Nikolai Minsky

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Nikolai Minsky and Nikolai Maksimovich Minsky (Russian: Никола́й Макси́мович Ми́нский) are pseudonyms of Nikolai Maksimovich Vilenkin (Виле́нкин; 1855–1937), a mystical writer and poet of the Silver Age of Russian Poetry.


Born in Glubokoe (now Hlybokaye, Belarus) to poor Jewish parents, he was orphaned early. He was brought up, and finished his schooling, in Minsk. He took his pseudonym from the city he grew up in. He studied law at the University of Saint Petersburg.

His first poems were written on "civil topics". In 1889, he began work on the book With the Light of Conscience, employing a deliberately pompous tone to present its theory of "meonism" (me on being Greek for "nonexistent"). The objective of the work is to show that the main purpose of humanity is "nonexistence itself".

In 1900, Dmitri Merezhkovsky, Minsky, Zinaida Gippius, Vasily Rozanov, and others founded the Religious-Philosophical Society in Saint Petersburg. Minsky, like the majority of intellectuals, sympathized with the revolution and social democracy. He was the nominal editor of the legal Bolshevik newspaper New Life.

After the revolution was defeated in 1905, Minsky became one of the leaders of Russian decadence and symbolism. These ideas represented the cult of beauty and enjoyment and declared war on the public tendencies that threatened to damage the "cleanliness" of artistic creation. After 1905, he lived abroad.

A religious-philosophical concept is presented in the treatises With the Light of Conscience (1890) and The Religion of the Future (1905). Other publications include the collection of verses From the Gloom to the Light (1922) and various dramas and translations.

Minsky died in Paris, and is buried at the Père Lachaise Cemetery.

See also