BAGRITSKI, EDUARD GEORGIYEVICH, pseudonym of E.G. Dzyuba (1895–1934), Soviet Russian poet. Bagritski, who was born into a middle-class Odessa family and had a traditional Jewish upbringing, was a dedicated communist. His verse, at first complex and influenced by Symbolism, gradually became simpler and more graceful, earning him a place among the leading Russian poets of the 20th century. Like his fellow writers from Odessa, *Babel, Olesha, *Ilf, and the Katayev brothers, Bagritski successfully combined literary sophistication with romantic naïveté in his perception and salutation of reality. This combination of highly polished craftsmanship and childlike wonder constitutes the most endearing quality of his lyric verse. It also accounts for the success even of his propagandist poems. Bagritski's most important work was the poem "Duma pro Opanasa" (1926; "The Lay of Opanas"), a blend of lyric and narrative verse which contains elements of Ukrainian folk poetry and of the old Slavic epic. "The Lay of Opanas" describes a Ukrainian peasant who deserts from a Red Army unit commanded by a Jew named Kogan, joins an anarchist band, captures his former commander, but later offers to release him. Kogan, a devoted Communist, proudly refuses, and is thereupon shot by Opanas, who is himself subsequently executed by the Reds. Bagritski's is one of the most successful treatments of the revolutionary theme in Soviet literature. Some of Bagritski's best poetry appeared in the collection Yugo-zapad (Southwest, 1928). He was also known for his Russian translations of English, French, Yiddish, and Ukrainian verse.
G. Struve, Soviet Russian Literature 1917–1950 (1951).
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.