History and geography teacher at provincial high schools (Simbirsk, Elets, Viazma). As a student, married the former mistress of his idol Dostoevskii (Appolinaria Suslova), 1880. This disastrous marriage scarred him for life.
Parted with his wife (who refused to agree to divorce), 1886, and started a new family life (illegally, as no church marriage was possible under the circumstances). Moved to Petersburg in 1893. From 1899, a regular contributor to the newspaper Novoe Vremia.
Gained fame, bordering on notoriety, by his open contempt for all the traditional values of the intelligentsia (political dogmatism, left-wing conviction, atheism, faith in progress). At the same time, scandalized conservative circles by his pro-Old Testament and anti-Christian position (condemning the ascetic traditions of the Christian church), and his stress on sexuality as the basis of all life. His religious attraction to Judaism and political anti-Semitism completed the confusion and insured that he offended just about everybody.
Despite all this, he was widely read, due to his always unexpected, often profound, always aphoristic way of thinking. In his time, practically the only Russian thinker to appreciate the works of K. Leontiev, considered then unduly pessimistic and reactionary. Member of the Religous-Philosophical Society, 1902-1903.
Can be regarded as the Russian Freud (though his pansexism is founded on a different basis and is much less gloomy).