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Viktor Petrovich Burenin (March 6 [February 22, o.s.], 1841 in Moscow, Russian Empire – August 15, 1926 in Leningrad, Soviet Union) was a Russian literary and theatre critic, publicist, novelist, dramatist, translator and satirical poet notorious for his confrontational articles and satirical poems, mostly targeting leftist writers. He was the author of several popular plays (some co-authored by Alexey Suvorin), novels and opera librettos (Chaykovsky's Mazepa; Cui's Angelo)

Viktor Burenin was born in Moscow, the twelfth child in the family of architect Pyotr Petrovich Burenin. As a student of the Moscow College of Architecture (1852-1859), he became friends with some amnestied Decembrists (Ivan Pushchin, Ivan Yakushkin, Gavriil Batenkov among others) who introduced the young man to the Russian literary circles. A strong influence proved to be petrashevets Sergey Durov who advised him to translate Barbier's Iambes et poemes for the Geneva-based The Word of the Underground magazine. In 1861 Burenin spent several months in Germany, Switzerland and France; since then his visits to the Western Europe became yearly.

In the early 1860s Burenin drifted towards the Russky Vestnik-centered literary society; attended Alexey Pleshcheev's "Meetings" (it was there that he met for the first time Suvorin, Lev Tolstoy, Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin) and also Ivan Aksakov's "Fridays", the meeting place for the Moscow slavophiles. Burenin assisted Nikolai Nekrasov in gathering the historical data on the Decembrist revolt for the latter's poem Russian Women. At 20 he debuted with an article in Alexander Hertzen's Kolokol, in 1862 started contributing satirical poems to magazines Iskra and Zritel, writing under the pseudonym Vladimir Monumentov.

In 1863 Nekrasov, Burenin moved to Saint Petersburg and a year later became a professional author. His 1864 poem "July 13, 1864" about Chernyshevsky's trial circulated in hand-written versions and could be published only in the Soviet Russia (Vestnik Literatury, 1920, No. 6). Three favorite targets for Burenin's wit in the 1860s were Prussian militarism, medical education for women and the corrupt Russian advocacy.

After Dmitry Karakozov's attempt on the life of Tsar Alexander II in 1866, Burenin's flat was searched by the police and the publication of his highly popular feuilletons in Saint Petersburg's Vedomosti was stopped. Nekrasov invited him to Otechestvennye Zapiski where he started publishing poems, several of which (including an epic "Thirteen Generals") were banned by censors. The drawn-out feud with Nikolai Mikhaylovsky led to his departure from Otechestvennye Zapiski in 1872.

In 1876 Burenin joined Novoye Vremya, led by Alexey Suvorin (with it he stayed up until the newspaper's closure in 1918) and made a political U-turn. In the years to come Ivan Goncharov and Nikolai Leskov referred to him as an "unscrupulous cynic", several lawsuits have been filed against him and numerous literary luminaries (including Maxim Gorky, Anton Chekhov, Alexander Blok, Vladimir Korolenko, Leonid Andreev, Ivan Bunin) complained about the critic's unacceptably violent style of attacking opponents. Still, his satires were immensely popular: Blok admitted to having known by heart Burenin's parodies of his poems and was often entertaining his friends reciting them.

Personal tragedy, the death in 1884 of 20-year-old son Konstantin (a gifted poet and translator, known as K.Renin), made Burenin totally alienated from the outside world. The office of Novoye Vremya (which he lived nearby) for years became his real home. Highly detrimental to his reputation was the quarrel with dying Semyon Nadson. Having construed the latter's criticism towards himself as an 'ingratitude' (Burenin assisted Nadson's debut publication; the latter felt uneasy with the fact) he published fragments from Nadson's personal correspondence, then accused the poet of simulating his illness in order to receive financial support from friends. According to popular myth the shock Nadson received was fatal and in several days' time he died. "Since then Burenin's been treated so much more cruelly than he'd treated Nadson and fan Eleonora Obmokni," according to the theatre critic Alexander Kugel. So insistent was the liberal and left press in their obstruction that Burenin's name became a token one: Vladimir Lenin mentioned it regularly as a symbol of 'dirty' methods in leading the polemics.

Burenin's "Critical Sketches" in Novoye Vremya were immensely successful: general readership loved his irreverent manner of ridiculing both authors and their works. Paradoxically, the Sketches did a lot to inform the readership about the new literary events. "Violating every norm of manner and behavior in his attacks on Merezhkovsky, Volynsky, Gippius... Burenin has done more than anybody else to popularize the new trends he slagged each Fridays in his brilliant buffoonery," argued critic Pyotr Pertsov. "While in the liberal circles to read Novoye Vremya was considered mauves ton, Berenin's feullietons were read by everybody, clandestinely," wrote author and publisher Boris Glinsky.

Burenin's novels and novellas had considerable commercial success (mainly due to their sensationalist nature: the characters were easily recognizable real people) but, according to biographer Lepyokhin, hold little artistic merit. More substantial were Burenin's plays, based on antique and Middle Ages plots (Medea, with Suvorin as co-author, 1883; Messalina, 1885; The Death of Agrippina, 1887; The Comedy of Princess Zabava Putyatishna and Boyar-lady Vasilisa Mikulishna, 1889), all staged by Maly and Alexandrinsky theatres. Burenin translated several plays, by William Shakespeare, Niccolo Machiavelli, Alexander Dumas, Karl Gutzkow, Gerhart Hauptmann, among others. For many years Burenin was taking an active part in the life of Maly Theatre before founding (again with Suvorin) The Literary and Arts' Society Theatre.

After the 1917 Revolution Burenin stayed in the Soviet Russia and fared relatively well despite the false obituary published in 1921 by Belgrade-based Novoye Vremya, re-newed by Suvorin's son. He was helped a lot by Maxim Gorky whom he mercifully lampooned in the 1900s.

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