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Hagiography and Modern Russian Literature

Hagiography and Modern Russian Literature

Copyright Date: 1988
Pages: 280
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    Hagiography and Modern Russian Literature
    Book Description:

    The heritage of medieval hagiography, the diverse and voluminous literature devoted to saints, was much more important in nineteenth-century Russia than is often recognized. Although scholars have treated examples of the influence of hagiographic writing on a few prominent Russian writers, Margaret Ziolkowski is the first to describe the vast extent of its impact. Some of the authors she discusses are Kondratii Ryleev, Aleksandr Bestuzhevy2DMarlinskii, Fedor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Nikolai Leskov, Gleb Uspenskii, Dmitrii Merezhkovskii, and Maksimilian Voloshin. Such writers were often exposed to saints' lives at an early age, and these stories left a deep impression to be dealt with later, whether favorably or otherwise.

    Professor Ziolkowski identifies and analyzes the most common usages of hagiographic material by Russian writers, as well as the variety of purposes that inspired this exploitation of their cultural past. Tolstoy, for instance, employed hagiographic sources to attack the organized church and the institution of monasticism. Individual chapters treat the influence of hagiography on the poetry of the Decembrists, reworkings of specific hagiographic legends or tales, and the application of hagiographic conventions and features to contemporary characters and situations.

    Originally published in 1988.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5940-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. xiii-2)
  6. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 3-33)

    In 1880 a flood made attendance at Easter services impossible for people in the vicinity of Abramtsevo, then the estate of Savva Mamontov, a wealthy Moscow industrialist and enthusiastic patron of the arts. This incident gave rise to the idea of building a church on the estate itself. Those involved in the project, members of Mamontov’s artists’ colony, decided to construct the church in medieval Novgorodian style. Before finishing the designs, they visited laroslavľ and Rostov-the-Great, which were considered to possess some of the finest examples of Old Russian art and architecture. By the time the church was completed in...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Hagiography and History: The Saintly Prince in the Poetry of the Decembrists
    (pp. 34-71)

    After the death of Nikolai Karamzin (1766–1826), the reputation of the belletrist and historian was kept alive partially by the salon-based efforts of his widow and his daughter Sof’ia.¹ Yet Sof’ia’s filial devotion did not extend to reading her father’s popular multivolumeHistory of the Russian State (Istoriia gosudarstva Rossiiskogo, 1818–1829), because of her distaste for “the history of Russia, with all those Iaropolks and Sviatopolks.”² In a similar spirit, Alexander Herzen’s father, the capricious and irritable Ivan Iakovlev, glanced at theHistorybecause he had heard that Alexander I had read it, but put it aside in...

  8. CHAPTER THREE Hagiography Revised: Adaptations of Legends and Tales
    (pp. 72-120)

    The adaptaption of hagiographically inspired accounts of medieval princes was largely limited to the poetic efforts of Decembrist poets. Other kinds of reworkings of hagiographical literature enjoyed a more diverse authorship. These works, based on entries from collections of saints’ Lives like theReading Menaea(Chet’i minei) and theProlog(Prolog), as well as hagiographical folk tales, were produced throughout the nineteenth century by a wide range of writers. Their composition acquired particular popularity later in the century. A variety of approaches to the adaptation of hagiography was exemplified by these reworkings, from the punctiliously conservative to the deliberately iconoclastic....

  9. CHAPTER FOUR Neo-Hagiography: The Saintly Monk and the Holy Fool in Modern Dress
    (pp. 121-189)

    In july 1903 Serafim of Sarov, a renowned mystic of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, was canonized at his isolated northern monastery. Hundreds of thousands of visitors attended the elaborate ceremony. Among the dignitaries who carried the coffin of the saint was Nicholas II, who had been instrumental in hastening the canonization process. Nicholas took a personal interest: according to tradition, the imperial family had directly experienced the beneficent power of Serafim’s prayers.¹

    These events, on the eve of the empire’s collapse, epitomize the role played throughout Russian history by monastic saints and holy men. Far from peripheral...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Hagiography and the Rigorous Hero: The josephite Type in Later Russian Literature
    (pp. 190-217)

    The discussion of neo-hagiography in the preceding chapter shows how writers of a conservative, liberal, or mildly radical stamp, like Fedor Dostoevsky, Nikolai Leskov, Ivan Turgenev, and Gleb Uspenskii, were consistently attracted to the kenotic brand of Russian saintliness. As for the Josephite type of goodness, with its severity and insistence on strict regulation, if treated at all in their fictional works, it was only criticized. For example, the figure of Ferapont inThe Brothers Karamazovexemplifies a highly jaundiced view of traditional Josephite characteristics.¹ Contemptuous and suspicious of the institution of elders, Ferapont observes an idiorhythmic but severe manner...

  11. CHAPTER SIX Anti-Hagiography: Tolstoy’s Assault on Orthodoxy
    (pp. 218-245)

    Of the many approaches to hagiography adopted by Russian writers, one of the most complex and effective was that of Leo Tolstoy. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Tolstoy could not dissociate hagiography from its ecclesiastical context, could not divorce literature from religious ideology. When he rejected Orthodoxy, he also rejected many of its literary productions. In doing so, he appears to have made a distinction between official and popular hagiography, just as he distinguished between institutionalized and popular Christianity, condemning the one and applauding the other. In two of his later works, “The Posthumous Notes of the Elder Fedor Kuzmich”...

    (pp. 246-254)

    From the seventeenth century on, Russian literature became increasingly secularized. In terms of attention from the literate public, chronicles tended to yield to histories, sermons to essays, hymns to poetry, and legends and tales to novels and stories. Purely religious literature assumed a subordinate position in regard to the dominant literary trends of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. As the preceding chapters have shown, however, one should never overemphasize the gap between medieval and modern Russian culture. There were many bridges between the old and new Russia, not the least of which was the large number of Orthodox saints and...

  13. INDEX
    (pp. 255-265)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 266-266)