Paustovsky K. G.

Konstantin Georgievich Paustovsky (1892 –1968) was an influential Russian writer, whose stories and novels have been a standard part of Russian Literature school curriculum for many decades. Leveraging his great life experience, the writer became known for his loyalty to freedom in life and in art.

Paustovsky was born in the family of a railroad statistician, Georgy Maximovich Paustovsky. Like many Russian families, the Paustovskys had multinational Ukrainian-Polish-Turkish roots. Konstantin had two elder brothers and a sister, Galina.

In 1898, the family moved from Moscow to Kiev where Paustovsky began attending school. After his parents’ divorce in 1908, he went to Bryansk to stay with his uncle, Nikolai Gregoryevich Vysochansky. In the fall of 1909, he returned to Kiev, was reinstated at school, and started living on his own, earning a living by tutoring.

The future writer wrote his first stories after moving in with his grandmother, Vikentia Ivanovna Vysochanskaya. Some of his early works were published in Kiev magazines. Having graduated school in 1912, Paustovsky entered Kiev University to study at the department of philology and history.

Throughout the course of his life, Konstantin Paustovsky referred to himself as, “a Muscovite by birth and a Kiev man by soul,” having lived in Ukraine for over twenty years.

At the start of World War I, Paustovsky joined his mother and siblings in Moscow and transferred to Moscow University. He was soon forced to quit his studies and find a job to help support the family. For years, he took on all sorts of jobs, including that of a nurse at various military medical trains. The war took him all the way to Poland and Belarus.
After the death of both his brothers at the front lines, Paustovsky briefly returned to Moscow to spend some time with his mother and sister, and then continued traveling around the country, eventually becoming a journalist and covering the events of 1917 –1919 related to the revolution in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

During the Civil War, Paustovsky moved his mother and sister to Ukraine and went on to serve in the army, travel, and work for various newspapers, meeting and forming friendships with other writers.
Paustovsky’s literary works were published consistently through the 1920s and 1930s. While still taking on journalist assignments, Paustovsky was leaning more and more toward becoming a professional writer –a decision strengthened by the success of his novels about industrial history. Gradually, while traveling to research various factories, Paustovsky started branching out into stories about people and nature.
The writer spent World War II as a war correspondent, dividing his time between the front lines and the USSR Telecommunications Agency offices in Moscow. Whenever possible, Paustovsky continued his literary work, including a play about fighting Fascism.

In the mid-1950s, Paustovsky had reached the status of a world-renowned writer. He finally had an opportunity to travel around Europe and make acquaintances in the international writing community and getting to meet the fans abroad he never knew he had, including the famous actress and performer, Marlene Dietrich. Paustovsky and Dietrich eventually met during her visit to Moscow, their encounter described fondly by the actress in her memoirs.

Paustovsky’s last years passed in the atmosphere of political struggle, as he joined other activists in restoring the rights of other writers who had fallen out of favor with the government and opposing Stalin’s amnesty by Brezhnev. The writer died on July 14, 1968 at his home in Moscow, after several heart and asthma attacks and was buried at a small local cemetery in the town of Tarusa.

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