Likhachov, Dmitry

Likhachov, Dmitry
© Igor Palmin
Dmitry Sergeyevich Likhachov (Дми́трий Серге́евич Лихачёв, also Dmitri Likhachev; 1906, St. Petersburg – 1999, St. Petersburg) was an outstanding Soviet Russian scholar who was considered the world's foremost expert in Old Russian language and literature. He is revered as "the last of old St Petersburgers", "a guardian of national culture", and "Russia's conscience".
From his early childhood he was passionate about literature, even though his parents did not approve of this interest. In 1923 at the age of sixteen Likhachov entered the Leningrad State University in the Department of Linguistics and Literature, where he attended Roman-Germanic and Slavic-Russian sections at the same time. In 1928, at the end of his studies, Likhachov was arrested and accused of being a member of the students’ club “Cosmic Academy of Science”, which was simply a playful name for a group of like-minded youths. After nine months in jail, the young scientist was unlawfully exiled without trial and sentenced to five years in the USSR’s largest labor camp situated on the Solovetsky Islands, where he met both exiled Russian intellectuals and real criminals, who happened to save his life. From 1931 Likhachov was a worker on the construction of the White Sea-Baltic Sea Canal until his release in 1932.
After working at the Institute for Russian Literature in Moscow member of the Soviet Academy of Science in 1970. Doctor Honoris Causa at Torun University in 1964, Oxford University in 1967, Edinburgh University in 1970, Bordeaux in 1982, Zurich in 1983, Budapest in 1985 and Sofia in 1988.
In 1995 he could publish his memoirs under the title "Vospominaniya". Dmitry Likhachov died on 30 September 1999. He was married to Zinaida Makarova and had twin daughters, Vera and Lyudmila.