Russian Proverbs in the Letters and in the Unpublished Album of N. M. Karamzin

2019. № 3, 83-95

Lyubov’ A. Sapchenko, Ulyanovsk State Pedagogical University (Russia, Ulyanovsk), 


The article considers the degree of Karamzin’s proximity to the folk speech. The observations on the use of proverbs and sayings in Karamzin’s letters help the author to gain insight into this issue. The author of the article notes that the “Collection of 4291 ancient Russian proverbs...” prepared by A. A. Barsov was well known to Karamzin. The writer highly appreciated the genres in which “the precious remnants of the minds of our ancestors, their true notions of good and the wise rules of life were preserved.”  The desire for expressive simplicity and brevity of the language grew with him. Referring “to the live sources of the popular word” Karamzin achieved, what Pushkin called the fi rst merits of the prose - accuracy and brevity. In the article the author uses Karamzin’s unreleased album, compiled in 1821 for Empress Elizaveta Alekseevna, with whom he had sincerely correspondence and mutual understanding. The album contains excerpts and aphorisms from European thinkers, but it also has a large collection of Russian proverbs. Many of them were especially close to the worldview of Karamzin, and he used them in his letters and notes. Proverbs and sayings are often found in Karamzin epistles to P. A. Vyazemsky, who was very interested in the folk genres. Karamzin understood that the proverbs refl ected life experience, the age-old wisdom of the people and their moral ideas. Proverbs became the language equivalent of the real life patterns, comprehended in diffi cult life trials, and a source of spiritual courage and writing skills. The article explores the specifi cs of using a form of dialogue and a monologue as part of the Pskov chronicle story “About troubles and sorrows...”. These speech genres are used only during the events involving struggle for the throne. Their peculiarity in the episode of Moscow capture is that these dialogues are not fully expanded, but there are only several replicas connected with each other ideologically and thematically, but without impression of speech continuity. The dialogue between Patriarch
Hermogenes of Moscow and the people of different social backgrounds is suppositive: fi rst lines have no greetings and don’t introduce the communication. Participants of the dialogue have a common cognitive base, i.e. information, they have, but diametrically opposed target points. The monologues of the Polish King are the answers to the request of the Russian ambassadors, came to ask his son to be the king, — are the reversed monologues, demanding no replies, but actions. In general, monologues of the Polish King and dialogue between Patriarch Hermogenes of Moscow and the people, refl ecting the thoughts, feelings, and intentions of the characters, explain further events and the plot development, forces alignment on the eve of the city`s capture without a battle, as well as determine the line of characters’ behavior.