Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Mikhail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov (SHOH-loh-kof), epic novelist of the Cossacks, was born in Kruzhilino, a small village near Veshenskaya on the river Don; he was the eighth child in the family. His father was a farmer, a cattle buyer, a clerk, and later the owner of a power mill. The family was of modest means, but the parents nevertheless managed to send the boy to school near Moscow. Sholokhov’s mother, half Turkish and half Cossack, was an illiterate woman of strong determination; she learned to read and write in order to be able to correspond with her son while he was away at school.
Sholokhov, forced to leave his school at Voronezh because of the German invasion, returned to his home when he was fifteen. His plans to teach school upset by the revolution, he was assigned by the Bolsheviks to various jobs, among them assignments in a statistical bureau, as a freight handler, as a food inspector, and as a mason. In 1922, during bandit raids in the region, he participated in some of the fighting.
When he was eighteen he began to write for various newspapers and magazines, and he wrote some short fiction before beginning his long novel and eventual masterpiece, the Don Cossack tetralogy, which was translated into English as And Quiet Flows the Don and The Don Flows Home to the Sea before the whole was combined as The Silent Don in 1942. This monumental work, composed over a...
(The entire section is 625 words.)
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Biography (Critical Survey of Long Fiction, Fourth Edition)
Born on May 24, 1905, in the Cossack village of Kruzhilino near Veshenskaya, Mikhail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov was himself not a true Cossack. His father, Aleksandr Mikhailovich, did not marry his mother, Anastasiya Danilovna Chernikova, until 1912, when Sholokhov’s birth was legitimated and the Cossack status he had held from his mother’s first husband was abrogated. Nevertheless, he grew up in the customs and traditions of the Cossack world that he was later to convey with such realism to his readers. His early education in his native village was minimal when he left for a year in Moscow in 1914. Financial reasons precluded his continuing, but he was subsequently enrolled in an eight-year Gymnasium (college-preparatory secondary school) in Boguchar. The German invasion of 1918 marked the end of his formal education but did not interrupt his love of reading and writing.
In the years between 1918 and 1922, Sholokhov worked for the new Soviet regime in many capacities, especially grain-requisitioning, and wrote plays for young people. His home was in an area controlled by the Whites. He saw much violence, participated in it himself, and was twice at the point of being killed. This experience is reflected especially in the violence and objectivity of The Silent Don, where Grigorii broods confusedly on the injustices committed by both sides.
In 1922, Sholokhov married Maria Petrovna Gromoslavskaya, the daughter of a well-to-do and long-established Cossack family. She was to prove an ideal “comrade” for him. The couple, who would have four children, moved to Moscow, where Sholokhov began his first serious...
(The entire section is 676 words.)