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 Alexander Sumarokov

Born:   25 November 1717
Deceased:   12 October 1777



Influential poet, writer and playwright Alexander Sumarokov (1717 – 1777), known as 'the founder of the Russian theatre' was the first director of the Russian Theatre in St. Petersburg (1756-61); he also founded the first Russian private magazine The Hardworking Bee.

Alexander Petrovich Sumarokov was born in Petersburg, into an ancient noble family.

In 1732-1740 the boy studied in Military Academy for the Nobility, where he started writing poems. The poet became popular thanks to his love songs that were distributed in hand-written copies. In his Epistle on Writing Poetry (1747) Alexander formulated principles of poetics for the basic genres of classicism, especially comedies and fables. Polemics between Mikhail Lomonosov and Alexander Sumarokov in the 1750s represented an important stage in formation of esthetics and artistic practice of Russian classicism. Sumarokov shifted from love songs to poetic tragedies, namely Khorev (1747), Hamlet (1748), Sinav and Truvor (1750), in which love themes were intertwined with social and philosophical issues. Sumarokov's plays formed the basis of repertoire of the first professional and permanent Russian public theater - the Russian Theatre in St. Petersburg. The poet was the director of this theater from 1756 to 1761. In 1759 Sumarokov published the first Russian literary magazine Trudolyubivaya pchela (Hardworking bee). In the late 50s – early 60s he wrote fables exposing bureaucratic arbitrariness, bribery, and landowners’ inhuman treatment of serfs. In the 1770s the writer created his best comedies, such as The Imaginary Cuckold, The Mother as Rival of Her Daughter, and The Troublesome Girl (all 1772), as well as his best tragedies, The False Demetrius (1771) and Mstislav (1774) and published collections Satires and Elegies (1774). Sumarokov and his followers promoted establishment of classicism in Russian literature.

Sumarokov died at the age of 59 in Moscow, and was buried at the Donskoy Monastery.

Tags: Russian literature Russian writers Alexander Sumarokov   

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