Leonov, Leonid Maksimovich (1899–1994) By Berkovich, Nadja
Loenid Maksimovich Leonov was a Russian prose writer and playwright. Born in Moscow, Leonov volunteered as a soldier and journalist in the Red Army during the Russian Civil War. Adopting an ornamental prose style and the skaz idiolect, his early works—including “The End of the Petty Man”—incorporated revolutionary themes and the revolution’s impact on village life, along with the notion of the “little man.” His works established continuity with the traditions of Gogol and Dostoevsky, expanding the trope of the little man to include the educated class while adding an animalistic twist. In his novels The Badgers (1924) and The Thief (1927), Leonov depicted the New Economic Policy (NEP) and resistance to the Bolshevik regime. His novella Evgenia Ivanovna (1935), censored for several decades, portrayed Russian immigration and the yearning for the motherland. Before and during World War II he wrote plays influenced by socialist realism. His 1957 environmental novel, The Russian Forest, brought him the Lenin Prize, and in 1967 he was awarded the Hero of the Socialist Labor for his achievements in literature. His last novel, The Pyramid, on which he worked for forty years, was published prior to his death in 1994.