Vasily Shukshin

Vasily Makarovich Shukshin (Russian: Василий Макарович Шукшин; 25 July 1929 – 2 October 1974) was a Soviet Russian writer,[1] actor, screenwriter and film director from the Altai region who specialized in rural themes.[2][3][4] A prominent member of the Village Prose movement, he began writing short stories in his early teenage years and later transition to acting by his late 20s.

Vasily Shukshin
Vasily Shukshin.jpg
Born(1929-07-25)25 July 1929
Died2 October 1974(1974-10-02) (aged 45)
On board the ship Dunai, on the Volga river near Kletskaya, Volgograd Oblast, RSFSR, USSR
Notable workThe Red Snowball Tree (1974)


Vasiliy Makarovich Shukshin was born on 25 July 1929 to a peasant family of assimilated Moksha Mordvin[5] origin in the village of Srostki near Biysk in Siberian Krai, Soviet Union (now in Altai Krai, Russia). In 1933, his father, Makar Leontievich Shukshin, was arrested and executed on the charges of participating in an "anti-kolkhoz plot" during the Soviet collectivization. He was only rehabilitated 23 years later, in 1956.[6][better source needed] His mother, Maria Sergeyevna (née Popova), had to look after the survival of the entire family. By 1943 Shukshin had finished seven years of village school and entered an automobile technical school in Biysk. In 1945, after two and a half years at the school, but before finishing, he quit to work in a kolkhoz.[citation needed]

In 1946 Shukshin left his native village and worked as a metal craftsman at several enterprises in the trust Soyuzprommekhanizatsiya: at the turbine plant in Kaluga,[7] at the tractor plant in Vladimir, etc. In 1949, Shukshin was drafted into the Navy. He first served as a sailor in the Baltic Fleet, then a radio operator on the Black Sea. In 1953 he was demobilized due to a stomach ulcer and returned to his native village. Having passed an external exam for high school graduation, he became a teacher of Russian, and later a school principal in Srostki.[citation needed]

In 1954 Shukshin entered the directors' department of the VGIK, studied under Mikhail Romm and Sergei Gerasimov, and graduated in 1960. While studying at VGIK in 1958, Shukshin had his first leading role in Marlen Khutsiyev's film Two Fedors and appeared in the graduation film by Andrei Tarkovsky.[7]

In 1958 Shukhin published his first short story "Two on the cart" in the magazine Smena. His first collection of stories Сельские жители (Village Dwellers) was published in 1963. That same year, he became staff director at the Gorky Film Studio in Moscow. He wrote and directed Живёт такой парень (There Is This Lad). The film premiered in 1965, winning top honours at the All-Union Film Festival in Leningrad and the Golden Lion at the XVI International Film Festival in Venice. Shukshin was decorated with the Order of the Red Banner of Labour (1967), and was designated Distinguished Artist of the RSFSR (1969).[7]

Shukshin's main interest lay in the situation of ordinary, simple people in the present-day Soviet Union. He laced his films both with humor and with a melancholy tone.[citation needed]

Since 1964, he was married to actress Lidiya Fedoseyeva, who also appeared in several of his films. They have a daughter, Mariya (born 1967), who is a TV presenter.[citation needed]

Shukshin died suddenly on 2 October 1974, on the motor ship Dunai, on the Volga river, while filming They Fought for Their Country. He is buried in Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow.[citation needed]

English translationsEdit

  • I Want to Live, Progress Publishers, 1978.
  • Snowball Berry Red and Other Stories, Ardis Publishers, 1979.
  • Short Stories, Raduga Publishers, 1990.
  • Roubles in Words, Kopeks in Figures, Marion Boyars, 1994.
  • Stories from a Siberian Village, Northern Illinois University Press, 1996.

Theatre adaptationEdit

Latvian theatre director Alvis Hermanis adapted eight of Shuksin's short stories for stage, in a collaboration with the Theatre of Nations in Moscow, entitled Shuksin's Stories or Shuksin's Tales. As of 2021 it is still touring the world, having first being staged in around 2009, and has won several awards.[8] Starring Evgeny Mironov, the play was staged at The Barbican in London in October 2019.[9][10]



  1. ^ Э. Кузьмина. Прочная основа // «Новый мир», 1964, № 4, с.244-246.
  2. ^ Peter Rollberg (2016). Historical Dictionary of Russian and Soviet Cinema. US: Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 682–683. ISBN 978-1442268425.
  3. ^ Neil Cornwell, Reference Guide to Russian Literature Routledge, 2013, ISBN 9781134260706, 734 p.
  4. ^ Mauricio Borrero, Russia: A Reference Guide from the Renaissance to the Present Infobase Publishing, 2009, ISBN 9780816074754, 318 p.
  5. ^ «Мы процентов на 90 - мордва...» [We are 90% Mordvin] - Vecherniy Saransk, 29 April 2016. Quote from Shukshin's daughter: «Почему Саранск? Мы мордва. Предки Василия Макаровича из Мордовии, мы знаем, что сначала они переселились в Самарскую область, а затем в Алтайский край.» ["Why Saransk? Because we are Mordvin. The ancestors of Vasily Shukshin came from Mordovia; we know they first settled in Samara Oblast and then in Altai Krai"]
  6. ^ "Шукшин Макар Леонтьевич". (in Russian). Retrieved 2020-12-28.
  7. ^ a b c биография на
  8. ^ Arutyunyan, Ani (7 July 2021). "BWW Review: Gorbachev at The State Theatre Of Nations". Retrieved 13 December 2021. The production runs from October, 2020. Next dates: 8 sept 2021
  9. ^ "Shukshin's Stories - Theatre of Nations". Russian Art + Culture. 16 October 2019. Retrieved 13 December 2021.
  10. ^ Billington, Michael (8 October 2019). "Shukshin's Stories review – moving tales of Siberian village folk". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 December 2021.

External linksEdit