History of Literature

Russian literature


Yury Olesha


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Yuri K. OleshaYuri K. Olesha (Russian: Юрий Карлович Олеша, March 3 [O.S. February 19] 1899 – May 10, 1960) was a Russian and Soviet novelist. He is considered to have been one of the greatest Russian novelists of the 20th-century, one of the few to have succeeded in writing works of lasting artistic value despite the stifling censorship of the era. His works are delicate balancing-acts that superficially send pro-Communist messages but reveal far greater subtlety and richness upon a deeper reading. Sometimes, he is grouped with his friends Ilf and Petrov, Isaac Babel, and Sigismund Krzhizhanovsky into the Odessa School of Writers.

Olesha was born in Elizavetgrad (now Kirovohrad, Ukraine). He was raised in Odessa where he moved with his family in 1902, and he studied in the University of Novorossiya in 1916-1918. Three authors that influenced him most were H. G. Wells, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Leo Tolstoy. In Russia, Olesha's name is familiar for the fairy tale Three Fat Men (1924), which Olesha turned into a play in 1930 and Aleksey Batalov made into a movie in 1967. In English-speaking countries, he has been known for two books of short-stories that have appeared in English, Love and Other Stories and The Cherrystone - both concerned with dreams of adolescence. But his artistic reputation rests primarily upon his 1927 novel Envy, which he turned into the play Zagovor chuvstv (Conspiracy of feelings) in 1929.

As Soviet literary policy became more and more rigid, the ambiguity[clarification needed] in Olesha's work became unacceptable. Less than a decade after the publication of Envy, he was condemned by the literary establishment, and fearing arrest he ceased writing anything of literary value. Olesha died in 1960, too early to benefit from the later loosening of censorship. His remarkable diaries were published posthumously under the title No Day without a Line.



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