Alexander Vasilievich Sukhovo-Kobylin was born in Moscow, Russia, on an estate belonging to his family, on September 17, 1817. His father, Vasily, was a colonel who had fought in the War of 1812 and was a well-read and a religious man. His mother, Marya, from the aristocratic Shepelev family, turned her Moscow home into a salon to which scholars, artists, and writers were drawn. She was a cultivated woman who was particularly interested in French philosophical literature, some of which she translated into Russian. All of her children achieved at least a modest degree of success; Alexander’s older sister Elizaveta was a well-known author in the later 1800’s (writing under the pen name of Evgeniya Tur), and his younger sister was a landscape painter of note.
Sukhovo-Kobylin excelled in philosophical studies at Moscow University, obtaining a gold medal for excellence in 1838. He was especially interested in the study of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, but he dropped his preoccupation with philosophy when he plunged into society life during the late 1830’s and early 1840’s. While on a visit to Paris, Sukhovo-Kobylin met Louise Simon-Dimanche and brought her back to Russia as his mistress. His subsequent passion for Countess Naryshkina altered his relationship with Louise, but before she was able to return to France, she was found brutally murdered on November 9, 1850. It was this murder and Sukhovo-Kobylin’s resultant involvement in the legal...
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