Aleksandr Nikolaevich Ostrovsky



  • (1823 - 86) Russian dramatist, considered by many the virtualfounder of the Russian theater. Ostrovsky wrote some 47 plays which,at the time, constituted a large proportion of the Russian theatricalrepertoire. Most of these were first produced under his personal supervisionat the Maly Theatre in Moscow, which became known as the 'house ofOstrovsky'.

    The son of a government clerk, Ostrovsky studied law at theUniversity of Moscow; after failing an examination he obtained employmentas a clerk at the Moscow juvenile court. Ostrovsky was dismissed fromthis post, however, following the publication of his second play,The Bankrupt (1848), which exposed dubious business practices.The Bankrupt, revised two years later as It's a Family Affair,We'll Settle It Among Ourselves, was considered to be an insultto the Russian merchant classes and was banned by the censor, productionnot being allowed for over a decade. As a result of this debacle anda rather indiscreet affair with an actress, Ostrovsky's family deprivedhim of all financial support.

    However, after the popular success of his comedy Povertyis No Disgrace in 1853, Ostrovsky enjoyed an unrivalled positionin Russian drama, which continued until his death. Other notable worksinclude the domestic tragedy The Storm (1860), The Scoundrel(1868), The Forest (1870), and The Snow Maiden (1873),which provided the basis for an opera by Rimski-Korsakov. His plays,which are realistic in style, are set almost exclusively amongst themerchant class.

    The year before his death Ostrovsky was appointed the artisticdirector of all the imperial theaters in Moscow.