Pankraty Sumarokov’s Uchilishche lyubvi (School of Love) as a Meeting Place for Russia and Europe

Natalya Dvortsova

Abstract


The author reconstructs the literary and historical context of the first printed Siberian translation, Pankraty Sumarokov’s Uchilishche lyubvi (School of Love) (1789), in order to reveal its place and status in Russian prose of the late 18th century. The article is polemicises against traditional interpretations of the book (V. Pavlov, V. Rak, and others). This article is the first attempt to consider the novel within the framework of contextual and structural-typological analysis against the background of the peculiarities and functions of translated literature. The author shows that both original and translated Russian texts existing in ‘the force field’ of the European novel (P. Tallemant, S. Richardson, J.-J. Rousseau, J. G. B. Pfeil, L.-S. Mercier) tend to distance themselves from it. This is revealed in a variety of ways, ranging from liberal translations and intertextual re-interpretations to creative polemics and rejection. However, this does not deprive them of characteristic features like the uniformity of genre poetics (the system of motifs, typology of the characters, literary space, and plot structure). The meeting place of European and Russian cultural traditions in School of Love is treated on the level of micropoetics: geographic images (England, France, and Spain), the plot of Circe and Odysseus, the biographical context of Sumarokov’s creative work, etc. Additionally, School of Love is analysed in the context of Sumarokov’s poetic works resulting from his reading experience of French literature (La Fontaine, Voltaire). The article characterizes School of Love as a quaint phenomenon of the Russian literature of the late 18th century: an ‘English novel’ which is a Russian translation of a French version of a German story. Simultaneously, it is a case study of P. Sumarokov’s individual creative strategy as shaped in the Irtysh, prevrashchayushchiysya v Ipokrenu, with the underlying idea of interaction between the Russian and European traditions, the meeting of ‘friend’ and ‘foe’. The article is based on unique texts of 18th-century Russian literature kept in the Library of the Russian Academy of Science (St Petersburg).


Keywords


P. Sumarokov; translated literature of 18th century; late 18th-century Russian prose; genre poetics.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15826/qr.2017.2.236

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