Faddey Bulgarin

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Faddey V. Bulgarin

Faddey Venediktovich Bulgarin (Russian: Фаддей Венедиктович Булгарин; Polish Jan Tadeusz Krzysztof Bulharyn, July 5 [O.S. June 24] 1789 – September 13 [O.S. September 1] 1859), was a Russian writer and journalist of Polish, Bulgarian and Albanian ancestry whose self-imposed mission was to popularize the authoritarian policies of Alexander I and Nicholas I.

Life and career[edit]

Bulgarin was born into a noble Polish family near Minsk, Belarus (then Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth). His father, one of Kosciuszko's associates, was exiled to Siberia for having assassinated a Russian general. Bulgarin was educated in a St. Petersburg military school, took part in the Battle of Friedland but was arrested for theft soon afterwards. While his regiment was stationed in Finland, Bulgarin deserted to Warsaw, but on the way was drafted to the Grande Armée. He fought under Napoleon's banners in the Peninsular War and the 1812 Lithuanian campaign. In 1812 Bulgarin was taken prisoner in Battle of Berezina and transported to Prussia. There is a 6-year lapse in his biography after that.

In 1820, Bulgarin travelled from Warsaw to St. Petersburg, where he published a critical review of Polish literature and started editing The Northern Archive. He also made friends with the playwright Alexander Griboyedov and the philologist Nicholas Gretsch. The latter helped him to edit the newspaper Northern Bee (1825–39), the literary journal Fatherland's Son (1825–59), and other reactionary periodicals.

Bulgarin's tomb in Tartu

Bulgarin's unscrupulous manners made him the most odious journalist in Russia. Alexander Pushkin, in particular, ridiculed him in a number of epigrams, changing his name to Figlyarin (from a Russian word for "clown"). Bulgarin retorted with epigrams, in which Pushkin's name was rendered as Chushkin (from the Russian word for "nonsense").

Inspired by Sir Walter Scott, Bulgarin wrote the Vyzhigin series of historical novels, which used to be popular in Russia and abroad. He followed these with two sententious novels about the False Dmitry[disambiguation needed] (1830) and Ivan Mazepa (1834). In 1837 he published under his own name a lengthy description of Imperial Russia, which was actually a work by Professor Nikolai Alexeyevich Ivanov of Dorpat University.

Some of Bulgarin's stories are science fiction: Probable Tall-Tales is a far future story about the 29th century; Improbable Tall-Tales is a fantastic voyage into hollow Earth; Mitrofanushka's Adventures in the Moon is a satire.

After Nicholas I's death, Bulgarin retired from the department of stud farms, in which he had been serving for many years, and withdrew to his manor in Karlova (Karlowa in German) near Tartu at the time, but now within the town.