The first two great satirical novelists in Russian literature are Nikolai Gogol (1809-52) and Mikhail Saltykov (1826-89), who wrote under the pen-name of Shchedrin. Many major Russian writers, from Aleksandr Pushkin through Lev Tolstoi and Fedor Dostoevskii to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, have used satirical depiction in their novels, but it could never be said that satire is characteristic of their work as a whole. It is Gogol and Shchedrin who between them set the points of reference for the Russian satirical novel.
Of course satire existed in Russian literature before Gogol, but not in the form of a novel of European stature.' An important element in the development of the Russian satirical novel was the picaresque tradition. In its classic form, which originated in Spain in the mid sixteenth century and in the following centuries spread throughout Europe, the picaresque novel is the retrospective autobiography of a rogue, the picaro.
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