Department. After Benny died in 1867 in Italy, as a Garibaldy's unit volunteer, Leskov wrote a posthumous essay The Mystery Man.[8]

For Severnaya ptchela Leskov (now also as M. Stebnitsky, a pseudonym he was using in 1862-1869)[7] became the the head of domestic affairs department,[1] writing sketches and articles on every possible aspect of everyday life, and also critical pieces, targeting what was termed nihilism and "vulgar materialism". He had some support at the time, from some prominent journalists, among them Grigory Eliseev, who wrote in the April, 1862, Sovremennik issue: "Those lead columns in Ptchela makes one pity the potential that is being spent there, still unrealised elsewhere."[8] At a time of intense public excitement, as D.S.Mirsky pointed out, Leskov was "absorbed by public interest as much as anyone, but his eminently practical mind and training made it impossible for him to join unreservedly any of the very impractical and hot-headed parties of the day. Hence his isolation when, in the spring of 1862, an incident occurred that left a lasting trace in his career."[2]

On May 30, 1862, Severnaya ptchela published an article by Leskov on the issue of the fires that started on May 24, have lasted for six days and destroyed a large part of the Apraksin and Schukin quarters of the Russian capital,[3] which popular rumour imputed to a group of "revolutionary students and the Poles" that stood behind the "Young Russia" proclamation. Without supporting the rumour, the author demanded that authorities should come up with a definitive statement which would either confirm or confute those allegations. The radical press construed this as being aimed at inciting common people against the students and instigating police repressions.[2] On the other hand, the authorities were unhappy too, for the article implied that they were doing little to prevent the atrocities.[17] The author's wish that "firemen sent to the sites would do anything rather than idly stand by" angered Alexander II himself, who reportedly said: "This shouldn't have been allowed, this is a lie".[18][19]

Frightened, Severnaya ptchela sent its controversial author on a trip to Paris as a correspondent, making sure the mission will be a long onе.[1][20] After visiting Vilno, Grodno and Belostok, in November 1862 Leskov came to Prague where he met a group of Czech writers, notably Martin Brodsky, whose arabesque "You Don't Cause Pain" he promptly translated. In December Leskov was in Paris, where he translated Božena Němcová's Twelve Months (A Slavic Fairytale) (both published by Severnaya ptchela in 1863) and celebrated the New year with the circle of his Czech friends.[8] On his return in 1863 Leskov published several essays and letters, documenting his trip.[10]

Literary career

Engraving of Leskov

1862 saw the launch of Leskov's literary career, with the publication in the March issue of Vek (Age) magazine, edited by Georgy Eliseev,[1] of The Extinguished Flame (Pogashsee Delo, later re-issued as The Drought), followed by Musk-Ox (May 1873) and Life of a Woman[21] (September, 1863).[8] In August the compilation Three stories by M.Stebnitsky came out. Another trip, to Riga in summer, resulted in a report on starovery community there, which in the end of the year was published as a brochure.[8]

In February 1864 Biblioteka dlya chtenya magazine began serially publishing his debut novel No Way Out (the April and May issues of the magazine, stopped by censors, came out in June). The novel bore "every sign of haste and literary incompetence", as its author later admitted,[22] but proved to be a powerful debut in a way. No Way Out, which satirized nihilist communes on the one hand and praised the virtues of the common people and the powers of Christian values on the other, scandalized critics of the radical left who discovered that for most of the characters real life prototypes could be found, and its central figure, Beloyartsev, was obviously a caricature of author and social activist Vasily Sleptsov.[10] All this seemed to confirm the view, now firmly rooted in the Russian literary community, that Leskov was a right-wing, 'reactionary' author. In April Dmitry Pisarev wrote in his "The Walk In the Russian Literature Garden" (Russkoye slovo, 1865, #3) review: "Can there be found anywhere in Russia any other magazine, except for Russky vestnik, that would venture on publishing anything written by and signed as, Stebnitsky? Could there be found one single honest writer in Russia who'd be so careless, so indifferent as to his reputation, so as to contribute to a magazine that adorns itself with novels and novelets by Stebnitsky?"[3] The social democrat-controlled press started spreading rumours that No Way Out had been 'commissioned' by the Interior Ministry's 3rd Department. What Leskov condemned as "a vicious libel" caused great harm to his career: popular journals boycotted him, while Mikhail Katkov of the conservative Russky Vestnik greeted him as a political ally.[10]

Leskov's novellas, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District (written in Kiev in November 1864 and published by Epokha magazine in January 1865) and The Amazon (Otechestvennye zapiski, #7, 1866), the two "pictures of almost unrelieved wickedness and passion",[2] were ignored by contemporary critics but were praised decades later as masterpieces, containing powerful depictions of highly expressive female characters from different classes and walks of life.[7] Both, marked by a peculiar "Leskovian" sense of humour, were written in the skaz manner, a unique folk-ish style of writing, which Leskov, along with Gogol, was later declared an originator of. Two more novellas came out at this time: The Passed By (Oboydyonnye; Otechestvennye zapiski, 1865) which targeted Chernyshevsky's novel What's to Be Done?, and The Islanders (1866), a more placid work about the everyday life of Vasilyevsky Island's German community. It was in these years that Leskov debuted as a dramatist. The Embezzler (Rastratchik), published by Literaturnaya biblioteka im May, was staged first in Alexandrinsky Theatre (as a benefice for actress E.Levkeeva), then in December in Moscow's Maly Theater (with E. Chumakovskaya in the lead). The play was poorly received for "conveying pessimism and asocial tendencies".[10] All the while Leskov was working as a critic: by December 1867 his six-part series of essays on the Saint Peterspurgh Drama theater has been completed. In February 1868 The Stories by M.Stebnitsky Vol. I came out in Saint Petersburg to be followed by Vol.2 in April,[8] both criticized by the leftist press, Mikhail Saltykov-Schedrin in particular.[1]

In 1870 the novel At Daggers Drawn was published; another attack aimed at the nihilist movement which, as the author saw it, was quickly merging with the Russian criminal community. Leskov's "political" novels (according to Mirsky) were not among his masterpieces, but they were enough to turn him into "a bogey figure for all the radicals in literature and made it impossible for any of the influential critics to treat him with even a modicum of objectivity".[23] Later Leskov referred to the novel as a failure and blamed Katkov's incessant interference for it. "His was the publication in which literary qualities were being methodically repressed, destroyed, or applied to serve specific interests which had nothing to do with literature", he later insisted.[24] Some of his colleagues (Dostoyevsky among them) criticized the novel from the technical point of view, speaking of the stiltedness of the "adventure" plot and the improbability of some of its characters.[7]

Small novel Grief and Laughter (Sovremennaya letopis, March-May, 1871), a strong social critique focusing on fantastic disorganization and incivility of Russian life and comenting on sufferings of human individuality in a repressive society[1] proved to be his last; from then on Leskov avoided the genre of orthodox novel.[10] In November 1872, though, he adapted for children Victor Hugo's Toilers of the Sea. Five years later Józef Ignacy Kraszewski's The Favourites of King August, translated from Polish and edited by Leskov, came out.[8]

The Cathedral Clergy

Nikolai Leskov

The Cathedral Clergy (Soboriane), published in 1872, is a compilation of stories and sketches which form an intricate tapestry of thinly drawn plotlines.[7] It was seen as a turning point in the author's career; a departure from political negativism. According to Maxim Gorky, after Daggers, his "evil novel", Leskov's "craft became more of a literary icon-painting: he began to create a gallery of saints for the Russian iconostases".[10] Leskov's miscellaneous sketches on the lives and tribulations of the Russian small-scale priesthood and rural nobility gradually gravitated (according to critic V. Korovin) into a cohesive, albeit frameless tapestry of a battlefield where "good men" (Tuberozov, Desnittsyn, Benefaktov, all of them priests) were fighting off a bunch of crooks and scoundrels; nihilists and officials.[10] Soboryane, published by Russky vestnik in 1872, had for its major theme the intrinsic, unbridgeable gap between the "down to earth", people's Christianity and it's official, state-sponsored corrupt version; it riled both the state and the church authorities, was widely debated and had great resonance.[7] In the summer of 1872 Leskov travelled in Karelia and visited the Valaam monastery in Lake Ladoga; the result of this trip was his Monastic Isles cycle of essays published in Russky mir in 1873. In October 1872 another collection, Small Belle-lettres Works by Leskov-Stebnitsky came out. Those were the months of his short-lived friendship with Alexei Pisemsky; Leskov greatly praised his In the Vortex novel and in August 1872 visited its author in Moscow.[8]

At the same time, Leskov was working on two of his "Stargorod Chronicles" (later regarded as part of a trilogy, along with The Cathedral Clergy): Old Years in Plodomasovo (1869) and A Decayed Family (1873), each featuring a strong female character: virtuous, courageous, noble and "reasonably humane". Both works bore signs of being unfinished. It transpired later that the second one was ill-received by Mikhail Katkov and Leskov, having lost all interest, simply refusing to complete what otherwise might have been developed into a full-blown novel. Both chronicles were thinly veiled satires on certain aspects of the Orthodox church, those incongruities it had with intrinsic Christian values which had made it impossible (according to the author) for the latter to take root firmly in the Russian soil.[10] According to Leskov, Katkov, as the second of these chronicles was being published, told one of his associates, Voskoboynikov: "We've made a mistake: this man is not one of us".[25]

In 1873 The Sealed Angel came out, about a miracle which caused an Old Believer community to return to the Orthodox fold.[10] Influenced by traditional folk tales, it's been seen in retrospect as one of Leskov's finest works, his unique skaz technique being employed to the fullest effect. The Sealed Angel turned out to be the only story that avoided being heavily cut by Russky Vestnik because, as Leskov later wrote, "it slipped through, in the shadows, what with them being so busy".[26] The story, rather critical of the authorities, resonated in high places and was read, reportedly, at the Court.[7]

Inspired by his 1872 journey to Lake Ladoga,[8] The Enchanted Wanderer (1873) was an amorphous, loosely-structured piece of work, with several plotlines intertwined – the form Leskov thought the traditional novel was destined to be superseded by. Decades later scholars praised the story, comparing the character of Ivan Flyagin to that of Ilya Muromets, as symbolizing "the physical and moral duress of the Russian man, in times of trouble",[10] but the response of contemporary critics was lukewarm, Nikolay Mikhaylovsky complaining of its general formlessness: "details stringed together like beads, totally interchangeable".[27] While all of Leskov's previous works were severely cut, this was the first one to be rejected outright; it had to be published in odd October and November Russky mir newspaper issues.[7] In December 1873 Leskov took part in Skladchina, the charity anthology aimed at helping victims of famine in Russia.[8]

Having severed ties with Russky Vestnik, Leskov found himself in serious financial trouble. This was relieved to an extent by his invitation in January 1874 to join the Scholarly Committee of the Ministry of Education (this he owed much to the Empress consort Maria Alexandrovna who's been known to have read The Cathedral Clergy and referred positively to it),[3] where his duty was to choose literature for Russian libraries and atheneums. In the spring of 1875 Leskov went abroad, to Paris, then Prague and Dresden, in August. In December At the Edge of the World story published in Grazhdanin (1875, N52)[8] All the while he continued to work on a set of stories which would later form his Virtuous Ones cycle. Some critics found Leskov's heroes too virtuous for their own good, but he insisted they were not fantasies, but more like reminiscences of his earlier encounters. "I credit myself with having some ability for analyzing characters and their motives, but I'm hopless at fantasizing. Making up things is hard labour for me, so I've always felt the need for having before me real faces which could intrigue with their spirituality; then they'd get hold of me and I'd infuse them with new life, using some real-life stories as a basis", he wrote later in the Varshavsky dnevnik newspaper.[28] Years of confrontation with critics and many of his collagues were taking its toll, though. "Men of letters seem to recognize me as a force, but find great pleasure in murdering it, in fact, all but succeeded in killing it off altogether. I write nothing - just cannot!", he wrote in January 1876, to Pyotr Schebalsky.[8]


In October 1881 the Rus magazine started publishibg The Tale of Cross-eyed Lefty from Tula and the Steel Flea, which in retrospect is seen as Leskov's finest piece of work, bringing out the best in him as a stylistic virtuoso and ingenious storyteller. Leskov's is the quintessential skaz style, rich in word play and full of original neologisms, each carrying not only humorous but satirical messages. In Lefty the author's point of view is engaged in lively interplay with that of the main (grotesquely naive, simple-minded) character. "Some people argued that I had done little to distinguish between the good and the bad, and that it was difficult to make out who was a helper and who put spanners in the works. This is explained by the intrinsic deceitfulness of my own character", Leskov later wrote.[29] Most deceitful (according to critic B.Bukhstab) was the author's treatment of the character ataman Platov, whose actions, even as described in a grotesquely heroic manner by the simple-minded protagonist, were being openly ridiculed by the author.[7] What would later come to be seen as one of the gems of Russian literature, was fiercely attacked both from the left (who accused Leskov of propagating jingoistic ideas) and the right, who found the general picture of the common people's existence as depicted in the story a bit too gloomy for their taste.[7]

Leftie had it's public premiere in March, 1882, at the literary and musical evening of The Pushkin Circle; in April 16 it came out as a brochure. In December Leskov's Pechersky Antics story was written, published next February by Kievskaya starina, in February and April issues. By this time a large Russian Antics cycle started to take shape, in which Leskov implemented, as he saw it, Nikolai Gogol's idea (formulated in the Selected Passages from Correspondence with Friends) of "extoling modest working men". "It is wrong and unworthy to be picking out the worst in the soul of a Russian man, so I embarked on my journey, looking for virtuous ones. Whoever I asked would reply to the effect that they knew no such saints, and that all of us were sinful, but they did meet some decent men … and I just started writing about them", he wrote in the preface to one such story (Odnodum, Simgle-minded One, 1879). A similar cycle of short stories involved legends of early Christianity, with plot lines taken from the "prologues" and Byzantine stories of the 10th and 11th centuries. The fact that some of these pieces (Pamphalone, Beautiful Azu) have been translated into German and praised by publishers, made Leskov immensely proud. What was new to the Russian reader in them was, as Mirsky noted, "a boldly outspoken treatment of sensual episodes"; some critics accused the author of "treating his moral subjects as nothing but pretexts for the display of voluptuous and sensual scenes".[2]

Later years

Nikolay leskov 1872.jpg

In February 1883 the essay "The Leap-frogging Church and Local Parish Whimsies" was published by Istorichesky vestnik. It caused scandal and cost its author his job at the Ministry of Education. Minister Delyanov suggested Leskov should sign a retirement paper, but the latter refused. "What do you need such firing for?" the Minister reportedly asked. "For a decent obutuary", Leskov retorted. In April he informed his old Oryol lyceum's director that he's sending him a golden medal he received from the Ministry "to be given to the poorest of that year's graduate."[8]

By this time the Russian Orthodox Church has become the major target for Leskov's satire. In an 1883 letter, remembering Soboryane, he confessed: "These days I wouldn't do them, I'd rather have written The Defrocked One's Notes… to show how all of the Crucified One's commandments are being corrupted and falsified... [My position] would be defined as Tolstoyan these days, while things that have nothing to do with Christ's teaching would be termed Orthodoxy. I wouldn't oppose the term, I'd just say, Christianity this is not".[30] Leskov's religious essays of the early 1880s continued the same line of sympathetically supporting poor clergymen and ridiculing hypocrisy of the Russian Orthodoxy's higher ranks.[1] In "Count Tolstoy and F.M.Dostoyevsky as Heresyarchs" and "The Golden Age", both 1883) he came to defend both from Konstantin Leontiev's criticism. Leskov has never been a tolstoyan, but still his later works were impregnated with the "new Christianity" idea he himself identified with that of Leo Tolstoy whom he became close with in the mid-1880s and inevitably influenced by. On April 18, 1887, Leskov wrote a letter to Tolstoy asking for a permission to visit him in Moscow so as to fulfil his "long-standing desire". On April 25 the two authors met. "What a bright and original man", - Tolstoy wrote later in a letter to Chertkov. January 1890 he spent with Chertkov and Tolstoy at Yasnaya Polyana, the host reading his The Fruits of Enlightenment.[8]

In July 1883 chapters 1-4 of the Falkon Drive novel were published by Gazeta Gatsuka, followed by chapters V-VIII, then IX-X; at this point the publication ceased due to censors' interference.[8] In November 1883 Nov magazine started publishing the Unnoticed Trace novel: it was banned after Chapter XXVI and later was never completed. In January 1884 Notes of a Stranger publication started in Gazeta Gatsuka (#2) to be stopped in April, again by censors. In the summer of 1884 while Leskov was on a trip through Warsaw, Dresden, Marienbad, Prague and Vienna, a special censorship order came out, demanding withdrawal of 125 books from Russian libraries, Small Things included. In November 1888 Zenon the Goldsmith novelet has been written for Russkaya mysl and promptly banned. By this time, according to Bukhstab, Leskov again has found himself in isolation: the right were treating him as a dangerous radical, the left, under pressure from the Russian government, were too scared to publish radical prose.[7] Leskov himself referred to the stories of his later years as "cruel". "The public doesn't like them for being cynical and in your face. But I don't want to please the public, I want to torture it and flog it", he wrote.[31]

In August, November and December of 1887 the respective volums 1, 2 and 3 of Novelets and short stories by N.S.Leskov came out. At the New 1888 Year party at Suvorin's he met Anton Chekhov for the first time. Soon Ilya Repin became Leskov's friend and illustrator. Several months later, asking for a permission for a session, he explained his motives in a letter: "Not only me but the whole of the enlightened Russia loves you as an outstanding, distinguished writer and, as a thinking man". The sittings early next year were aborted: Leskov was unwilling to see his portrait at a forthcoming Repin's exhibition.[8]

In September 1888 Pyotr Bykov published Leskov’s full bibliography (1860-1887) which intrigued publishers. In 1889 Alexei Suvorin's publishing house started bringing out the Complete Leskov 12 volume series (which contained, mostly, fiction). By June the IV and V books were issued, but in August Vol.VI, containing some anti-Orthodox satires was stopped. On August 16 Leskov suffered his first major heart attack, on the stairs of Suvorin's house, upon learning the news. With the book VII the publication continued and considerable royalties greatly improved the author's financial affairs[7] but book VI came out only in 1890, in a different version.[8]

In January 1890 the publication of the novel The Devil Dolls (with Tsar Nikolai I and Karl Bryullov as the prototypes for the two main characters) started in Russkaya mysl, was aborted due to interference from the censors. In 1891 Polunochniki (Night Owls), a thinly veiled satire on the Orthodox Church in general and Ioann Kronshtadsky in particular was published in Severny vestnik and caused uproar. The 1894 novella Rabbit Warden (one of "his most remarkable works and his greatest achievent in concentrated satire," according to Mirsky)[2] was also banned and came out only in 1917 (in Niva magazine).[32] The process of having his works published which for Leskov has always been difficult, at this late stage became, in his own words, "quite unbearable".[7]

In his last years Leskov suffered from angina pectoris and asthma.[10] In the early 1894 he caught severe cold; by the end of the year his generalcondition deteriorated. Responding to Pavel Tretyakov's special request Leskov (still very ill) agreed to pose for Valentin Serov, but in February 1895, when the portrait was exhibited in Tretyakovskaya Gallery felt utterly upset both by the portrait and the black frame. On March 5, 1895, Nikolai Leskov died, aged 64. The funeral service was held in silence, in accordance to the writer's December 1892 will, forbidding any speeches to be held over his dead body. "I know I've many bad things in me and do not deserve being either praised or pitied", he explained.[33] Leskov was interred at the Literatorskiye Mostki necropolis at Volkovo Cemetery in Saint Petersburg.[8]

Private life

On April 6, 1853, Nikolai Leskov married Olga Vasilievna Smirnova (1831-1909), daughter of an affluent Kiev trader. Their son Dmitry was born on December 23, 1854, died in 1855. On March 8, 1856, daughter Vera Leskova was born; she married Dmitry Noga in 1879 and died in 1918. Nikolai Leskov's marriage was unhappy one; his wife suffered from severe psychic problems and in 1878 had to be taken to Saint Petersburg St.Nicholas mental hospital. She died in 1909.[34]

In 1865 Ekaterina Bubnova (nee Savi′tskaya) whom he met for the first time in July 1864, became Nikolai Leskov's common-law wife. Bubnova has had four children from her first marriage; one of them, Vera, became officially Leskov's stepdaughter; he took great care in helping her get good education and embark upon career in music. In 1866 Ekaterina Bubnova gave birth to Andrey Leskov (d.1953).[3]

In August 1878 Nikolai Leskov parted company with Ekaterina Bubnova and, with Andrey, moved into the Semenov house (at the corner of Kolomenskaya St. And Kuznechny Lane). Ekaterina Bubnova suffering greatly from her son being taken away from her, as her letters, which were published many years later, attested.[35] In November 1883 Varya Dolina (daughter of E.A.Cook) joined Nikolai Leskov and his son, first as a pupil and protege, to become soon an adopted daughter.[8][34]

Andrey Nikolayevich Leskov has made career in the military. In 1919-1931 he was serving as the Soviet Army's North-Western frontiers staff officer and retired in the rank of Leutenant-General[33] By this time he's been regarded as an authority on his father's legacy, praized by Maxim Gorky among many others. Andrey Leskov's The Life of Nikolai Leskov, a comprehensive book of memoirs (which had its own dramatic story: destroyed in the 1942 sieged Leningrad by a bomb, it's been reconstructed from scratch the 80-plus author after the War, to be finished in 1948)[36] was first published by Goslitizdat in Moscow (1954); in 1981 it was re-issued in two volumes by Prioksky publishers in Tula.[33]


Leskov nikolai semyonovich.jpg

Nikolai Leskov who is now widely regarded the classic of Russian literature,[7][11] has had extremely difficult literary career, marred by scandals which resulted in boycotts and ostracism.[3] Describing the Russian literary scene at the time Leskov entered it, D.S.Mirsky wrote:

It was a time of intense party strife, when no writer could hope to be well received by all critics and only those who identified themselves with a definite party could hope for even a partial recognition. Leskov had never identified himself with any party and had to take the consequences. His success with the reading public was considerable but the critics continued to neglect him. Leskov's case is a striking instance of the failure of Russian criticism to do its duty.[2]

After his 1862 article on "great fires" and 1864 No Way Out novel Leskov found himself in total isolation which in 1870s and 1880s was only partially relieved. Apollon Grigoriev, the only critic who valued him and approved of his work, died in 1864 and, according to Mirsky, "his latter popularity Leskov owed to nothing but a good taste of that segment of reading public which was beyond the scope of the 'directive' influences". In 1870s things improved but still, according to B&EED, "Leskov's position in his last 12-15 was ambivalent, old friends distrusting him, new ones being still wary. For all his big name, he wasn't a centerpiece literary figure and critics all but ignored him. This haven't prevented, though, the Complete Leskov's huge success."[37] In 1895 when he died Leskov "had little friends in literary circles but still great many readers all over Russia," according to Mirsky.[23]

In 1897 The Marks' publishing house re-issued the 1889-1893 12-volume series and in 1902-1903 released the 36-volume version of it, expanded with essays, articles and letters.[38] This, along with Anatoly Faresov's book of memoirs Against the Grain (1904), caused a wave of new interest to Leskov's legacy. Among writers who were mentioned as being influenced by him were Aleksey Remizov, Yevgeny Zamyatin, Andrey Bely, later Serapion Brothers, Mikhail Zoschenko in particular.[39] In 1923 three volumes of Nikolai Leskov's selected works came out in Berlin, featuring an often-quoted rapturous preface by Maxim Gorky (who called Leskov "the wizard of wording"), and was re-issued in the USSR in the early 1941.[36]

For decades long after his death critics' attitude towards Leskov and his legacy varied, mostly according to political conjuncture demands. Despite of the fact that some of his sharpest satires could be published only after the 1917 Revolution, the Soviet literary propaganda found little use in Leskov's legacy, often labeling the author a "reactionary" who was "in denial of the possibility of social revolution", placing instead too much affection on saintly religious types. For highlighting the author's 'progressive' inclinations Leftie (as "gloryfying Russian inventiveness and talent") and The Toupee Artist (as "denouncing the repressive nature of Tsarist Russia") were being invariably chosen.[36]

The 125th Leskov Anniversary stamp

The new literary ideologists' inability to counterbalance demands of propaganda by attempts at objectivity was evidenced in the 1932 Soviet Literary Encyclopedia entry, which said: "In our times when the problem-highlighting type of novel gains prominence, opening up new horizons of Socialism-building, Leskov's relevancy as a writer, who is totally foreign to the major tendencies of our Soviet literature, naturally wanes. Author of Lefty, though, retains some significance as a chronicler of his social environment and one of the best masters of Russian prose".[39] Nevertheless, by 1934 Dmitry Shostakovich has finished his opera Katerina Izmaylova which caused furore at home and abroad (to be finally denounced in 1936 by Pravda).[40]

In the post-World War II USSR the interest in Leskov's legacy was continually on the rise, never going, thought, beyond certain censorship-set limits. Several scholarly essays came out and then an extensive biography by the writer's son Andrey Leskov published in 1954. In 1953 the Complete Gorky series featured his 1923 N.S.Leskov essay which became the object of lively academic discussion.[36] The 11-volume 1956-1958 (and then 6 volume 1973-1974) Complete Leskov editions were too obviously incomplete: his political novels, No Way Out and At Daggers Drawn, were missing, with essays and letters being carefully selected. Yet, in the fifty years time things changed radically. While in 1931, on Leskov's 100th Anniversary, critics wrote of "scandalous reputation which followed Leskov's literary life from beginning to the end", by 1981 Leskov, according to critic Lev Anninsky, was regarded as a first rank Russian classic and the academic essay on him had found it's place in in the Moscow University's new course between those on Dostoyevsky and Leo Tolstoy.[36] In 1989 Ogonyok re-issied the 12-volume Leskov collection: here At Daggers Drawn appeared for the first time in the USSR.[41] In 1996 the Terra publishing house in Russia started the 30 volume Leskov series, declaring the intention to include every single work or letter by the author, but by 2007 only 10 volumes of it came out. Literaturnoye nasledstvo publishers started the The Unpublished Leskov series: book I (fiction) came out in 1991, book 2 (letters and articles) - in 2000; both vere incomplete, and the Vol.VI material, which was banned a century ago and proved to be too tough for the Soviet censors, has again been neglected.[42] All the 36 volumes of 1902 Marks' Complete Leskov was re-issued in 2002 and Moshkov's On-line Library gathered significant part of Leskov's legacy, including his most controversial novels and essays.[43]

Social and religious stance

I could never understand this... idea of 'studying' common people's life, for I felt it would be more natural for a writer to live this kind of life, rather than 'study' it. Nikolai Leskov in 1860

In retrospect, the majority of Leskov’s legacy, documentary in essence, might be seen as rather close to that section of XIX century raznochintsy's literature which relied upon 'real life sketch' as a founding genre. But, while Uspensky, Sleptsov and Reshetnikov were preaching "the urgent need to study the common people's real life", Leskov was caustic in his scorn: "Never could I understand this popular among our publicists idea of 'studying' common people's life, for I felt it would be more natural for a writer to life this kind of life, rather than 'study' it", he remarked.[1] With his thorough knowledge of the Russian province, competent in every nuance of industrial, agricultural and religious spheres, including obscure regional, sectarian or ethnic nuances, Leskov regarded colleagues of the radical left as cabinet theoreticians, totally rootless in their "studies".[1]

On the other hand, he had very little in common with Russian literary aristocrats. According to D.S.Mirsky, Leskov was "one of those Russian writers whose knowledge of life was not founded on the possession of serfs, to be later modified by university theories of French or German origin, like Turgenev's and Tolstoy's, but on practical and independent experience. This is why his view of Russian life is so unconventional and so free from that attitude of condescending and sentimental pity for the peasant which is typical of the liberal and educated serf-owner".[2] Mirsky expressed bewilderment at how Leskov, after his first novel No Way Out, could have been seriously regarded as 'vile and libelous reactionary', when in reality (according to the critic) "the principal Socialist characters in the book were represented as little short of saints."[2] Some modern scholars argued too, that, contrary to what his contemporary detractors were saying, Leskov had never had 'reactionary' or even 'conservative' sensibilities and his outlook basically was that of a democratic enlightener, who placed great hopes upon the 1861 social reform and got deeply disillusioned soon afterwards. The post-serfdom anachronisms that permeated Russian life in every of it's segnet, became one of his basic themes. Unlike Dostoyevsky, who saw the greatest danger the development of capitalism in Russia, Leskov regarded the "immovability of 'old ways' as its main liability", critic Viduetskaya insisted. Leskov's attitude towards 'revolutionaries' has never been entirely negative, this critic argued, it's just that he saw them as totally unprepared for the mission the were trying to take upon themselves, this tragic incongruity being the leitmotif of many of his best known works (The Musk-Ox, Mystery Man, The Passed By, At Daggers Drawn, and others).[1]

As Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, Leskov saw Gospel as the moral codex for humanity, the guiding light of its development and an ideological basis for any progress. His "saintlies" gallery propagated the same idea of "multiplying the good all over the land".[1] On the other hand, the author often used religious plots to highlight contemporary problems, doing this often in the most frivolous manner. Some of his stories, Christian on the face of it, were, according to Viduetskaya, "pagan in spirit, especially next to ascetic Tolstoy's prose of the similar kind." Being intrigued by the Raskol movement with its history and current trends, Leskov never agreed with those of his collaugues (Afanasy Shchapov among them) who saw Raskol communities as potentially a revolutionary force and rather shared his views on Old Believers with Melnikov-Pechesky.[1]

In his latter years Leskov was under the influence of Leo Tolstoy, developing the concept of the "new Christianity" he himself identified with the latter. "I am in total harmony with him, and there's not a single person in the whole world who's more dear to me. Things I don't share with him never bother me, what I cherish is the general state of his soul, as it were, and his mind's frightful insightfulness", Leskov wrote in another letter, to Vladimir Chertkov.[44]"I am in total harmony with him, and there's not a single person in the whole world who's more dear to me. Things I don't share with him never bother me, what I cherish is the general state of his soul, as it were, and his mind's frightful insightfulness", Leskov wrote in another letter, to Vladimir Chertkov.[45] As D.S.Mirsky pointed out, Leskov's Christianity, like that of Tolstoy, was "anti-clerical, undenominational and purely ethical". But there, the critic argued, the similarities ended. "The dominant ethical note is different. It is the cult not of moral purity and of reason, but of humility and charity. "Spiritual pride", self-conscious righteousness is for Leskov the greatest of crimes. Active charity is for him the principal virtue, and he attaches very little value to moral purity, still less to physical purity… [The] feeling of sin as the necessary soil for sanctity and the condemnation of self-righteous pride as the sin against the Holy Ghost is intimately akin to the moral sense of the Russian people and of the Eastern church, and very different from Tolstoy's proud Protestant and Luciferian ideas of perfection," Misky wrote.[2]

Style and form

Leskov monument in Oryol

Not long before his death, Leskov reportedly said: "Now they read me just for my stories' intricacies but in the fifty years' time the beauty of it all will fade and only ideas my books contain will retain value". That, according to Mirsky, was an exceptionally ill-judged forecast. "Now more than ever Leskov is being read and praised for his inimitable form, style and manner of speech", the critic wrote in 1926.[23] Of Leskov's innovatory style and experiments in form wrote many critics and colleagues. Anton Chekhov called him and Turgenev his two "tutors in literature",[7] Leo Tolstoy (while still expressing reservations as to "overabundance of colours") called Leskov "a writer for the future".[46][15]

Maxim Gorky was another great admirer of Leskov's prose who gave him credit as a thinking man, too, seeing him as one of those few figures in Russian XIX century literature who had both ideas of their own and the courage to speak them out loud. Linking Leskov to the elite of Russian literary thinkers (Dostoyevsky, Pisemsky, Goncharov and Turgenev) who "have formed more or less firm and distinct views on the history of Russia and developed each one's own way of working upon its culture"[47] XX century critics credited Leskov with being an innovator who used the art of wording in a totally new, different manner, increasing the functional scope of a phrazing, making it a precision instrument for drawing nuances of human character. According to Gorky, unlike Tolstoy, Gogol, Turgenev or Goncharov who used to create "portraits set in landscapes", Leskov was painting his backgrounds unobtrusively by "simply telling his stories," being a true master of "weaving nervous fabric of lively Russian common talk," and "in this art had no equals".[48]

Gorky saw Leskov as a true artist whose place "beside masters like L.Tolstoy, Gogol, Turgenev and Goncharov is well-deserved".[49] He was greatly intrigued by the way Leskov managed to secure himself total independence in the community where no such thing seemed possible ("Neither narodnik nor Slavophile, neither Westernizer, nor liberal or conservative")[33] and, at the same time, developed "deep insight into the life of existing classes and social groups in Russia, "something none of his greater contemporaries like Tolstoy or Turgenev, could ever do".[33] "...It was Leskov who dissected Rus through", Gorky was saying (through his character Klim Samgin),[50] later explaining: "(Leskov was) ...the only Russian author to have succeeded in slicing the whole generation of his countrymen through into a new set of sub-classes, each belonging to a different epoche".[51]

Leskov was continuously experimenting with formats, his most favourable being that of "chronicles" which he saw as healthy alternative to that of an orthodox novel. "Things, they just pass by us and what I totally refuse to do is either diminish or bloat their respective significance, for I am not being forced into it by the unnatural, man-made format of a novel which demands fabulas being rounded-up and plotlines being drawn to one center. Life does not work this way. Human life runs off like a charter-list off a valve and that is how I'm going to treat this roll of events in my notes", he once wrote.[1] B&EED biographer Semyon Vengerov found in Leskov things common to Alexander Ostrovsky, Aleksey Pisemsky and Fyodor Dostoyevsky. "But one most astounding feature in him is what Turgenev called his 'inventiveness'. Some of Leskov's 5-6 pages stories are packed with plotlines that could have filled volumes. This is especially true for The Enchanted Wanderer where each new turn brings out another fascinating scene, with its own, new set of colours. Apart from his large novels (No Way Out, At Daggers Drawn), less successful artistically, Leskov’s prose is remarkably concise and totally devoid of a filler ballast," Vengerov added.[37]

Contemporary critics often dismissed Leskov as mere "anecdote collector".[1] Years later scholars found uniqueness of Leskov's prose mostly in that it was almost entirely based on anecdotes, bizarre or absurd real life events. Some of his collections, like Notes of a Stranger (1884) and Small Things in the Life of Church Hierarchy (1878) "were nothing but collections of anecdotes, the fact that's made them no less a powerful, expressive pieces of prose", critic E.Viduetskaya argued.[1] Leskov, who liked to unite his stories and sketches into cycles (The Voice of Nature, 1883, The Uniters, 1884, Aleksandrit, 1885, series of Christmas stories, 1881-1885, etc) has been praised as arguably the only Russian writer who succeeded in creating the comprehensive picture of contemporary Russian society using mostly small literary forms.[1] Enchanted by ways of life, customs and habits of different, often obscure, ethnic and social groups in Russia, but (unlike Chekhov and Pisemsky who were interested in tendencies) focusing on bizarre and strange elements of it,[1] Leskov was helped by unique linguistic memory he'd been endowed with. The profound analysis of Russia though its language for him was the major task. "The author develops his own voice by learning how to make voices of his characters those of his own", he remarked,[52] adding: "A man shows his character best in the smallest things."[1]

Volkov Cemetery. Nikolai Leskov's grave

Even the most strange, seemingly unbelievable Leskov fabulas were based on real life stories. "I prefer to build a story up on a real fact, not fiction," he once remarked.[53] This, in a way, had to do with his own concept which held literature as a branch of history, in other words, being an intrincically documentary form of art. To history he attributed great social importance, seeing it as the major factor in healthy social development.[1] Not just most of Leskov's characters had real life prototypes, some of them bore real persons' names ("Cadet Monastery", "A Man at the Guard", "Vladyka's Judgment", "Penniless Engineers", etc)[1] "Truth can indeed be made to look more thrilling than fiction, and you surely are the master of this art",Leo Tolstoy wrote Leskov in a letter.[54] "Russian people acknowledge Leskov as the Most Russian of all Russian writers, who knew the Russian people deeper and better than anybody else," Mirsky maintained.[2]

Explaining why, in spite of the admiration for him of some English critics, like Maurice Baring, Leskov had not yet come into his own with the English-speaking reader, D.S.Mirsky wrote in 1926: "The Anglo-Saxon public have made up their minds as to what they want from a Russian writer, and Leskov does not fit into that idea. But those who really want to know more about Russian sooner or later recognize that Russia is not all contained in Dostoyevsky and Chekhov, and that if you want to know a thing, you must first be free of prejudice and on your guard against hasty generalizations. They will perhaps come nearer to Leskov, who is generally recognized by Russians as the most Russian of Russian writers and the one who had the deepest and the widest knowledge of the Russian people as it actually is."[2]

Selected bibliography

Nikolai Semyonovich Leskov by Ilya Repin, 1888-89
  • Ovcebyk (Musk-Ox) (1862)
  • Nekuda (No Way Out) (1864)
  • Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District (1865)
  • Voitel'nica (Warrior Woman) (1866)
  • Na nozhakh (At Daggers Drawn) (1870)
  • The Cathedral Clergy (1872)
  • The Sealed Angel (1872)
  • Ocharovannyi strannik (The Enchanted Wanderer) (1873)
  • Na kraju sveta (At the Edge of the World) (1875)
  • The Tale of Cross-eyed Lefty from Tula and the Steel Flea (1881)
  • Pamphalon the Mountebank (1887)
  • Gora (The Mountain) (1890)
  • Judol (Vale of Tears) (1892)
  • Zayachii remiz (The Rabbit Warren) (1895)

English translations


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u И. Л. Видуэцкая (1990). "Николай Семенович Лесков". Русские писатели. Биобиблиографический словарь. Том 1. А--Л. Под редакцией П. А. Николаева. М., Просвещение. Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l D.S.Mirsky, Francis James Whitfield. "Leskov". A history of Russian literature from its beginnings to 1900. Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Николай Семенович Лесков". Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  4. ^ Письмо П. К. Щебальскому от 16 апреля 1871. Лесков Н. С. Письма (1859—1880). Письмо № 39
  5. ^ a b "Н.С.Лесков". Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  6. ^ a b Н.С.Лесков (1958). "Автобиографические заметки". Лесков Н. С. Собрание сочинений в 11 т. М., Государственное издательство художественной литературы. Том 11, с. 5-20. Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Н.С.Лесков. Собрание сочинений в шести томах. Т. 1. Стр 3—42. Предисловие. Б.Бухштаб. Изд-во «Правда». Москва. 1973.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x К. П. Богаевская. "Хронологическая канва жизни и деятельности Н. С. Лескова". / Лесков Н. С. Собрание сочинений в 11 т. М., Государственное издательство художественной литературы, 1958. Том 11, с. 799-834.. Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  9. ^ "Николай Семенович Лесков". Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Владимир Коровин. "Николай Семенович Лесков". Retrieved 2010-01-29. 
  11. ^ a b "Nikolai Semyonovich Leskov". Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  12. ^ Aleksander James Scott's name became the Russian Александр Яковлевич Шкотт (Aleksandr Yakovlevich Shkott), his middle name James (Yakov) transforming into a 'father's name, 'otchestvo.
  13. ^ Николай Лесков (М.: 1958). "Продукт природы". Собрание сочинений в 11 томах. Т.9 Государственное издательство художественной литературы.. Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  14. ^ Стебницкий (Н. С. Лесков). - «Русское общество в Париже». М. Повести, очерки, рассказы. Т. 1, Спб., 1867, стр. 320
  15. ^ a b "Приговор потомства.". Retrieved 2011-10-10.  Статья о рассказе Н. Лескова "Тупейный художник"
  16. ^ Arrested on July 28, 1862, Nechiporenko reported Leskov to the police, stating the latter has had "harmful influence" upon him.
  17. ^ П.Громов, Б.Эйхенбаум. "Н. С. Лесков (Очерк творчества).". Собрание сочинений в 11 томах. Т. 1. М.: 1956. Retrieved 2010-07-01. 
  18. ^ А. Н. Лесков. "Жизнь Николая Лескова. Том 1". Retrieved 2010-07-01. 
  19. ^ Дело 1862 г. N 137 Особой канцелярии министра народного просвещения «По высочайшему повелению касательно напечатанной в N 143, 1862 г. „Северной пчелой“ статьи о пожаре, бывшем в С.-Петербурге 28 мая»
  20. ^ Лев Анненский (1988). "Несломленный". Три еретика. Повести о А. Ф. Писемском, П. И. Мельникове-Печерском, Н. С. Лескове / М., Книга. Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  21. ^ Life of a Woman, Житие одной бабы, caused controversy among scholars; it was never re-issued during its author's lifetime, and came out in 1924 in a different form, under the title Amour in Lapotochki. An Exercise in Peasants' fiction. The publisher, Pyotr Bykov, insisted Leskov himself "presented" him the novella's alternative version as a gift, but many of his colleagues doubted this, for the title had been mentioned in a foreword to M.Stebnitsky's first compilation of novellas and stories - as being intended for a completely different piece of work which apparently remained unwritten.
  22. ^ Н. С. Лесков. Собрание сочинений в одиннадцати томах. Москва. 1956—1958. Т. Х, стр. 169
  23. ^ a b c Д.С.Сввятополк-Мирский (1926). "Лесков". История русской литературы с древнейших времен до 1925 года / Пер. с англ. Р. Зерновой. London: Overseas Publications Interchange Ltd, 1992. -- С. 490--502.. Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  24. ^ Н. С. Лесков. Собрание сочинений в одиннадцати томах. Москва, 1956—58. т. Х., стр. 433
  25. ^ Н. С. Лесков. Собрание сочинений в одиннадцати томах. Москва, 1956—58. т. XI., стр. 509
  26. ^ Н. С. Лесков. Собрание сочинений в одиннадцати томах. Москва, 1956—58. т. Х., стр. 362
  27. ^ Н. К. Михайловский. Литература и жизнь. — «Русское богатство», 1897. № 6, стр. 104
  28. ^ Н. С. Лесков. Собрание сочинений в одиннадцати томах. Москва, 1956—58. т. XI, 229
  29. ^ «Новь», 1886, № 7, стр. 352
  30. ^ Н. С. Лесков. Собрание сочинений в одиннадцати томах. Москва, 1956—58. т. XI, стр.529
  31. ^ А. Фаресов. «Против течений», стр. 382
  32. ^ "Заячий ремиз". /Собрание сочинений в 11 томах. Т. 9 Государственное издательство художественной литературы, М.: 1958. Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  33. ^ a b c d e А. Горелов (1948). "Книга сына об отце". Москва. Художественная литература. Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  34. ^ a b В.А.Зарва. "Николай Лесков и его дочери". Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  35. ^ Письма Е. С. Бубновой к А. Н. Лескову от 8 октября 1880 г. и 14 августа 1882 г. (ИРЛИ, ф. 612, N 4).
  36. ^ a b c d e Аннинский, Лев. "Лесковское ожерелье". Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  37. ^ a b С. Венгеров. "Николай Семенович Лесков". Русский биографический словарь. Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  38. ^ Анатолий Королев. "На ножах с Россией". Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  39. ^ a b П. Калецкий (1932). "Николай Лесков". Литературная энциклопедия: В 11 т. Т. 6. Москва. Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  40. ^ "КАТЕРИНА ИЗМАЙЛОВА". Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  41. ^ Cергей Дмитренко. "Сужект Дескова". Новая газета. Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  42. ^ "Неизданный Лесков". Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  43. ^ "Николай Семенович Лесков". Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  44. ^ Н. С. Лесков. Собрание сочинений в одиннадцати томах. Москва, 1956—58, т. X, стр 356
  45. ^ Н. С. Лесков. Собрание сочинений в одиннадцати томах. Москва, 1956—58, т. X, стр 356
  46. ^ "Отец Браун, Карлсон или Вудхаус...". Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  47. ^ Горький М. Собр. соч. в 30-ти томах, т. 19. 62.
  48. ^ Горький М. Собр. соч.: В 30 т.-- Т. 24.-- С. 236
  49. ^ Горький М. Собр. соч. в 30-ти томах, т. 24, с. 235.
  50. ^ Горький М. Собр. соч. в 30-ти томах, т. 24, с. 288.
  51. ^ Горький М. Собр. соч. в 30-ти томах, т. 24. М., 1953, с. 184.
  52. ^ А Фаресов Против течений, 273.
  53. ^ Привет!" Художественно-научно-литературный сборник.-- СПб, 1898.-- С. 219
  54. ^ Толстой Л. Н. Полн. собр. соч.-- М., 1953.-- Т. 66.-- С. 445

External links

  • (English) The Steel Flea Translated by Isabel Hapgood
  • (English) The Sealed Angel from Russian Sketches, Chiefly of Peasant Life. Translated by Beatrix Tollemache
  •, Nikolai Leskov at Pegasos
  •, Some texts by Nikolai Leskov in the original Russian
  • (Russian), All Leskov's novels, stories, articles and criticism

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