Fadeev, Aleksandr, Aleksandrovich. Born 11 December 1901 in
Krimy on Volga, east of Tver. His father, Aleksandr Ivanovich Fadeev, a peasant
by birth, became a village teacher.
But because of his revolutionary activities, he soon lost his job. The writer's
mother, Antonina Vladimirovna, was a doctor's assistant. The family was forced
to move around, and their stops included Kursk and Vilno.
In 1905, Fadeev's parents separated. The boy remained with his mother, who, in 1907, was married to Gleb Vladislavovich Svitych. Again the family moved, this time to Ufa, then to the far east region of Ussuri in 1908. He went to the village school in Sarovka, near Iman close to the Manchurian border. Later, the family moved to the village of Chuguevka, approximately 150 miles north of Vladivostok.
In September 1911, Fadeev entered the Vladivostok Commercial Academy. He spent his winters studying in Vladivostok, and his summers in Chuguevka.
In 1918, with the Civil War beginning, American and Japanese invasion forces landed in Vladivostok. Fadeev became involved in the Bolshevik underground, and officially joined the Party in September of that same year. In the spring of 1919, Fadeev left school without taking his final exams and joined the partisans east of Vladivostok. He saw action at Khabarovsk and Spassk and was wounded in April 1920. After recuperating, Fadeev was sent to joined the Red Army in the Transbaikal region as a political commissar.
In February 1921, Fadeev went to Moscow as a delegate to the 10th All-Russian Party Congress. Later, he took part in the suppression of the Kronstadt rebellion and was again wounded. He was demobilized and entered the Academy of Mines in Moscow in September 1921.
During his time at the Mining Academy, Fadeev combined Party work with a budding literary interest. He was a regional Party instructor and the Party secretary for a factory. In early 1922, he began work on the story The Flood (Razliv), which was eventually published in 1924. The Flood is set in a far eastern village between the February and October Revolutions of 1917 and tells of the struggle to win the hearts and minds of the villagers for the Bolsheviks. The story received mixed reviews, and was criticized for having weak characters and a disjointed style.
Written in 1923 but published before The Flood is Fadeev's story Against the Current (Protiv techeniya). It tells of the desertion of a group of partisans during the Civil War. It was favorably reviewed, praised for its well-rounded characterization and avoidance of stereotypes.
In the spring of 1924 Fadeev left the Mining Academy and went south to Kradnodar to help in the political education of the region's youth. He soon found himself appointed as the local Party secretary. In September 1924 he was transferred to Rostov-on-Don for Party and journalistic work. He became editor of the newspaper Soviet South (Sovetskii iug).
In 1925 he married Valeriya Anatolevna Gerasimova, who was also a writer.
Also in 1925, Fadeev began work on his first great success, the novel The Rout (Razgrom). Parts of the work were published in various journals in 1925 and 1926, and it came out as a separate volume in 1927. Partially based on the author's own experiences, The Rout follows a detachment of Red Army partisans in the Far East as they flee from pursuing Cossacks and Japanese interventionist forces during the Civil War. In the course of the novel's action, jealousy and lust threaten comradely relations, the essence of a true leader is examined, and the harmful effect of the Maximalist deviation is made apparent. In this novel, Fadeev strove to tell an exciting adventure story in the style of Robert Louis Stevenson while maintaining a proper political orientation. Most critics reacted positively to the work, but some of the far left saw it as a betrayal of the Revolutionary cause and of Bolshevism, accusing Fadeev of falling under the pernicious influence of Lev Tolstoy, of emphasizing the inner life of the characters, of presenting the positive hero with ambiguities, and, in fact, of failing to make an overt political statement.
At the end of 1926, Fadeev was appointed to the executive board of VAPP, the All-Union Association of Proletarian Writers. He also joined the editorial boards of the journals Oktyabr (October) and Na literaturnom postu (On Literary Guard). Then, in 1931 after Aleksandr Voronsky, the liberal editor of Krasnaya nov' (Red Virgin Soil) was sacked, Fadeev was appointed to replace him. While Fadeev remained orthodox and committed to Party policy, he created a bit of controversy when he permitted Krasnaya Nov to publish the writing of Andrei Platonov.
During this time, Fadeev penned numerous articles on literary theory. He called for a synthesis of the subjective, intuitive approach of "idealists" with the "precise fixation of the facts" preferred by some on the extreme left.
Fadeev was one of the leading members of the Union of Soviet Writers when it was formed in 1932. In May 1933 he was elected one of its deputy chairmen. At the Union's first Congress in August 1932, Fadeev delivered a speech on the problems of socialist realism. He was elected to the presidium and was clearly second in influence only to Maksim Gorky.
Throughout the 1930s, Fadeev struggled to work on what he intended as his "magnum opus", The Last of the Udegs (Poslednii iz Udege). This novel is set among the primitive Udeg people of Far Eastern Russian during the Civil War and period of Japanese intervention. Not only does it trace the lives of various characters of various ideologies, but it was only designed to show the transformation of the Udeg people under socialism. By 1932, Fadeev had completed volume two of this work, but his administrative and organizational work would, time and again, interfere with his writing, and The Last of the Udegs would remain unfinished at the writer's death.
Following Gorky's death in 1936, Fadeev took over control of the Writers' Union. He was officially named its General Secretary in 1939, the same year in which he became a member of the Party's Central Committee. This was a period when many Soviet writers were unlawfully repressed, and Fadeev, through either action or inaction, was complicit in these deeds. Privately, he expressed remorse or shame over his part in all this, but he continued to fulfill his duties. In 1937, Fadeev himself was accused of being a Trotskyite, but he managed to defend himself successfully.
In 1937, During the Spanish Civil War, Fadeev visited Spain to take part in the Second Congress of International Writers for the Defense of Culture. Also in 1937 he married his second wife, the Moscow actress Angelina Iosifovna Stepanovna. Their first son, Aleksandr, had been born the year before, and a second son, Mikhail, was to be born in 1944.
When the Great Patriotic War (World War II) came, Fadeev wrote reports and sketches from the front for Pravda and Izvestiya. He also twice visited Leningrad during the blockade. (see In The Name of Kirov)
Following the war, Fadeev produced the novel The Young Guard (Molodaya gvardia, 1946). Based on real events and persons, the novel is set in Nazi-occupied Ukraine. A group of teenagers forms a secret underground organization to engage in sabotage, arson and various forms of wrecking against the Nazis. They engineer a prison break and murder a filthy collaborator. The Nazis finally catch them just weeks before liberation by Soviet troops. Originally, the novel met with critical acclaim both in the Soviet Union and abroad. It even won the Stalin Prize. But then, in December of 1947, an article in Pravda criticized the book for failing to emphasis the leading role of the Party in the events described. Fadeev was forced to rework the novel, and the revised version was published in 1951.
In the post-war years, Fadeev continued his organizational and bureaucratic work. He took several trips abroad, visiting Britain in 1947, Iceland, Poland, and the United States in 1949, and Czechoslovakia and Austria in 1951. He won two Orders of Lenin.
In 1951 Fadeev began another novel, Black Metallurgy (Chernaya metallurgiya), which was to be the story of a group of Siberian scientists developing a new metallurgical process. But he abandoned the effort in 1953 after realizing that the person on whom the main character was based was a charlatan.
In the early 1950s, Fadeev more often expressed dissatisfaction with the state of Soviet literature and with Party policy on art. Following Stalin's death, Fadeev hoped for a change in the workings of the literary establishment. To this end, he started firing off reports and recommendations to the Central Committee, bearing self-explanatory titles such as "On Outdated Bureaucratic Perversions in the Work of the Leadership of Soviet Art and Literature and the Means of Correcting these Deficiencies". His suggestions, however, were ignored, and Fadeev was slowly squeezed out of the leadership of the Writers Union.
Fadeev began to suffer from depressing and alcoholism. Finally, on 13 May 1956, A.A. Fadeev ended his own life by putting a bullet into his heart. Next to his body he left a suicide note, addressed to the Central Committee. The note was a blistering, devastating, insulting attack on the Party leadership and literary bureaucracy. In part, the note reads:
It is impossible for me to live any further since the art to which I have given my life has been destroyed by the self-confident, ignorant leadership of the Party and can no longer be corrected. The best cadres of literature--in number far more than the tsarist satraps could even dream--have been physically exterminated or have died with the criminal connivance of those in power.
Boris Pasternak, who had experienced both good and bad from Fadeev, upon hearing of Fadeev's suicide, remarked, "Aleksandr Aleksandrovich had rehabilitated himself."
A.A. Fadeev was buried at Nonodevichii Cemetery on 16 May 1956.
Luker, Nicholas. "From Furmanov to Sholokhov", Ardis 1988.
Cockrell, Roger. Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Fadeev, in "Dictionary of Literary Biography XXXXX.
Zhukov, Ivan. Fadeev. Moscow. Molodaya Gvardia. 1989.