The literature of the Kiev Empire (11th-13th centuries)

With the Christianization of the Kiev Empire (988) by Byzantium, the Church Slavonic church and written language of the Eastern Slavs, the future Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians became the result of the Slavic mission of the 9th century. The religious and secular literature, mostly translations from the Greek, was related to an upper class (nobility, commercial and bourgeois class, clergy) who determined the emerging spiritual life.

The liturgical translation literature included evangelists (“Ostromir Gospel”, 1056/57), psalters (“Novgorod Codex”, before 1050) and parts of the Old Testament, in particular liturgical (Euchologion, Sacramentarium) and hymn texts, as well as translations of religious Byzantine writers as well Writings of edification and apocrypha. The secular translation literature consisted mainly of novel-like stories (“Alexandreis”, Troy and Digenis novels), didactic and scientific works (“Hexaemeron”, “Physiologus”), collections of works by the church fathers (“Izborniki” [collective writings], from 1073 and 1076) and the world chronicles. This translation literature provided the stylistic models and created the lexical and syntactic models for an original literature in Church Slavonic with saints legends (»Skazanie o Borise i Glebe« [story by Boris and Gleb ], around 1080), which emerged in the 11th century in the Kiev Empire Sermons by the Kiev Metropolitan Ilarion (“Slovo o zakone i blagodati” [ceremonial speech on law and grace], between 1037 and 1050), the “Instruction” (“Poučenie”, around 1117) of the Kiev prince Vladimir Monomakh to his sons and the Paterikon (around 1230) of the Kiev Pechersk Lavra. The main focus was the chronicle with the Nestor chronicle as an excellent example of medieval historiography. Various parts of the text are included in the chronical flow (exempla, contract texts, oral statements, etc.), which made the chronicles an important literary source. Various parts of the text are included in the chronical flow (Exempla, contract texts, oral statements, etc.), which made the chronicles an important literary source. The first Russian code of law “Russkaja pravda” (Russian law), which was created during the reign of Prince Yaroslav the Wise (1019–54), is important for the history of language and law. The most important example of an otherwise largely lost epic poem is the Igore song.

More recent excavations near Novgorod provide evidence that there was private literature on strips of birch baffle as early as the 11th century, which can be viewed as a local variant of the East Slavic spoken at the time. A bundle of wax tablets, discovered in 2000 and containing fragments of Psalms 75 and 76, is now considered the oldest book in Russia.

With the Tartar invasions and the collapse of the Kiev Empire in the 13th century, the focus of literary work shifted to the north-eastern principalities (Novgorod, Vladimir-Suzdal, Tver, and later Moscow). The style tended more towards rhetorical jewelry. The main topic in the still predominantly religious literature was the complaint about the endangerment of Christian Russia and the struggle for its assertion, for example in the Vita A. Newskis (“Žitie Aleksandra Nevskogo”, around 1300) and the report on the destruction of Ryazan (“Povest ‘ o razorenii Batyem Rjazani v 1237 g. «[Tale of the destruction of Ryazan by Batu], around 1240).

Moscow literature (14th-17th centuries)

The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the time of the rise of the Moscow Empire, were shaped as the “time of intellectual struggle” by hesychastic currents and sectarian movements. The translated and borrowed literature of this time is less extensive and essentially offers new translations of well-known narrative material. The “Zadonščina” (Event Beyond the Don), written before 1393, stands out as an independent work, a highly poetic report written in rhythmic prose by the otherwise unknown Ryazan clergyman Sofoni. The epic, committed to oral folk poetry, celebrates the victory (1380) of the Moscow Grand Duke Dmitri Ivanovich Donskoy over the Tatars on the Snipe Field (Kulikowo Pole) and praises the unity of the Russians under Moscow leadership. The religious writings found their two opposing poles in N. Sorski , the representative of Starzentum (Starez) as a typical Russian form of piety, and J. von Wolokolamsk , who campaigned for the Church’s secular claim to power. After the fall of the Byzantine Empire (1453), the strengthened Moscow felt itself to be the only refuge of orthodoxy, the Third Rome, and placed secular and ecclesiastical journalism at the service of legitimizing its claims to power. Hagiography reached its climax in the work of Epifani Premudry (Epifanis the Wise, † 1420).

Russian literature flourished under Tsar Ivan IV Vasilyevich (the Terrible). A hallmark of this era was a lively collecting activity: the old chronicles were compiled, saints legends, among other things. sacred literature by the Metropolitan Makari in an extensive collection, the »Reading Mines« (»Velikie Čet’i Minei«). At the suggestion Makaris was 1560-63 the “Steps Guide” (“Step Well kniga”) as an attempt at systematic exposition of Russian history of Vladimir I. to Ivan IV. The “Domostroj,” a well of the archpriest Silwestr († 1566) “House rules” compiled according to older models, summarized rules for the religious, political, social and domestic life of the wealthy urban population. The first complete translation of the Bible was made. The critical publications of the time dealt with grievances in church and state (Maxim Grek). An outstanding example of secular literature is the polemical correspondence between Ivan IV and Prince A. M. Kurbski, in which political problems of the time are addressed in a polished rhetorical style; AM Kurbski also wrote a history of the Grand Duchy of Moscow (“Istorija o velikom knjaze Moskovskom”, 1575), which is a first attempt at pragmatic historiography in Russia. Printing reached Russia with a long delay in 1564 and did not develop until the 18th century.

The 17th century is a period of transition in which Moscow’s rigid political system experienced a severe shock (“Time of Troubles”, Smuta) and the Old Believers (Raskolniki) split off from the state church. As a result of these events, the old Muscovite literary system was gradually loosened through the slow adoption of Western European literary ideas and narrative materials as well as the penetration of Russian colloquial language over Church Slavonic in the literary language. Awwakum, the spokesman for the Old Believers, wrote an autobiography (“Žitie protopopa Avvakuma”, between 1672 and 1675), which contains numerous vernacular elements and realistic descriptions. The Kiev Spiritual Academy, whose pupil S. Polotski, played an important role in conveying Western European ideas, contemporary literary currents and genres In addition to baroque school dramas, wrote panegyric occasional poems in syllabic meter. Before his death in 1683 he prepared in Moscow to found the Slavic-Greco-Latin Academy, which for half a century promoted Church Slavonic literature. The first theatrical performance was held in Moscow as early as 1672; An “Artaxerxes-Drama” (“Artakserksovo dejstvo”) was performed, which was written based on German models and translated into Russian.

Russian Early Literature

Russian Early Literature
Tagged on: