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Tod und Freundschaft in Nikolaj Karamzins „Blume für das Grab meines Agathon“ Beitrag

Joachim Klein

Zeitschrift für Slavische Philologie, Volume 75 (2019), Issue 2, Page 253 - 267

Death and Friendship in Nikolai Karamzin’s “Flower on the Grave of My Agathon” Nikolai Karamzin’s “Flower on the Grave of My Agathon,” which belongs to the European genre tradition of funeral poetry, can be classified as a sentimentalist epicedium in prose. It is also, however, a manifesto of the incipient Russian cult of friendship. As such, it expresses a strongly worded protest against the rigidly structured society of estate and rank in post-Petrine Russia. The friendship of the lyrical subject with Agathon represents an island of infinite moral superiority amid this society, an island of social equality, fraternal love, and profound conversations. With its uncompromising idealism Karamzin’s prose poem exemplifies the radical potential of Russian sentimentalism.


„Der Wasserfall“. Deržavins Ode auf den Tod Potemkins Beitrag

Joachim Klein

Zeitschrift für Slavische Philologie, Volume 74 (2018), Issue 2, Page 291 - 317

“The Waterfall”: Derzhavin’s Ode on Potemkin’s Death Derzhavin’s ode on Potemkin’s death is not, as might be expected for eighteenth-century Russian literature, a conventional piece of occasional poetry, and it certainly is not a form of hero worship. It is rather a poetic evaluation of Potemkin as a Russian statesman. Potemkin’s achievements are not neglected, but the dominant attitude is one of critical distance. Derzhavin proceeds by comparing Potemkin with Rumiantsev, another Russian statesman. The portrait of Rumiantsev fills the first half of the poem, whereas Potemkin makes his appearance only in its second half. By describing Rumiantsev as an embodiment of political and military virtue Derzhavin establishes a normative backdrop, against which Potemkin is to be judged. The implied conclusion is predominantly negative, based on the principles of Enlightenment morals: the splendor of Potemkin as “the magnificent prince of Tauris,” which accounts for his similarity to Derzhavin’s equally splendid waterfall, disguises a lack of truly “useful” and humane achievement.


Das triumphierende Russland Beitrag

Kriegslyrik im 18. Jahrhundert

Joachim Klein

Zeitschrift für Slavische Philologie, Volume 73 (2017), Issue 2, Page 441 - 475

This article deals with a variety of lyric poetry that was extremely popular during the reign of Catherine II—the poetry of war. It was written almost always as occasional court poetry, celebrating Russian military successes in the numerous wars of the period: victories, favorable peace treaties, and annexations. The authors dedicated their poems mostly to the empress, but also to her victorious generals and to her troops. This poetry flourished in the general context of official and private festivities organized in celebration of the national triumphs: the writing of a war poem was an individual act of celebration; the style of such a poem was festive elation. For the poets, writing war poems provided a welcome opportunity to display their patriotism before the empress and other highly placed addressees. The poets’ patriotism came in two kinds; each one corresponded to a certain attitude to war. The first was a radical patriotism advocating the pursuit of national glory by the ruthless use of military power in foreign policy. The second kind was a moderate patriotism that saw war as a necessary evil; it obsessively strived to reconcile Catherine’s bellicose politics with the traditional ideal of a “just war.” The article closes with a discussion of war poetry in its relation to the peace-loving ideals of European Enlightenment.


Herrscherlob. Panegyrische Dichtung und russischer Absolutismus Beitrag

Joachim Klein

Zeitschrift für Slavische Philologie, Volume 70 (2015), Issue 2, Page 257 - 293

The importance of the panegyric tradition for early modern Russian literature cannot be overrated. Between the mid-seventeenth and the late eighteenth century, almost all Russian authors wrote poems in praise of the emperor. This poetry deserves to be considered as a specifi c form of political literature. As such, it is not only relevant for the cult of the Russian tsars, but also sheds light on the mentality of their loyal subjects in the age of Russian absolutism. Even though panegyric poetry is a thoroughly affi rmative form of political literature, it nevertheless offers some scope for the expression of diverse political ideals and expectations.

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