(1766 – 1826)
Karamzin Nikolai Mikhailovich (1766-1826) is a prose writer, poet, journalist, historian.
Karamzin was brought up in private boardinghouses first in Simbirsk, then in Moscow. Attended lectures at the university, owned many new and ancient languages.
Karamzin was interested in literature, was fond of Shakespeare, experienced the influence of Freemasonry.
In 1789 he published his first novel “Eugene and Julia,” translations of A. Galler’s poem
“On the Origin of Evil” (1786), “Julius Caesar” by William Shakespeare (1787) were published in separate editions.
From May 1789 to July 1790, Karamzin traveled through Europe. This trip abroad had a decisive influence on the creativity of the future writer. The result of this was the “Letters of a Russian traveler” – not a biographical document, but a complex literary text, subordinated not only to artistic laws, but also the desire to discover a lot in a real journey.
Returning from abroad, Karamzin actively engaged in literature Publishing from the issue of the number “Letters of the Russian traveler”, Karamzin persuaded readers that the path of civilization is the same for all mankind, that Russia follows the same road of enlightenment along which other peoples of Europe are moving.
At the same time, Karamzin’s works of art, which brought him fame, were published: the novella Poor Liza
On the one hand, Karamzin sought to create a man of a new culture – refined, “sensitive,” with a subtle soul and mind, inheriting all the best from the stock of world culture. And on the other hand, he wanted to raise the average reader to the level of modern culture. Karamzin dreamed of a competent peasant, a secular lady who speaks Russian and reads Russian books, about internal culture and human dignity. He believed that a novel and story, a short lyric poem and a romance would reap the minds and feelings of people.
An important result of Karamzin’s work of the 1790s was the reform of the language, which was based on the desire to bring the written language closer to the living spoken language of an educated society. But demanding “to write as they say,” Karamzin noted that the Russian colloquial, including the “social-everyday” language, still needs to be created.
The change in the socio-political situation of 1801-1803 influenced Karamzin. First of all, he returned to active publishing. The stories “Marfa Posadnitsa” (1803), “The knight of our time” (1802), “My confession” (1802), “Sensitive and cold, Two characters” (1803) and a large number of notes were published on the pages of the journal Vestnik Evropy, translations, articles.
In 1803, Karamzin applied for an official appointment as a historiographer. His interest in history has long been ripe, and now he felt the need to historically comprehend his views on modernity.
The first volume of the “History of the Russian State” was completed in 1805, the second – in 1806, the third – in 1808. Karamzin felt himself to be a professional historian armed with the skills of historical criticism and knowledge of sources. By 1811, 5 volumes of “History…”
The Patriotic War of 1812 interrupted the writer’s work. When the French army approached Moscow, Karamzin gave the “best and full” copy to his wife, who sent him to Yaroslavl, and himself was preparing to fight in the militia. But Karamzin did not stop working on “History…” and at the beginning of 1816 he went to Petersburg to work on publishing the first eight volumes of his “History…” The
troubles were crowned with success, and 8 volumes of the “History of the Russian State” were published On January 28, 1818, 3,000 copies were sold out in one month, immediately the second edition was required.
Karamzin continued his historical work. The ninth volume was published in 1821, in 1824 – the tenth and eleventh, the last, the twelfth, the volume came posthumously.
Karamzin’s “History…” is not only a historical but also a literary work. He set himself the task of creating an epic narrative. This required a change in the image of the narrator – he became a historian endowed with the simple-mindedness of the chronicler and civil courage.
The uprising on December 14 finally broke the moral and physical forces of Karamzin (he was on the square and caught a cold), who was present at the end of his era.
The significance of Karamzin for Russian culture is exceptional. In his works he combined simplicity with lyricism, created the genre of a psychological story, paved the way for Zhukovsky, Batyushkov and Pushkin in poetry.
As a journalist, he showed samples of all kinds of political publications that became traditional in the future for Russia.
As a reformer of the language he defined the main line of development, demanding to write as they speak and speak as they write.
As an educator, he played a huge role in the creation of the reader, he introduced the book into the home education of children.
As a historian Karamzin created a work that belonged to his era and draws the attention of historians and readers of the late XX century.
As a writer he gave Russian culture a standard of noble independence, created the image of a writer who puts his own dignity and incorruptibility of his beliefs above any vain considerations of the minute.