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Andrey Bely

Andrey Bely

Andrei Bely (born Boris Bugaev) was a Russian novelist, poet, theorist, communist, and literary critic. His novel Petersburg was considered by Vladimir Nabokov as one of the four greatest novels of the 20th century. Born into a prominent intellectual family, Bely was a polymath whose interests included mathematics, biology, chemistry, music, philosophy, and literature. As a young man, Bely was strongly influenced by his acquaintance with the family of philosopher Vladimir Solovyov, especially Vladimir’s younger brother Mikhail, described in his long autobiographical poem The First Encounter. It was Mikhail Solovyov who gave Bugaev his pseudonym Andrei Bely. Bely’s symbolist novel Petersburg is generally considered to be his masterpiece. The book employs a striking prose method in which sounds often evoke colors. The novel is set in the somewhat hysterical atmosphere of turn-of-the-century Petersburg and the Russian Revolution of 1905. In his later years Bely was influenced by Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophy and became a personal friend of Steiner’s. He supported the Bolshevik rise to power and later dedicated his efforts to Soviet culture, serving on the Organizational Committee of the Union of Soviet Writers. He died, aged 53, in Moscow.

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