ZOSHCHENKO NO. 1My father was an artist; my mother, an actress. I mention this because in Poltava there are still Zoshchenkos. For example, Egor Zoshchenko, a woman's tailor. In Melitopol there is the obstetrician and gynecologist Zoshchenko. Thus I declare: I am not related to them; I am not acquainted with them; and I do not wish to become acquainted with them.
"About Myself, Ideology, and Other Things"
Because of them--I'll tell you plainly--I don't even want to be a famous writer. Without fail, they'll come to visit. They'll read, and they'll come. I already had an aunt from Ukraine come.
In general it's hard to be a writer. Let's say, also, there's ideology. Nowadays they demand ideology from a writer. So Vronsky1 writes:
...Writers must "more exactly establish themselves ideologically."
This, really, for me is an unpleasantness!
What kind of "exact ideology" can I have when not a single party as a whole attracts me?
From the point of view of party people, I'm a non-party person. So be it. I'll say this about myself: I'm not a communist, I'm not an S-R, I'm not a monarchist; I'm simply a Russian. And moreover--politically immoral.
I give you my honest word, to this day I don't know, well, let's take Guchkov2.... What party is Guchkov in? The devil knows what party he belongs to. I know he's not a Bolshevik; but if he's an S-R or a Cadet I don't know and I don't want to know. And even if I do find out, I'll love Pushkin just as much.
Many people are offended by this. (Such innocence, they'll say, has been preserved after three revolutions.) But that's the way it is. And this ignorance is a joy for me all the same.
I have no hatred for anyone. There's my "exact ideology".
But even more exact? More exact, okay. In the general scheme of things, I'm closest of all to the Bolsheviks. And I'm quite willing to Bolshevize with them.
And who should be a Bolshevik if not me?
I "don't believe in God." I find it funny, even incomprehensible, that an intelligent man would go to the church of Paraskeva Pyatnitsa and pray there to a painted drawing.
I'm not a mystic. I don't love old women. I don't recognize blood relations. And I love the muzhiks' Russia.
So in this I'm on the same path as the Bolsheviks.
But I'm not a communist (not a Marxist, more truthfully) and I think that I never will be one.
I'm 27 years old. However, Olenka Ziv3 thinks I'm younger. But all the same, that's the way it is.
In 1913 I enrolled in university. In 1914 I traveled to the Caucasus. In Kislovodsk I fought a duel with the lawyer K. After this I immediately felt that I was an extraordinary person, a hero, an adventurist--I volunteered for the war. I was an officer. I won't say anything further, otherwise I'll start to rob myself. Currently I am writing "Notes of a Former Officer"--not about myself, of course--but everything will be there. It'll even have how once, during the revolution, I was locked in a refrigerator with apartment-meister Khorun.
After the Revolution, I wandered through many places in Russia. I was a carpenter, went trapping in Novaya Zemlya, was an apprentice shoemaker, served as a telephone operator, served as a policeman at the Ligovo station, was a criminal investigative agent, card player, office worker, actor, was again at the front as a volunteer in the Red Army.
I haven't been a doctor. However, that's not true. I was a doctor. In 1917, after the Revolution, the soldiers elected me as senior doctor, although at that time I was commanding a battalion. This occurred because the regimental senior doctor was somewhat stingy in giving soldiers sick leave. I seemed more compliant to them.
I'm not laughing. I'm speaking seriously.
Here is a dry table of the events in my life:
arrested -- 6 times,
sentenced to death -- 1 time;
wounded -- 3 times;
committed suicide -- 2 times;
got beaten up -- 3 times;
All this happened not because of adventurism, but "just like that"--no luck.
Recently I earned some heart trouble for myself and because of this, probably, I became a writer. Otherwise I would've still been a pilot.
Oh, I almost forgot. I wrote a book. Some stories, "Raznotyk" (I haven't published them; maybe I publish part of them.) Another book of mine, Stories of Nazar Ilych Mister Sniebriukha, is on sale. I think it's on sale at the bird trust, because I haven't seen it in the windows of book stores.
This book was distributed in two copies. One was purchased by a good person, Zoya Gatskevich; the other probably by Mogilyansky4. For a review. Guber5 wanted to buy the third book, but he changed his mind.
Among contemporary writers, I can only read myself and Lunacharsky.
Among contemporary poets, dear editor, I like most of all Olenka Ziv3 and Neldikhen.6
As for Guchkov, I just don't know.
ZOSHCHENKO NO. 2I was born in 1895. In the last century! This distresses me terribly.
I was born in the 19th century! Probably because of this I lack sufficient courtesy and a romantic view of our days -- I'm a humorist.
I know very little about myself.
I don't even know where I was born. Either in Poltava or in Petersburg. One document says one thing, another document says the other, Apparently, one of the documents is a forgery. It's hard to figure out which is the forgery, because they were both made so poorly.
There's even confusion with the years. One document says 1895, the other says 1896. Definitely a forgery.
I have had a lot of professions. I always speak of this without irony. Even with some surprise at myself.
The most interesting professions--besides the most varied military ones--were:
1. Student at Petrograd University.
2. Commandant of Post Office and Telegraph (under Kerensky).
3. Agent of Criminal Investigation. (Leningrad-Oranienbaum district).
4. Instructor of Rabbit- and Chicken-breeding. (Smolensk guberniya, city of Krasny, "Mankovo" Sovkhoz.)
5. Sentry militia-man. (In Ligovo).
6. Border Guard Telephone Operator.
8. Clerk for the Petrograd Military Port.
There were many other professions. I can't remember them all.
Among other things, the shoemaker trade. I love this peaceful, noble trade. For almost an entire year (1920) I was apprentice to the shoemaker Voskresensky (or Voznesenksy) on Vasilevsky Island, on bus line number 2, opposite Rumyantsevsky Square.
Once I had this encounter. A man in a caped cloak came into our basement. I started talking with him. He called himself the writer N. Shebuev.7 I didn't shake his hand, but I talked for a long time about something. At the time, I was a completely unknown youth. I was not occupied with literature. On my knees, on a green apron, lay some women's boots which I was repairing. And because of this, no doubt, I didn't give Shebuev my name. I imagine with what great surprise N. Shebuev will read these lines!
The second time N.Shebuev came to us, it was with his wife. Again we talked about something for a long time. However, I didn't repair his shoes. The boss did.
The most magnificent employment I has was in 1917. After the February Revolution. I was commandant of posts and telegraph in Petrograd. I had a horse placed at my disposal. And a droshky. And a room at the Astoria.
I appeared for a half hour at the main post office, carelessly signed some papers, and jauntily departed in my droshky.
During this life, I met a multitude of astonishing and noteworthy people. For example, Gorky. Once I met Shalyapin at Gorky's. I was acquainted with Dm. Tsenzor.8 Sometimes I encountered Lipatov. Twice I sat in a beer hall with Sergei Esenin. On Mikhailovsky street.
The old man Esenin noticed us
And, descending into the grave, blessed us.9
I never managed to see Rabindranat Tagor.10 But I firmly believe that I will meet this respected elder.
Nowadays my biography is rather meager. A writer. It seems this will be the last profession in my life. I'm sorry that I stopped on this profession.
It's a very bad profession, the devil take it! The worst of the twelve that I know.
ZOSHCHENKO NO. 3I was born in 1895 (10 August) in Poltava. My father was an artist-Peredvizhnik11. (His paintings are in the Tretyakov Gallery and the Suvorov Museum.)
(5 July 1953)
May father was from the hereditary nobility and a Ukrainian. My mother was Russian.
I graduated from the 8th gymnasium in Petersburg (in 1913) and continued my studies at Petersburg University (law faculty).
In 1915 (after completing accelerated military courses) I went to the front with the rank of ensign.
I spent two years at the front. I took part in many battles, was wounded, and poisoned with gas. I held four battle awards and the rank of staff-captain.
Between 1915 and 1917 I had the responsibilities of regimental adjutant, the commander of a company and a battalion, the 16th grenadiers, Mingrelsky regiment, Kavkaz division. After the February Revolution, I served in Petrograd as commandant of the Main Post Office and Telegraph, and later--in September of 1917--I was an adjutant in the Arkhangel militia.
After October, I returned to Petrograd and served in the border guards, in Strelno and Kronstadt.
In September 1918 I was transferred from the border guards to the active army and was at the front until the spring of 1919 in the 1st model Village Poverty regiment (regimental adjutant).
In April of 1919 I was demobilized because of heart problems and removed from the military rolls. Beginning in April 1919 I served as an investigator in the Criminal Inspectorate (Ligovo-Oranienbaum).
In 1920 I joined the Petrograd Military Port as a clerk. In this same year I took up literary work.
The first book of my stories was issued in 1921 (by Erato Publishers).
Over the following twenty years, a large number of my books were published; I am in no condition to list them all. From my larger works I can only note: Sentimental Tales (1923-1936), Youth Restored (1933), Sky-Blue Book (1935) and Historical Tales ("Black Prince", "Kerensky", "Retribution").
In 1941 (at the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, prior to October) I worked for Leningrad newspapers, radio, and the journal Krokodil.
In October of 1941 I was evacuated to Alma-Ata. There, until the spring of 1943, I worked in a script studio (Mosfilm) and wrote a script (Soldier's Luck), which was approved by the film committee and put into production (1943). (This script was published in the one-volume collection of my works issued in 1946 by Gosizdat.)
In March of 1943 I returned to Moscow and worked as a member of the editorial board of the journal Krokodil.
In the autumn of 1943, in the journal October, I published my tale Before Sunrise, which was subjected to sharp criticism.
In the years 1944-1946 I worked for theaters. Two of my comedies were staged in the Leningrad Dramatic Theater. One of them (The Canvas Briefcase) held up for 200 performances in 1945 and 1946.
In August of 1946 (after the decree of the Central Committee on the journals Zvezda and Leningrad), I was expelled from the Union of Soviet Writers. In the years 1936-1952 I was occupied, mainly, with translations. Four books were published in my translation: 1. M. Lassila12, For Matches, 2. M. Lassila Arisen from the Dead, 3. Antti Timonen13, From Karelia to the Carpathians, 4. M. Tsagaraev14, "Tale of the Kolkhoz Carpenter Sago" (in publications by Gosizdat KFSSR and Soviet Writer, Moscow).
In June 1953 I was again accepted into the Union of Soviet Writers.
At the present time, I am working in the satiric genre for the journals Krokodil and Ogonyok. Besides this, I work for the theater and am writing a book of stories.
5 July 1953.
1 [A.K. Vronsky, 1884-1943?, editor of the literary journal Red Virgin Soil]
2[A.I. Guchkov, 1862-1936, head of the Octobrists, minister in the Provisional Government; emigrated after the October Revolution.]
3O.M. Ziv, 1904-1963; journalist and prose writer, whose early poetry has left no mark in the history of Russian literature.]
4[M. Mogilyansky, critic for the paper Literary Notes (Literaturniye zapiski)]
5[P.K. Guber, 1886-1941?, literary historian and prose writer.]
6[S.E. Neldikhen, poet who wrote for both children and adults; despised by Khodasevich and Gumilev.]
7[N.G. Shebuev (1874-137), literary and political journalist.]
8[D.M. Tsenzor, 1877-1947, satiric poet.]
9[A joking reference to a line in Pushkin's Evgenii Onegin, "Old man Derzhavin noticed us....]
10[Rabindranat Tagor, Indian poet and teacher, winner of the 1913 Nobel Prize for Literature.]
11Peredvizhnik, member of a late 19th-century school of Russian realistic painting.
12[M. Lassila, Maiju Lassila, pseudonyn of Finnish author, journalist, and revolutionary Algot Untola, 18xx-1918.]
13[Antii Timonen, 1915-1990, Karelian prose writer and dramatist.]
14[Maksim N. Tsagaraev, Ossetian writer, born 1916.]