Leonid Andreyev


Leonid Andreyev (1871-1919), a mad and angry genius, is one of the most important authors of Russian literature of the 20th century, famous for works such as The Hanged Seven (1904) and The Red Laughter (1908). A voracious reader of Schopenhauer, Dostoevsky and Nietzsche, he studied law in St. Petersburg and Moscow, and soon became a prisoner of alcohol and suicidal tendencies. He was a playwright, photographer and anti-tsarist militant, and ties of friendship united him with Gorky, with whom he had a falling out due to the publication of the short story The Darkness. He bequeathed us the unbridled sensitivity of a writing that goes to the bone, a masterful work guided by fatalism and a premonitory voice that echoes in modernity and in its condemned and executioners. He called himself an apostle of self-annihilation, dealing like no one else with the chaos of the world and the madness and tragedies of his fellow man. He regarded Bolshevik terror as an absolute evil and went into exile in Finland, where he died alone and in penury. His work was censored by the Soviet authorities until the late 1950s.