Vladimir Galaktionovich Korolenko

Vladimir Galaktionovich Korolenko

Korolenko, Vladimir Galaktionovich, 1853-1921, Russian short-story writer and publicist. A member of a Populist circle, he was arrested in 1879 and exiled to Siberia until 1885. There he wrote many of his lyrical tales, notable for their descriptions of desolate nature. His most famous story, "Makar's Dream" (1885, tr. 1892), describes a dying peasant's dream of heaven. After 1895, Korolenko devoted himself to liberal journalism. Greatly honored in Russia, he welcomed the revolution but later opposed the Bolshevik regime.

See his autobiography, ed. by N. Parsons (1972).

Vladimir Galaktionovich Korolenko (Володимир Галактионович Короленко; (Владимир Галактионович Короленко; July 27, 1853-December 25, 1921) was a Ukrainian-Russian short story writer, journalist, human rights activist and humanitarian. His short stories were known for their harsh portrayal of nature based on his experience of exile in Siberia. Korolenko was a strong critic of the Tsarist regime and in his final years of the Bolsheviks.

Early life

Korolenko was born in Zhytomyr, Ukraine in 1853, the son of a Cossack and a district judge. His cousin Vladimir Vernadsky was the first president of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. He was educated at secondary schools in Zhitomyr and Rovno before undertaking tertiary studies at the Saint Petersburg Technological Institute in 1871 and the Moscow College of Agriculture and Forestry in 1874. Korolenko was expelled from both institutions for participating in the revolutionary activities of the Narodniks movement. In 1876 he was briefly exiled to Kronstadt.

Literary career 1879-1900

Korolenko's first short stories were published in 1879. However, his literary career was interrupted that year when he was arrested for revolutionary activity and exiled to Vyatka region of Siberia for five years. In 1881 he refused to swear allegiance to the new Tsar Alexander III and was exiled farther, to Yakutia.

Upon his return from the exile, he had more stories published. Makar's Dream (Сон Макара, Son Makara) established his reputation as a writer when it was published in 1885. The story was based on a dying peasant's dream of heaven, and was translated and published in English in 1892.

Korolenko settled in Nizhniy Novgorod shortly afterwards and continued publishing popular short stories. He published a novel Слепой музыкант (Slepoi Musykant) in 1886, which was published in English as The Blind Musician in 1896-1898.

After visiting the Chicago exhibition in 1893, Korolenko wrote the story Without a Language (Без языка, Bez Yazyka) based on what happens to an Ukrainian peasant who immigrates to the US. His final story Мгновение (Mgnovenie, "The Blink of an Eye"), was published in 1900.

By then, Korolenko was established amongst the first rank of Russian writers. He was a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences but resigned in 1902 when Maxim Gorky was expelled as a member because of his revolutionary activities. Anton Chekhov resigned from the Academy for the same reasons.

Journalist 1895-1921

In 1895, Korolenko became the editor of Russkoe Bogatstvo (Russian Wealth) and used this position to expose injustices occurring under the tsar. He also used his position to publish reviews on important pieces of literature such as Chekhov's final play The Cherry Orchard in 1904.

Vladimir Korolenko was a lifetime opponent of Czarism and reservedly welcomed the Russian Revolution of 1917. However, he soon opposed the Bolsheviks as their despotic nature became evident. During the Russian Civil War that ensued, he called against both Red Terror and White Terror.

He worked on an autobiography История моего современника (Istoria moego sovremenika The History of My Contemporary.

Korolenko consistently advocated for the human rights, against injustices and persecutions on the basis of social class in his essay В Голодный год (During the Starving Year, 1891-1892), nationalism in his article Мултанское дело (The Multanskoye Affair, 1895-1896), and took strong public stand against anti-Semitic Beilis trial (in his Call to the Russian People in regard to the blood libel of the Jews, 1911-1913).

Ongoing influence

Korolenko is generally considered to be a leading Russian writer of the late 19th century and early 20th century. Russian singer and literature student Pavel Lion (now Ph.D.) took his stage name Psoy Korolenko due to his admiration of Korolenko's work.

A minor planet 3835 Korolenko, discovered by Soviet astronomer Nikolai Stepanovich Chernykh in 1977 is named after him.

Written works

The following is the list of Korolenko's most notable writings:

  • Son Makara (1885) translated as Makar's Dream (1891);
  • Slepoi Muzykant (1886) translated as The Blind Musician (1896-1898);
  • V durnom obshchestve (1885) translated as In Bad Company (1916);
  • Les Shumit translated as The Murmuring Forest (1916);
  • Reka igraet (1892) The River Sparkles;
  • Za Ikonoi After the Icon
  • Bez Yazyka (1895) or Without a Language;
  • Mgnovenie (1900) or The Blink of an Eye;
  • Siberian Tales 1901;
  • Istoria moego sovremmenika or The History of My Contemporary an autobiography (1905-1921)


  • "Человек создан для счастья, как птица для полета, только счастье не всегда создано для него" (Human beings are created for happiness as birds are created for flight, but happiness is not always created for them) (Paradox)
  • "Насилие питается покорностью, как огонь соломой" (Violence feeds on submission as fire feeds on dry grass) (Story about Flora, Agrippina and Menachem)
  • "Лучше даже злоупотребления свободой, чем ее отсутствие" (It is better to have even abuses of freedom than the absence of freedom)



External links

In Russian

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