Innokentiy Fyodorovich Annensky (Russian: Инноке́нтий Фёдорович А́нненский (September 1, 1855 N.S. Omsk–December 13, 1909 N.S. Saint Petersburg) was a poet, critic and translator, representative of the first wave of Russian Symbolism. Sometimes cited as a Slavic counterpart to the poètes maudits, Annensky managed to render into Russian the essential intonations of Baudelaire and Verlaine, while the subtle music, ominous allusions, arcane vocabulary, the spell of minutely changing colours and odours were all his own. His influence on the first post-Symbolist generation of poets (Akhmatova, Gumilyov, Mandelshtam) was paramount.
Born in Omsk, 1 September (although this date was later disputed by the poet's son) to a high-ranking administrative officer.
1858 his Father settles his family permanently in St. Petersburg after having been transferred to Petersburg soon after Annensky's birth. The poet's happy early childhood, (he wrote his first poems when he was small for his father) is interrupted by the sudden death of his parents. He moves in with the family of his eldest brother, Nikolay Fedorovich.
From 1865-1872 he Attends various Petersburg secondary schools. His early education is marked both by obvious brilliance and interruptions caused by his poor physical condition (he suffered from a chronic heart ailment) and his family's poverty. Though both his brother, publisher of the influential journal Russian Wealth, and sister-in-law, Aleksandra Nikitchna (a popular writer of children's books), are both relatively successful, they have trouble making ends meet and are forced to withdraw Innokentii Fedorovich from schools. His brother, who disapproved of Russian public education to begin with, taught him at home in periods when Innokentii was not enrolled.
In 1875 he Enrolls in St. Petersburg University and studies comparative philology, with concentrations in the history of the Russian language, classics, and ancient literature.
He Graduates from St. Petersburg University in 1879 with honors and is appointed to a position teaching secondary school. Marries Nadezhda Valentinovna Khmara-Barshchevskaia, a woman several years older than the poet and already a widow and the mother of two sons. The following year, 1780, Nadezhda Valentinovna gives birth to Annenskii's only son, Valentin, who would later publish poetry and a memoir of his father under the pseudonym V. Kirich. For the next ten years, Annensky remains in the capital, teaching and tutoring mostly for private students and only occasionally finding time to write, and then only writing academic articles and reviews for smaller journals and academic collections.
In 1891, he is hired as director of the P. Galagan College in Kiev. There Annenskii attempts to institute his innovative ideas about pedagogy in a series of reforms focused on the teaching of languages and literature. Oddly reminiscent of John Dewey's nearly simultaneous work at the Lab School in Chicago, Annensky stresses the importance of allowing the students to interact both creatively and practically with the subject matter, whether it is Pushkin's lyrics or Latin verb conjugations, and specifically attacks and attempts to eradicate the method of teaching and learning by rote. During this period, Annensky begins translating Euripides and writes several articles on Russian literature.
Both because of the school administration's antipathy to Annensky's methods and his antipathy to their increasingly rigid Ukrainian nationalism, the poet leaves Kiev for Petersburg in 1893, where he is appointed head of the 8th Gymnasium where the administration welcomes his pedagogical ideas. Begins translating the plays of Euripides.
He Publishes the first of his Euripides translations in 1886, Rhesus, and simultaneous stages it at the gymnasium to overwhelming success. Promoted to the directorship of the celebrated Gymnasium at Tsarskoe Selo. Over the course of his nine-year tenure at the school, Annensky's teaching influences many children of influential Petersburg families and several future poets and writers, particularly Anna Akhmatova (then Gorenko) and Nikolay Gumilev. The position allows Annensky to focus more on his own writing and research, and subsequently leads to a flowering in his academic and the beginning of his creative output.
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