Mikhail Sholokhov

From New World Encyclopedia

Mikhail Sholokhov in 1938

Mikhail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov (Russian: Михаи́л Алекса́ндрович Шо́лохов IPA: [mʲɪxʌˈil əlʲɪˈksandrəvʲɪtɕ ˈʂoləxəf]) (May 24 [O.S. May 11] 1905) - February 21, 1984) was a Soviet/Russian novelist and winner of the 1965 Nobel Prize in Literature. He was the most widely read author in the Soviet Union during the period of Socialist realism. His portrayal of the struggles of the Don Cossacks with the new Bolshevik government in And Quiet Flows the Don was praised for its gripping realism, in the tradition of the great Russian realist authors of the ninteenth century. The novel demonstrates how the Cossacks, although always a violent culture, were nonetheless corrupted by their struggle with the Bolsheviks. This was not a message that the government embraced but Stalin liked the book. Sholokhov would partially "atone" in his sequel, The Virgin Soil, which depicted the period of collectivization and the war on the kulaks, or "rich" peasants.

Life and work

Mikhail Sholokhov and his wife, 1924

Sholokhov was born in the Kamenskaya region of Russia, in the "land of the Cossacks" - the Kruzhlinin hamlet, part of stanitsa Veshenskaya, the former Region of the Don Cossack Army. His father was a member of the lower middle class, at times a farmer, cattle trader, and miller. Sholokhov's mother came from Ukrainian peasant stock and was the widow of a Cossack. She was illiterate but learned to read and write in order to correspond with her son. Sholokhov attended schools in Kargin, Moscow, Boguchar, and Veshenskaya until 1918, when he joined the side of the revolutionaries in the Russian civil war. He was only 13 years old.

Sholokhov began writing at 17. The Birthmark, Sholokhov's first story, appeared when he was 19. In 1922 Sholokhov moved to Moscow to become a journalist, but he had to support himself through manual labor. He was a stevedore, stonemason, and accountant from 1922 to 1924, but he also intermittently participated in writers' "seminars." His first work to appear in print was the satirical article "A Test" (1922).

In 1924 Sholokhov returned to Veshenskaya and devoted himself entirely to writing. In the same year he married Maria Petrovna Gromoslavskaia; they had two daughters and two sons.

His first book Tales from the Don, a volume of stories about the Cossacks of his native region during World War I and the Russian Civil War, was published in 1926. In the same year Sholokhov began writing And Quiet Flows the Don which took him fourteen years to complete (1926-1940), earning him the Stalin Prize. It became the most-read work of Soviet fiction and was heralded as a powerful example of socialist realism, and won him the 1965 Nobel Prize in Literature. Virgin Soil Upturned, which earned the Lenin Prize, took 28 years to complete. It was composed of two parts: Seeds of Tomorrow (1932) and Harvest on the Don (1960), and reflects life during collectivization in the Don area. The short story "The Fate of a Man" (1957) was made into a popular Russian film and his unfinished novel They Fought for Their Country is about the Great Patriotic War.

During World War II Sholokhov wrote about the Soviet war efforts for various journals.

His collected works was published in eight volumes between 1956 and 1960.

Sholokhov has been accused, by Alexander Solzhenitsyn among others, of plagiarizing And Quiet Flows the Don. The evidence was largely circumstantial: Sholokhov's age at the time of its composition and, in particular, the gulf in quality between his masterpiece and his other works. To complicate matters, Sholokhov could produce no rough drafts of Don, claiming that they had been destroyed by the Germans during World War II. A 1984 monograph by Geir Kjetsaa and others demonstrated through computer study that Sholokhov was indeed the likely author of Don. And in 1987, several thousand pages of notes and drafts of the work were discovered and authenticated.

Party and state activities

Monument to Mikhail Sholokhov in Rostov-on-Don

Sholokhov joined the CPSU in 1932, and in 1937 he was elected to the Supreme Soviet. In 1959 he accompanied Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev on a trip to Europe and the United States. He became a member of the CPSU Central Committee in 1961, Academician of the USSR Academy of Sciences in 1939, and was a member of the USSR Supreme Soviet. He was twice awarded Hero of Socialist Labor, and later became vice president of the Association of Soviet Writers.

And Quiet Flows the Don

And Quiet Flows the Don
Author Mikhail Sholokhov
Original title Tikhii Don/Тихий дон (part 1)
Translator Stephen Garry
Country USSR
Language Russian
Genre(s) Novel
Publisher Alfred A. Knopf (Eng. trans. USA)
Released 1928 and 1940 (in serial) & 1934 (this volume in book form)
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
ISBN ISBN 1589633121 (2001 English translation)
Followed by The Don Flows Home to the Sea

And Quiet Flows the Don (1934) is the first part of Shokholov's great Don epic (Tikhii Don / Тихий дон). It originally appeared in serialized form between 1928 and 1940. The English translation of the first half of this monumental work appeared under this title in 1934.

Plot Summary

The novel deals with the life of the Cossack peoples living in the Don river valley around the early twentieth century, prior to World War I. The plot revolves around the Melekhov family of Tatarsk, who are descendants of a prominent soldier who, to the horror of many, took a Turkish female captive as a wife and started a family with her. His descendants, who are the protagonists of the story, are therefore often nicknamed "Turks." Nevertheless, they command a high amount of respect among people in Tatarsk. The second eldest son of the house, Gregori Melekhov, is a promising young soldier who falls in love with Aksinia, the wife of a family friend. Their romance and elopement raises a feud between her husband and his family. The outcome of this romance is the focus of the plot as well as the impending World War which draws up the best young Cossack men for what will be one of Russia's bloodiest wars.

Literary significance & criticism

An epic novel, it is often compared to War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. Like the Tolstoy novel, And Quiet Flows the Don covers a panorama of Russian life during a time of crisis and examines it through both political, military, romantic, and civilian lenses. The novel won the Stalin Prize in 1941 and its author won the Nobel Prize in 1965. The novel has been adapted for television screen three times, in 1931 by Ivan Pravov and Olga Preobrazhenskaya, in 1957 by Sergei Gerasimov (starring Elina Bystritskaya) and in 1992-1993 by Sergei Bondarchuk (starring Rupert Everett).

Release details

  • 1934, USA: Alfred A. Knopf, 1934, hardback (First English trans.) edition
  • 1934, UK: Putnam, 1934, hardback
  • 1977, USSR: Progress Press, 1974, hardback , 4 volumes (in Russian)

Selected writings

  • Donskie Rasskazy, Tales of the Don [1925] Khudozhestvennaia literatura (1987) ASIN: B0000D64PM (in Russian)
  • Lazurevaja Step, 1926
  • Tikhii Don, 4 vol., 1928-1940 (The Silent Don) - And Quiet Flows the Don, 1934 - The Don Flows Home to the Sea, 1940 - best English translation appeared under the title of Quiet Flows the Don in 1966 - film 1957-1958, dir. Sergei Gerasimov, starring P. Glebov, L. Khityaeva, Z. Kirienko and E. Bystrltskaya
  • And Quiet Flows the Don, New York: Random House, [1934] 1966. ISBN 9780394415208 ISBN: 0394415205 New York: Knopf, Translated From The Russian By Stephen Garry, 1934.
  • Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1967, 4 Volumes.
  • Podnyataya Tselina, 1932-1960 - Virgin Soil Upturned, 1935 - Harvest on the Don, 1960
  • Oni Srazhalis Za Rodinu, 1942 - They Fought for Their Country
  • Nauka Nenavisti, 1942 - Hate / The Science of Hatred
  • Slovo O Rodine, 1951
  • Sudba Cheloveka, 1956-1957 - The Fate of a Man - film 1959, dir. by Sergei Bondarchuk, starring Sergei Bondarchuk, Pavlik Boriskin, Zinaida Kirienko, Pavel Volkov, Yuri Avelin, K. Alekseev
  • Sobranie Sochinenii, 1956-1958 - collected works, 8 vols.
  • Oni Srazhalis Za Rodinu, 1959 - They Fought for their Country
  • Sobranie Sochinenii, 1962 - collected works, 8 vols.
  • Early Stories, 1966
  • One Man's Destiny, and Other Stories, Articles, and Sketches, 1923-1963, 1967
  • Fierce and Gentle Warriors, 1967
  • Po Veleniju Duši, At the Bidding of the Heart 1970
  • Sobranie Sochinenii, 1975, 8 vols.
  • Rossiya V Serdtse, 1975
  • SLOVO O RODINE, 1980
  • Collected Works, 1984, 8 vols.
  • Sobranie Sochinenii, 1985, collected works, 8 vols.
  • Sholokhov I Stalin, 1994

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Brown, Edward J. Russian Literature Since the Revolution, Harvard University Press, 1982. ISBN 0674782046
  • Terras, Victor. A History of Russian Literature, Yale University Press, 1991. ISBN 0300059345

External links

All links retrieved November 9, 2022.


New World Encyclopedia writers and editors rewrote and completed the Wikipedia article in accordance with New World Encyclopedia standards. This article abides by terms of the Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3.0 License (CC-by-sa), which may be used and disseminated with proper attribution. Credit is due under the terms of this license that can reference both the New World Encyclopedia contributors and the selfless volunteer contributors of the Wikimedia Foundation. To cite this article click here for a list of acceptable citing formats.The history of earlier contributions by wikipedians is accessible to researchers here:

The history of this article since it was imported to New World Encyclopedia:

Note: Some restrictions may apply to use of individual images which are separately licensed.