Andrei Bely was born Boris Nikolayevich Bugayev in Moscow in 1880. His father was a well-known mathematician. At the insistence of his father, he studied mathematics and physics and Moscow University, graduating in 1903. However, he then realised that languages were more to his interest and started studying philology but never finished his course. By this time he was already writing poetry and soon published his prose symphonies as well as poetry. He had adopted the pseudonym Andrei Bely (Bely is the Russian for white), to avoid causing his father any embarrassment. By this time he was also closely associated with the Symbolist movement. Bely and the other Symbolists were very much influenced by the philosophy of Vladimir Solovyov, whose family he knew.
Because of his rejection by the wife of fellow Symbolist Alexander Blok, Bely went abroad, where he started work on his novels. Though he returned to Russia, he continued to travel abroad. Needing money to finance his travels, he turned to the magazine Russkaya Mysl and its editor, Peter Struve for an advance for a novel which he planned to be a second part of Silver Dove. Struve refused to give an advance but promised to pay on delivery of a manuscript. However, when the manuscript was delivered – it was now the novel Петербург (Petersburg) – Struve refused to publish it, apparently because he thought that one of the characters was a parody of himself. Bely did manage to get it published by Sirin in 1913.
He then became interested in the philosophy of Rudolph Steiner and went to Switzerland in 1914 to help Steiner. He returned to Russia in 1916 but managed to avoid military service. His feelings towards the Revolution were ambivalent and, in 1922, he returned to Europe, specifically to Berlin, where he edited several of his works, including Петербург (Petersburg) of which he had a revised version published. He returned to Russia in 1923, married and wrote his Moscow trilogy (not published in English). He continued writing till his death in 1934. He will be remembered for his great novel Петербург (Petersburg).
Books about Andrei Bely
Konstantin Mochulsky: Andrei Bely: His Life and Works
Andrey Bely (his grave)
Андрей Белый (in Russian)
Белый Андрей (in Russian)
Белый Андрей (in Russian)
Андрей Белый (1880 – 1934) (in Russian)
Белый А. (in Russian)
Андрей Белый Хронологическая канва жизни и творчества (in Russian)
(Works translated into English only)
1902 Драматическая Симфония (The Dramatic Symphony)
1909 Серебряный голубь (The Silver Dove)
1913 Петербург (Petersburg)
1921 Крещеный китаец (The Christened Chinaman)
1922 Котик Летаев (Kotik Letaev)
1922 Первое свидание (The First Encounter)
1922 Глоссолалия (Glossalolia)
1924 Одна из обителей царства теней (In the Kingdom of Shadows)
1926 Московский чудак (Moscow Eccentric)
1979 Complete Short Stories