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Boris Vasilyev
File:Boris Vasilyev (writer).jpg
Born Boris Lvovich Vasilyev
(1924-05-21)21 May 1924
Smolensk, Soviet Union
Died 11 March 2013(2013-03-11) (aged 88)[1]
Moscow, Russia
Occupation Writer
Years active 1958–2013
Spouse(s) Zorya Albertovna Vasilyeva
Awards Andrei Sakharov Prize For Writer's Civic Courage

Boris Lvovich Vasilyev (Russian: Борис Львович Васильев; 21 May 1924 – 11 March 2013) was a Soviet and Russian writer and screenwriter. He is considered the last representative of the so-called lieutenant prose, a group of former low-ranking Soviet officers who dramatized their traumatic World War II experience.


Born into a family of Russian nobility.[2] His father Lev Aleksandrovich Vasilyev (1892—1968) came from a dynasty of military officers; he served in the Imperial Russian Army and took part in the First World War in the rank of Poruchik before joining the Red Army. Vasilyev's mother Yelena Nikolayevna Alekseyeva (1892—1978) belonged to a noble Alekseyev family tree that traces its history back to the 15th century; her father was among the founders of the Circle of Tchaikovsky.[3][4]

In 1941, Boris Vasilyev volunteered for the front line and joined a destruction battalion. He fought as part of the 3rd Guards Airborne Division up until 1943 when he was wounded in action and demobilized.[2] After his World War II service, Vasilyev enrolled at the Malinovsky Tank Academy.

His short novel The Dawns Here Are Quiet was a Soviet bestseller, selling 1.8 million copies within a year after its publication in 1969. It was adapted for the stage and the screen; there is also an opera by Kirill Molchanov, and a Chinese TV series based on the story.

The Dawns Here Are Quiet was the first of Vasilyev's sentimental patriotic tales of female heroism in the Second World War[5] ("Not on the Active List", 1974; "Tomorrow Was the War", 1984) which brought him renown in the Soviet Union, China, and other communist countries.[6] Some of his books give a harsh picture of life in Stalin's Russia.

Vasilyev's short novel Do Not Shoot at White Swans (1973), a milestone of Russian-language environmental fiction, is sharply critical of "the senseless destruction of beautiful creatures and the exploitation of nature for personal gain".[7] It was made into a 1980 Soviet film.

Vasilyev was awarded the USSR State Prize for 1975 and was a member of the jury at the 39th Berlin International Film Festival.[8] In 1989, he quit the Communist Party but grew disillusioned with the Perestroika rather quickly.[9] In October 1993, he signed the Letter of Forty-Two.[10] Late in life, Vasilyev turned to historical fiction based on incidents from medieval Russian chronicles.

Vasilyev died on 11 March 2013 following the deaths of his wife and his adopted son earlier the same year. He was buried at the Vagankovo Cemetery near his wife.[11]

Selected filmography

Year Title Original title
1964 Footprint in the Ocean След в океане with Kirill Rapoport
1966 Royal Regatta Королевская регата with Kirill Rapoport and Semyon Listov
1969 On the Way to Berlin На пути в Берлин with Kirill Rapoport and Yuri Chulyukin
1971 Officers Офицеры with Kirill Rapoport
1972 The Dawns Here Are Quiet А зори здесь тихие with Stanislav Rostotsky
The Last Day Самый последний день with Mikhail Ulyanov
1976 One-Two, Soldiers Were Going... Аты-баты, шли солдаты ... with Kirill Rapoport
1980 Do Not Shoot at White Swans Не стреляйте в белых лебедей with Kirill Rapoport
1987 Tomorrow Was the War Завтра была война based on the novel
1988 Whose Are You, Old People? Вы чьё, старичьё? based on the novel
1995 I, a Russian soldier Я — русский солдат based on the novel
2009 Peranmai பேராண்மை based on the novel, Indian film
2015 The Dawns Here Are Quiet А зори здесь тихие ... based on the novel


  1. "Russia's Soviet-era war novelist Boris Vasilyev dies aged 88: Voice of Russia". 21 May 1924. Retrieved 11 March 2013. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Boris Vasilyev (2003). Extraordinary Century. — Moscow: Vagrius, 236 pages. ISBN 5-9560-0135-6 (Autobiography)
  3. Boris Vasilyev: Time Heals Wounds interview at the Trud newspaper, 6 May 2005 (in Russian)
  4. The Alexeev family article from Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary, 1890—1907 (in Russian)
  5. Martin Banham. The Cambridge Guide to Theatre. 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press, 1995. P. 656.
  6. Трофименков, Михаил (3 December 2013). "Социалистический сентименталист". pp. 15. Retrieved 8 July 2016. 
  7. Rosalind J. Marsh. Soviet Fiction Since Stalin: Science, Politics, and Literature. Taylor & Francis, 1986. Page 182.
  8. "Berlinale: 1989 Juries". Retrieved 9 March 2011. 
  9. "ВАСИЛЬЕВ, БОРИС ЛЬВОВИЧ - Энциклопедия Кругосвет". Retrieved 8 July 2016. 
  10. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}" (in ru). 5 October 1993. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 21 August 2011. 
  11. Boris Vasilyev's tomb

External links

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