Leskov, Nikolai Semyonovich

Leskov, Nikolai Semyonovich nyĭkəlī´ sĭmyô´nəvĭch lyĭskôf´ [key], 1831–95, Russian short-story writer and novelist. Leskov was first a civil servant, then an agent for his uncle's business. Encouraged by his uncle he became a journalist and writer of narrative tales, told in a colorful, vital, and humorous style. An early story of sex and violence, Lady Macbeth of the Mzinsk District (1866; tr. in The Sentry, 1922), was used by Shostakovich as the basis of an opera (1934). Cathedral Folk (1872, tr. 1924) is a panoramic novel emphasizing the strengths of the provincial clergy and the faults of church bureaucracy. The brilliance of Leskov's narration transcended his frequent attempts to serve an idea.

See translations of his tales by W. B. Edgerton (1969), D. Magarshack (1946, repr. 2003), and R. Pevear and L. Volokhonsky (2013).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Russian and Eastern European Literature: Biographies