A significant number of aphorisms supplemented by the dictionary of Russian idioms come from A.S. Griboyedov's comedy “Горе от ума” (The Woes of Wit).
Александр Сергеевич Грибоедов (Alexandre Sergueyevich Griboyedov, 1795-1829) was a Russian writer, poet, playwright and diplomat, one of the most educated and talented people of his time. He was born in Moscow, in an ancient noble family, was a school boarder at the Moscow University, studying at first literature, then choosing the ethical-political branch, and finally following classes at the Law and Physics-Mathematics faculties.
By the time of his graduation, Griboyedov could speak French, English, German, Italian, Greek and Latin, and later mastered Arabic, Persian and Turkish.
In 1812, Alexander was preparing the exam for his doctorate. However, Napoleon's invasion of Moscow forced him to change his plans. Griboyedov enrolled as a volunteer in a hussar regiment. The truth is that he never participated in any battle, because by the time he was assigned to a regiment, Napoleon had already left Moscow and Russia.
Griboyedov continued to serve in the army for some time, but he began some literary activities on the side, sending some articles to “Вестник Европы” (The Herald of Europe newspaper). In 1816, he resigned the military services and in 1817, along with A.S. Pushkin, he entered the service of the College of Foreign Affairs.
His literary activities became more and more successful, and his first play was printed and set up on stage in St. Petersburg. During this time, Griboyedov began to work on a comedy “Горе от ума” (The Woes of Wit) which will be his main work.
He was no less successful in his diplomatic career. However, because of his participation as a second witness in a duel, where one of the opponent died, Griboyedov had to leave St. Petersburg and was sent as a diplomatic secretary in the embassy of Persia. After five years in Iran and the Caucasus, he received his leave and was able to return first to Moscow in March 1823, then in St. Petersburg in 1824.
During the summer of 1824, he completed his work on the comedy. But Griboyedov was refused the publication and the show on stage of “Горе от ума” (The Woes of Wit). Censor discerned the relationships between the views of the main character and the ideas of the members of secret societies, which later will be called Decembrists. However, the text of the comedy, although censored, spread very quickly in tens of thousands of copies.
In May 1825, the Russian government sent Griboyedov on mission to the Caucasus. And that was while on post in Tbilisi that he heard about the Decembrist revolt that took place in the Senate square in St. Petersburg on December 14, 1825. As a coincidence, almost at the same time, some fragments of his comedy were published in the “Русская Талия” (Russian Waist) anthology.
After some investigations about the uprising, Griboyedov was arrested in January 1825 and taken back to St. Petersburg. The reason of his arrest was that some copies of his comedy “The Woes of Wit” were found in the private belongings of the members of the revolt.
However, the investigative commission couldn't prove the participation of the author in the conspiracy. Besides, Griboyedov was able to convince the Tsar that he was against any changes in the methods of the state power and was finally released on June 2, 1826.
Following the successful conclusion of the war with Persia in April 1828, Griboyedov, who owned the main credit and signature to the peace treaty very favourable to Russia, was appointed ambassador in Iran. Griboyedov wasn't inclined to move there, but he didn't dare to go against the Tsar's will.
His worst premonition came true very soon: on February 11, 1829, Griboyedov, along with other members of the Russian mission in Tehran was brutally killed by a crowd of Muslim fanatics who had broke into the territory of the embassy.
On the monument dressed over his tomb in Tbilisi, Griboyedov's wife, the Georgian Princess Nina Chavchavadze wrote: “Ум и дела твои бессмертны в памяти русской, но для чего пережила тебя любовь моя?” (Your spirit and achievements will be remembered for ever. Why still does my love outlive you?)
The Woes of Wit…