Vsevolod Mikhailovich Garshin by painter Ilya Repin
I saw this portrait at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, 2009.
When Garshin was seven years old, he witnessed his father commit suicide.
During the Russo-Turkish War, Garshin, a pacifist, was conscripted and served as an infantry private. He was well liked in his unit, by fellow soldiers and officers alike, and was wounded during a battle in Bulgaria.
His experiences as a soldier provide the basis for his first stories, including the very first, “Four Days”, based on a real incident. The narrative is organized as the interior monologue of a wounded soldier left for dead at the battlefield for four days, face to face with the corpse of a Turkish soldier he had killed. Garshin’s empathy for all beings is already evident in this first story.
Despite early literary success, he had periodical bouts of mental illness. At the age of 33, Garshin committed suicide by jumping from the fifth floor of his apartment building and died five days later at a Red Cross hospital.