|Born||September 11 [O.S. August 30] 1882
Novgorod, Russian Empire (present-day Russia)
|Died||19 October 1938
|Occupation||Novelist & Playwright|
Zhitkov was born in Novgorod; his father was a mathematics teacher and his mother a pianist. His works include numerous books in which he, in a figurative form, described various professions. His books are based on his rich experience as a sailor, ship captain, scientist, traveler and explorer. Between 1916 and 1924 he was a sailor and, later, a ship's captain. He also worked as a navigator, an ichthyologist, a metal worker, a shipbuilding engineer, a teacher of physics and drafting, and a technical college headmaster.
In 1924 Zhitkov started to be published and soon became a professional writer. He is best known for the hugely successful children's travel book What I Saw (Russian: Что я видел) about the summer vacation adventures of a curious little boy nicknamed Pochemuchka. He was a close friend of Korney Chukovsky, who wrote in his diary entry for 28 December 1931:
Zhitkov is all upset about the self-flagellation going on among critics at the Writers' Union. He says that at the meeting where Eikhenbaum was asked to practice self-criticism, Eikhenbaum responded, "Self-criticism should be practiced before one writes, not after." [...] Zhitkov's interpretation of the now famous meeting runs as follows: "We're all just so many sons of bitches, so let's pull down our pants and let ourselves be whipped."
Zhitkov's 1941 historical novel about the 1905 Revolution, Viktor Vavich (Russian: Виктор Вавич), was immediately destroyed and republished in 1999 only thanks to Lydia Chukovskaya having saved a copy; Boris Pasternak called it "the best thing that has ever been written about 1905; it's shameful that nobody knows this book."
Zhitkov B. Angry sea. — 1924
Zhitkov B. Sea stories. — 1925
Zhitkov B. Black sails. — 1927
Zhitkov B. Heads or tails. — 1928
Zhitkov B. Locomotives. — 1928
Zhitkov B. Boa constrictor. — 1928
Zhitkov B. Stone seal. — 1931
Zhitkov B. Sea stories. — 1931
Zhitkov B. Sea short stories. — 1935
Zhitkov B. Short stories about animals. — 1935
Zhitkov B. Sea stories. — 1937
Zhitkov B. What I saw. — 1939
Zhitkov B. Short stories. — 1940
Zhitkov B. Short stories about animals. — 1940
Zhitkov B. Viktor Vavich. — 1941
Zhitkov B. Short stories about technology. — 1942
Zhitkov B. Red commander. — 1956 — (My first books).
Zhitkov B. About an elephant: short stories / Illustrations by N. Petrova. — 1980
Zhitkov B. "Seven fires: sketches, short stories, narrative, plays" — 1982
Zhitkov B. "Selected works" (Introductory article by K. I. Chukovsky). — 1988
Zhitkov B. "Selected works" (Composition, introductory article and notes by V. Glotser). — 1989
Zhitkov B. Short stories about animals. — 1989
Zhitkov B. Short stories for children. — 1998
Zhitkov B. Viktor Vavich. — 1999
Zhitkov B. How I used to catch little men: Short stories. — 2001
Zhitkov B. Viktor Vavich. — 2007
Zhitkov B. I will mend my ways! — 2011
Zhitkov B. Magazine for kids "Vorobej" ("Sparrow").
- Kornei Chukovsky, Diary, 1901-1969 (Yale University Press, 2005: ISBN 0-300-10611-4), p. 262.
- Lydia Chukovskaya, Записки об Анне Ахматовой (YMCA-Press, 1984), p. 547: "Это лучшее, что написано когда-либо о 905 годе. Какой стыд, что никто не знает эту книгу."