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A History of Russian Literature from its Beginnings to 1900 by D. S. Mirsky

By D. S. Mirsky

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back hide quote: A heritage of Russian Literature: From Its Beginnings to 1900 comprises all of D. S. Mirsky's A heritage of Russian Literature and the 1st chapters of his modern Russian Literature, as they seemed within the one-volume A historical past of Russian Literature, edited via Francis J. Whitfield and released in 1949 by way of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Russian literature has constantly been inseparably associated with Russian historical past. D. S. Mirsky, in facing this truth, regularly stored in brain the ever colourful and altering facets of the single in discussing the opposite. With a prepared and penetrating experience of values, fortified by means of a method sharp adequate to hold each nuance of his that means, he explored essentially the most advanced and interesting literatures of the world.

" [Mirsky's] histories of literature ... own lcarning, attractiveness, wit, highbrow gaiety, and an incomparable variety and sweep and tool of speaking impressions and ideas." Sir' Isaiah Berlin

"Prince Mirsky is either student and stylist; his books, for that reason, have a double correct to live." Clifton Fadiman

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Savva Grudtsyn is a kind of Russian Dr. Faustus, who sells his soul to the Devil in return, ·not for knowledge, but for power and pleasure. The Devil serves him well, but finally Savva repents and saves his soul in a monastery. Along with these first essays in edifying narrative other types of fiction began to appear. It is probable that Russian narrative folk poetry as we now know it came into existence in the middle or second half of the sixteenth century. It is certain that its first written traces appear in the early seventeenth century, when it begins to exercise an appreciable influence on written literature.

By the middle of the seventeenth they were a popular and stable institution. When not in Latin or Polish they were always translations from Latin or Polish. dren of the miracle and mystery play. The neoclassical theory of dramatic poetry was taught in the rhetoric class of the Kiev Academy, but before the eighteenth century these theories did not affect the practice. Kievan students continued playing, and their masters translated or adapted, plays of a purely medireval type. There is little originality in the serious parts of these plays, but the comic interludes early received independent treatment.

It is a piece of elaborate verbal art and has no parallel in Old Russian literature. It seems to have been composed in the north (where folk poetry was and is most alive) at the end of the seventeenth century. These last-mentioned works are entirely secular and free from all intention of edifying. Still more distinctly secular and unedifying are the stories derived from, or similar to, old French fabliaux and the tales of the Decameron. A good example is the Story of the Merchant Karp Sutulov and of his wife, who successfully defended her virtue against all the attempts of another merchant (a friend of Karp's), of her confessor, and of the bishop.

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