The article analyzes artistic speech of the first Russian novelist F. A. Emin. The fragments of his novel “Letters of Ernest and Doravra” (1766) served as the material for our research. The novel concerns love theme, new to the mid-18th century Russian prose. Previously love theme was typical primarily for poetry and drama (tragedy) or translated literature
(P. Thalman’s novel “Voyage to the isle of love” translated by V. K. Trediakovsky, 1730). The key elements novelists used to implement this kind of figurativeness differed: there was a schematic personifi cation and metonymy — in V. K. Trediakovsky’ work, or female portraits in M. M. Heraskov’s novels. F. A. Emin was at the origins of the rhetorical paraphrasing style, characteristic for early sentimentalism, and made a signifi cant contribution to its formation. To develop the love theme he creatively applied his key technique — paraphrase. Paraphrase is not used repetitively in a four-part novel. We can fi nd it primarily in the beginning of the work, in Earnest’s letter, where love theme is not only dominant, but it is also revealed for the first time, expressing Ernest’s feelings in great detail. The starting point and semantic center for paraphrase is the name of the beloved — Doravra. Paraphrase is, in fact, not a single device, but a qualitatively different, dynamic phenomenon, which forms elements of the paraphrase style, characteristic of both the style of Emin’s novel, and the prose of the age of sentimentalism as a whole.