Mikhail Zoshchenko Biography


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Mikhail Mikhailovich Zoshchenko was born on August 10, 1895, in Poltava, Russia, to a lower-gentry, landowning family. His father was a painter of Ukrainian origin, and his mother was a Russian actress. Zoshchenko was graduated in 1913 from a high school in St. Petersburg, the city where he spent most of his life; one of the worst grades he received was in Russian composition. Later, he studied law at the University of Petersburg. World War I interrupted his studies, and he volunteered for service in the czarist army, became an officer, and was injured and gassed in 1916. In 1917, he volunteered again, this time for the Red Army, although his military duties were limited because of his former injuries. After the revolution, Zoshchenko settled in St. Petersburg (later Leningrad), trying several professions and not settling on any of them until he decided to be a freelance writer. For short periods of time he was a railroad ticket agent, a border-guard telephone operator, an instructor in rabbit and poultry raising, a militiaman, a census taker, a detective, a carpenter, a shoemaker, a clerk-typist, and a professional gambler, among other professions. This plethora of jobs served Zoshchenko later as a source of material for his stories; it also explains the authenticity of his fiction as well as his deep understanding of human nature. In 1921, he joined the famous literary group of writers calling themselves the Serapion Brothers, who gathered periodically to discuss...

(The entire section is 575 words.)