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Western European sources of Russian literature in the 18th and 19th centuries

Priority areas of development: humanitarian
The project has been carried out as part of the HSE Program of Fundamental Studies.

Goal of research: Research goal was the study of a broad set of Western European sources of Russian literature, which had significant influence on its emergence and development in the 18th and 19th centuries. The main objective of the project was to inquire into the revolutionary role of foreign literary forms and cultural models for the history of Russian literature and language. The genesis and evolution of several key forms of Russian literary culture were investigated; in particular, the birth and development of verse forms that arose in Russian poetry in the18th century and further evolved in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Methodology: At the basis of the method adopted in the study lies the evolving theory of comparative and historical poetics, which involves a combination of traditional literary studies with formal (and, particularly, exact) analytic methods. Special attention is accorded to the investigation of various levels in the textual and linguistic structure. In our work we also strive to describe the semantics of the structural elements of texts, in some cases founded on their typological analysis. Source criticism, textual criticism, corpus linguistics, narratology provided methodological tools employed in the project. We also adopted methods that make it possible to detect the influence of historical events, as well as of cultural and philosophical developments on the literary process.

Empirical base of research: The corpus of Russian and foreign-language (multi-lingual) texts provided the empirical basis of the study; the corpus data of main European language and of lexica were also drawn upon, as well as archival and library sources. The main object of investigation was the structure of literary works, elements of their poetics and semantics. Special attention was accorded to the reception of the French revolution in Russian literature, to the problem of the evolution of concepts in the development of the Russian literary culture, as well as to the analysis of selected key Western European sources of the Russian philosophical thought.

Results of research: As a result of the studies undertaken, novel foreign sources of the Russian literary culture of the 18th and 19th centuries were uncovered and literary forms that came into existence in Russia under the influence of foreign models were investigated. On the whole, the evidence obtained and its analysis demonstrate that in the period under investigation Russian literature played a central role in the evolution of the national culture. In particular, new information was obtained on the genesis of Russian classical verse and on the role of foreign (first and foremost, German) models on its evolution. It was possible to make important observations on the emergence of early forms of Russian literary verse.

Processes of unconscious manifestations of poetic inertia in prose texts were investigated; in particular, we analyzed verse-like fragments of poet’s prose in which the rhythmic evolution of the Russian iamb was reflected. The structure of Russian verse-making was investigated in its European context. For the first time, the genesis of Russian free verse was analyzed in detail from the viewpoint of the influence of the poetry of German Romanticism.

Special attention without the project was accorded to the analysis of the poetics of Russian 19th c. prose with reference to the creative output of Ivan Turgenev. Results obtained confirm the early scholarly hypotheses that Turgenev’s contribution to the history of Russian literary forms did not involve revolutionary rupture but amounted to creative adaptation of formal elements inherited from the Romantics.

A beginning was laid for research on the propagating function of the Russian literary culture in the spread of poetic forms in Eastern Europe.

Issues in comparative plot studies were investigated. This line of research continues the tradition initiated by Alexander Veselovsky’s Poetics of the Plots.

The role of the French Revolution in the process of acquisition of foreign literary practices in Russia was investigated. Select key texts of Russian literature were investigated with reference to revolutionary ideas and dispositions that were dominant in Europe. The reception of Hegel’s philosophical conceptions in Russian culture and literature received a novel treatment.

Using the methods of conceptual history (Begriffsgeschichte) and of the Russian school of historical semantics a detailed study of concepts and philosophical ideas that had a defining influence on Russian culture was undertaken with reference to foreign influences on Russian literature and philosophy of the 18th and 19th centuries.

>Level of implementation,  recommendations on implementation or outcomes of the implementation of the results: Results of our research are being used by members of the Department of Comparative Literature and Linguistics at the Higher School of Economics at St. Petersburg in teaching classes on verse theory, poetics and history of ideas. They will also be used in the classes on Russian and world literature. Results of our research are included in several scholarly publications (see below for Project Publications).

Data obtained as well as the corpus of texts investigated can be put to use by other specialists working on problems in the history of Russian literature and its international ties.

Students at the BA Program in Philology who are in their 2nd and 3rd years of study took part in the project and, as a result, obtained useful skills of scholarly work with texts in different languages.

Main research results belong to the domain of theoretical, comparative and applied poetics, as well as the history of ideas. They can be put to use in new scholarly projects related to the study of literature, language and cultural semiotics.


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Салоников Н. В., Суториус К. В. Документы по истории архиерейских школ в Новгороде XVIII века и проблемы их комплексного изучения и издания // В кн.: Документальное наследие Новгорода и Новгородской земли. Проблемы сохранения и научного использования: материалы XVI ежегодной научной конференции историков-архивистов. Великий Новгород, 26 мая 2016 года. Вып. XVI. Великий Новгород : Новгородский государственный университет им. Ярослава Мудрого, 2017. С. 11-18.
Arina Davydova, Kazartsev (Evgenii Kazartcev) E. Early Stages of Ukrainian Syllabo-Tonics in Comparison with Russian Verse, in: Frontiers in Comparative Metrics 3 in memoriam Jaak Poldmae. Tallinn : Tallinn University, 2017.
Ekaterina Nakonechnaya, Kazartsev (Evgenii Kazartcev) E. The Prosody of a Poet's Prose and the Rhythm of Verse, in: Frontiers in Comparative Metrics 3 in memoriam Jaak Poldmae. Tallinn : Tallinn University, 2017.
Казарцев Е. В. К вопросу о взаимодействии метра и языка в процессе распространения ямбической версификации в Европе // В кн.: Гаспарову-стиховеду. In Memoriam. М. : Языки славянской культуры, 2017. С. 20-33.
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Школьников В. В. "Историческая семантика прекраснодушия" // Политика и общество sub specie филологии: Очерки сравнительной исторической семантики [Politics and society sub specie philologiae: studies in comparative historical semantics. 2018
Родин (Маслов) Б. П., Никитина Т. В. Рифма и ритм в онегинской строфе (опыт квантитативной исторической поэтики) // В кн.: Гаспарову-стиховеду. In Memoriam. М. : Языки славянской культуры, 2017. С. 138-169.
Акимова М. В. Цитата или клише в поэтическом тексте: попытка разграничения. // В кн.: Гаспарову-стиховеду. In Memoriam. М. : Языки славянской культуры, 2017. С. 221-254.
Тверьянович К. Ю. Ритмико-синтаксические клише в одической строфе А. П. Сумарокова // В кн.: Грамматические исследования поэтического текста: материалы международной научной конференции. Петрозаводск : Издательство ПетрГУ, 2017. С. 107-111.
Дуринова Г. В. Содержание и смысл поэмы М. Цветаевой "Перекоп" // Критика и семиотика. 2017. № 1. С. 263-293.
Казарцев Е. В. Реформа русского стиха XVIII века и ее источники // Известия РАН. Серия литературы и языка. 2017. Т. 76. № 3. С. 30-39.
Дуринова Г. В. Поэтический нарратив как объект лингвистики текста (поэма К. Рылеева "Войнаровский") // В кн.: Современное русское языкознание и лингводидактика Вып. 4. [б.и.], 2018. С. 159-169.