The image of siberia in zedler’s encyclopaedia (1732–1754)

Klaus Steinke

Abstract


The German interest in Siberia dates back several centuries. During the 18th century, German scientists in particular, together with their Russian colleagues, were very active in the exploration and conquest of this region. Nevertheless, the image of Siberia and information about it remained very fragmentary and clichéd in Germany because direct contact was (and still is) very rare. Therefore, the aim of this article is to show what information was already accessible in the 18th century. Certainly, Zedler’s Encyclopaedia, with 64 volumes and four supplementary volumes, was the largest German encyclopaedia of the time: it is thus a useful source for investigating common knowledge of this region. Surprisingly, there is a lot of information about Russian and Siberian geography and history within the encyclopaedia. We find a general article about Siberia of nearly nine columns over five pages in the 37th volume and two and a half columns about Tobolsk in the 44th volume. This is much more than in the last German encyclopaedias printed in the 20th century (e. g., Der große Brockhaus). The contents of the articles are also astonishingly extensive. We find a full description of the geography and history of the former Siberian capital, as well as a complete report about the capture of Tobolsk by Ermak. Indeed, we are even informed about the prices of fish or meat on the marketplace.


Keywords


Siberia in the 18th century; the Germans and Siberia; Tobolsk; the image of Russia; Zedler’s Encyclopaedia.

References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15826/qr.2017.1.215

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