Sologub, Fyodor

Tagged: Author

Pseudonym of Russian poet and author Fyodor Kuz'mich Teternikov (1863-1927), who remains best known for his second novel, Melkii bes (1905 Voprosy zhizhi; 1907; trans John Cournos and Richard Aldington as The Little Demon 1916; new trans Andrew Field as The Petty Demon 1962); the title refers to a nearly supernatural apotheosis of numbing mediocrity, mercilessly depicted, which devours the schoolteacher protagonist, generating an intense physical Paranoia that manifests as a kind of ghost. A defiant air of Decadence permeates Sologub's presentation of the tale, as it does his entire oeuvre, scandalizing the Russian literary establishment, for whom any hint of Modernism was condemned as immoral, unpatriotic and decadent.

Sologub's third novel, Tvorimaia legenda (1907-1913 Shipovnik first and then Zemlya; 1914; part one only of cut text trans John Cournos as The Created Legend 1916; complete trans Samuel D Cioran of full and restored text as The Created Legend 1979 3vols [for details see Checklist]), is sf, though of a strange order. The first volume describes the life in 1905 Russia of the protagonist named Triridov a pedagogue, inventor, sybarite and mage who leads schoolchildren in experiments designed to bring the dead to life, and who clearly represents some kind of wish-fulfilment version of the author. The second describes the Ruritanian kingdom of the United Islands, a Utopia threatened by volcanoes and dynastic upheavals; its queen is a kind of Doppelganger of Triridov who experiments in Sex, just as he experiments in death, and who dies in an eruption. In the third volume, after successfully applying to become king of the United Islands – echoes of the insanely aspirational protagonist of Frederick Rolfe's Hadrian VII (1904) can be heard – Triridov escapes Russia in a spherical flying machine – powered by an Antigravity device – and enters into his meritocratic heritage. The text as a whole irretrievably mixes superscience, Satanism, an eroticized vision of history (see History in SF), Satire and dream. The Sweet-Scented Name, and Other Fairy Tales, Fables and Stories (coll trans Stephen Graham 1915) and The Old House and Other Tales (coll trans John Cournos 1916) contain some fantasies. After 1923 he was unable to publish in his native land, but died of natural causes. [JC]

Fyodor Kuz'mich Teternikov

born St Petersburg, Russia: 1 March 1863

died Leningrad, USSR: 5 December 1927

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