Andrey Bely - Biography

leading theorist and poet of Russian Symbolism, a literary school deriving from the Modernist movement in western European art and literature and an indigenous Eastern Orthodox spirituality, expressing mystical and abstract ideals through allegories from life and nature.

Reared in an academic environment as the son of a mathematics professor, Bely was closely associated with Moscow’s literary elite, including the late 19th-century philosopher-mystic Vladimir Solovyov, whose eschatological thought (concerning the world’s purpose and final resolution) he absorbed. Carried by his idealism from harsh reality to speculative thought, Bely completed in 1901 his first major work, Severnaya simfoniya (1902; “The Northern Symphony”), a prose poem that represented an attempt to combine prose, poetry, music, and even, in part, painting. Three more “symphonies” in this new literary form followed. In other poetry he continued his innovative style and, by repeatedly using irregular metre (the “lame foot”), introduced Russian poetry to the formalistic revolution that was brought to fruition by his aesthetic colleague Aleksandr Blok. More in Andrey Bely (Russian poet) Britannica

Russian symbolist poet and theorist, memoirist, essayist and novelist, whose best-known work is Peterburg (1916, Petersburg), a baroque evocation of pre-revolutionary capital of Russia. Bely's masterpiece, with its playful use of language and literary experiments, has often been compared to James Joyce's Ulysses. The famous political thinker and essayist Isaiah Berlin has described Bely as "a man of strange and unheard-of insights - magical and a holy fool in the tradition of Russian Orthodoxy."

Complete works in Russian (Белый Андрей: Собрание сочинений) here.


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