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N. Minsky

(Pseudonym of Nikolai Vilenkin; born 1855)


The son of poor Jewish villagers, Minsky was, among other things, tutor, lawyer, and bank employee, before he emigrated to Paris in 1905, at the age of fifty, where he has lived as newspaper correspondent and litterateur ever since. He had previously lived abroad, and was abreast of European literary movements.

His ideological and poetic career has been no less kaleidoscopic. Beginning as a poet insistent upon civic virtues and art as criticism of life, within some ten years Minsky became the prophet of a-moralism, decadence, symbolism, and the champion of Bacchic beauty. Early in the twentieth century he joined with sophisticated Orthodox priests and lay God-seekers in founding a society for the promotion of a new religious consciousness, himself preaching a nebulously negative, mystic doctrine of "meonism," affectionately envisaging a new Nirvana.

The revolution of 1905 inspired his Muse briefly to Marxian hymns, and helped him to his Parisian exile. Here, in addition to his other work, he wrote a dramatic trilogy. Minsky had a weakness for manifestos, of which his poetry was not always a successful illustration. It is only his later work, with its increased technical skill, that achieves the bodying forth of his curious intellection.

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