1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Russian Literature
RUSSIAN LITERATURE. To get a clear idea of Russian literature, it will be most convenient for us to divide it into oral and written. The first of these sections includes the interesting byliny, or “tales of old time,” as the word may be translated, which have come down to us in great numbers, as they have been sung by wandering minstrels all over the country. The scholars who have given their attention to these compositions have made the following division of them into cycles: (1) that of the older heroes; (2) that of Vladimir, prince of Kiev; (3) that of Novgorod; (4) that of Moscow; (5) that of the Cossacks; (6) that of Peter the Great; (7) the Peasant songs. modern period. These poems, if they may be so styled, are not in rhyme; the ear is satisfied with a certain cadence which is observed throughout. For a long time they were neglected, and the collection of them began only towards the conclusion of the 17th century. The style of Russian literature which prevailed from the time of Lomonosov was wholly based upon the French or pseudo-classical school. It was, therefore, hardly likely that these peasant songs would attract attention. But when the gospel of romanticism was preached and the History of Karamzin appeared, a new impulse was given to the collection of all the remains of popular literature. In 1804 appeared a volume based upon those which had been gathered together by Cyril or Kirsha Danilov, a Cossack, at the beginning of the 18th century. They were received with much enthusiasm, and a second edition was published in 1818. In the following year there appeared at Leipzig a translation of many of these pieces into German, in consequence of which they became known much more widely. This little book of 160 pages is important because the originals of some of the byliny translated in it are now lost. Since that time large collections of these poems have been published, edited by Rybnikov, Hilferding, Sreznevskiy, Avenarius and others.
These curious productions have all the characteristics of popular poetry in the endless repetitions of certain conventional phrases—the “green wine,” “the bright sun” (applied to a hero), “the damp earth” and others. The heroes of the first cycle are monstrous beings, and seem to be merely impersonifications of the powers of nature; such are Volga Vseslavich, Mikula Selianinovich and Sviatogor. They are called the bogatyri starshie. Sometimes we have the giants of the mountain, as Sviatogor, and the serpent Gorinich, the root of part of both names being gora (mountain). The serpent Gorinich lives in caves, and has the care of the precious metals. Sometimes animal natures are mixed up with them, as zmei-bogatyr, who unites the qualities of the serpent and the giant, and bears the name of Tugarin Zmievich. There is the Pagan Idol (Idolistche Poganskoe), a great glutton, and Nightingale the Robber (Solovey Razboinik), who terrifies travellers and lives in a nest built upon six oaks.
In the second cycle the legends group themselves round the celebrated Prince Vladimir of Kiev. The chief hero is Ilya Muromets, who performs prodigies of valour, and is of gigantic stature and superhuman strength. The cycle of Novgorod deals with the stories of Vasilii Buslaevich and Sadko, the rich merchant. The fourth cycle deals with the autocracy; already Moscow has become the capital of the future empire. We are told of the taking of Kazan, of the conquest of Siberia by Yermak, of Ivan the Terrible and his confidant Maliuta Skurlatovich. It is observable that in the popular tradition Ivan is not spoken of with any hatred. As early as 1619 some of these byliny were committed to writing by Richard James, an Oxford graduate who was in Russia as chaplain of the embassy. The most pathetic is that relating to the unfortunate Xenia, the daughter of Boris Godunov. Yermak, the conqueror of Siberia, forms the subject of a very spirited lay, and there is another on the death of Ivan the Terrible. Considering the relation in which she stood to the Russians, we cannot wonder that Marina, the wife of the false Demetrius, appears as a magician. Many spirited poems are consecrated to the achievements of Stenka Razin, the bold robber of the Volga, who was for a long time a popular hero. The cycle of Peter the Great is a very interesting one. We have songs in abundance on the achievements of the tsar, as the taking of Azov in 1696. There is also a poem on the execution of the streltsy, and another on the death of Peter. In the more modern period there are many songs on Napoleon. The Cossack songs, written in the Little Russian language, dwell upon the glories of the sech, the sufferings of the people from the invasions of the Turks and Mongols, the exploits of the Haidamaks and, lastly, the fall of the Cossack republic. Besides these, the Russians can boast of large collections of religious poems, many of them containing very curious legends. In them we have a complete store of the beliefs of the Middle Ages. A rich field may be found here for the study of comparative mythology and folk-lore. Many of them are of considerable antiquity, and some seem to have been derived from the Midrash. Some of the more important of these have been collected by Beszonov. Besides the byliny or legendary poems, the Russians have large collections of skazki or folk-tales, which have been gathered together by Sakharov, Afanasiev and others. They also are full of valuable materials for the study of comparative mythology.
Leaving, the popular and oral literature, we come to what has been committed to writing. The earliest specimen of Earliest written literature. Russian, properly so called, must be considered the Ostromir Codex, written by the diak Gregory at the order of Ostromir, the posadnik or governor of Novgorod. This is a Russian recension of the Slavonic Gospels, of the date 1056-57. Of the year 1073 we have the Izbornik or “Miscellany” of Sviatoslav. It was written by John the diak or deacon for that prince, and is a kind of Russian encyclopedia, drawn from Greek sources. The date is 1076. The style is praised by Buslaev as clear and simple. The next monument of the language is the Discourse concerning the Old and New Testament, by Hilarion, metropolitan of Kiev. In this Work there is a panegyric on Prince Vladimir of Kiev, the hero of so much of the Russian popular poetry. Other writers are Theodosius, a monk of the Pestcherskiy cloister, who wrote on the Latin faith and some Pouchenia or “Instructions,” and Luke Zhidiata, bishop of Novgorod, who has left us a curious Discourse to the Brethren. From the writings of Theodosius we see that many pagan habits were still in vogue among the people. He finds fault with them for allowing these to continue, and also for their drunkenness; nor do the monks escape his censures. Zhidiata writes in a more vernacular style than many of his contemporaries; he eschews the declamatory tone of the Byzantine authors.
With the so-called Chronicle of Nestor (q.v.) begins the long Annalists and travellers. series of the Russian annalists. There is a regular catena of these chronicles, extending with only two breaks to the time of Alexis Mikhailovich, the father of Peter the Great. Besides the work attributed to Nestor, we have chronicles of Novgorod, Kiev, Volhynia and many others. Every town of any importance could boast of its annalists, Pskov and Suzdal among others. In some respects these compilations, the productions of monks in their cloisters, remind us of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, dry details alternating with here and there a picturesque incident; and many of these annals abound with the quaintest stories. There are also works of early travellers, as the igumen Daniel, who visited the Holy Land at the end of the 11th and beginning of the 12th century. A later traveller was Athanasius Nikitin, a merchant of Tver, who visited India in 1470. He has left a record of his adventures, which has been translated into English and published for the Hakluyt Society. Later also is the account written by the two merchants, Korobeinikov and Grekov. They were sent with a sum of money to the Holy Sepulchre to entreat the monks to pray without ceasing for the soul of the son of Ivan the Terrible, whom his father had killed. A curious monument of old Slavonic times is the Pouchenie (“Instruction”), written by Vladimir Monomakh for the benefit of his sons. This composition is generally found inserted in the Chronicle of Nestor; it gives a quaint picture of the daily life of a Slavonic prince.
In the 12th century we have the sermons of Cyril, the bishop of Turov, which are attempts to imitate in Russian the florid Religious literature. Byzantine style. In his sermon on Holy Week, Christianity is represented under the form of spring, Paganism and Judaism under that of winter, and evil thoughts are spoken of as boisterous winds. And here may be mentioned the many lives of the saints and the Fathers to be found in early Russian literature. Some of these have been edited by Count Bezborodko in his Pametniki Starinnoy Russkoy Literatury (“Memorials of Ancient Russian Literature”).
We now come to the story of the expedition of Prince Igor, which is a kind of bylina in prose, and narrates the expedition The Story of Igor. of Igor, prince of Novgorod-Severskiy, against the Polovtzes. The manuscript was at one time preserved in a monastery at Yaroslavl, but was burnt in the great fire at Moscow in the year 1812. Luckily the story had been edited (after a fashion) by Count Musin-Pushkin, and a transcript was also found among the papers of the empress Catherine. The original was seen by several men of letters in Russia, Karamzin among the number. There is a mixture of Christian and heathen allusions, but there are parallels to this style of writing in such a piece as the “Discourse of a Lover of Christ and Advocate of the True Faith,” from which an extract has been given by Buslaev in his Chrestomathy. There is a great deal of poetical spirit in the story of Igor, and the metaphors are frequently very vigorous. Mention is made in it of another bard named Boyan, but none of his inspirations have come down to us. A strange legend is that of the tsar Solomon and Other popular tales. Kitovras, but the story occurs in the popular literatures of many countries. Some similar productions among the Russians are merely adaptations of old Bulgarian tales, especially the so-called apocryphal writings. The Zadonstchina is a sort of prose poem much in the style of the “Story of Igor,” and the resemblance of the latter to this piece and to many other of the skazania included in or attached to the Russian chronicle, furnishes an additional proof of its genuineness. The account of the battle of the “Field of Woodcocks,” which was gained by Dmitri Donskoy over the Mongols in 1380, has come down in three important versions. The first bears the title “Story of the Fight of the Prince Dmitri Ivanovich with Mamai”; it is rather meagre in details but full of expressions showing the patriotism of the writer. The second version is more complete in its historical details, but still is not without anachronisms. The third is altogether poetical. The Poviest o Drakule (“Story of Drakula”) is a collection of anecdotes relating to a cruel prince of Walachia who lived in the 15th century. (See Rumania, History.) Several of the barbarities described in it have also been assigned to Ivan the Terrible.
The early Russian laws present many features of interest, such as the Russkaya Pravda of Yaroslav, which is preserved in the Codes of laws. chronicle of Novgorod; the date is between 1018 and 1054. The laws show Russia at that time to have been in civilization quite on a level with the rest of Europe. But the evil influence of the Mongols was soon to make itself felt. The next important code is the Sudebnik of Ivan III., the date of which is 1497; this was followed by that of Ivan IV. of the year 1550, in which we have a republication by the tsar of his grandfather's laws, with additions. In the time of this emperor also was issued the Stoglav (1551), a body of ecclesiastical regulations. Mention must also be made of the Ulozhenie or “Ordinance” of the tsar Alexis. This abounds with enactments of sanguinary punishment: women are buried alive for murdering their husbands; torture is recognized as a means of procuring evidence; and the knout and mutilation are mentioned on almost every page. Some of the penalties are whimsical: for instance, the man who uses tobacco is to have his nose cut off; this was altered by Peter the Great, who himself practised the habit and encouraged it in others.
In 1553 a printing press was established at Moscow, and in 1564 the first book was printed, an “Apostol, ” as it Introduction of printing. is called, i.e. a book containing the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles. The printers were Ivan Feodorov and Peter Tirnofieiev; a monument has been erected to the memory of the former. As early as 1548 Ivan had invited printers to Russia, but they were detained on their journey. Feodorov and his companions were soon, however, compelled to leave Russia, and found a protector in Sigismund III. The cause appears to have been the enmity of the copyists of books, who succeeded in drawing over to their side the more fanatical priests. The first Slavonic Bible was printed at Ostrog in Volhynia in 1581. Another press, however, was soon established at Moscow; up to 1600 sixteen books had been issued there.
A curious work of the time of Ivan the Terrible is the Domostroy, or “Book of Household Management,” which is Time of Ivan the Terrible. said to have been written by the monk Sylvester. This priest was at one time very influential with Ivan, but ultimately was banished to the Solovetskoy monastery on the White Sea. The work was originally intended by Sylvester for his son Anthemius and his daughter-in-law Pelagia, but it soon became very popular. We have a faithful picture of the Russia of the time, with all its barbarisms and ignorance. We see the unbounded authority of the husband in his own household: he may inflict personal chastisement upon his wife; and her chief duty lies in ministering to his wants. To the reign of Ivan the Terrible must also be assigned the Chetii-Minei or “Book of Monthly Readings,” containing extracts from the Greek fathers, arranged for every day of the week. The work was compiled by the metropolitan Macarius, and was the labour of twelve years. An important writer of the same period was Prince Andrew Kurbskiy, descended from the sovereigns of Yaroslavl, who was born about 1528. In his early days Kurbskiy saw a great deal of service, having fought at Kazan and in Livonia. But he quarrelled with Ivan, who had begun to persecute the followers of Sylvester and Adashev, and fled to Lithuania in 1563, where he was well received by Sigismund Augustus. From his retreat he commenced a correspondence with Ivan, in which he reproached him for his many cruelties. Ivan in his answer declared that he was quite justified in taking the lives of his slaves if he thought it right to do so. Kurbskiy died in exile in 1585. He also wrote a life of Ivan, but Bestuzhev Riumin thinks that his hatred of Ivan led him to exaggerate, and he regrets that Karamzin should have followed him so closely. Besides the answers of Ivan to Kurbskiy, there is his letter to Cosmas and the brotherhood of the Cyrillian monastery on the White Lake (Bielo Ozero), in which he reproaches them for the self-indulgent lives they are leading. Other works of the 16th century are the Stepennaya Kniga, or “Book of Degrees” (or “Pedigrees”), in which historical events are grouped under the reigns of the grand-dukes, whose pedigrees are also given; and the Life of the Tsar Feodor Ivanovich (1584-98), written by the patriarch Job.
To the beginning of the 17th century belongs the Chronograph of Sergius Kubasov of Tobolsk. His work extends from the 17th century. creation of the world to the accession of Michael Romanov, and contains interesting accounts of such of the members of the Russian royal family as Kubasov had himself seen. Something of the same kind must have been the journal of Prince Mstislavskiy, which he showed the English ambassador Jerome Horsey, but which is now lost.
To the time of the first Romanovs belongs the story of the siege of Azov, a prose poem, which tells us, in an inflated style, how in 1637 a body of Cossacks triumphantly repelled the attacks of the Turks. There is also an account of the siege of the Troitza monastery by the Poles during the “Smutnoe Vremya,” or Period of Troubles, as it is called—that which deals with the adventures of the false Demetrius and the Polish invasion which followed. But all these are surpassed by the Kotoshikhin. work on Russia of Gregory Karpov Kotoshikhin. He served in the ambassadors office (posolskiy prikaz), and when called upon to give information against his colleagues fled to Poland about 1664. Thence he passed into Sweden and wrote his account of Russia under Alexis Mikhailovich at the request of Count Delagardie, the chancellor. He was executed in 1667 for slaying in a quarrel the master of the house in which he lived. The manuscript was found by Professor Soloviev of Helsingfors at Upsala and printed in 1840. The picture which Kotoshikhin draws of his native country is a sad one, and from his description, and the facts we gather from the Domostroy, we can reconstruct the Old Russia of the time before Peter the Great. Perhaps, as an exile, Kotoshikhin allowed himself to write too bitterly. A curious work is the Uriadnik Sokolnichia Puti (“Directions for Falconry”), which was written for the use of the emperor Alexis, who, like many Russians of old time, was much addicted to this pastime. The Krzhanich. Serb, Yuri Krzhanich, who wrote in Russian, was the first pan-Slavist, anticipating Kollar by one hundred and fifty years or more. He wrote a critical Servian grammar (with comparison of the Russian, Polish, Croatian and White Russian), which was edited from the manuscripts by Bodianski in 1848. For his time he had a very good insight into Slavonic philology. His pan-Slavism, however, sometimes took a form by no means practical. He went so far as to maintain that a common Slavonic language might be made for all the peoples of that race—an impossible project which has been the dream of many enthusiasts. He was banished to Siberia, and finished his grammar at Tobolsk. He also wrote a work on the Russian empire in the middle of the 17th century, completed in 1676, which was edited by Beszonov in 1860. The picture drawn, as in the corresponding production of Kotoshikhin, is a very gloomy one. To this period belongs the life of the patriarch Nikon by Shusherin. The struggles of Nikon with the tsar, and his emendations of the sacred books, which led to a great schism in Russia, are well known. They have been made familiar to Englishmen by the eloquent pages of the late Dean Stanley. From this revision may be dated the Polotzki. rise of the Raskolniks (Dissenters) or Staro-obriadtsi (those who adhere to the old ritual). With Simeon Polotzki (Polotskiy) (1628-1680) the old period of Russian literature may be closed. He was tutor to the tsar Feodor, son of Alexis, and may be said to have helped to introduce the culture of the West into Russia, as he was educated at Kiev, then a portion of Polish territory. Polotzki came to Moscow about 1664. He wrote religious works (Vienets Vicry, “The Garland of Faith”), and composed poems and religious dramas (The Prodigal Son, Nebuchadnezzar, &c.). He has left us some droll verses on the tsar's new palace of Kolomenskoe, which are very curious doggerel. The artificial lions that roared, moved their eyes, and walked especially delighted him. There does not seem to be any ground for the assertion (often met with even in Russian writers) that Sophia, the sister of Peter the Great, was acquainted with French, and translated some of the plays of Molière.
And now all things were to be changed. Russia was to adopt the forms of literature in use in the West. One of the The modern period. The chief helpers of Peter the Great in the education of the people was Feofane (Theophanes) Procopovich (1681–1736), author of the Ecclesiastical Regulations and some plays, who advocated the cause of science; the old school was defended by Stephen Yavorskiy (1658–1722), whose Rock of Faith was written to refute the Lutherans and Calvinists. Another remarkable writer of the times of Peter the Great was Pososhkov (b. 1673), a peasant by birth, who produced a valuable work on Poverty and Riches. Antiokh Kantemir (1708–1744), son of a former hospodar of Moldavia, Wrote some clever satires still read; they are imitated from Boileau. He also translated parts of Horace. Besides his satires, he published versions of Fontenelle's Pluralité des Mondes and the histories of Justin and Cornelius Nepos. He was for some time Russian ambassador at the courts of London Lomonosov. and Paris. But more celebrated than these men was Michael Lomonosov (q.v.). He was an indefatigable writer of verse and prose, and has left odes, tragedies, didactic poetry, essays and fragments of epics.
Vassilii Tatistchev (1686–1750) was the author of a Russian history which is interesting as the first attempt in that field. He was disgraced for peculation, and died at Astrakhan, as governor, in 1750. His work was not given to the world till after his death. There had been a slight sketch published before by Khilkov, entitled the Marrow Trediakovski. of Russian History. Basil Trediakovski (1703–1769) was born at Astrakhan, and we are told that Peter, passing through that city at the time of his Persian expedition, had Trediakovski pointed out to him as one of the most promising boys of the school there. Whereupon, having questioned him, the tsar said, with truly prophetic insight, “A busy worker, but master of nothing.” His Telemakhida, a poem in which he versified the Télémaque of Fénelon, drew upon him the derision of the wits of the time. He had frequently to endure the rough horse-play of the courtiers, for the position of a literary man at that time in Russia was not altogether a cheerful one. His services, however, to the Russian language were great.
From the commencement of the reign of Elizabeth Russian literature made great progress, the French furnishing models. Sumarokov. Alexander Sumarokov (1718–1777) wrote prose and verse in abundance—comedies, tragedies, idyls, satires and epigrams. He is, perhaps, best entitled to remembrance for his plays, which are rhymed, and in the French style. His Dmitri Samozvanets (“Demetrius the Pretender”) is certainly not Kniazhnin. without merit. Some of the pieces of Kniazhnin had great success in their time, such as The Chatterbox, The Originals and especially The Fatal Carriage. He is now almost forgotten. In 1756 the first-theatre was opened at St Petersburg, the director being Sumarokov. Up to this time the Russians had acted only religious plays, such as those written by Simeon Polotzki. The reign of Catherine II. (1762-96), herself a voluminous writer, saw the rise of a whole generation of court poets. Everything in Russia was to be forced like plants in a hot-house; she was to have Homers, Pindars, Horaces and Virgils. Michael Kheraskov. Kheraskov (1733–1807) wrote besides other poems two enormous epics—the Rossiada in twelve books, and Vladimir in eighteen; they are now but little read. Bogdanovich. Hippolitus Bogdanovich (1743–1803) wrote a (pretty lyric piece, Dushenka, based upon La Fontaine, and telling the old story of the loves of Cupid and Psyche. With Ivan Khemnitzer. Khemnitzer begins the long list of fabulists; this half-oriental form o literature, so common in countries ruled absolutely, has been very popular in Russia. Khemnitzer (1744–1784), whose name seems to imply a German origin, began by translating the fables of Gellert, but afterwards produced original specimens. A writer of real national comedy appeared in Denis Visin. von Visin, probably of German extraction, but born at Moscow (1744–1792). His best production is Nedorosl (“The Minor”), in which he satirizes the coarse features of Russian society, the ill-treatment of the serfs, and other matters. He saw France on the eve of the great Revolution, and has well described what he did see. Russian as he was, and accustomed to serfdom, he was yet astonished at the wretched condition of the French peasants. The great poet of the age of Catherine, the laureate of Derzhavin. her glories, was Gabriel Derzhavin (1743–1816). He essayed many styles of composition, and was a great master of his native language. There is something grandiose and organ-like in his high-sounding verses; unfortunately he occasionally degenerates into bombast. His versification is perfect; and he had the courage to write satirically of many persons of high rank. His Ode to God is the best known of his poems in Western countries. He was a student of Ossian, and of Edward Young, the author of the Night Thoughts. Other celebrated poems of Derzhavin are Felitza, Odes on the Death of Prince Mestcherskiy, The Nobleman, The Taking of Ismail, and The Taking of Warsaw. His Memoirs were published in 1857.
An unfortunate author of the days of Catherine was Alexander Radistchev (1749–1802), who, having, in a small work, A Journey Radistchev. to St Petersburg and Moscow, spoken too severely of the miserable condition of the serfs, was punished by banishment to Siberia, from which he was afterwards allowed to return, but not till his health had been permanently injured by his sufferings. An equally sad fate befell the spirited writer Nicholas Novikov. Novikov (1744–1818), who, after having worked hard as a journalist, and done much for education in Russia, fell under the suspicion of the government, and was imprisoned by Catherine. On her death he was released by her successor. The short reign of Paul was not favourable to literary production; the censorship of the press was extremely severe, and many foreign books were excluded from Russia.
But a better state of things came with the reign of Alexander,
one of the glories of whose day was Nicholai Karamzin (q.v.). His
Zhukovskiy. chief work is his History of the Russian Empire, but he appeared in the fourfold aspect of historian, novelist, essayist and poet. Nor need we do more than mention the celebrated Archbishop Platon (q.v.). Ivan Dmitriev (1760–1837) wrote some pleasing lyrics and epistles, Dmimév but without much force. He appears from his translations to have been well acquainted with the English poets. Ozerov (1769–1816) wrote a great many tragedies, which are but little read now. They are in rhyming alexandrines. He occasionally handled native subjects with success, as in his Dmitri Donskoy (1807) and Yaropolk and Oleg (1798). In Ivan Kriloff (q.v.) the Russians found their most genial fabulist. As Derzhavin was the poet of the age of Catherine, so Vasilii Zhukovskiy (1783–1852) may be said to have been that of the age of Alexander. He is more remarkable, however, as a translator than as an original poet. With him Romanticism began in Russia. He became reader to the empress and afterwards tutor to her children. In 1802 he published his version of Gray's Elegy, which at once became a highly popular poem in Russia. Zhukovskiy translated many pieces from the German (Goethe, Schiller, Uhland) and English (Byron, Moore, Southey). One of his original productions, “The Poet in the Camp of the Russian Warriors,” was on the lips of every one at the time of the War of the Fatherland (Otechestvennaia Voina) in 1812. He produced versions of the episode of Nala and Damayanti from the Mahabharata, of Rustum and Zohrab from the Shah-Namah, and of a part of the Odyssey. In the case of these three masterpieces, however, he was obliged to work from literal translations (mostly German), as he was unacquainted with the original languages. The Iliad was translated Gnedich. during this period by Gnedich, who was familiar with Greek. He has produced a faithful and spirited version, and has naturalized the hexameter in the Russian language Batiushkov. with much skill. Constantine Batiushkov (1787–1855) was the author of many elegant poems, and at the outset of his career promised much, but sank into imbecility and lived in this condition to an advanced age. Merzliakov and Tziganov deserve a passing notice as the writers of songs some of which still keep their popularity. During his short life (1799–1837) Pushkin. Alexander Pushkin produced many celebrated poems, which will be found enumerated in the article devoted Griboyedov. to him (see Pushkin). In Alexander Griboyedov (1795–1829) (q.v.) the Russians saw the writer of one of their most clever comedies (Gore ot Uma), which may perhaps be translated “The Misfortune of being Too Clever” (lit. “Grief out of Kozlov. Wit”). Ivan Kozlov (1774–1838) was author of some pretty original lyrics, and some translations from the English, among others Burns's Cottar's Saturday Night. He became a cripple and blind, and his misfortunes elicited some cheering and sympathetic lines from Pushkin, which will always be read with pleasure.
Pushkin found a successor in Michael Lermontov (q.v.), who has left us many exquisite lyrics. A genuine bard of the people,
Zagoskin. and one of their most truly national authors, was Alexis Koltsov (1809–1842), the son of a tallow merchant of Voronezh. He has left us a few exquisite lyrics, which are to be found in all the collections of Russian poetry. He died of consumption after a protracted illness. Another poet who much resembled Koltsov was Ivan Nikitin (1826–1861), born in the same town, Voronezh. His best poem was Kulak. Nikitin, to support his relations, was obliged to keep an inn; this he was afterwards enabled to change for the more congenial occupation of a bookseller. The novel in Russia has had its cultivators in Zagoskin and Lazhechnikov, who imitated Sir Walter Scott. The most celebrated of the romances of Zagoskin was Yuri Miloslavskiy, a tale of the expulsion of the Poles from Russia in 1612. The book may even yet be read with interest: it gives a very spirited picture of the times; unfortunately, a gloss is put upon the barbarity of the manners of the period. Among the better known productions of Lazhechnikov are The Heretic and The Palace of Ice. A flashy but now forgotten writer of novels was Thaddeus Bulgarin (1789–1859) author of Ivan Vyshigin, a work which once enjoyed considerable popularity.
The first Russian novelist of great and original talent was Nicholai Gogol (1809–1852) (q.v.). In his Dead Souls he satirized Gogol. all classes of society, some of the portraits being wonderfully vivid. Being a native of Little Russia, he describes its scenery and the habits of the people, especially in such stories as the Old-Fashioned Household, or in the more powerful Taras Bulba. This last is a highly wrought story, giving us a picture of the savage warfare carried on between the Cossacks and Poles. Gogol was also the, author of a good comedy, The Reviser, wherein the petty pilfering of Russian municipal authorities are satirized. In his Memoirs of a Madman and Portrait, he shows a weird and fantastic power which proves him to have been a man of strong imagination. The same may be said of The Cloak, and the curious tale Vii (“The Demon”), where he gives us a picture of Kiev in the old days.
In the field of fiction Gogol had various famous successors, concerning whom details will be found in separate articles. It must Later novelists. suffice here to enumerate Alexander Herzen (d. 1869); Ivan Goncharov (1812–1891); Dmitri Grigorovich (1822–1899), author of The Fisherman and The Emigrants; Alexis Pisemskiy (1822–1900); Michael Saltikov (1826–1889); Feodor Dostoievskiy (1821–1881); Alexander Ostrovskiy (1823–1886); Feodor Ricshetnikov (1841–1871); Count A. Tolstoy (1817–1875), also famous as a dramatist; and greater than all these Ivan Turgeniev (1819–1883), and Count L. Tolstoy (1828–1910), the last of whom ranks as much more than a man of letters.
In Vissarion Belinski the Russians produced their best critic. For thirteen years (1834-47) he was the Aristarchus of Russian literature and exercised a healthy influence. In his later days he addressed a withering epistle to Gogol on the newly adopted reactionary views of the latter.
Since the time of Karamzin the study of Russian history has made great strides. He was followed by Nicholas Polevoy (1775–1842), Historians. who wrote what he called the History of the Russian People (6 vols., 1829-33), but his work was not received with much favour. Polevoy was a self-educated man, the son of a Siberian merchant; besides editing a well—known Russian journal, The Telegraph (suppressed in 1834), he was also the author of many plays, among others a translation of Hamlet. Since his time, however, the English dramatist has been produced in a more perfect dress by Kroneberg, Druzhinin and others. Sergius Soloviev (1820–1879) was the author of a History of Russia which may be described rather as a quarry of materials for future historians of Russia than an actual history. In 1885 died N. Kostomarov, the writer of many valuable monographs, of which those on Bogdan Khmelnitskiy and the False Demetrius deserve special mention. From 1847 to 1854 Kostomarov, whose interest in the history of Little Russia and its literature made him suspected of separatist views, wrote nothing, having been banished to Saratov, and forbidden to teach or publish. But after this time his literary activity began again, and besides separate works, the leading Russian reviews, such as Old and New Russia, The Historical Messenger, and The Messenger of Europe, contained many contributions from his pen of the highest value. Constantine Kavelin (1818–1855) was the author of many valuable works on Russian law, and Kalatchev published a classical edition of the old Russian codes. Ilovaiskiy and Gedeonov attempted to upset the general belief that the founders of the Russian empire were Scandinavians. A good history of Russia (1855) was published by N. Ustrialov, but his most celebrated work was his Tzarstvovanie Petra Velikago (“Reign of Peter the Great”); in this many important documents first saw the fight, and the circumstances of the death of the unfortunate Alexis were made clear. Russian writers of history have not generally occupied themselves with any other subject than that of their own country, but an exception may be found in the writings of Timofei Granovskiy (1813–1855), such as Abbé Suger (1849) and Four Historical Portraits (1850). So also Kudriavtsov, who died in 1850, wrote on “The Fortunes of Italy, from the Fall of the Roman Empire of the West till its Reconstruction by Charlemagne.” He also wrote on “The Roman Women as described by Tacitus.” We may add Kareyev, professor at Warsaw, who wrote on the condition of the French peasantry before the Revolution. Other writers on Russian history have been H. Pogodine (d. 1873), who compiled a History of Russia till the Invasion of the Mongols (1871), and especially I. Zabielin, who has written a History of Russian Life from the most Remote Times (1876), and the Private Lives of the Czarinas and Czars (1869 and 1872) and a History of Moscow. Leshkov has written a History of Russian Law to the 18th Century, and Tchitcherin a History of Provincial Institutions in Russia in the 17th Century (1856). To these must be added the work of Zagoskin, History of Law in the State of Muscovy (Kazan, 1877). Professor Michael Kovalevskiy, of the university of Moscow, wrote an excellent work on Communal Land Tenure, in which he investigates the remains of this custom throughout the world. In 1885 Dubrovin published an excellent history of the revolt of Pugachev. The valuable work by Alexander Pypin (b. 1833) and Vladimir Spasovich, History of Slavonic Literatures, is the most complete account of the subject, and has been made more generally accessible by the German translation of Pech. N. Tikhonravov (1832–1893) wrote a Chronicle of Russian Literature and Antiquities (5 vols., 1859-61). The History of Slavonic Literature by Schafarik, published in 1826, has long been antiquated. A history of Russian literature by Paul Polevoy has appeared, which has gone through two editions. The account of the Polish rebellion of 1863 by Berg, published in 1873, which gave many startling and picturesque episodes of the celebrated struggle, was withdrawn from circulation. It appeared originally in the pages of the Russian magazine Starina.
Nicholas Nekrasov, who died in 1877, left six volumes of poetry which in many respects remind us of the writings of Crabbe; the Poets. poet is of that realistic school in which Russian authors so much resemble English. Another writer of poetry deserving mention is Ogariev, for a long time the companion in exile of Herzen in England; many of his compositions appeared in the Polar Star of the latter, which contains the interesting autobiographical sketches of Herzen, entitled Byloe i Dumi (“The Past and my Thoughts”). Apollon Maikov (1821–1847) at one time enjoyed great popularity as a poet; he is a kind of link with Pushkin, of whose elegance of versification he is an imitator. Another poet of a past generation was Prince Viazemskiy (1792–1878). Graceful lyrics were written by Mei, Fet (whose name would apparently prove Dutch extraction, Veth), Stcherbina, and, going a little further back, Yazykov, the friend of Pushkin, and Khomiakov, celebrated for his Slavophile propensities. To these may be added Mdlle Zhadovskaya, Benediiktov, Podolinskiy and Tiutchev. Polonskiy (1820–18983, contributed exquisite lyrics to the Viestnik Yevropî.
Excellent works on subjects connected with Slavonic philology have been published by Vostokov, who edited the Ostromir Codex, Philologists. and Sreznevskiy and Bodianskiy, who put forth an edition of the celebrated codex used at Reims for the Coronation of the French kings. After their deaths their work was carried on by Professor Grot (Philological Investigations, also many critical editions of Russian classics), Budilovich, professor at Warsaw, Potebnya of Kharkov, and Baudoin de Courtenay, who, among other services to philology, has described the Slavonic dialect spoken by the Resanians, a tribe living in Italy, in two villages of the Julian Alps. The songs (byliny) of the Russians have been collected by Zakrevskiy, Rybnikov, Hilferding, Barsov and others, and their national tales by Sakharov, Afanasiev and Erlenvein. Kotliarevskiy, Tereshenko and others have treated of their customs and superstitious. S. Stanislaus Mikutskiy, professor at the university of Warsaw, has published his Materials for a Dictionary of the Roots of the Russian and all Slavonic Dialects, but it represents a somewhat obsolete school of philology. The Early Russian Text Society continues its useful labours, and has edited many interesting monuments of the older Slavonic literature. Two valuable codices have been printed in Russia, Zographus and Marianus, interesting versions of the Gospels in Palaeoslavonic. They were edited by the learned Croat Jagić, who occupied the chair of Sreznevskiy in St Petersburg. An excellent Tolkovi Slovar Velikorusskago Yazîka (“Explanatory Dictionary of the Great Russian Language”) was compiled by Vladimir Dahl. Alexander Hilferding published some valuable works on ethnology and philology, among others on the Polabs, an extinct Slavonic tribe who once dwelt on the banks of the Elbe. The Russians have not exhibited many works in the field of classical or other branches of philology. Exception, however, must be made of the studies of Tchubinov in Georgian, Minayev in the Indian and Tsvetayev in the old languages of Italy.
In moral and mental philosophy the Russians have produced but few authors. We meet with some good mathematicians, Lobachevskiy among others, and in natural science the publications of the Society for Natural History at Moscow have attracted considerable attention.
Recent Literature.—The death of Nekrasov in 1877 deprived Russia of her most eminent poet since the days of Pushkin and Lermontov. During the last generation of the 19th century most of the Titans of her literature departed, and cannot be said to have left successors of equal merit. Dostoievskiy, Pisemskiy, Turgeniev, Goncharov, Ostrovskiy and Saltikov followed each other to the grave in rapid succession. Leo Tolstoy alone remained, a veritable patriarch, whose views on life gave him a world-interest beyond even the contributions of his great prose fiction. In 1895 Apukhtin, author of many graceful lyrics, died; in 1897 Apollon Maikov, and soon afterwards Polonskiy. These men were well known throughout Russia. A new school of poets has sprung up, consisting for the most part of the so-called decadents and symbolists. Among them may be mentioned A. Korinfskiy; Ivan Bunin, who has published an excellent translation of Longfellow's Hiawatha; and Constantine Balmont. The last of these has given to the public several volumes of lyrics, many of which exhibit a graceful imagination. He has been a successful translator of Shelley, and of Edgar Allan Poe, Ibsen and Calderon. We must also mention V. Briusov and K. Sluchevskiy, Mme. Gippius-Merezhkovskaya and Mme. Myrrha Lokhvitskaya. Excellent historical novels have been written by Merezhkovskiy (Merejkovsky (q.v.)). The drama is not in a flourishing condition. Very little of merit has been produced since the great trilogy (1866–69) of Alexis Tolstoy dealing with the reign of Ivan the Terrible—full of picturesque horrors for the dramatist—and the bourgeois comedies of Ostrovskiy.
If we turn to history, in which the Russians have always shown considerable talent, we can cite some really good work. We cannot here find room to discuss the memoirs and other documents which appear in the Russian Antiquary (Russkaya Starina), the Historical Messenger (Istoricheskiy Viestnik) and other journals, the name of which is legion. In 1897 Professor Bestuzhev-Riumin, of the university of St Petersburg, died. He had held his chair of history since 1865. His valuable History of Russia must now remain a torso only, the first volume and the first half of the second having alone appeared. Soloviev and Kostomarov are dead. The famous school of Russian historians is thus almost extinct. But some excellent writers in this department have come to the front. Professor Miliukov has started his Sketches of the History of Russian Culture (Ocherki po istorii russkoi kulturi), which has been much read. Professor Bilbasov wrote a History of Catherine II. and N. Shilder a Life of Alexander I. D. Evarnitskiy has added a third volume to his interesting work on the Zaporozhian Cossacks. The Russians have always en]oyed a considerable reputation as memoir-writers, and the Recollections of Mme. Smirnov, which first appeared in the Northern Messenger (Sieverny Viestnik), proved very interesting. Pushkin appears here before us in the most minute details of his everyday life. The centenary of his birth (1899) was signalized by the publication of many interesting monographs on his strange career. The details furnished by his nephew, L. Pavlistchev, were especially noteworthy. The second volume appeared of the classical History of the Russian Church, by E. Golubinskiy. A valuable contribution to early Russian history was furnished by the Legal Antiquities (Yuridicheskia Drevnosti) of V. Serguievich, by which quite a new light has been thrown upon the Russian sobor. The well known savant, Maxime Kovalevskiy, published the second volume of his Economic Development of Europe to the Rise of Capitalism. N. Rozhkov wrote an important work entitled Village Economy in Muscovy in the Sixteenth Century. This book analyses the conditions under which economic production was developed in Old Russia. S. Platonov published a History of the Insurrections in Russia in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. He holds entirely new views on the oprichina, the famous bodyguard of Ivan the Terrible. Professor B. Kliuchevskiy, of the university of Moscow, published in 1883 a valuable book on the Russian Duma, as the privy council of the emperors was called, and in 1899 he issued his Aids to Lectures on Russian History. Russian writers have not often devoted themselves to the political and social conditions of other countries, but an exception must be made in the case of the books by Professor Vinogradov, formerly of Moscow, notably his Investigations into the Social History of England in the Middle Ages (1887). The learned author, who was called to Oxford as Corpus professor of jurisprudence, also prepared an edition of this work for the English public. In fiction no new writers appeared of equal calibre to Gogol, Turgeniev, Dostoievskiy and Tolstoy. But A. Chekhov showed considerable power in his short stories. Some of the tales of Gorki (q.v.), Ertel and Yasinskiy are also of great merit. The brilliant Garshin died insane in 1888.
A few words must be said on the literature of the Russian dialects, the Little and White Russian. The Little Russian is rich in skazki The Little Russian dialect, or Malo-Russian. (tales) and songs. Peculiar to them is the duma a narrative poem which corresponds in many particulars with the Russian bylina. Since the commencement of the 19th century, the Little Russian dumy have been repeatedly edited, as by Maksimovich Metlinskiy and others, and an elaborate edition was undertaken by Dragomanov and Antonovich. Just as the byliny of the Great Russians, so also these dumy of the Little Russians admit of classification, and they have been divided by their latest editors as follows: (1) the songs of the druzhina, treating of the early princes and their followers; (2) the Cossack period (Kozachestvo), in which the Cossacks are found in continual warfare with the Polish pans and the attempts of the Jesuits to introduce the Roman Catholic religion; (3) the period of the Haidamaks, who formed the nucleus of the national party, and prolonged the struggle.
The foundation of the Little Russian literature (written, as opposed to the oral) was laid by Ivan Kotliarevskiy (1769–1838), whose travesty of part of the Aeneid enjoys great popularity among some of his countrymen. Others, however, object to it as tending to bring the language or dialect into ridicule. A truly national poet appeared in Taras Shevchenko, born at the village of Kirilovka, in the government of Kiev, in the condition of a serf. The strange adventures of his early life he has told us in his autobiography. He did not get his freedom till some time after he had reached manhood, when he was purchased from his master by the generous efforts of the poet Zhukovskiy and others. Besides poetry, he occupied himself with painting, with considerable success. He unfortunately became obnoxious to the government, and was punished with exile to Siberia from 1847 to 1857. He did not long survive his return, dying in 1861, aged forty-six. No one has described with greater vigour than Shevchenko the old days of the Ukraine. In his youth he listened to the village traditions handed down by the priests, and he has faithfully reproduced them. In the powerful poem entitled Haidamak we have a graphic picture of the horrors enacted by Gonta and his followers at Uman. The funeral of the poet was a vast public procession; a great cairn, surmounted with a cross, was raised over his remains, where he lies buried near Kaniov on the banks of the Dnieper. His grave has been styled the “Mecca of the South Russian Revolutionists.” A complete edition of his works, with interesting biographical notices—one contributed by the novelist Turgeniev—appeared at Prague in 1876. Besides the national songs, excellent collections of the South Russian folk-tales have appeared, edited by Dragomanov, Rudchenko, and others. Many of these are still recited by the tchumaki, or wandering pedlars. A valuable work is the Zapiski o Yuzhnoy Rossii (“Papers on Southern Russia”), published at St Petersburg in 1857 by Panteleimon Kulish. After he got into trouble (with Kostomarov and Shevchenko) for his political views, the late works of this author show him to have undergone a complete change. Other writers using the Little Russian language are Marko-Vovchok (that is, Madame Eugenia Markovich) and Yuri Fedkovich, who employs a dialect of Bukovina. Fedkovich, like Shevchenko, sprang from a peasant family, and served as a soldier in the Austrian army against the French during the Italian campaign. Naturally we find his poems filled with descriptions of life in the camp. Like the Croat Preradović, he began writing poetry in the German language, till he was turned into more natural paths by some patriotic friends. A collection of songs of Bukovina was published at Kiev in 1875 by Lonachevskiy. Eugene Zelechovskiy compiled a valuable Dictionary of Little Russian. There is a good grammar by Osadtsa, a pupil of Miklosich.
In the White Russian dialect are to be found only a few songs, with the exception of portions of the Scriptures and some legal documents. A valuable dictionary has been published by Nosovich, but this is one of the most neglected of the White Russian dialect. Russian dialects. Collections of White Russian songs have been published by Shein and others.
Bibliography.—A. Pypin, History of Russ. Lit. (in Russian); A. Bruckner, Geschichte der russ. Lit. (Leipzig, 1905; Eng. trans. ed. E. H. Minns, London, 1909); A. Skabichevskiy, History of the Latest Russ. Lit., 1848–1892 (in Russian, St Petersburg, 1897); Gallery of Russian Writers (in Russian, Moscow, 1901); Russian Poets, compiled by A. Salnikov (in Russian, St Petersburg, 1901); L. Wiener, Anthology of Russ. Lit. (New York, 1902); Rosa Newmarch, Poetry and Progress in Russia (London, 1907). (W. R. M.)
- Horsey says: “I read in their cronickells written and kept in secreat by a great priem prince of that country named Knez Ivan Fedorowich Mistisloskoie, who, owt of his love and favour, imparted unto me many secreats observed in the memory and procis of his tyme, which was fowerscore years, of the state, natur, and government of that comonweelth.”—Bond, Russia at the Close of the Sixteenth Century (Hakluyt Society, 1856).
- Lectures on the Eastern Church.