Valery Bryusov

Valery Yakovlevich Bryusov (Russian: Вале́рий Я́ковлевич Брю́сов, IPA: [vɐˈlʲerʲɪj ˈjakəvlʲɪvʲɪdʑ ˈbrʲusəf] (listen); 13 December [O.S. 1 December] 1873 – 9 October 1924) was a Russian poet, prose writer, dramatist, translator, critic and historian. He was one of the principal members of the Russian Symbolist movement.[1]

Valery Bryusov
Valery Bryusov in 1900
Valery Bryusov in 1900
Born(1873-12-13)13 December 1873
Moscow, Russian Empire
Died9 October 1924(1924-10-09) (aged 50)
Moscow, Soviet Union
Resting placeNovodevichy Cemetery, Moscow
Alma materImperial Moscow University (1899)
GenrePoetry, fiction, drama, history, criticism
Notable worksThe Fiery Angel
Portrait of Valery Bryusov by Sergey Malyutin (1913)


Valery Bryusov was born on 13 December 1873 (1 December 1873 according to the old Julian calendar) into a merchant's family in Moscow. His parents were educated for their class and had some literary associations, but had little to do with his upbringing, leaving the boy largely to himself. He spent a great deal of time reading "everything that fell into [his] hands", including the works of Charles Darwin and Jules Verne, as well as various materialistic and scientific essays. The future poet received an excellent education, studying in two private Moscow gymnasia between 1885 and 1893.


Bryusov began his literary career in the early 1890s while still a student at Moscow State University with his translations of the poetry of the French Symbolists (Paul Verlaine, Maurice Maeterlinck, and Stéphane Mallarmé) as well at that of Edgar Allan Poe. Bryusov also began to publish his own poems, which were very much influenced by the Decadent and Symbolist movements of his contemporary Europe. During this time Bryusov came under the influence of the philosopher Nikolai Fyodorovich Fyodorov and the scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky.[1]

At the time, Russian Symbolism was still mainly a set of theories and had few notable practitioners. Therefore, in order to represent Symbolism as a movement of formidable following, Bryusov adopted numerous pen names and published three volumes of his own verse, entitled Russian Symbolists. An Anthology (1894–95). Bryusov's mystification proved successful – several young poets were attracted to Symbolism as the latest fashion in Russian letters.

With the appearance of Tertia Vigilia in 1900, he came to be revered by other Symbolists as an authority in matters of art. In 1904 he became the editor of the influential literary magazine Vesy (The Balance), which consolidated his position in the Russian literary world. Bryusov's mature works were notable for their celebration of sensual pleasures as well as their mastery of a wide range of poetic forms, from the acrostic to the carmina figurata.

By the 1910s, Bryusov's poetry had begun to seem cold and strained to many of his contemporaries. As a result, his reputation gradually declined and, with it, his power in the Russian literary world. He was adamantly opposed to the efforts of Georgy Chulkov and Vyacheslav Ivanov to move Symbolism in the direction of Mystical Anarchism.

Though many of his fellow Symbolists fled Russia after the Russian Revolution of 1917, Bryusov remained until his death in 1924. He supported the Bolshevik government and received a position in the cultural ministry of the new Soviet state. Shortly before his death he was involved with Otto Schmidt in drawing up the proposal for the Great Soviet Encyclopedia.[2]

In 1924, shortly before his death, Bryusov posed for the young sculptor Nina Niss-Goldman [ru] (1893–1990). Now the portrait is in the Russian Museum of St. Petersburg in a collection of the work of Russian avant-garde artists.


Alongside Adelina Adalis (1900-1969) and Nikolay Gumilev (1886-1921), he was influenced by the Malaysian literature from the XIX and XX century.[3]


Bryusov's most famous prose works are the historical novels The Altar of Victory (depicting life in Ancient Rome) and The Fiery Angel (depicting the psychological climate of 16th century Germany). The latter tells the story of a knight's attempts to win the love of a young woman whose spiritual integrity is seriously undermined by her participation in occult practices and her dealings with unclean forces. It served as the basis for Sergei Prokofiev's opera The Fiery Angel.

Bryusov also wrote some science fiction stories, under the influence of Poe, H.G. Wells and Camille Flammarion. Several of these, including the title story, were assembled in his collection The Republic of the Southern Cross.[1][4]


As a translator, Bryusov was the first to render the works of the Belgian poet Emile Verhaeren and the lyrics of Armenian ashugh Sayat-Nova[5] accessible to Russian readers. He was one of the major translators of Paul Verlaine's poetry.

His most famous translations are of Edgar Allan Poe, Romain Rolland, Maurice Maeterlinck, Victor Hugo, Jean Racine, Ausonius, Molière, Byron, and Oscar Wilde. Bryusov also translated Johann Goethe's Faust and Virgil's Aeneid.

List of major worksEdit

Valery Bryusov.
  • Juvenilia, 1894
  • Chefs d’oeuvre, 1895
  • Me eum esse, 1897
  • Tertia Vigilia, 1900
  • Urbi et Orbi, 1903
  • Stephanos, 1905
  • The Fiery Angel, 1908
  • All Melodies, 1909
  • The Altar of Victory, 1913
  • Rea Silvia, 1916

Works in English translationEdit

  • The Republic of the Southern Cross and Other Stories, Constable, London, 1918. from Contains several science fiction stories.
  • The Fiery Angel: A Sixteenth Century Romance, Hyperion Press, 1978.
  • Diary of Valery Bryusov, University of California Press, 1980.
  • The Fiery Angel: Dedalus European Classics, Dedalus Limited, 2005.


For his Russian translation of the Armenian folk epic “David of Sasun,” Bryusov was designated People's Poet of Armenia in 1923.[6] Yerevan Brusov State University of Languages and Social Sciences, a public university in the capital of Armenia, has been named after Valery Bryusov since 1962.[7]

Ukrainian composer Inna Abramovna Zhvanetskaya used Bryusov’s text for at least one of the songs in her vocal collection Romances.[8]

See alsoEdit

  • Monostich (started in Russia in its modern form in 1894 by Valery Bryusov [9])


  1. ^ a b c Darko Suvin, "Bryusov,Valery" in Curtis C. Smith, Twentieth-Century Science-Fiction Writers. Chicago, St. James, 1986. ISBN 0912289279 (pp. 840–41).
  2. ^ "Beginning of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia issue". Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library. Retrieved 2013-02-20.
  3. ^ Zahari, Oleh Rahimidin (24 August 2014). "Jambatan muhibah Rusia - Malaysia". Utusan Melayu (in Russian). Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  4. ^ Gary Kern,The Republic of the Southern Cross, in Frank N. Magill, ed. Survey of Science Fiction Literature, Vol. 4. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Salem Press, 1979. (pp. 1768–1774). ISBN 0-89356-194-0
  5. ^ Hayryan, Zarui Gevorkovna (2016). "Ашугская поэзия Саят-Новы в русских переводах" [Ashough Poetry by Sayat-Nova in Russia Translations]. Nauchnyy Dialog (in Russian). 3(51) (2016): 132–145. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  6. ^ "Brusov and the poetry of Armenia". Brusov Museum. Google Arts and Culture.. 2011. p. last page. Retrieved 2020-12-28. The government of the newly founded Republic rendered to Brusov the honorary title of a People's Poet of Armenia
  7. ^ "About Brusov State University". Yerevan Brusov State University of Languages and Social Sciences. Retrieved 2020-12-28. Yerevan State Russian Pedagogical Institute after A. Zhdanov separated from Yerevan State University and reestablished as Yerevan State Pedagogical Institute of the Russian and Foreign Languages named after V. Brusov
  8. ^ Cohen, Aaron I. (1987). International encyclopedia of women composers (Second edition, revised and enlarged ed.). New York: Books & Music USA Inc. p. 778. ISBN 0-9617485-2-4. OCLC 16714846.
  9. ^ Kaun, Alexander 'Futurism and Pseudo-Futurism.' The Little Review, Vol. 1, No. 4, 1914, P. 15.

External linksEdit