“One of Nekrasov's very greatest works, the long poem Moroz, Krasnyi Nos, which by virtue of its profound penetration into the life of the peasant and its powerful pictorial and lyrical style transcends almost everything which has been written about the Russian countryside, has yet to be studied [izucheno] in our country.” So wrote Kornei Chukovskii a quarter of a century ago.
The critic's complaint was surely exaggerated. After all, one of the century's most eminent Nekrasov scholars, Vladislav E. Evgen'ev-Maksimov, had given the poem his serious and sustained attention, and lesser investigators have in the last fifty years significantly increased our understanding of its metrical, folkloric, and polemical aspects. These critical forays notwithstanding, in a sense Chukovskii's statement holds true to this day. For if it is agreed that what we expect most from criticism is an expanded understanding of what a literary work is about; if, in other words, it is the critic as exegete whom we value most highly (there are of course those who would dispute the premise), then Moroz, Krasnyi Nos has indeed been neglected. For, more than 120 years after its publication a serious hermaneutic study of this famous poem is still wanting.