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Belinskii, Vissarion Grigorievich (1811–48)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-E003-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved May 18, 2022, from

Article Summary

Belinskii was considered by his followers in the nineteenth century, and by the official ideology of the Soviet period, to be not only Russia’s greatest literary critic, but also a leading Russian thinker. Soviet encyclopedias label him ‘critic, publicist and philosopher’. His role in Russian cultural life has been given positive as well as negative assessments, but there can be no doubt as to his huge influence. He is largely responsible for the fact that Russian literature and art, for a century and a half now, have been considered an organ of society, a mirror of the Russian nation’s destiny and a vehicle of its historical progress. It is largely his merit – or fault – that in Russia, art and literature have been accorded a lofty status of leadership and authority, and also that ‘art for art’s sake’ never became respectable in Russia. The influence of Belinskii’s philosophy of art extended through the entire political spectrum, far beyond his political legacy which was limited to the revolutionary left. The idea that art and literature are organic functions of society, nationhood and historical progress, which Belinskii took for granted, was passed on even to the Slavophile right and the liberal Westernizing centre. It was still an integral part of the doctrine of Socialist Realism.

Citing this article:
Terras, Victor. Belinskii, Vissarion Grigorievich (1811–48), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-E003-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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