Nekrasov Nikolay Alexeevich

Nekrasov Nikolay Alexeevich (1821-1877/78) was a great Russian poet, best remembered as the long-standing publisher of Sovremennik (The Contemporary) (from 1846 until July 1866, when the journal was shut down by the government in connection with the arrest of its radical editor, Nikolai Chernyshevsky).

 
Nekrasov was born the son of a petty Russian officer and a Polish gentrywoman. He grew up on his father's estate, Greshnevo, Yaroslavl province, near the banks of the Volga River, where he observed the hard labor of the Russian barge haulers. This image of social injustice, so similar to Dostoevsky's childhood recollection of a beaten-upon courier, was compounded by the behavior of his tyrannical father. The latter's drunken rages against both his peasants and his wife determined the subject matter of Nekrasov's major poems—a verse portrayal of the plight of the Russian peasant, using his language and ideas.

 

Nekrasov was a poor student, reaching only the fifth grade at his local gymnasium. In 1838 his father, bent on a military career for his son, sent the 16-year-old Nekrasov to Petersburg for officer training. He quickly lost interest in the military academy and came in contact with students there, including a friend from his school days. He was encouraged to study for the university entrance exams. Though failing to score high enough be admitted as a full time student, he was able to audit classes, which he did from 1839 to 1841. Having quit the army in favor of his studies, Nekrasov's father stopped sending him money, and Nekrasov lived in extreme want, briefly living in a homeless shelter. Shortly thereafter Nekrasov authored his first collection of poetry, Dreams and Sounds, published under the name "N. N."

 

He represented the life of common people of cities and the life of Russian peasantry, destiny of Russian women. His poems "Red-Nosed Frost Grandfather" (1864), "Russian Women" (1871-1872), "Who lives happy in the Russia" (1866-1876). Nekrasov's poetry was closely connected with folklore and had a great influence upon the Russian literature. The last years of his life are dedicated to the magazine "Otechestvennie zapiski" (Fatherland's notes).

 

Nekrasov's most important work was Кому на Руси жить хорошо? (Who is Happy in Russia?) (1873-1876). It tells the story of seven peasants who set out to ask various elements of the rural population if they are happy, to which the answer is never satisfactory. The poem is noted for its rhyme scheme: "several unrhymed iambic tetrameters ending in a Pyrrhic are succeeded by a clausule in iambic trimeter" (Terras 319). This scheme resembles Russian folk song.

 

Several poems by Nekrasov translated into English

http://armenianhouse.org/blackwell/nekrasov.html