Russian Literature of the XVIII century

The XVIII century in Russia is an epoch of Peter’s reforms, «palace» revolutions and enlightened absolutism. The cultural development of the Russian state was also high in this period. Secular current began to play the main role in education, literature and art. Links of Russian culture with the foreign ones achieved new characteristics. The problem of creating and strengthening of the Russian national state encouraged the necessity of creating and strengthening of Russian national literature. This problem raised by the epoch of Peter the Great, determined all the development of our fiction in the XVIII century. In Russia of this period a totally original fiction came to life, marked with all the features of European standard perfection. Russian literature of the XVIII century was generated on the basis preceded by Old Russian literature and folklore. In its turn it prepared the bloom of Russian classical literature of the XIX century. A spirit of innovation characteristic for all Russian culture of the epoch was in full scale reflected in poetry as well. It was in that century that the reform of Russian versification took place. Native literature of the XVIII century progressed in a many-sided, full-fledged and vivid manner. It was a sort of a giant creational laboratory where the main forms of Russian language and rhyme were generated. All the outstanding literature figures of this period appeared as deliberate, and some of them - brilliant experimenters in the field of fictional word. The fact that they were not only artists of word, but also philologists and theoreticians was not accidental. Many literary works of the XVIII century still reveal undoubted fictional expressiveness - even compared to fictional discoveries and accomplishments of two further centuries of Russian literature history.

Initially the manuscript collection of Pushkinsky Dom was formed with a dominating number of the XVIII century documents. For the main part they had been received or purchased during the first 25 years of its existence. In 1919 Pushkinsky Dom became an owner of two collections of Russian ХVIII-ХХ writers’, politic, state and social figures’ materials, including those of a bibliographer and collector P. Y. Dashkov (1849-1910) and the publishing editor of magazine «Russkaya Starina» historian M. I. Semevsky (1837-1892).

The next large arrival of the XVIII century documents was represented with archival funds, collections and separate documents referring to Russian history, literature and social ideas, from the Manuscript Department of the Academic Library. Among them the most important are the funds of G. R. Derzhavin, I. A. Krylov, V. V. Kapnist and the collection of V. I. Yakovlev (1847-1916), a bibliographer and bibliophile, collector of famous Russian writers’ and culture, art, politics, official and social figures’ (ХVIII-ХХ centuries) autographs.

Later on the collection of XVIII century manuscripts was permanently supplemented with separate documents and the ones included into personal files and collections. Among these funds the most remarkable are those of D. N. Bantysh-Kamensky, P. I. Bartenev, E. I. Golenischev-Kutuzov, N. I. Grech, D. I. Khvostov, P. E. Schegolev and others. A large number of historic and literary materials of the XVII-XX centuries arrived in different times from personal donators, from the Institute of World Literature named after M. Gorky (1951) and as part of family funds of the Aksakovs, the Bakunins, the Bestuzhevs, the Turgenevs and others.

Documents of the XVIII century writers are, as a rule, distributed among numerous collections of the Manuscript Department. Such are the materials of N. M. Karamzin, Y. B. Knyazhnin, N. I. Novikov, A. N. Radischev, A. P. Sumarokov and others. The exceptions are personal funds of G. R. Derzhavin, I. A. Krylov, V. V. Kapnist and A. T. Bolotov.

Andrei Timofeevich Bolotov (1738-1833) was a writer and an agronomist. His fund was extracted from the files of the magazine «Russkaya Starina», which arrived together with the materials of M. I. Semevsky. The items of special value are different versions and separate parts of «Zhizn and Priklucheniya Andreia Bolotova», his diaries, everyday notes and magazines, different scientific and literary works, a family tree, an autobiography, a bibliography of his works and letters.

The creation work of G. R. Derzhavin (1743-1816) is one of the brightest phenomena of native fiction of «Catherine’s Age». Deeply original poetic outlook, freedom of expression in word creation unknown before, daring stylistic experiments, an intense significant dialogue with official ideology, as well as various connections with famous contemporaries not only made Derzhavin, the poet, a central figure of XVIII-XIX literature process, but also caused burning interest of many generations – critics, poets and scientists, and common readers to his personality, life and legacy.

Derzhavin was an important state and cultural figure of the 2nd half of the century. During the text redaction (1864-1883) of Works by Derzhavin Academician Y. K. Grot collected many manuscript materials concerning the poet’s life and works. In 1916 and 1931 a large part of these documents arrived from K. Y. Grot (the Academician’s son) and from the Academic Library (39 bulgy boxes). Sorting and inventorying of this collection was finished in 1946.

A small part of Derzhavin’s papers is stored in collections of P. Y. Dashkov, V. I. Yakovlev, D. I. Khvostov and V. V. Kapnist and in separate arrivals as well.

There are two copies of the last lifetime edition of «Sochineniya» (1808-1816) by Derzhavin with the author’s correcting. The copy stored in the Manuscript Department contains typography connected with the poet’s work on comments to his poems. This copy was presented to the poet’s nephew P. N. Lvova; she made some of the notes in handwriting from Derzhavin’s dictation. In the library of the Institute, included into M. N. Longinov’s personal library, there are the first, the second and the forth parts of «Sochineniya». In the pre-title page there is Derzhavin’s dedicatory inscription to another nephew of his, P. N. Lvova, the second part contains the author’s correcting of a series of poems.

In Derzhavin’s fund there are autographs of Yakov Borisovich Knyazhnin’s (1740—1791), translations of plays «Cinna» and «The Death of Pompey» by P. Corneille. The collection of V.I.Yakovlev disposes the materials of Alexander Nikolaievich Radischev (1749—1902): these are his appeal for pardon to Emperor Pavel I and witness in court about «Puteshestviye iz Peterburga v Moskvu». The rarest copies of all four editions of this ХVIII—ХIX century book are stored in the library of Pushkinky Dom.

Vasily Vasilyevich Kapnist (1753—1823) was a younger contemporary and friend of Derzhavin, a poet and playwright. His fund contains autographs of poems, odes, satires, translations (including odes by Horace and «Slovo o Polku Igoreve”), articles, letters to M.I.Kutuzov, A.K.Razumovsky, D.P. Troschinsky, S.S.Uvarov, A.S. Shyshkov and others. Separate autographs of Kapnist’s letters are stored in the archives of the Bakunins, A.E. Burtsev, P.Y.Dashkov, G.R.Derzhavin, D.I.Khvostov. In A.Y.Grot fund there are also autographs of his works, including odes to the death of Derzhavin. «Miloi sestre Dashenke» («To dear sister Dashenka») - this was the inscription made on a copy of «Sochineniya» (1796) (nowadays stored in the library of the Pushkinsky Dom) that V.V.Kapnist presented to G.R. Derzhavin’s second wife - D.A.Diyakova. In a book «Liricheskiye Sochineniya» («Lyric Works») (1806) by Kapnist there is a sign made by the owner of the book V.P.Gaevsky: «This edition is remarkable for the engravings by Sanders and the ode against slavery, excluded in other editions».

Ivan Andreevich Krylov (1769—1844) — a journalist, playwright, fable-writer, collaborator of the Emperor’s Public Library, whose creation work started in the XVIII century, played an important role in the development of democratic orientation of Russian XIX century literature.

I.A.Krylov’s files arrived at the Academy of Sciences in parts. In 1877 the poet’s autographs were donated by K.S.Saveliev, his heir. Letters to Krylov, documents and other materials arrived in 1901 from the widow of the researcher of Krylov’s life and works V.F.Kenevich (1831—1879). In 1931 Krylov’s archive was transferred along with a series of other materials from the Academic library to Pushkinsky Dom where all these materials constituted a united fund in 1938. The academic collection of Krylov’s manuscripts is especially valuable in the part of the fables autographs which formed the basis of the great fable-writer’s personal fund. Other autographs were either located in albums (of A.S. Dargomyzhsky, P.I.Keppen, S.D.Ponomareva, A.E.Shypova, Z.I.Yusupova) or joined the collections of different people (Y.K.Grot, Prince N.S.Golitsin, P.Y.Dashkov, A.A.Zhuravlev, I.A.Shlyapkin).

Among the separate materials of the XVIII century the autographs of poems «Zmeya polzla...» and «Epitafiya» by Alexander Petrovich Sumarokov, included in Y.K.Grot fund, are especially valuable.

The letters of Nikolai Ivanovich Novikov (1744—1812) are stored in the funds of P.Y.Dashkov, I.E. Velikopolsky, A.I.Yatsimirsky, the Turgenevs. Novikov was a publicist, enlightener, a founder of a series of magazines, including the famous «Truten’». Magazines «Truten’», «Zhivopisets» and «Koshelyok» as well as many publications of XVIII century writers realized by Novikov, are represented in the library of Pushkinky Dom.

In collections of A.E.Burtsev, P.Y.Dashkov, V.I.Yakovlev, in the funds of N.I.Grech, V.N.Karazin, D.I.Khvostov and others there are autographs of a famous writer and historian Nikolai Mikhailovich Karamzin (1766-1826). These are mainly his letters to different people, which are even more precious that the archive of Karamzin has not remained in a whole. In P.Y.Dashkov fund there is a small self-written note by Karamzin about Dmitry Rostovsky, which served as one of the preliminary materials to his «Istoria Gosudarstva Rossijskogo» («The History of Russian State»). Pushkinsky Dom library holds the first edition of «Istoria» (1815-1829) with the author’s dedicatory inscription to D.A.Kavelin «as a sign of sincere piety and devotion».

The collection of image materials of the XVIII and beginning of the XIX century was founded in the Literature Museum of Pushkinsky Dom in its first years already and has been replenished up to nowadays. It contains an extensive collection of the XVIII century state, social and cultural figures’ portraits. The most important arrivals came in the 1920-1930s when the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences donated the portraits of the Academy members, the portraits of its first president E.R. Dashkova (by an unknown painter, the 1790s) and A.P.Sumarokov (by F.S.Rokotov(?), the 1770s), the portraits of Catherine II (by an unknown painter, the 1780s, and a minimized copy of a bust made by D.Rashett in 1794). Among the latest arrivals the most interesting is the portrait of Peter I – originating from J.-M. Nattier’s portrait – executed by an unknown painter of the first quarter of the XVIII century and bought by the museum in 1973.

The XVIII century collection occupies a special place in the richest fund of Pushkinsky Dom library both according to its scales and its complex of books and magazines which had become bibliographic rarities. Among the XVIII century editions there are the first and lifetime editions of poets, writers, social figures of the XVIII century – A.P.Sumarokov, A.T.Bolotov, N.I.Novikov, A.N.Radischev, V.V.Kapnist, Y.B.Knyazhnin, N.M.Karamzin. Many editions have predominantly archival value.

The XVIII century materials are the most valuable source of information and inspiration not only for specialists, but for everyone who appreciates historic memory, lively connections of generations, respect to the past and trust in the future.

M. V. Rodyukova, A. O. Dyomin