Boris Vasilyev (writer)

Boris Lvovich Vasilyev (Russian: Борис Львович Васильев; 21 May 1924 – 11 March 2013) was a 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 dramatised their traumatic World War II experience.

Boris Lvovich Vasilyev
Борис Львович Васильев
Born(1924-05-21)21 May 1924
Smolensk, Soviet Union
Died11 March 2013(2013-03-11) (aged 88)[1]
Moscow, Russia
Years active1958–2013
Spouse(s)Zorya Albertovna Vasilyeva
AwardsAndrei Sakharov Prize For Writer's Civic Courage


Born into a family of Russian nobility.[2] His father Lev Alexandrovich 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 Elena Nikolaevna Alexeeva (1892—1978) belonged to a noble Alexeev 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, Vasiliev 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 Vasiliev's sentimental patriotic tales of female heroism in the Second World War[5] ("Not on the Active List", 1974; "Tomorrow There Came 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.

Vasiliev's short novel Don't Shoot the 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.

Vasiliev 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 USSR 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, Vasiliev 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 filmographyEdit

Year Title Original title
1958 A Routine Trip Очередной рейс
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 Very Last Day Самый последний день with Mikhail Ulyanov
1977 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
1995 I Am a Russian Soldier Я — русский солдат based on the novel
2005 The Dawns Here Are Quiet 这里的黎明静悄悄 with Yun Lan, Chinese-Russian TV series
2009 Peranmai பேராண்மை based on the novel, Indian movie
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. Archived from the original on 17 April 2013. Retrieved 11 March 2013.
  2. ^ a b 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". p. 15. Retrieved 8 July 2016 – via Kommersant.
  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. ^ Писатели требуют от правительства решительных действий. Izvestia (in Russian). 5 October 1993. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 21 August 2011.
  11. ^ Boris Vasilyev's tomb

External linksEdit