Mikhail Evgrafovich Saltykov, pen-name Shchedrin, (1826-1889) is known as Russia's greatest satirist. Born into the landed gentry, he worked as a civil servant while writing and editing for radical journals. Though he was exiled for seven years, he maintained an unflagging attack on Russia's social institutions, the new bourgeois capitalists, and the cowardice of the educated classes. Shchedrin showed his talents in the Fables, The History of a Town, and his masterpiece, The Golovlyov Family.

James Wood is a novelist, staff critic at The New Yorker magazine, and Professor of the Practice of Literary Criticism at Harvard University.

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