Aleksandr Sukhovo-Kobylin

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Aleksandr Vasilyevich Sukhovo-Kobylin
Sukhovo-Kobylin c.1850
Sukhovo-Kobylin c.1850
Born29 September [O.S. 17 September] 1817
Moscow, Russian Empire
Died24 September [O.S. 11 September] 1903
Beaulieu, France

Aleksandr Vasilyevich Sukhovo-Kobylin (Russian: Александр Васильевич Сухово-Кобылин) (September 29  [O.S. September 17] 1817, Moscow - September 24  [O.S. September 11] 1903, Beaulieu-sur-Mer, France), was a Russian playwright, chiefly known for his satirical plays criticizing Russian imperial bureaucracy. His sister Evgenia Tur was a popular novelist, critic and journalist and his sister Sofia was a painter of some note.


A rich aristocrat who often travelled, Sukhovo-Kobylin was arrested, prosecuted and tried for seven years in Russia for the murder of his French mistress Louise-Simone Dimanche, a crime of which he is nowadays generally believed to have been innocent. He only managed to achieve acquittal by means of giving enormous bribes to court officials and by using all of his contacts in the Russian elite. According to his own version as well as the generally accepted view today, he was targeted precisely because he had the financial capabilities to give such bribes.

Based on his personal experiences, Sukhovo-Kobylin wrote a trilogy of satirical plays about the prevalence of bribery and other corrupt practices in the Russian judicial system of the time – Krechinsky's Wedding (Russian: Свадьба Кречинского) (1850–1854, begun in prison), The Trial (alternatively titled The Case) (Russian: Дело) (1861), and Tarelkin's Death (alternatively titled Rasplyuyev's merry days) (Russian: Смерть Тарелкина, Расплюевские веселые дни) (1869). The first work had immediate success and became one of Russia's most frequently performed plays. It is also considered Sukhovo-Kobylin's best. The trilogy in its entirety was published in 1869 under the title Scenes from the Past (Russian: Картины прошедшего). Attempts to stage the last two plays ran into difficulties with censorship; in particular, Tarelkin's Death was only staged in 1899. While popular, the two sequels failed to achieve the same success as the first play.

Sukhovo-Kobylin in the early 1850s.

English Translations[edit]

  • Krechinsky's Wedding: A Comedy in Three Acts, University of Michigan Press, [1961]. Translated by Robert Magidoff.
  • The Trilogy of Alexander Sukhovo-Kobylin, Dutton, 1969. (Krechinsky's Wedding, The Case, and The Death of Tarelkin). Translated by Harold B. Segel.


  • Гроссман Л. П. Театр Сухово-Кобылина. — Москва; Ленинград, 1940.
  • Рудницкий К. Л. А. В. Сухово-Кобылин: Очерк жизни и творчества. — Москва, 1974.
  • Старосельская Н. Д. Сухово-Кобылин. — Москва: Молодая гвардия, 2003. — 336 с. — (Жизнь замечательных людей.) ISBN 5-235-02566-0

External links[edit]