Portrait by Ilya Repin, 1910
30 April 1850|
Kharkiv, Russian Empire
|Died||31 December 1931
|Genres||fiction, memoirs, criticism|
Ieronim Ieronimovich Yasinsky (Russian: Иерони́м Иерони́мович Яси́нский; April 18 (30), 1850 - December 31, 1931) was a Russian novelist, poet, literary critic and essayist, who also published his works under several pseudonyms: Maxim Belinsky, Nezavisimy (The Independent One) and M.Tchunosov.
Yasinsky was born in Kharkiv, Russian Empire, modern Ukraine, to Ieronim Yasinsky, a nobleman of Polish origins, and Olga Maksimovna Belinskaya, daughter of colonel Maxim Belinsky, one of the 1812 Borodino heroes, whose name he later used as a literary pseudonym. From the age of eleven the boy started to write verse and recite it at the family literary and musical parties, to invariable success.
Yasinsky received good home education. He continued studying in Chernigov gymnasium and in 1868 enrolled at the Kiev University but in 1871 dropped out after marrying V.P.Ivanova, a woman of strong ideas on women’s liberation, who’s had great influence upon him. That was when financial difficulties started dogging the couple, they were not relieved neither by their moving to Saint Petersburg nor by his returning to Chernigov where in 1873-1878 he worked as a state official. In September 1870 Yasinsky debuted as an essayist and started to publish his articles in two newspapers, Kievsky vestnik and Kievsky telegraph. Many of these earlier pieces found their way into The Kiev Stories (1885) collection.
Yasinsky's first short novels (Natashka, 1881; The Sleeping Beauty, 1883) were lauded by the Russian leftist literary elite (Saltykov-Schedrin in particular) and their author was hailed as the new Garshin. Several years later, though, things changed: his major novels (Irinarkh Plutarkhov, 1886; The Old Friend, 1887; The Great Man, 1888, and later Under Satan's Cloak, 1909), fell under sharp criticism for allegedly ridiculing the "revolutionary movement" and their author fell out of favour with critics who now tended to see him as a conservative jack-of-all-trades kind of author. Yasinsky had his own ideas regarding his mission and tried to promote himself as a new "art for arts's sake" figure whose goal was to "create an encyclopedia of Russian intelligentsia types, as seen in all possible aspects of life". Anton Chekhov, who once wrote: "He is either an honest garbage collector or a sly crook", was unconvinced, while Maxim Gorky, who treated Yasinsky's books as cheap anti-revolutionary pamphlets, once described their author as "dirty and spiteful old geezer".
Ieronim Yasinsky accepted the 1917 Revolution and even declared himself "a sudden Bolshevik". He worked at Proletkult, edited Soviet magazines (Krasny ogonyok, Plamya, 1918–1919), wrote science fiction for children and even translated Friedrich Engels's poem "The Evening" in 1923, but was still rather unpopular with critics. In retrospect, his memoirs The Novel of My Life (1926) were recognised as an insightful, valuable documentation of the Russian literary and cultural life of the late 19th-early 20th century, as were his biographical essays on Saltykov-Schedrin, Garshin, Leykin and Chekhov. He died, aged 81, in Leningrad, USSR.
- Natashka (1881)
- The Sleeping Beauty (1883)
- The Kiev Stories (1885)
- Irinarkh Plutarkhov (1886)
- The Old Friend (1887)
- The Great Man (1888)
- Under Satan's Cloak (1909)
- The Novel of My Life (1926)
- Милюков, Ю.Г. (1990). "Ясинский, Иероним Иеронимович". "Русские писатели". Биобиблиографический словарь. Том 2. М--Я. Под редакцией П. А. Николаева. М., "Просвещение". Retrieved 2011-10-10.
- A History of Russian Literature, Taylor and Francis.