The first literary men
In the early 18th century, under Tsar Peter the Great (1672-1725), Russia experienced a series of changes which urged scientists and artists to seek new paths. The authors of that time responded enthusiasticly to the Tsar's exhortations and searched for linguistic innovations in literature, which had been under strong influence of the Church Slavonic until then.
Vasily Kirillovich Tredyakovsky (1703-1757) is generally regarded as the founder of Russian literature. He studied at the Sorbonne in Paris, and started translating French and other classical works into Russian. In 1735, he published A new and fast method for writing Russian poetry, in which he discussed poetic forms such as sonnets for the first time in Russian literature. In 1748, he published A discussion of orthograph, about the phonetic structure of the Russian language. And in 1752, in On Ancient, Middle, and New Russian Poetry, he calls for a renewal of Russian poetry.
Another influential person at that time was Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov (1711-1765). He studied at the University of Marburg in Germany, and excelled in various scientific fields such as chemistry, physics, astronomy and geography. He was also very active in arts as the producer of the first stained glass mosaics outside of Italy, and as a poet and literary scholar. With its authoritative treatises on style, grammar and rhetoric, he set out the foundation for the modern Russian literary language. Lomonosov's name is kept alive today in the official name of the Moscow State University.
In the second half of the 18th century, under Empress Catherine the Great (1729-1796), Russian literature suffered from heavy censorship. Various social criticism playwrights were arrested. In 1790, Aleksandr Nikolaevich Radishchev (1749-1802) published his Journey from Petersburg to Moscow, in which he depicted a bleak image of Russia, including sharp criticism of the feudal system of serfs. He was arrested and exiled to Siberia, where he committed suicide in 1802. More than a century later, in 1918, he was called the first martyr of the Russian Revolution by Anatoly Vasilyevich Lunacharsky (1875-1933), the first People's Commissar for Education, Education and Sciences of the USSR.
The poet Gavrila Romanovich Derzhavin (1743-1816) did not suffer from the censorship at all. For he wrote odes which were dedicated to the Empress and other courtiers. He even became the personal secretary of Catherine the Great in 1791.