“The Tragedy of Truth” in the Geography of Mikhail Prishvin’s Grove





M. M. Prishvin, northern journeys, Berendey’s Grove, essays, Shiptimber Grove, fairy tale, diary, theme of truth


This article examines the theme of the forest (“grove”) in the works and diaries of Mikhail Prishvin, which for him is inextricably linked not only to environmental problems, but also to the Russian people’s awareness of their historical path and destiny, to the understanding of the concept of “truth” and its semantic content in the minds of different people. The author compares Prishvin’s book of essays Berendey’s Grove (1935–1936), the fairytale Shiptimber Grove (1953) and the writer’s diaries, which reflect his impressions of his trip to Arkhangelsk region in 1935. On his journey to the north, Prishvin was not only carrying out the duties of the People’s Commissariat of the Timber Industry (supervising logging), but also trying to reach the precious and protected forest region – the “inviolable grove”, about which he heard many stories on his way. For Prishvin, the grove is an ideal place, untouched by the “axe of the Antichrist”. And this ideal mythological topos is all the more clearly contrasted with the terrible reality of deforestation that the writer saw and reflected on in his essays and diary. Even the virgin grove that the travellers reach near the Komi border turns out to be doomed. In Prishvin’s texts, conflicting ideas about the forest are not reconciled; he writes about poetic wood and round wood that should be felled. His last book, Shiptimber Grove, is dedicated to the Dream Grove, in which the author tries to save “his” fabulous grove. The article considers various options for the title of Prishvin’s final work, reflecting the movement of his creative consciousness. One of them is The Story of Truth or The Genuine Truth. The theme of truth, or the ‘tragedy’ of truth, is perhaps the central theme in Prishvin’s thought in later years, as well as in the works of a few of his contemporary writers; in the story, he entrusts the search for ‘truth’ to his characters. The shiptimber grove, protected by the Komi people and invaded by war, becomes a multiple image and symbol in the book, including a symbol of truth, uniting the general and the personal, the natural and the human, the past and the future.

Author Biography

Elena Sozina

Dr. Hab. (Philology), Head of the Centre of the History of Literature, Institute of History, and Archaeology, Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences; Professor, Ural Federal University named after the first President of Russia B. N. Yeltsin.

16, S. Kovalevskaya Str., 620990, Yekaterinburg, Russia.

19, Mira Str., 620002, Yekaterinburg, Russia.

ORCID 0000-0002-7462-4153



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How to Cite

Sozina, E. (2024). “The Tragedy of Truth” in the Geography of Mikhail Prishvin’s Grove. Quaestio Rossica, 12(2), 473–491. https://doi.org/10.15826/qr.2024.2.890



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