Nikolay Ogarev

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Nikolay Ogarev
Ogarev's portrait by an unknown painter, c. 1830.
Born Nikolay Platonovich Ogarev
(1813-12-06)December 6, 1813
Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire
Died June 12, 1877(1877-06-12) (aged 63)
Greenwich, England
Occupation poet, historian and political activist

Nikolay Platonovich Ogarev (Ogaryov; Russian: Никола́й Плато́нович Огарёв; December 6 [O.S. November 24] 1813 – June 12 [O.S. May 31] 1877), was a Russian poet, historian and political activist. He was deeply critical of the limitations of the Emancipation reform of 1861 claiming that the serfs were not free but had simply exchanged one form of serfdom for another.

Ogarev was a fellow-exile and collaborator of Alexander Herzen on Kolokol, a newspaper printed in England and smuggled into Russia. The two young men swore on the Sparrow Hills above Moscow in 1840 not to rest until their country was free; the oath reportedly sustained them and their friends throughout many crises of their lives at home and abroad and was described in E. H. Carr's The Romantic Exiles.


Nikolay Ogaryov was born in Saint Petersburg into a family of wealthy Russian landowners. Having lost his mother early, Nikolay spent his childhood years in his father's estate nearby Penza. In 1820 he left the farm and went to study at the University of Moscow, where he developed a remarkable political work by joining a group of utopian socialists, resulting in his arrest and exile on his father's farm. In 1826 he met and became a close friend of his distant relative Aleksandr Herzen,[1] with whom he instantly found two things in common, the aversion to monarchy and deep empathy with the Decembrists' ideas.[2]

In 1856 he left Russia for good, living many years in London and Geneva, dedicated to the organization of free Russian print publication of The Bell and General Assembly. From October 1874, Ogarev began living in Newcastle upon Tyne, where he arrived with his beloved Mary all the way from Genoa. While in Newcastle, Ogarev worked on his Confession in Verse and his unfinished work Last Curse. By the end of that year, however, the couple was living in Mary's hometown of Greenwich, where Ogarev died in 1877.


His poetry has marked in its first term by a romantic tone, dominated by the issues of freedom of the individual and the people, social protest, rebellion, loneliness, doubt and despair as in A Poet's Death (1837), dedicated to the death of Aleksandr Pushkin, Song (1839), and The Night (1839). The memory of the Russian Decembrists inspired In Memory of Ryleyev, (1859), I saw Them Coming From Far Away Regions (1838), and Beethoven's Heroic Symphony (1874). Between the 1840s and 1850s, he wrote several novels in verse such as The Villag (1847), The One, Winter Road (1856), in which he describes the life of the rural gentry and the peasantry under the law of servitude. His time in London corresponds to the creation of Dreams (1857), The Night (1857), The Jail (1857), Matvei Radáyev (1856), all imbued with tones of pathetic patriotism. One of his favorite genre was the epistle, such as his To My Friend Herzen, To My Friends, and A. Granovsky. Another of his characteristic genres was his lyric poems in the form of monologue, such as Monologues, Meditation, and Confession of a Real Man.

His prose creations consists of a memoir titled My Confession, Themes from the Caucasus and Memoirs of a Russian Landowner, clearly influenced by the memories of his friend Herzen, plus some unfinished novels such as Sasha and History of a Prostitute, which can be framed within the narrative of Naturalism. As a literary critic, he is the author of several essays devoted to prominent figures in Russian culture and literature such as the preface to the edition of the poems of Kondraty Ryleyev in London in 1860, and the article Russian Literature of the Hidden Nineteenth Century. His complete works encompasses four volumes. In 1966, his remains were taken to Russia and buried in the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow.


  1. Alexander, Doris (1992). Creating Literature Out of Life. Penn State Press. p. 166. ISBN 0271026111.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Н. П. Огарев. Биография". Retrieved 2011-01-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>