УДК / UDK: 82-3

2023 №29

Author: Anna S. Akimova
About the author:

Anna S. Akimova — PhD in Philology, Senior Researcher, А.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Povarskaya 25 a, 121069 Moscow, Russia.


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The article examines the literary and critical reviews devoted to the publication of the second book of the novel by A.N. Tolstoy Peter the Great in early 1934, as well as the materials of three discussions with the participation of Moscow and Leningrad critics and historians. The article discusses the main issues raised in the discussions, such as the problem of the genre of the Soviet historical novel, the historical concept and the image of Peter I. Two discussions about the historical novel Peter the Great were proposed by the Moscow journals October and Literary Critic in 1934. The other was held at the critics section in the Union of Soviet Writers in January 1935. Its brief review with selected quotations was published in the Literary Critic journal (1935, no. 2). More complete characteristics and assessments of the novel expressed during the discussion, which was attended by leading Soviet critics O.M. Brik, V.R. Grib, I.L. Grinberg, V.A. Katanyan, S.D. Krzhizhanovsky, M.Yu. Levidov, A. Lezhnev, R.D. Messer, M.I. Serebryansky, V.B. Shklovsky, etc. are introduced for the first time in scientific circulation, anticipating the publication of transcripts with scientific commentary and reference apparatus.

Acknowledgements: This study supported by the Russian Science Foundation grant no. 23-18-00303 “Soviet Historical Narrative of the 1920s–30s: Content, Actors and Construction Mechanisms” (

Keywords: literary criticism, Aleksey N. Tolstoy, the novel Peter the Great, debates on the historical novel.
For citation:

Akimova, A.S. “ʽTo Spark the Critical Idea’: Debates on A.N. Tolstoy’s Novel Peter the Great in 1934–1935.” Literaturnyi fakt, no. 3 (29), 2023, pp. 280–292. (In Russ.)


1. Akimova, A.S. [“ʽThe Same Alexey Wrote...’: The Historical Concept of A.N. Tolstoy’s First Book Peter the Great in the Assessment of Soviet Criticism”]. Vestnik slavianskikh kul’tur, vol. 69, no. 4, 2023. In print. (In Russ.)

2. Starchakov, A.O. Al. N. Tolstoi. Kriticheskii ocherk [Al. N. Tolstoy. Critical Essay]. Leningrad, Gosudarstvennoe izdatel’stvo khudozhestvennoi literatury Publ., 1935. 116 p. (In Russ.)