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Entries / Fonvizin D.I. (1744/45-1792), writer

Fonvizin D.I. (1744/45-1792), writer

Categories / Literature. Book Publishing/Personalia

FONVIZIN (von Vizin) Denis Ivanovich (1744 or 1745 - 1792, St. Petersburg), writer, fellow of Russian Academy (1783). He was educated at a gymnasia attached to Moscow University (1755-62). His first visit to St. Petersburg dates back to 1759-60. From 1762 he served in St. Petersburg as a translator for the Collegium of Foreign Affairs. He became a secretary to I.P. Elagin in 1763, to be promoted in 1769 to the rank of the secretary of the prominent statesman N.I. Panin, president of the Collegium of Foreign Affairs, who shared with Fonvizin the same negative attitude towards the policy pursued by Empress Catherine II. Fonvizin was connected to the masons. In 1781 he assumed the membership in Post Office Department, only to retire in 1782. Close proximity to Elagin and the Elagin circle enabled him to develop his literary talent which was demonstrated in his comedies The Brigadier (1769, the author read it himself at the court in Peterhof, in the presence of Catherine II) and The Infant (1782, it enjoyed a tremendous success on its first production at the private theatre of K. Knipper on Tsaritsyn meadow), which are considered the apex of Russian comedies of the 18th century. His satirical talent was at its finest in other genres, too (Epistle to the Servants of Mine..., 1769; The Friend of Honest People, or Starodum journal, edited by Fonvizin and banned by the censors, 1788, etc.). His Frank Confession in My Deeds and Thoughts (begun in 1789, left unfinished) represents one of the first examples of Russian confessional prose. He contributed to Conversations of Lovers of Russian Language journal and took an active part in the work over The Dictionary of the Russian Academy. Fonvizin used to buy various articles of art abroad; many of these enlarged the collections of the Hermitage later. In 1769-73 he lived in the Winter Palace; in 1773-74 he resided in Vorontsov Palace, then moved to the manor of K.I. Fonvizina at Galernaya Embankment (not preserved; the area of present-day Truda Square) in 1774-92. He spent the evening before his death in the house of G.R. Derzhavin; the account of this event is rendered in the memoirs of I.I. Dmitriev. Fonvizin was buried at Lazarevskoe cemetery of Alexander Nevsky Lavra.

References: Макогоненко Г. П. Денис Фонвизин: Творч. путь. М.; Л., 1961; Кочеткова Н. Д. Фонвизин в Петербурге. Л., 1984.

V. A. Kuznetsov, D.N. Cherdakov.

Catherine II, Empress
Derzhavin Gavriil Romanovich
Dmitriev Ivan Ivanovich
Elagin Ivan Perfilievich
Fonvizin Denis Ivanovich
Fonvizina Katerina (Ekaterina) Ivanovna
Knipper Karl P.
Panin Nikita Ivanovich, Count

Truda Square/Saint Petersburg, city

The subject Index
Winter Palace
Lazarevskaya Burial Vault