Russian Literature

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Russian literature: History
Overview
Russian literature has long been a cultural focus of the entire world. It's not surprising that the formation of Russia's first literary traditions goes back to the first century. The adoption of Christianity boosted the development of literacy, philosophy and theological literature. The earliest literary works were not written in the Russian language but in Old Church Slavonic which was developed in the 9th century by Greek missionaries Cyril and Methodius. Old Church Slavonic became the liturgical language of the Orthodox Church, prompting literary activity in Russia. In 988 Vladimir I, Grand Duke of Kyiv, converted to Christianity and made it Russia's official religion. Eventually, religious ties between Russia, the Byzantine Empire, Ancient Rome and Greece strengthened and began to share common traits. As literacy rapidly developed, so did Russian literature. Historical chronicles, sacred scriptures, biblical texts, sermons, biographies of saints and other religious writings and poems were translated from Greek into Old Church Slavonic which remained the literary language of Russia until the 17th century. At that time, books served mainly as a means to foster religious awareness. In the long run, Christianity marked the character of the Russian literature. Church literature laid the foundation for the ideas of Russian unity and Russian national identity. First works of Russian literature

Byzantine Greek writings influenced the first texts created during the Kyiv period. The most significant sermon, "Slovo O Zakone I Blagodati" (1050; "Sermon on Law and Grace"), is a detailed oration written by the head of the Orthodox Church in Russia at that time, Metropolitan Illarion. It is believed to be the first original work of Russian literature. The chronicle "Povest' Vremennykh Let" (1113; "The Tale of Bygone Years," also known as "The Russian Primary Chronicle"), attributed to the monk Nestor, explores the history of the East Slavic peoples, namely Russians, Belarussians, and Ukrainians up to the year 1110. However, the most prominent work of the period is probably "Slovo O Polku Igoreve" (1185; "The Tale of Igor's Campaign"). It focuses on a Prince Igor´s failed raid against an army of Asian nomads and is written in lyrical poetic language. The creation of religious scripts went hand in hand with the creation of folk poetry; songs, epics and fairy tales described authentic Russian life and culture. In the late 11th and early 12th century, "Teaching" by Prince Vladimir Monomakh and "Wanderings of Daniel" featured a fusion of religious scripts with folk literature. In 1240 the Tatars invaded Kyiv, bringing an early end to this period in culture. For the next 200 years the Tatars occupied most of Russia. While Europe was enjoying the Renaissance, Russian literature was at a standstill. A series of upheavals and riots throughout the 16th and 17th centuries brought political and secular influences to literature. "Messages of Ivan the Terrible" and the autobiography of Arch Priest Avvakum were the first literary works written in spoken Russian. These works mixed the church and bookish languages with folk speech.One of the most important and notable literary works of the 16th century was "Domostroi" ("House-Orderer"). It set the rules for moral behaviour and gave instructions for running a household. In the 16th century folkloric poetry was on the rise as was the popular genre of the secular story of manners. In the 17th century Russian culture was greatly influenced by Western European values. Tsar Peter the Great�s fascination with European culture was looming large and brought the first printed books to Russia, almost all of which were religious in content. A number of Russian poets started composing verses imitating Western authors. In fiction, the influence of Western adventure tales such as "Don Quixote" by Miguel de Cervantes, is obvious in "The Tale of Savva Grudtsyn" ("Povest' o...
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