Afanasy Fet

Afanasy Fet

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Afanasy Fet

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Afanasy Afanasievich Fet (Foeth, , later changed his name to Shenshin (Шеншин); 5 December 1820 — 3 December 1892, was a poet who dominated Russian poetry during the last quarter of the 19th century.


Afanasy was the child of a German woman named Charlotta who was initially married to Johann Foeth. She remarried a rich Russian landlord named Shenshin in 1822, after Afanasy's birth in 1820. It is unclear if Afanasy was the son of Foeth or Shenshin, but the decision was made by the Holy Consistory in Oryol that he would go by his German father's name because the marriage between his mother and his Russian father was not legitimized soon enough. This was quite traumatic for him as he completely identified himself with Shenshin and not Foeth. He spent his youth studying at Moscow University, and serving in the army (until 1856). In 1850, a young woman named Maria Lazich, who was in love with Fet but who could not marry him because of financial reasons, perished having accidentally set herself on fire. This event and the image of Maria would be frequently evoked by Fet even in his later verses. The stigma of illegitimacy haunted him all through his life, and after years of litigation, he obtained the right to use the prestigious name Shenshin (1876). Promotion in the army ranks helped him to secure the longed-for admission to Russian nobility as well, just when serfdom was abolished.

Fet was despised and ridiculed by radicals as a mean personality of reactionary...
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