Mikhail Zoshchenko

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Mikhail Zoshchenko
Born10 August [O.S. 29 July] 1894[1]
Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire[1]
Died22 July 1958(1958-07-22) (aged 63)[1]
Leningrad, USSR[1]
OccupationShort story writer, novelist, playwright, screenwriter
EducationSaint Petersburg University
Notable worksYouth Restored (1933)
Before Sunrise (1943)

Mikhail Mikhailovich Zoshchenko (Russian: Михаи́л Миха́йлович Зо́щенко; Ukrainian: Михайло Михайлович Зо́щенко;10 August [O.S. 29 July] 1894 – 22 July 1958) was a Soviet and Russian writer and satirist.


Zoshchenko was born in 1894, in Saint Petersburg, Russia, according to his 1953 autobiography. Other sources suggest that he was born in Poltava, in present-day Ukraine.[2] His Ukrainian father was an artist and a mosaicist responsible for the exterior decoration of the Suvorov Museum in Saint Petersburg.[3] His mother was Russian. The future writer attended the Faculty of Law at the Saint Petersburg University, but did not graduate due to financial problems. During World War I, Zoshchenko served in the army as a field officer, was wounded in action several times, and was heavily decorated.[1] In 1919, during the Russian Civil War, he served for several months in the Red Army before being discharged for health reasons.

Veniamin KaverinMikhail ZoshchenkoIlia GruzdevKonstantin FedinMikhail SlonimskyElizaveta PolonskayaNikolay NikitinNikolai TikhonovClick on icon to enlarge or move cursor to explore
Serapion Brothers[4] Use a cursor to see who is who.

He was associated with the Serapion Brothers and attained particular popularity in the 1920s as a satirist, but, after his denunciation in the Zhdanov decree of 1946, Zoshchenko lived in dire poverty. He was awarded his pension only a few months before he died.

Zoshchenko developed a simplified deadpan style of writing which simultaneously made him accessible to "the people" and mocked official demands for accessibility: "I write very compactly. My sentences are short. Accessible to the poor. Maybe that's the reason why I have so many readers."[5] Volkov compares this style to the nakedness of the Russian holy fool or yurodivy.

In 1940 Zoshchenko published a series of short stories for children about Vladimir Lenin.[6]


A critical anthology Мих. Зощенко: pro et contra, антология was published in 2015. It included a 1926 article by Iakov Moiseyevich Shafir.[7]

Selected bibliography (in English translation)[edit]

Zoshchenko in uniform, 1915/16.
  • A Man Is Not A Flea, trans. Serge Shishkoff, Ann Arbor, 1989.
  • Before Sunrise. Trans. Gary Kern, Ann Arbor, 1974.
  • Nervous People and Other Satires, ed. Hugh McLean, trans. Maria Gordon and Hugh McLean, London, 1963.
  • Scenes from the Bathhouse, trans. Sidney Monas, Ann Arbor, 1962.
  • Youth Restored. Trans. Joel Stern, Ann Arbor, 1984.
  • The Galosh. Trans. Jeremy Hicks, New York, 1996.
  • Sentimental Tales. Trans. Boris Dralyuk, New York, 2018.
  • Pассказы о Ленине ("Stories about Lenin". In Russian. Moscow, 1974.)


  1. ^ a b c d e Mikhail Mikhaylovich Zoshchenko. Encyclopaedia Britannica
  2. ^ "Mikhail Mikhaylovich Zoshchenko | Soviet Satirist & Author | Britannica". www.britannica.com. Retrieved 2023-07-04.
  3. ^ Zoshchenko, M. (1963) Nervous People and Other Satires, ed. Hugh McLean, trans. Maria Gordon and Hugh McLean, London. Introduction, p. viii
  4. ^ This photograph is in the public domain
  5. ^ Volkov, Solomon (2004). Shostakovich and Stalin: The Extraordinary Relationship Between the Great Composer and the Brutal Dictator. Knopf. p. 40. ISBN 0-375-41082-1.
  6. ^ "Рассказы о Ленине". 30 September 2000.
  7. ^ "Lib.ru/Классика: Шафир Яков Моисеевич. О юморе и юмористах (М. Зощенко)". az.lib.ru. az.lib.ru. Retrieved 9 May 2021.

Further reading[edit]

  • Scatton, Linda Hart (1993). Mikhail Zoshchenko: Evolution of a Writer. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-42093-8.

External links[edit]