January 01, 2019

Grampa Krylov

Grampa Krylov
Portait of the poet Ivan Andreyevich Krylov (Johann Leberecht Eggink, 1832)

Ivan Andreyevich Krylov is truly a people’s poet, better known in Russia even than Pushkin. It would be hard to find a Russian unable to come up with three or four quotes from his fables. Despite his fame, however, no one is quite sure when he was born, yet early in life he made himself the stuff of legend. The memoirs of his contemporaries abound with stories about Krylov, many of which revolve around his notorious laziness, slovenliness, and passion for food (see Cuisine, page 62).

When Ivan was a child, his father was posted at the Yaitsk military base (in what is now northwestern Kazakhstan) during the 1773 Pugachev uprising. Ivan and his mother stayed in the nearby city of Orenburg, which wound up being besieged by rebel forces.  (When Pushkin was working on his History of Pugachev, he used Krylov as a source.)

The Krylov family was poor, and after his father’s death in 1778, the future poet struggled to establish himself. While working as a low-level clerk in Tver, he lived in the home of the renowned architect and Enlightenment thinker, Nikolai Lvov, and was occasionally called on to act as servant. In 1782 he left for St. Petersburg, where he lived in the Lvovs’ Petersburg residence for a year before he found himself a position as a clerk, and later as a secretary in the city’s treasury. This job enabled him to send for his mother and young brother. After his mother’s death in 1786, he took care of his brother for many years.

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See Also

The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar (bilingual)

The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar (bilingual)

The fables of Ivan Krylov are rich fonts of Russian cultural wisdom and experience – reading and understanding them is vital to grasping the Russian worldview. This new edition of 62 of Krylov’s tales presents them side-by-side in English and Russian. The wonderfully lyrical translations by Lydia Razran Stone are accompanied by original, whimsical color illustrations by Katya Korobkina.
Ivan Krylov

Ivan Krylov

Ivan Andreyevich Krylov was born in 1769 into a family that was situated at the very bottom of the noble class. His father died when he was ten, leaving him virtually no money. But Krylov did inherit a trunk full of books. Virtually lacking any formal education, in his teens Krylov had the good fortune to impress a professional writer with his literary talent.

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