N. M. Karamzin: a Study of His Literary Career, 1783-1803

By A. G. Cross | Go to book overview

ONE
THE FORMATIVE YEARS
1766-1790

NIKOLAI MIKHAILOVICH KARAMZIN was born on December 1, 1766, the second son of Mikhail Egorovich Karamzin, a retired army captain. The first ten years of his life were spent mainly at Znamenskoe, also called Karamzinka, a small family estate not far from the provincial capital, Simbirsk. Although his childhood was conventional and uneventful, Karamzin, influenced in his recollections of these early years by the fashions of western sentimental literature, was to stress the sensitive, melancholic sides of his character, his preference for lonely pursuits and the richness of his imagination; similarly, although his mother died before he was three years old, it is literary example which dictates the importance the images of the orphaned hero and his mother were to assume in his work.

At Znamenskoe Karamzin received his first unsystematic education: he began to learn German from a local German doctor and, somewhat later, French from the wife of a neighboring landowner. He read Aesop Fables and seems to have developed a precocious taste for his late mother's collection of adventure novels, if we are to believe his novel, "A Knight of Our Time" ["Rytsar' nashego vremeni"] ( 1802-3), confessedly based on his reminiscences of childhood.1 He then graduated to Charles Rollin's Histoire de Rome in the Russian version by Trediakovskii, a work of considerable ideological importance in the eighteenth century but for the young Karamzin primarily a rich pageant of heroic warriors.2

In 1776 he was sent to Simbirsk to attend a school run by a Monsieur Fauvel, but the following year he entered the Moscow boarding school directed by Johann Matthias Schaden ( 1731-97), a professor of moral philosophy at the university.3 Karamzin recalls

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N. M. Karamzin: a Study of His Literary Career, 1783-1803
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • One The Formative Years 1766-1790 1
  • Two The Moscow Journal 1791-1792 35
  • Four Sentimental Fiction 1789-1803 96
  • Five From Aglaia To The Pantheon of Russian Authors 1793-1801 143
  • Six Karamzin's Verse And Aonides 1796-1799 172
  • Seven The Messenger of Europe 1802-1803 193
  • Eight Into the Temple of History 218
  • Checklist of Original and Translated Reviews in The - Moscow Journal 233
  • Notes 243
  • Selected Bibliography 275
  • Index 295
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