2023 Author: Leah Sherlock | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-27 12:28
Literature is an integral part of culture. No one can deny the importance that this type of artistic creation has. "The History of World Literature" in 9 volumes is a series of books prepared by the Gorky Institute of World Literature. Changes in literature throughout the existence of writing are analyzed: from ancient times to the beginning of the twentieth century.
In 1983, Irina Grigoryevna Neupokoeva advocated the creation of the first large-scale Russian multi-volume book that would cover the history of not only Russian, but also world literature from ancient times to the present. Forty-four years earlier, Neupokoeva herself had graduated with honors from the Moscow Institute of Philosophy, Literature and History named after Chernyshevsky.
Irina Grigorievna was a Doctor of Philology, a passionate supporter of the party andsocialism. For example, when her father, People's Commissar Grigory Grinko, fell victim to Stalinist repressions, student Irina did not fail to take part in an institute rally. Her fellow students later claimed that she cast her vote for the execution of her traitorous father. Such views could not but affect her future offspring. Soviet ideas and thoughts were often put forward in the History of World Literature.
Composition of the editorial board
It is impossible not to mention the chief editor of this work (from the first to the seventh volume) Georgy Petrovich Berdnikov. A connoisseur of Russian literature of the nineteenth century, Deputy Minister of Culture, veteran of the Great Patriotic War and Doctor of Philology, Berdnikov was an indispensable member of the editorial board. Without him, such a large-scale scientific study as the "History of World Literature" would hardly have seen the light.
But do not underestimate the contribution of other literary scholars. Among the members of the editorial board were Alexei Sergeevich Bushmin, academician and researcher of S altykov-Shchedrin, Dmitry Sergeevich Likhachev, art critic and chairman of the board of the Soviet Cultural Fund, Dmitry Fedorovich Markov, an expert on ancient Slavic literature, who played a decisive role in the creation of the "History of World Literature" (v. 2). And also Georgy Iosifovich Lomidze, an expert on the literature of the Soviet period, Georgy Mikhailovich Fridlender, a researcher of Russian literature of the nineteenth century, Evgeny Petrovich Chelyshev, a researcher of oriental literature and a doctor of philologySciences, Boris Borisovich Piotrovsky, researcher of Oriental literature and Doctor of Historical Sciences, Mikhail Borisovich Khrapchenko, statesman and head of the Committee of Arts, Pyotr Alekseevich Nikolaev, literary theorist and researcher of realism, Andrei Dmitrievich Mikhailov, head of the department of the Gorky Institute of World Literature and Doctor of Philology Sciences, Vladimir Rodionovich Shcherbin, literary theorist and critic, Sergei Vasilyevich Nikolsky, researcher of Slavic culture. Later, Leonid Grigorievich Andreev, head of the Department of the History of Foreign Literature and Doctor of Philology, joined the team (to replace the editor-in-chief Berdnikov)
Identification of patterns in the development of literature
As stated in the preface to the book "The History of World Literature" (volume 1), no one has ever attempted to fully characterize the course of world literature from ancient times (when writing was just born) until the fifties of the twentieth century. There was nothing even approximately equal in scale to the studied material. But Soviet scientists did not just want to describe various writers, genres, styles. They sought to identify patterns in the development of literature. That is, to apply the theory of Marx and Engels to the cultural sphere.
In the early and middle of the twentieth century, new, more convenient ways of studying literature began to appear. Philologists were no longer limited by space and history. Soon there was a desire to generalize all new and old knowledge into a single system. This is what they triedachieve the creators of the "History of World Literature", brought up on the teachings of universal interconnectedness and interdependence.
The books show objectivity towards obscure authors, rare genres, and western-centrist or eastern-centrist views. This is especially noticeable in the example of the History of World Literature. Vol. 2 fits into this concept quite well. This attitude favorably distinguished the Russian cycle of books from European publications of a similar type.
Attention to little-known authors
The objects of the study were not only writers who claim to be world famous, but also individual authors who have contributed to the development of literature.
The attitude of the general public towards the work was positive. The book "The History of World Literature" (Volume 2 included) was a particular success. People far from literature and philology did not read such a detailed and thoughtful work, but experts noted a rather high scientific level of the study. Professional philologists found a number of oversights that did not greatly affect their overall impression.
Today, interest has noticeably subsided, but students of philological faculties still turn to the publication for educational purposes.
The first volume of "History"
The first book covers the period in world literature, beginning three thousand years before our era, and ending with the third century AD. Most of the book is allocated to the culture of ancient countries,but the authors do not bypass the literature of ancient Asia and Africa.
Second volume of work
The second book begins where the first ends and ends at the Renaissance. The authors describe in detail the changes in the literature of different countries and characterize the process of formation of literature in young states.
Third study volume
The third book analyzes the literature of the Renaissance. Great importance in the "History of World Literature" (volume 3) is given to the humanistic ideas of Eastern thinkers.
The fourth volume of "History"
In the fourth volume, the emphasis is on the confrontation between feudal principles and new capitalist tendencies in the seventeenth century. Everything is signed in great detail.
Fifth volume of work
The entire fifth book is devoted to the literature of the eighteenth century. Culture then rapidly developed on the wave of social upsurge.
Sixth study volume
The sixth book covers the period from the French Revolution to the national liberation movements of the mid-nineteenth century. Against the background of so much unrest, the same bright and very passionate literature emerges.
Seventh volume of "History of Literature"
The seventh volume describes the literature of the second half of the nineteenth century. The art of this period develops rapidly and unevenly.
The eighth volume of the series
The last volume covers the literature of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Special attentionis given to the art of the Russian Empire on the eve of the First World War and the revolution.
Ninth volume: was it?
Despite the fact that to this day the title page of each of the books says "in nine volumes", the creators had to complete their research on the eighth. It was originally planned to end the analysis on the fiction of the Lost Generation era, but in the preface to the eighth volume, the Main Editorial Board exhaustively explains what it is. As you know, during the nineties in the countries of the former Soviet Union there was a serious rethinking of values. What had previously seemed a priori true was now in doubt. Such changes affected almost all spheres of public life of the Soviet people. Literature did not bypass this radical change. The main editorial board says in plain text in "The History of World Literature" (vol. 9 was never published) that "ideological dogmas" interfered with the understanding of the literature of the twentieth century. But while the whole country is at a crossroads, they cannot offer new or completely refute old beliefs about literature during the Soviet Union.
This cycle of books is one of the most important stages in the development of Russian literary criticism. The importance of the information collected and classified by the authors cannot be underestimated.
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