Russia Literature: Openness to the West
The delay of two centuries on the West began to be filled with the arrival in Moscow of the first manuscript novels from the West, because if it is true that the first Russian printing press was already functioning in Moscow in 1553, it is also true that it was only involved in texts. sacred. The lay printing works were founded only under Peter the Great, at the turn of the century. XVII and XVIII, shortly after the birth of the first theater (1672) muffled in the religious representations in which Simeon Polockij excelled (1629-1680), a loyalist of Patriarch Nikon. But thanks to the opening of the Tsar to the West, secular literature also managed to establish itself, which manifested itself with historical and satirical stories. The theater began its first timid steps by detaching itself from religious themes without daring too much, contenting itself with tackling didactic-moral themes. Feofan Prokopovič (1681-1736), Metropolitan of Novgorod, is the author who best personified the ideal of the time of Peter the Great. Theologian, poet, playwright, Vladimir wrote offering a work of religious inspiration to the scenes; he poured out vigorous sermons and published the Ecclesiastical Regulations (1719-20) which is not a purely work of canon law, but a literary document, in which the customs of the time are described with grace and flavor. Prokopovič was an open man, obedient to the Tsar and had the merit of approaching Western culture, so much so that he absorbed a certain Protestant spirit. He seemed to announce that true Renaissance spirit which with Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, had a first great impulse. The ideals no longer appeared aimed solely at the spiritual life, but at the pagan conception of existence aimed at beauty even where not always useful. Tendencies spread, if not of fusion with European culture, certainly of emulation in the hope of producing a superior culture. Literature found its first great reformers with VK Trediakovskij (1703-1769), who espoused and tried to spread the principles of French classicism with a first New, rapid Russian versification method (1735) followed by the Russian versification method (1752) which also took into account the theories of MV Lomonosov (1711 -1765), certainly the greatest representative of the Russian Renaissance, the protean genius of science and art. Chemist, physicist, astronomer, geologist, Lomonosov excelled with studies, discoveries, innovative proposals and published in 1755 the first Russian grammar in an absolute sense and a treatise, On the utility of ecclesiastical books, in which he expounded his linguistic theories and in which he listed the three styles of the literary language: high or Slavic style, in the place of honor, noble style, very close to the spoken language, low and popular style. Elizabeth’s official poet and playwright, Lomonosov, the “Russian Pindar” expressed his best in the ode, in which the poet’s sentiment often combines the observation of the scientist. More worldly and livelier appeared the poetry of AP Sumarokov (1718-1777), who also happily ventured into tragedy.
Admired by Elizabeth, who had a theater built in St. Petersburg (1756) entrusting him with the direction, Sumarokov was inspired by French classicism, Racine, Corneille, Molière himself, not quibble on the full-bodied loans freely drawn by those greats, and also introduced the Russians to Shakespeare. With Western literature, the philosophical spirit that enlightened the minds, especially in France, also reached Russia. Catherine II, an enthusiastic supporter of new ideas, read Montesquieu and believed in enlightened power, in an absolutist sense however, with the sovereign committed to improving his people with superior intentions. She herself wrote comedies, short stories, founded magazines such as Vsiakaja Vsiatčina (1769; A little bit of everything). The spread of the press meant an invitation to dialogue that NI Novikov (1744-1818) immediately welcomed by founding Il calabrone, critical forum that made irony on the functioning of the public administration. His impertinent voice was soon silenced and within a few years Novikov turned to devoting himself only to instructional librettos. But now the critical spirit had taken hold. Despite despotism, even if enlightened, writers and playwrights entered the real world with costume paintings: DI Fonvizin (1745-1792) established himself as the author of the first Russian masterpiece. He announced himself with an interesting work (Il brigadiere, 1766-69) and wrote the immortal drama Il minorenne (1783) in which psychological study was added to the analysis of the customs of the provincial noble environment. Minor authors moved on his example, while a contemporary poet worthy of appearing among the highest European singers: GR Deržavin (1743-1816). Provincial civil servant, a hard-tempered man, intolerant of any discipline and any compromise, he finally found protection in Catherine and celebrated her in a splendid ode which had the merit of not mythologizing the sovereign, but of honoring her as an enlightened and intelligent woman, however blaming her his court made up of soft and incompetent people. In this same period the poem received new lymph from the publication of the first collection of the byliny, which helped to foster a pre-romantic atmosphere.