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 historical past of Russian Literature: From Its Beginnings to 1900 includes 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 heritage of Russian Literature, edited via Francis J. Whitfield and released in 1949 by way of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Russian literature has consistently been inseparably associated with Russian heritage. D. S. Mirsky, in facing this truth, always saved in brain the ever colourful and altering elements of the only in discussing the opposite. With a prepared and penetrating experience of values, fortified through a method sharp sufficient to hold each nuance of his which means, he explored some of the most complicated and engaging literatures of the world.

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

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

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They consist of a Life Written by Himself (1672-3) and of a score of epistles, hortatory and consolatory to friends, and abusive to enemies, all written during his last years at Pustozersk. He is above all remarkable for his language, which is the first attempt to use colloquial Russian for literary purposes. Though we do not know anything of the character of his oral preaching, it is highly probable that his written work had its roots in his spoken sermons. The daring originality 30 A HISTORY OF RUSSIAN LITERATURB of Avvak:6m's venture cannot be overestimated, and the use he made of his Russian places him in the very first rank of Russian writers: no one has since excelled him in vigor and raciness and in the skillful command of all the expressive means of everyday language for the most striking lite~:ary effects.

His lyric poetry is great. For sheer imaginative power he is one of the small number of Russia's greatest poets. His philosophy is a joyous and avid epicureanism that does not deny God but admires Him quite disinterestedly. He accepts death and annihilation with a manful thankfulness for the joys of ephemeral life. He combines in a curious way a high moral sentiment of justice and duty with the resolute and conscious decision to enjoy life to the full. He loved the sublime in all its forms: the metaphysical majesty of a deistic God, the physical grandness of a waterfall, the political greatness of the Empire, of its builders and warriors.

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. The chief defect of these stories lies in their language, a rather colorless and illiterate form of Slavonic. This defect is not shared by the masterpiece of Muscovite fabliaux-the story of Fro[ Skobeyev.

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