Posts tagged Nikolai Minsky
From the 1947 edition of the Columbia Dictionary of Modern European Literature (purchased yesterday for $3 and opened at random):
Nikolai Maksimovich Minski [often Minsky] (pseud. of Nikolai Maksimovich Vilenkin, 1855-1937, Russian poet and philosopher), was born of poor Jewish parents at Glubokoye in the former Government of Vilna and took his degree in law at St. Petersburg. Minski began his literary career as a follower of Nekrasov [no one reads Nekrasov], but soon abandoned “civic” themes for an “art for art’s sake” attitude; he became the first of the Russian decadents, among whom he shared leadership with [Akim] Volynski and Merezhkovski, particularly as a philosopher. He was one of the organizers of the Religious-Philosophical Society (1902), which attracted the intellectuals among the believers. His ideas are set forth in the Nietzschean Pri svete sovesti (1890; By the Light of Conscience) and in Religiya budushchevo (1905; The Religion of the Future), which develops his concept of “meonism,” the religion of nonbeing, based on a mystic faith in conscience, sacrifice, and love, compounded with elements borrowed from Nietzsche and oriental mystics. His poetry is often a vehicle for his ideas, though in his later work he occasionally achieved a true synthesis of form and content. Minski was unfortunate in becoming a poet during a period of transition, and his chief importance lies in his preparing the ground for the later symbolists. Curiously enough, 1905 found Minski among the revolutionaries; he became the nominal head of Novaya zhizn (The New Life), Russia’s first legal Social Democratic newspaper, for which he wrote “A Hymn of the Workers.” His arrest terminated that period, and he left Russia for Paris. In exile, he wrote, among other things, a dramatic trilogy and a volume of criticism (1922, From Dante to Blok) and then lapsed into silence.