April 13, 1883|
|Died||May 25, 1945
Yefim Alekseevich Pridvorov (Russian: Ефи́м Алексе́евич Придво́ров; IPA: [jɪˈfʲim ɐlʲɪˈksʲejɪvʲɪtɕ prʲɪˈdvorəf] ( listen); April 13 [O.S. April 1] 1883 — May 25, 1945), better known by the pen name Demyan Bedny (Russian: Демья́н Бе́дный; IPA: [dʲɪˈmʲjan ˈbʲednɨj] ( listen), Damian the Poor), was a Soviet Ukrainian poet, Bolshevik and satirist.
Efim Pridvorov was born to a poor family in Hubivka village, in what is now Kirovohrad Oblast in Ukraine. He attended the village school followed by a feldsher training college in Kiev. This was followed by 4 years of military service. In 1904, he entered the philological and historical faculty of Petersburg University. His university years coincided with the heady times of the 1905 Revolution, and Pridvorov, like most students, became an ardent supporter of the revolution. From 1911 he began to be published in Communist newspapers, such as Pravda and in 1912 he joined the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (Bolsheviks). Also in 1911, he published the poem Of Demyan Bedny, which led to him being known by the name, and began a private correspondence with Vladimir Lenin which was said to develop into a long-lasting personal friendship. His first collected works were published in Basni (Fables) in 1913. During World War I, he once again saw service as a feldsher and was decorated.
He was a steadfast supporter of the Bolshevik cause throughout the Russian Revolution and Civil War, writing agitprop from the frontlines. For this he was decorated with the Order of the Red Banner in 1923, followed by the Order of Lenin in 1933. In the 1920s and 30s, he was very popular and variously supported by the Soviet regime. The town of Spassk, Penza Oblast was even renamed Bednodemyanovsk in his honour. After the civil war, Bedny became a writer of ardent anti-religious verse. In 1938, Bedny was stripped of membership in the Communist Party and the Union of Soviet Writers, but slowly he regained the favour of Stalin through the years of World War II. His poem commemorating the Soviet victory was published in Pravda on May 9, 1945. Bedny died two weeks later, on May 25.
- Bedny's caustic anti-religious poem New Testament without defects (Новый Завет без изъяна) may have inspired Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita as a rebuttal. In addition, his character was a prototype for Mikhail Berlioz and Bezdomny (Homeless) was a parody on Bedny's pseudonym.
- Bedny witnessed Fanni Kaplan's execution.
- Bedny amassed one of the largest private libraries in the Soviet Union (over 30 000 volumes), from which Stalin was known to borrow books on occasion.
- According to Nikita Khrushchev's memoirs, Bedny was his favourite poet.