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 Pavel Bazhov

Born:   15 January (27 January ) 1879
Deceased:   3 December 1950

Prose writer, folklorist, essayist, editor.


Pavel Bazhov was born on 15 January (27 January ) 1879 into a family of a mining master at a factory in Sysert near Yekaterinburg.

Pavel studied in a religious school in Yekaterinburg (1889-93) and then in Perm Theological Seminary (1893-99). When a student he took part in protest actions against reactionary teachers and as a result got a note of “political disloyalty” in his certificate. That record prevented him from entering Tomsk University, which he had dreamt of. Bazhov worked as a teacher of Russian language and literature in Yekaterinburg, and then in Kamyshlov. During these years he became keen on folk tales of Ural region.

After the revolution he was in contact with railroad workers adhering to the Bolshevik positions. In 1918 volunteered to the Red Army and took part in military actions in the Ural frontline. In 1923-29 he lived in Sverdlovsk (Yekaterinburg) and worked in the editorial board of Krestianskaya (Peasants’) Newspaper, while 1924 contributing his essays on old factory life conditions and the civil war. During this period he wrote over forty tales on themes of Ural factory folklore.

The year 1939 saw the publication of Bazhov’s most famous work – the collection of fairy tales “Malakhitovaya shkatulka” (The Malachite Casket), which gained its author the State Prize. Later on Bazhov supplemented the book with new tales.

The book of interlinking fairy parables Malachite Casket charms the reader into “melodious mysteries and quiet beauty of the Russian land”. These tales of the Ural (where Bazhov worked as a miner) go deep into people’s relations and real social conflicts. The central figure of the series – the Mistress of the Copper Mountain – is a fantastic creature, embodying the creative primordial nature and its keeper at the same time. She helps only creators, such as the inborn sculptor Danila, a gifted person sensitive to “every gentle leaf and blade of grass”, who creates the miraculous Stone Flower in the depth of her realm. The Malachite Casket is one of the books the poeticism of which helps to ignite the demand for being in accord with the beautiful. The book inspired Sergei Prokofiev for his famous ballet "The Flower of Stone".

During the Great Patriotic War (1941-45) Pavel Bazhov concerned himself with both Sverdlovsk writers and those evacuated from different corners of the Soviet Union. After the war his eyesight started weakening dramatically, but he went on his editing work, as well as collecting and creative adaptation of folklore.

In 1946 he was elected Deputy of the Supreme Soviet.

Pavel Bazhov died in 1950 in Moscow and was laid to rest in Sverdlovsk (Yekaterinburg).

Tags: Pavel Bazhov Russian writer Russian literature Russian folklore  

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