Pogodin, Nikolai Fyodorovich. (Pseudonym for Nikolai Stukalov.) Born 16 November 1900 (3 Nov, Old Style) to a peasant family at Gundorovskaya Stantsiya in what is now the Donetskaya Oblast. He received only an elementary education, and at age 14 he began his working life. Over the next six years he engaged in various occupations: in a clothing shop; selling newspapers; choosing hunks of coal for export; in a machine shop: in the distribution of typewriter ribbons and dental supplies; as an expeditor for a newspaper.
Instinctively drawn to writing and hoping for an easier life, Pogodin began writing at age 20. He worked as a traveling correspondent for the newspaper Molot and later for Pravda. Two collections of his sketches--Kumachovoye utro and Red Sprouts (Krasniye rostki)--were published in 1926.
A major turning point in Pogodin's career was occasioned by his visit to the construction site of a tractor factory in Stalingrad. What he saw and felt there, Pogodin said, turned him once and for all into a dramatic writer. His first play, Tempo (Temp, 1929), written in only seven days, is the story of that tractor factory.
Pogodin's second play, Impertinence, (Derzost') was about the life of an ordinary commune of youth. It was prepared for production at the Moscow State Art Theater but, for some mysterious reason, the premiere never occurred. Later, in 1958, Podogin was to characterize the play as a "remembrance of the romantic, idealistic, pure, and, at the same time, mistaken attitudes of a certain segment of youth."
Pogodin's next play, Poem of an Axe (Poema o topore, 1930), showed the struggle in a factory for the creation of a rust-resistant and acid-proof steel. It was a play more about events than about people, occasioned by Pogodin's indignation over the fact that the Soviet Union was still dependent on the West for many things, including the production of decent axes. The play introduced labor itself as its content, subject, and "poetry". However, Pogodin himself was dissatisfied with the play calling it "crude, chaotic, and bawling."
Snow (Sneg) recounted the difficulties and successes of a Soviet scientific expedition.
The hugely successful My Friend (Moi drug, 1932) was about the construction of a new factory. In it, Pogodin was attempting to convey the spirit of the times, to show the tremendous difficulties associated with establishing a large factory in a backward, peasant country.
After the Ball (Posle bala, 1934) turned the spotlight on the development of the kolkhoz and the new character of people in the villages.
In Aristocrats (Aristokraty, 1934), Pogodin depicts the rehabilitation of criminals in a labor camp working on the construction of the Belomorsky Canal.
Then main theme of all these plays is the everyday struggle for the construction of socialism, the successes and failures in this process. Pogodin's heroes were everyday people for whom heroism has become an everyday phenomenon.. He portrays socialism as a vital force being realized every day in thousands of petty matters.
He wrote a trilogy of plays about Lenin and the young Soviet government: Man with a Rifle (Chelovek s ruzhem, 1937); Kremlin Chimes (Kremlyovskiye kuranty, 1940 [reedited, 1955]); and Passionate Third (Tretya pateticheskaya, 1958). For this trilogy, naturally, he received the Lenin Prize.
Pogodin's comedy When the Spears Break (Kogda lomaiutsya kop'ya, 1953) touches upon the sharpening of moral collisions in Soviet society.
Between 1951 and 1960 Pogodin was chief editor of the journal Teatr, and as such was responsible for the publication in 1954 of Leonid Zorin's Guests, one of the very first works of the post-Stalin Thaw in Soviet literature.
Pogodin's personal contribution to the Thaw came in the 1956 drama Petrarch's Sonnet (Sonet Petrarki). In this work, Pogodin takes the position that there are certain individual matters--personal feelings and affairs of the heart--which are none of the collective's or the Party's business. A solid, reliable, married middle-aged man (Sukhodolov) develops a pure (Platonic / Petrarchic) love for a young woman and starts writing letters to her (his "sonnets"). Sukhodolov's shrewish wife, the girl's nosy, busy-body roommate, and the local Party organizer all get in a tizzy over this supposed violation of socialist morality and demand an accounting from Sukhodolov. But Sukhodolov refuses to cooperate with the inquiry into the affair. He tells the Party and everyone else to butt out, saying:
There are things which one cannot tell the Party. It if were a political matter, then chop my head off. Yes, for politics! I'll give my whole soul to the Party, my life. But there can be such intimate sides of a man's life into which he will not initiate anybody. He simply is not obliged to; there is no such rule.Fortunately, the oblast Party bigwig disagrees with the old dogmatists and dismisses the investigation before it gets too far. This leaves Sukhodolov to ponder a truly personal question: Does he really love this woman? Or is he just in love with an idealized dream of her which he himself has created? At the end of the play, the lovers (who never actually did anything physically) are parted, and it is unclear if they will ever see each other again. Sukhodolov hurries off to bury himself in work and save the town which is threatened by a forest fire.
Several of Pogodin's later works focused on the moral face and character of Soviet youth: for example, the plays Little Student (Malenkaya studentka, 1958) and Blue Rhapsody (Golubaya rapsodiya, 1961) as well as the novel Amber Necklace (Yantarnoye ozherelye, 1960).
During his lifetime, Pogodin was awarded two Orders of Lenin.
Nikolai Pogodin died in Moscow on 19 September 1962.