Old Man Patrikeich: An Introduction to the Cultural Biography of a Hack Writer at the Turn of the 19th Century

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In this essay I establish the real addressee of Denis Fonvizin’s satirical epistle to the very bad poet Iamshchikov and reconstruct the literary legend of this colorful character, seen in the context of the cultural history of the image of the untalented poor writer who imposes his works upon wealthy and influential patrons. I introduce an unknown work of Timofei Patrikeevich Iamshchikov called “The permanent love of the Starling clock. A curious-serious drama,” which was first staged in St. Petersburg in 1796. At the turn of the 19th century quotes from this curious work were cited by contemporaries as examples of “the apotheosis of stupidity,” and the figure of the poetaster Patrikeich became a comic symbol of poetic ugliness. The text of the comedy gives us a unique opportunity to hear the voice of Iamshchikov himself, as he formulated his creative credo of the “little author,” mocked by representatives of the literary elite. The fact of the existence of the writer Patrikeich changes our perception of the social structure and dynamics of Russian literature at the turn of the nineteenth century, introducing the image of the poet-clown, of an inspired army versifier who brings his own simple word into the world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-217
Number of pages36
JournalLiterary Fact
Issue number23
StatePublished - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Literature and Literary Theory


  • anti-poetry
  • Denis Fonvizin
  • hack writers
  • literary polemics of the late 18 and early 19 centuries
  • Matvei Prickly
  • Pyotr Viazemskii
  • Timofei Patrikeich Iamshchikov


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