Scorpion (publishing house)

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Scorpion (Скорпион) was a Russian publishing house which played an important role in the development of Russian Symbolism in the early 1900s.[1]


Scorpion was founded in 1899 by philanthropist and translator S. A. Polyakov, poets Valery Bryusov and Jurgis Baltrušaitis. Konstantin Balmont was said to be responsible to its title. The Scorpion's initial agenda was two-fold: to meet the already well-developed demand for the 'decadent' brand of literature and to form its own readership, recipient already to the "new art" of Russian modernism.[1]

The preface to Scorpion's first ever catalog stated: "The Scorpion publishing house has in mind mostly works of art, but also fields of history of literature and aesthetic criticism. Willing to stand above the existing literary trends, it eagerly accepts everything that has real poetry to it regardless of which literary school the author belongs to. It is only vulgar things that we tend to avoid. The Scorpion sees an important translating foreign artists that serve the 'new art'. Time has come to provide the reader the opportunity to form their own opinions on new trends in literature… Along with foreign authors Scorpion publishers works of Russian authors who explore such directions." [1]

The inclusion of the foreign literature into the Scorpion's fold was considered obligatory. This way the 'European context' of the Russian symbolism was being highlighted. Henrik Ibsen's When We Dead Awaken in March 1900, translated by Polyakov and Baltrušaitis, became the first foreign piece of work published by Scorpion.[1]

According to Bryusov, the Scorpion became the center of the New Art in Russia, having brought together two major centers of it: Moscow (Bryusov, Balmont, Andrei Bely) and Saint Petersburgh (Dmitry Merezhkovsky, Zinaida Gippius, Fyodor Sologub) which were gathering around the Severny Vestnik magazine.

Closely associated with Scorpion were painters of Mir iskusstva (Léon Bakst, Konstantin Somov) but also Victor Borisov-Musatov, Modest Durnov, Nikolai Feofilaktov and others.

Scorpion, which has never had neither commercial cuccess nor an Academic background, has had a decisive role in bringing the Russian symbolism into one single movement. The last ever book published by Scorpio was Poetry like Magic by Konstantin Balmont in 1915.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Издательство "Скорпион"". Retrieved 2010-07-01.