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Was there petrarchism in Russia?


The turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was the period of the most active interest of the well-educated Russian audience in Petrarch. Analysing the ways his biography and writings were adopted and familiarized in the country, the author of the article attempts to answer the question whether the notion petrarchism is applicable to Russia. The author comes to the conclusion that with regard to Russia, the term petrarchism could be applied only with a number of reservations and only as a very broad term for denoting various forms in which Petrarch's writings and biography affected the Russian writers of the late eighteenth to early nineteenth centuries. Unlike in other European countries, in Russia Petrarch had become neither the topic of popular admiration nor the subject of general imitation, and his legacy was accepted in the general context of western European culture. At the same time, Russia, inspite of all its uniqueness, in certain ways followed the experience of the 'classical' petrarchist countries. One of the ways this was manifested was in the specific features of the first translations. Another way that European petrarchism was similar to that in Russia was in the combination of an interest in imitating Petrarch with a desire to boost the development of the national language.


Batyushkov, Petrarch, petrarchism, Russian translators of Petrarch


The impact of Petrarch on European culture was one of the most profound and long-lasting. One of its manifestations was petrarchism, which is presented in the assessments of modern researchers as one of the notable phenomena in the history of European literature (Manero Sorolla, 1987). While never a rigid system, petrarchism was differently interpreted over the course of the centuries and hasn't yet received its strict terminological definition (Hoffmeister, 1973; Yakushkina, 2009). Moreover, the differences in the understanding of petrarchism (either in a broad or in a narrow sense) result in either the broadening or narrowing of its geography. When petrarchism is understood as a way of imitation of Canzoniere and as a follow-up to the example of Bembo who used Petrarch for creating the unified national language, it covers Italy, Spain, France and England, so-called 'classical' petrarchist countries, with a possibility of extending its application to Portugal, Holland and Dalmatia (Calitti and Gigliucci, 2006). When petrarchism is understood as the adoption of the humanistic ideas of Petrarch as well as his moral and philosophical heritage, then the above-mentioned countries are joined by Germany, Bohemia, Poland and Hungary (Aurnhammer, 2004; Geiss, 2002; Hoffmeister, 1997). Thus, the spell of influence of Petrarch's writings claimed almost all the countries of western and central Europe. Russia, however, has never been mentioned in this context. Does it mean that it escaped the pan-European fascination with the Italian poet? To what extent, if at all, did it experience Petrarch's influence? When and in what form did it appear in Russia? Is the notion petrarchism applicable in any of its definitions to Russia? These are the questions that the author aims to answer in this paper.

Unlike other European countries where Petrarch, as a model creator of poetry, was accepted in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, Russia became acquainted with the Italian poet only towards the end of the eighteenth century. Though the name of Petrarch was mentioned in some printed Russian books of the sixteenth century, and some of his main writings were registered in the library of Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences in the early eighteenth century (Furman, 2000), it seems premature to say that Russian readers, with the exception of a few academics, were familiar with the Italian poet before the 1760s.

Sergey G Domashnev (1743-1795) is believed to be the first to mention the name of Petrarch in his article On Verse Composing in 1762 (Domashnev, 1762). The future director of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences, Domashnev was in the early 1760s a student at the Moscow University and a soldier of the Preobrazhensky regiment. His article gave some scarce information on Petrarch and Dante and was, as academic Alekseev put it, 'a word for word, dilettantish, and slightly abridged translation' from chapter 32 Essai sur les moers des nations by Voltaire (Alekseev, 1983: 154). Even so, it was the first attempt in the Russian academic community to approach the questions of the history and theory of poetry. Another published work of the same decade was the Russian rendering from the French Imaginings of Petrarch, or His Letter to Laure (1768). The book was written by Aleksander Tinkov (1768), (1) though signed in the French manner as Alexander Tinkav.

The Italian language has never been popular in Russian society. In the eighteenth century, there were two dominant foreign languages in the country. Under the influence of the Enlightenment, French was regarded as a prerequisite for a good education for the Russian nobility. The popularity of German was assured by the immigrants from Germany and the Baltic countries, who since the reforms of Peter the Great had flooded the country. As for Italian, it was spoken at that time by only a few well-educated individuals. Among them, for example, were four outstanding Russian poets: Mikhail Lomonosov (1736-1741), Antiokh Kantemir (1709-1744), who both had Petrarch's writings in their personal libraries, Aleksander Sumarokov (1717-1777) and Vasiliy Tredyakovskiy (1703-1769). This lack of popularity of the Italian language was the main reason why Italian authors, as well as English and classical, were translated into Russian from French or German. French books constituted a large majority of the foreign books imported into Russia (Kopanev, 1988), (2) and both Domashnev's article and Tinkov's rendering provide yet further evidence of French being an intermediary source between Italian and Russian.

The 'semiliterate' book by Tinkov, as Gukovskiy characterized it (1937: 342), could be easily ignored, but for two circumstances. Firstly, it contains the first translations from Petrarch into Russian--just liberal exposition of four sonnets with no rhymes or sonnet stanza. Secondly, it gives us an idea of what an average Russian reader, not with the best of education but striving to learn about world culture, knew about Petrarch in the mid-eighteenth century. Strictly speaking, he knew almost nothing. We can conclude from the Preduvedomleniya (Introduction), where Tinkov tells us a completely fictional story of a mutual love between Petrarch, Ambassador Plenipotentiary to the Castilian King Alfonse, and Laure, daughter of the Castilian noble Henry Shabbot, (3) that he did not have any true knowledge about the author of the sonnets. He took all his information from a French book, which was itself a translation. (4) The book contained a prose rendering of five sonnets and one canzona, and a verse rendering of some sonnets and motifs from Petrarch's Canzoniere arranged in the form of a letter where, as Tinkov states, 'no explanation was provided either about the author or his mistress'. In his desire to fill this gap, the Russian translator provided the missing explanation himself--'to his heart's content'.

The first authentic information about Petrarch appeared only 20 years later, driven by the mounting aspiration of Russian society for a secular education. It is curious to note the dynamics of the process: in the 1780s, there were only some sporadic references associating him with Italy and the reformation of the literary language: 'After Dante the fame in Italy passed to Petrarch ... By his poems, he enriched the Italian language with sweetness and melodiousness' (Kozodavlev, 1785: 92).

By the 1790s, Petrarch had become known as a poet to whom the civilized world owed the revival of ancient Roman and Greek literature. Moreover, 'Petrarkh alongside Dante and Boccasse' were presented as an inseparable triad of national Italian genii. In 1793, a new, tenth, volume of Slovar' Iistoricheskiy, ili Sokraschennaya Biblioteka (Historical dictionary or reduced library) was published. It was a compilation of two French biographical dictionaries (Dictionnaire Historique Portatif by Jean Baptiste Ladvocat, 1752, and Nouveau Dictionnaire Historique Portative, ou Histoire Abrege by Louis Mayeul Chaudon, 1766), completed with biographies of some Russian personalities (Kaufman, 1955). Petrarch was presented in a spacious, 10-page article with the description of his life and works. Special attention in the poet's biography was given to his love for Laura and to his crowning with laurels, which gained the translator's particular interest. As for the writings, preferences were made for the poems in Italian; the Latin works, as noted in the article, 'though deserve researchers' attention, can not compete with the Italian ones' (Slovar Istoricheskij, 1793: 531). The dictionary, which played the role of the first encyclopedia in Russian culture, offered a sentimentalist interpretation of the medieval Italian poet and highlighted such motifs as solitude, pensiveness, peregrination, escapement into the wilds and amorous ardour.

The French interpretation would settle strongly in the Russian mind for quite a while. At the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it was strengthened by the interest of Russian readers in the French gallant literature and the so-called 'poesie legere' (poesie fugitive). The craving for nature, for the cult of naturalness and for a 'tender love' awoke a strong echo in Russian 'sentimental hearts' and put down deep roots in Russian culture due to the formation of the sentimentalist and pre-romantic aesthetics. In the writings by Francois-Joachim de Bernis, Antoinette Des Houlieres, Jacques Delille and Mercier Dupaty, the names of Petrarch and Laura are as frequent as the names of Celadon and Astree. The popularity of Madame Des Houlieres, who was the first to associate the heroes of Honore d'Urfe with the Italian poet, as well as the fame of Les Jardins by Jacques Delille, (5) and Lettres de l'Italie by Charles Dupaty (6) led to the names of Petrarch and Laura being used as common names for sentimental lovers, and the fountain of Vaucluse, like the banks of the river Lignon, turned into a geographical topos of love.

Gallant literature, emblematic in its essence, transformed proper names into particular allegories and resorted to onomatology and toponymy to express a general idea or concept. Thus the name of Petrarch became a reference to a sentimental lover who celebrated his lady-love in his rhymes; while that of Laura became a symbol of a beautiful lady-love, and the spring of Vaucluse came to denote a locus of tender passion and love laments. Such images were devoid of internal evolution and change. As references to certain ideas, they easily joined other images of a similar kind. Therefore, the concomittance of names such as Celadon and Petrarch or Lignon and Vaucluse within one phrase did not provoke any cultural rejection, as those pairs referred to the same things.

In 1783, the love story of Abelard and Eloise became known in Russia, again via French sources (Sobraniye Pisem Abelyarda i Eloisi, 1783). Already popular in Europe for a decade, the story gained a new peak in its popularity in Russia due to the several translations from Alexander Pope's Heroide Eloisa to Abelard (1717). The first Russian translation from Pope appeared in 1792 along with the translation of Rousseau's The New Eloise. (7) They were published together as the former was a source of inspiration to the latter. Rousseau's novel in particular, with an epigraph from Petrarch at its beginning and a number of quotations from Canzoniere, gave a new reflection on the image of the Italian poet. Thus, on the one hand, due to Rousseau, Petrarch became one of the family of unhappy lovers with motifs of everlasting separation and undying passion. It explains why the names of Petrarch and Laura appeared next to those of Abelard and Eloise in certain translations of the 1790s:


(G Sokolskiy, Proschaniye (A Farewell))

(There Petrarch is embracing/ Laura's shadow at the coast,/and in an innocent and ardent passion/Abelard and Eloise,/with no fear for the tyrant's power,/are sharing fully their happiness.) (8)

On the other hand, also due to Rousseau, Petrarch evolved into a typically sentimentalist hero, the embodiment of dreaminess and melancholy, and his descriptions of Vaucluse were interpreted as a Rousseauist union with nature. Russians, enthusiastic about sentimental literature, became familiar with Petrarch and Laura in the same way that they felt about Julia and Saint-Preux. This was the way Petrarch was enshrined into the Russian mind by Nikolay Karamzin (1766-1826), a great Russian sentimentalist. His story Yulia (Julia), Pisma russkogo puteshestvennika (Letters of a Russian Traveler), as well as some of his articles and verses have many references to the triad Petrarch-Laura-Vaucluse or its components:


(N Karamzin, 1980: 427).

(With tender sentiments you are leaving the tower to enter a nice grove dedicated to muses and tranquility. This is where a spring, like that of Vaucluse, runs and where, as the Italian Tibullus assures, herbs, flowers, zephyrs, birds, and Petrarch talked about love. This is where there is an inscription in a cool rock shelter:

Waters with smooth surface, always/show the amiable visage of nature/and the image of my sweet beauty!/ [Waters,] play with zephyrs/ and remind me/ of Petrarch's dreams).

Regardless of whether he was interpreted as sweet, poor or sentimental, Petrarch always remained a lover. Due to his popularity among sentimentalists Petrarch's name, along with the name of his immortal lady-love, became common and entered the Russian everyday language. (9)

The decade of the 1790s was also marked by a large number of Petrarch verse translations and imitations which appeared in sentimentalist journals Zritel' (Viewer), Priyatnoye i poleznoye preprovozhdeniye vremeni (Pleasant and Useful Time), Ipokrena (Hippocrene), Musa (Muse) and Aonidy (Aonides). (10) There the name of Petrarch was often mentioned along with the names of Laurence Sterne, Thomas Gray, James Thomson, Edward Young, Salomon Gessner, Christian Gellert, James Macpherson--another fact that highlights the way in which he was perceived in that period. Among the Russian authors who showed an interest in Petrarch's verse were Yefim Lyutsenko (1776-1854), Ivan Dmitriyev (1760-1837), Mikhail Kaysarov (1780-1825), Nikita Butirskiy (1783 1848) and Vasiliy Pushkin (1766-1830). (11)

The translations done at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries can hardly be called translations in the usual sense of the term. They were free interpretations with only one original stanza incorporated in a new text, or two sonnets combined into one. (12) The first Russian translators had many difficulties in mastering the Petrarch sonnet structure and they are quite liberal with the poet's vocabulary. They could easily interweave some of Petrarch's oxymorons with the typically sentimentalist motifs of meditativeness, sorrowful pleasure, a languishing or a dreaming soul and bury them under a mountain of gushing phraseology:


(M Kaysarov. Sonet (Sonnet))

(I am the only one who is not sleeping and who is shedding floods of tears;/lave and bitterness are lacerating my breast./Here and there and everywhere I see the image of my dear Lizette,/and I feel at peace when I think of her).

The above-mentioned translations are remarkable for their shift of the viewpoint when the anonymous, lyrical 'I', which originally expressed the contradictions of the inner world of a person in lave, acquires some characteristics of a certain individual and transfers into the story of Petrarch and Laura. The viewpoint of the lyrical hero is substituted for the viewpoint of the translator familiar with the poet's lave story. Dmitriyev's translation is a good example of this:


(I Dmitriyev. Poverit li kto mnye?. (Can anybody trust me?))

(One minute--and my poor soul/is longing, and all is darkness for me again!/'Where's Laura?'--I think, looking around and groaning./'Where's Laura?'--but neither she nor anybody replies!./The tormented Petrarch falls/unconscious and bereft of feelings/on a stone which is as cold as he himself,/and only an echo resonates his deep and soulful groan).

Another variant of the above-mentioned shift is when a lyrical hero speaks of himself with some detachment, i.e. in the third person:


(Ye. Lyutsenko. Pesnya (Chant))

(In the arbor where Flora is weeping,/the sweet Laura made a wreath/for me of the tree twigs,/and I've been wearing it since then./Arbor! Today Petrarch is desiring/to die under your roof!/Death will interrupt the anguishes of his mind,/and thus it will piece together the two hearts).

Such narrative techniques as the shift from the first person to the third and the stress on the lady-love's name (written in the German or French way), which are absent in the original, make us believe that the translators were willing to revive in their readers' minds the names of the poor poet in love and of his dear beloved. On the other banal, it is also obvious that the sentimentalist aesthetic system with its commitment to the motif of unhappy love had not been completely adopted yet. The latter explains why almost all Russian translators were balancing between subjective and objective positions in perceiving reality.

Petrarch appears completely sentimental only in 1808, in the late Gavriil Derzhavin's (1743-1816) translation of Petrarch's XXXV sonnet. It seems as if the Russian poet had picked up all the basic motifs and subject cliches of the sentimentalist lyrics and put them together in his translation. A new change in interpretation of the medieval poet is highlighted in the poem's name. Being published for the first time, the poem appeared under the name Melancholy (Derzhavin, 1808a), which reflected the key mood of that period. Later, preparing the poem for his collection of works, Derzhavin preferred the name of Meditativeness which might seem more 'neutral' but still very characteristic to the period and to Derzhavin himself (Derzhavin, 1808b). The lyrical hero in his translation doesn't have any biographical characteristics; he opens himself up indirectly through his attitude to the outside world and stands up as a typical sentimental hero in whose saddened eyes one can identify some features of the pre-romantic poetics:




(Thoughtful and alone, I am striding/and pacing the waste of uninhabited places,/with gloomy eyes I am staring before my feet/in search of a human footprint buried in the sand./Alas! Neither hoping nor looking for anybody's help,/I have to leave this world;/ When joy departs, sadness becomes our master,/and the imprint of inner bitterness can be read in our eyes./.../There are no deserts, though, nor the wilds, dreary and remote,/ where my love in my sorrowful dreams/would not come to talk to me.)

The freedom which early Russian translators enjoyed in interpreting Petrarch and the easiness with which they incorporated him into their aesthetic and ethics system were not groundless. They were determined by the general principles of European poetry translation worked out by the Russian poets like Antioh Kantemir, Mikhail Lomonosov and Vasiliy Tredyakovsky, active in Russian literature up until the 1840s. Tredyakovsky's words 'a translator differs from an author only by name' capture the concept of the translation which dominated in the eighteenth century. In accordance with this concept, a translator, rather than recreating in his native language a foreign text, used it for creating an impersonal aesthetic model. In the early nineteenth century, such an approach was approved by Vasiliy Zhukovskiy (1783-1852), whose phrase 'a poet's translator is, to some extent, an original author himselF stressed once again the lack of boundaries between a translation and artistic expression. It explains why in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries verse translations were interpreted as writings belonging more to the translator than to the author himself, and they entered Russian literature 'as its authorized representatives' (Levin, 1985:9-11). It also explains why it was possible to permeate a translated text with some alien motifs, the way Petrarch's poems were saturated with some motifs and vocabulary borrowed from French light poetry and the graveyard poems of the English sentimentalists.

It should also be borne in mind that the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was a period in Russian literature remarkable for its intention to close a kind of development gap in the creative reconstruction of European accomplishments on Russian soil. This process started with the selection of the texts for translation. Of foreign writings, only those were selected that could be integrated harmoniously into the world of Russian poetry. As for Petrarch, very few of his texts--about 10, plus a fragment from The Triumph of Fame--had been translated in this period, and each of the translations had a pronounced sentimentalist orientation. The texts with a potential to develop such motifs as death, lachrymation, meditations (often on the frailty of life or its imperfection) or amorous visions and free-to-the-wilds aspirations appealed to Russian translators. From this perspective, canzone CXXVI with its four Russian translations (13) and sonnet XXXV, translated first by Tinkov, plus its three subsequent translations made before the end of the eighteenth century, (14) were increasingly in demand. Petrarch entered Russian literature when it was adopting sentimentalist and pre-romantic aesthetics, and he became subjected to its laws. His own style can hardly be recognized any more. The most characteristic features of his poetics such as oxymoron and antithesis superfluity, rich metaphors in portraying the lady, and different techniques in describing the inner world of a man, were not held in high esteem in late eighteenth-century Russia. The dominance of the French and English styles in poetry spared only a few motifs along with the names of Petrarch, Laura and the Vaucluse spring, which through the titles of the translations and publications became rooted in the Russian mind as the signs of unhappy or sentimental love.

A new image of a Russian Petrarch appeared mostly due to Konstantin Batyushkov (1787-1855), who contributed greatly to its appearance. (15) Fluent in Italian (the future Russian poet learnt it at a private boarding school), Batuyshkov studied Italian Renaissance literature with enthusiasm and later promoted it in his country. He made prose translations from Boccaccio, as well as translating The Furious Orlando by Ariosto, Jerusalem Delivered by Tasso, along with two verse translations from cantos I and XVII; he also wrote an article about Ariosto and Tasso (1816), and in 1815 he produced the first profound work on Petrarch in Russian literature, which was published in 1816. He is also the author of some verse translations and of imitations to the Italian poets: To Tasso (1808), On Laura's Death (1810), Evening. Imitation to Petrarch (1810), Dying Tasso (1817), and Imitation to Ariosto (1817). He also translated a letter by Bernardo Tasso. In 1817, he thought about writing a two-volume critical work on Italian literature and planned its design. (16) During different military expeditions, in which he took part as an officer, he never parted with his edition of Jerusalem Delivered, and later in life, when he was suffering from a mental disorder, he often recited Tasso's rhymes from memory, drew him, and at times even imagined himself to be the Italian poet. (17) It is of no surprise that he was called 'the first Russian italianomane' (Rosanov, 1930: 120).

Besides some personal factors, such as fluency in Italian and biographical associations with Petrarch and especially Tasso, Batyushkov's interest in the Italian Renaissance and Petrarch in particular was stimulated by some external factors. The first among them was the intrusion of European romantic ideas in Russia. In Germany, Petrarch as the voice of subjective feelings was highly regarded by J Herder and A Schlegel. In his lectures on the history of literature (1802-1803), Schlegel praised Petrarch as a true poet who had expressed his personal feelings at a universal level. In Italy, the beginning of the Risorgimento saw the emergence of a new wave of interest in national history. With Petrarch as one of the first advocates of unification, his canzone My Italy was gaining vast popularity. In the late 1820s, the theme of Italy was given a loud voice in Europe by Lord Byron, one of the most well-known of the Romantic poets. Batyushkov, who didn't know English, became acquainted with Byron's poetry through Italian translations during his visit to Italy. A decade before the arrival of the Byron era, the works on the history of Italian literature by Mme de Stael, Sismondi and Ginguene were much sought after among well-educated Russians. Ginguene, limiting his nine-volume Histoire litteraire d'Italie (1811-1819) to the Renaissance epoch, featured Petrarch in it, as Sismondi would do in his De la litterature du midi de l'Europe (1813). His article about Petrarch, published in volume 2 (1811), contained 22 Italian texts with renderings in French. Batyushkov diligently studied this book, which, along with the writings of the two other critics, significantly influenced his vision of Petrarch. (18) On that basis, Batyushkov intended to write his own work on Italian literature.

Batyushkov's output as a Petrarch translator with two verse translations and seven in prose (one of them from Triumphs) looks meager. At the same time, though, his merits as the poet's advocate proved to be significant. Petrarch existed in his mind as a part of the Italian lyrical tradition along with Dante, Ariosto and Tasso. In 1816, Batyushkov published three articles, which appeared one after another in the journal Vestnik Evropi (European Mercury): Ariosto and Tasso (no. 6), Petrarch (no. 7), and On Poet's Impressions and Life (no. 10). In addition, in the same year his Speech about the Influence of Light Poetry on the Language's Civility, delivered at the ceremony of his accession to the Moscow University Society of the Lovers of the Russian World, came out in July. Thus it appears that Batyushkov evaluated the writings of the Italian Renaissance poets in the context of his general deep reflections on a poet's mission, on the tasks of reforming Russian literary language and on the role of light poetry.

The Russian poet's fascination with the Italian poets started with his admiration for the Italian language. Its inherent qualities of flexibility, sonority, harmony and rhyme richness, revealed so clearly in Petrarch's writings, contrasted in his opinion with the phonetic barbarity and the absence of stylistic flexibility in his native language. He compared Italian to the sound of a harp while Russian to that of a bagpipe or balalaika (Batyushkov, 1886). In his letter to Gnedich, Batyushkov wrote

Guess what gets me angry? Guess what? The Russian language and our writers who treat it so mercilessly. The language itself, though, is rather bad, a bit rough and has a Tartar stink. Just only think about 'bI [y]? And 'III' [sch]? And all those 'III' [sh], '[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]' [shij], '[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]' [schij], '[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]' [pri], 'TpbI' [tri]? Oh, barbarians! /.../ A minute ago I was reading Ariosto, inhaling the pure air of Florence, enjoying the musical sounds of the Ausonia language and speaking to the shadows of Dante, Tasso and the sweet Petrarch, each word of whom is pure bliss! (Batyushkov, 1886: 164-165)

The same unhappiness about the Russian language, though more restrained and measured, without emotional outbursts, is expressed in his Speech about the Influence of Light Poetry where he writes '... the Russian language, vocular, strong and expressive, has preserved a certain rigidity and intractability, which persist even under the pen of a talented expert who is both scholarly and patient' (1886: 240). The beauty of the Italian and the lack of perfection in the Russian language were so acutely felt by Batyushkov that he considered inherently impossible to render the outstanding sounding of the one by means of the other. In his article Petrarch, Batyushkov intentionally offers the Russian readers his prose rendering of the Italian poet's verses: one can only render the 'thought' in them, not the sound, the melody, or the harmony (Batyushkov, 1885: 162). He did the same in his article Ariosto and Tasso, where he demonstrated all the beauty of the Italian poetic language by providing his illustrations in prose.

It is interesting to note that the idea of a striking dissonance between the two languages was not a new one. Alexander Shishkov (1754-1841), who was famous for his conservatism in literature, attempting to preserve Russian in its old Slavonic forms, expressed the idea almost in the same words. Another person who believed that Italians were 'the only modern European nation with a poetic language' was Lord Byron. (19) In 1808, Shishkov wrote in the marginalia to his three prose translations from Petrarch, made for Derzhavin who did not know the language:

It is difficult to translate Petrarch's sonnets in verse. In prose, in spite of the loss of the sweet sound, the meaning could be rendered better./.../In the original, their connection is so fluid and smooth, that one cannot simply render them verse after verse without violating their continuity. And the violations either by abridgement or by expansion would naturally diminish their power and beauty. (Shishkov, 1831: 208)

Though both Batyushkov and Shishkov note that verse translation into any language would have lacked the power of the original (Batyushkov, 1885; Shishkov, 1831), it is also clear that, for those Russian writers who knew Italian, the Russian language appeared to be far from perfect, irrespective of their ideological positions. The 'sweet sounding', 'fluid', 'harmonious', 'powerful and beautiful' language of Petrarch once again (similarly to the European petrarchism experience) forced the writers to ponder over the reforming of their native language. On the other hand, the proximity of Batyushkov's views on the Italian language with those of Lord Byron, suggests that the comparison between the native versus the Italian language in favour of the the latter was also due to the logic of the Romantic thinking: it is no coincidence that both poets invoke the contrast of 'the South' and 'the North' in their comparisons. (20)

The perception of Russia as a northern country, introduced into the Russian culture with the general admiration of Macferson, was reinforced by Batyushkov with his opposing comparison: 'Italy is the country in the South'. The thought that a poet's soul, and consequently his language, is shaped by the nature around him and the climate, was borrowed by Batyushkov from Ginguene. But here the importance is not in the authorship. The essence lies in the fact that, by relishing Italy and by assessing Russia through the luxury of the southern nature, Batyushkov formulated the antithesis North/South in the Russian mind as well as facilitated the shaping of the national awareness of 'living in the country of the far North'. In the 1820s, when the Russian public worshipped Lord Byron, the motif of the North versus the South is gaining tremendous popularity, but its formalization in the Russian cultural tradition is attributed nevertheless to Batyushkov, rather than to the English poet, as the contrast between Russia and Italy.

Batyushkov always keeps in mind that the language of Petrarch is a poetical language. Petrarch succeeded in revealing and enriching the sonority and expressiveness of his language particularly as a poet. It inspires Batyushkov to reiterate the remarkable role of poets in language development and to notice the opportunities for reforming his native language based on the achievements of Petrarch. (21) He certainly realizes that the poet's role in society is not only confined to this. In his article On Poet's Impressions and Life, he would tackle this subject globally, with the overstatement typical of Romanticists. A poet is compared to a genius; without him 'nothing would have a continuous nature, would be solid, definite and everlasting'(Batyushkov, 1885: 120). By binding the name of Petrarch with the Romantic poetic concept, Batyushkov introduced new emphasis in the interpretation of the Italian poet's life in Russian culture.

The notion of the artist (poet) acquired an exceptional role in the European Romantic literature at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The image of a poet was bestowed with specific features reflecting the awareness of his uniqueness, leading to a tragic destiny of loneliness and misunderstanding by people. Gradually the whole repertoire of motifs defining a poet's image was created. A poet is bestowed with a sensitive soul which is likened to an iron-melting furnace in moments of inspiration, unrecognized and persecuted by his contemporaries; he is imagined as a lonely exile, as a talent that often perishes in poverty and starvation. A special role is attributed to a poet's love. True poets are always suffering when in love: either his beloved ideal exists outside the real world or the world itself becomes an insuperable barrier between a poet and his beloved. The motif of madness becomes relevant in this connection.

In search of good illustrations, Romantic poets looked back into the past, and history provided them with a great number of biographies which symbolized the lot of a poet in the human world. In the lives of their contemporaries, the Romanticists found confirmation of what they deemed the timeless truth of human disdain for poetry. In 1802, there appeared in France a book by JMB Bins de Saint-Victor called Les grands poetes malhereux (The Great Unhappy Poets). The purpose of the author was to show that poets, being the idea generators in human society, were nonetheless continuously persecuted by their contemporaries, especially when they aspired to teach rather than entertain. (22) To illustrate this idea, Bins de Saint-Victor compiled a series of biographies of the poets who were 'happy in being intellectually gifted but unhappy in their lives'. Along with the biographies of some ancient poets, such as Homer, Sappho, Theocritus, Plautus, Lucretius, Ovid, Seneca, Lucian, Dante, Camoens, Tasso, Milton and Rousseau, the author included in the book two life stories of his contemporaries, Malfilatre and Gilbert. The book gained wide readership in Russia and evoked a vivid discussion in the press. In 1806, the editor of the journal Lyubitel Slovesnosti (Literature Lovers), Nikolay Ostolopov, impressed by Bins de Saint-Victor, published his own List of Poor Writers (1806), where poverty is given a socio-economic interpretation rather than psychological. The social coverage of the problem resonated especially well with the Russian writers. In 1807, Bins de Saint-Victor was translated into Russian (Zhalkaya Sud'ba Stikhotvorstev).

In the periodical publications and the literary fiction of the beginning of the century, the names of a number of poets along with the historical and geographical sights connected with them were acquiring symbolic meanings of a poet's destiny. Of the Italian poets, Dante and Tasso are mentioned regularly. Dante is pictured as a patriot and an exile from his native Florence. Tasso is presented as a 'victim of love and envy' as well as of insanity and of court intrigues. Tasso was especially popular. As was noted by Raissa Gorokhova, who carried out special research on the image of Tasso in Russian literature, his biography was an ideal manifestation of a persecuted bard's story:

a great poet cruelly treated by his late and the people, whose love for Eleonora, sister of his patron Alfonso II d'Este, was the cause of his confinement to the lunatic asylum and whose death came the day before his triumphal crowning in the Capitol--what could have been both more romantic and tragic than such a fate! (Gorokhova, 1978:119)

Unlike Dante and Tasso, Petrarch's biography was less rich in romantic motifs; neither was it entwined with the motif of poverty. Nevertheless, the poet suffered an unreciprocated love, and this was sufficient to elevate him to third in significance among the Italian poets in Russia.

In the Russian mind of the early nineteenth century, Petrarch was most notably an unhappy love singer. This was the way his image was elaborated by the sentimentalists, similar to how Batyushkov imagined him initially. Around 1812, in his famous programme letter To Turghenev (Otvet T-vu), in which he spoke in support of the light poetry in Russian literature, Batyushkov mentioned a whole raft of poets who were acclaimed for their unhappy love; these were the ancient Greek Sappho, a Russian poet of the period Ippolit Bogdanovitch, 'Dushenka's singer', (23) as Batyushkov called him, and Petrarch, the first among the Parnassus dwellers. It was no accident that none of the poets was introduced by name: the author, no doubt, was convinced that the readers would have unmistakably identified the poets through the names of their lady-loves as well as by means of the historical and geographical context. These details became symbols associated in the mass conscience with the image of a certain poet in the process of its evolution in Russian culture. The name of Petrarch had the above-mentioned sentimentalist code: Laura, the woeful laments with nature in the background and the spring of Vaucluse:


(The lover of the strict Lora/burnt with grief there;/only cliffs and wild mountains/ heard his voice/on the banks of the Vaucluse).

Batyushkov, however, introduced into this well-established 'code' a new amendment where Petrarch featured not as an unhappy lover but as an unhappy poet. Unanswered love is what Petrarch had in common with the fate of any other poet. The ancient Sappho, the medieval Petrarch and the contemporary Bogdanovitch--all of them are interpreted as examples of the age-long antinomy: poets are blessed either with love or with the poetry. Unrequited love is the price a poet should pay for his artistic gift:


(We find a laurel tree/or a sorrowful cypress there/where we were looking for roses of happiness/that flourish not for us).

Five years later, in his article Petrarch, Batyushkov would try to broaden the poet's 'coded' image by including the social aspect, so from just being 'Lora's lover' be turns out to be a 'worshipper of Ancient Rome and ancient freedom' (Batyushkov, 1885: 169). These efforts to make the poet's image 'multi-dimensional' proved to be rather poor and irrelevant as they didn't prompt any response. What did appeal to the Russian public was Batyushkov's aspiration to give a new sound to the feeling of love itself. Batyushkov wrote his article in the year he broke off with Anna Furman, and the closeness of the biographical motifs--the Russian poet also suffered unrequited love--induced him to see the nature of love in a new light. It surfaces in the elegies of 1815, inspired by his love for Furman as well as in the article dedicated to the Italian poet, and connects both with one unifying motif, which is Platonic love.

After a brief description of Petrarch's role in the development of humanism and political life in Italy, Batyushkov dwells on his love, which he regards as the key event in the poet's life and in his creative activity. He entirely rejects any attempts to treat Laura as a poetical fancy. For Batyushkov, Petrarch is an example of poetic sincerity. Sensitive people and lovers of poetry, insists Batyushkov, 'will never doubt Petrarch's love to Laura for each of his rhyme or word bears an unforgettable impress of love' (1885: 160). At the same time, Batyushkov emphasizes that the poet's love was purely Platonic without any shade of eroticism. Like the European Romantic poets, Petrarch was a representative of 'modern' poets for Batyushkov, whose spiritual, pristine and sublime feelings were in contrast with the materialism and eroticism of the 'ancient' ones. Comparing the 'ancient art' and the 'modern' one, the Romanticists described the ancient art as sensuous and physical while the modern one was called Christian and spiritual. 'Similarly to the others [Catullus, Ovid, Anacreon and other ancient poets], Petrarch experienced all the tortures of love and those of jealousy, but all his pleasures were spiritual', Batyushkov writes. 'Ancient poets were idol worshippers; they didn't and couldn't possess those sublime and abstract concepts of a pure soul and of chastity ... They savoured their pleasures and praised them in their songs ...' (Batyushkov, 1885: 160-161). In Bayushkov's understanding, Petrarch was a poet of purely spiritual pursuits. (24)

It should be noted that Batyushkov wasn't the first one to speak about Petrarch's love as Platonic. This idea had already been introduced in Slovar' Istoricheskij of 1793. After the critical remarks of Voltaire towards Petrarch, there were some comments from his son about the Platonic spirit of the Canzoniere and the 'modern' character of the book, as contrasted with the erotic poetry of ancients:

Petrarch is a combination of a triple delight: virtue, love and a poetical gift. He endows tenderness with greatness and dignity. The Ancients depicted love as a weakness, but the lover of Laura compares the feeling to a sacrifice on the altar of virtue rather than to the vanity of beauty. His passion is noble and heroic; it elevates the soul rather than softens and pampers it. In his rhymes the Graces appear full of decency; he attributes a fourth sister to them--Honesty. What Plato had in mind, Petrarch felt and described. He illustrated aptly what was so poorly discoursed by the Socrates disciples, namely the nature and the force of love. (Slovar Istoricheskij, 1793:530-531)

Generally speaking, the more one reads the various assessments of Petrarch of the time before Batyushkov, the better one can see that the Russian poet was not original. This conclusion, though, in no way diminishes the merits of Batyushkov in promoting the creative writings of the great Italian poet in Russia and in developing further his new image in Russian literature. On the contrary, Batyushkov, like no other writer, succeeded in bringing Petrarch closer to his readers by incorporating the poet's image into the Romantic aesthetics and by accentuating those features of his poetics that were consonant with the Russian national conscience.

Batyushkov substituted the laments of the 'sentimental' Petrarch viewed by his predecessors with the 'sorrows of a Christian and a lover', associated with the 'idea of immortality'. In this new perspective, Petrarch appeared as the one who 'could conjoin the earth and the heavens', while his Laura acquired an image of 'something immaterial, pure spirit which effused from the depth of a Divinity and got attired in earthly charms' (Batyushkov, 1885: 161).

The second part of Canzoniere with its potential to develop the motifs of dreams, memoirs and light sorrows, especially appealed to Batyushkov, and in his translations he presented Laura's death as a 'triumph of life over death' and portrayed the lady-love herself as an 'angel of chastity' who could be walking 'in the Divine surrounded by angels and saints'.

In Batyushkov's interpretation, the medieval poet was transformed into the Romantic one. Having elevated the unreciprocated love to the main event in the poet's biography, Batyushkov interconnected it with the Romantic concept of the poet, focusing particularly on the image of the lady. She appeared as a symbol of something alternative, empyrean and divine and was described in terms of the aesthetics of a 'far-away world'. The love for her was depicted as an expression of the purity, of the spiritual aspirations of the lyrical hero, of the eternal striving of the soul towards an unattainable ideal. A number of motifs associated with the name of Petrarch--the founder of the poetic language, singer of love, unhappy poet, Platonic lover--coalesced with time into a holistic image of the poet, where the word 'poet' refers not just to a vocation but to a type of personality able to convert his own heart's pain into a divine symphony of sounds.

After Batyushkov, the majority of new translations were made from the second part of Canzoniere. Russian poets used the motif of a posthumous love to interpret Petrarch in a new perspective. Neoplatonic ideas, which were the basis of his lyrics, transformed into a Romantic concept of the world duality. Somewhere 'in the heavens' there was a home for a divinely beautiful and unattainable beloved one, while here on earth the 'lorn' and 'heavy-hearted' poet languished:


(Yu. Raydarovskiy. Petrarchin Sonet (Sonnet by Petrarch), 1817)

(And now alone, I am nursing my grief/as she is not here with me any more,/and there is nothing left in this world that I can care for.)

As in Batyushkov's elegies, in these translations the phantoms become the dominant motif, bridging the gap between the poet and his beloved one, i.e. between the two worlds. The lyrical hero either imagines himself there, 'in the heights of the blue ether', or dreams about his lady descending from the skies back to the earth:


(Al. Norov, 1821)

(Now in my thoughts I will fly up into the heaven lands/where that [lady], whom I am seeking in vain, [lives] .../There, in the third height of the blue ether,/she [appears] more beautiful and less severe ...)

The substitution of an unhappy lover with that of a Platonic one resulted in the dematerialization of the image of a lady-love. She is no longer a human being, but a spirit, an apparition or a dream. Only a few features of her appearance and behaviour remain and they underline her empyreal or divine character: paleness, shining eyes, sweet words and a smile.


(V Pushkin, Podrazhanije Petrarche (Imitation to Petrarch), 1823)

(I wanted to escape but had no strength!--/ the goddess of beauty appeared;/I looked at her and became her dependant/as so sweet is the light of her eyes!)

Unlike European poets, who under the influence of Italian petrarchists borrowed Petrarch's elaborated metaphors and complex similes in comparing the lady's features with the natural elements, the Russian poets remained rather unperturbed by this part of his poetics. Their interest was not so much in the external but in the internal, spiritual aspect of things, and the Neo-Platonist interpretation of the image appealed to them the most. That is why the golden hair and the 'luminous looks' were the only external features regularly developed in their poems and translations.

Like the sentimentalists, the Russian Romantic translators tried to adapt Petrarch to their own aesthetic system, and by doing this changed the meaning of his lyrics. In their translations, the sublime, elevated phraseology was pushed out by the sentimental, romantic vocabulary, while the contrasts as a typical stylistic feature were eroded by half-toned, vague feelings (Tomashevskiy, 1981). The lamentations of the translators themselves came to express 'the indefinable beauty of Petrarch's lamentations' (Batyushkov, 1885, 1886). The original was thus presented to Russian readers in a framework of a completely different stylistic and ideological system. It is worth remembering that before 1840, out of 366 Petrarch poems, only about 30 were translated into Russian. Romantic poets used Petrarch mostly as a resource for their studies of the elegiac genre. (25) Nevertheless, the Romantic Petrarch proved to be very viable.

Batyushkov's views were crucial for how Italy and its classical poets were perceived in Russia. Due to Batyushkov, the Italian poetic language exercised its influence on Pushkin. It was Pushkin (1995) who found the best form for interpreting the motif of divinity in portraying his lady-love ('Beauty, I recall the miraculous moment, I loved you once that love has ye'). (26) He created the best formula which summed up everything Batyushkov wrote about in the mid-1820s. His verse 'The language of Petrarch and love' (in Yevgeniy Oneghin, I) has become rooted in the Russian mind as a cliche, as a certain summary of the initial period of the perception of Petrarch in the Russian culture.


The question of Russian petrarchism has never been discussed in a comprehensive way. The main reason was the fact that Italian petrarchism itself has never been the subject of scientific research in Russia until recently and as an epigonic phenomenon was never considered worthy of serious consideration in this country (Yakushkina, 2009). However, while rejecting the terra petrarchism with regard to Russian literature almost unanimously, researchers sometimes used the terra petrarchists referring to the first translators and propagandists of Petrarch in Russia. It can be illustrated by the article of Gheorghij Lozinskiy (1927) entitled Petrarcha i Pervije Russikije Petrarchisti (Petrarch and Early Russian Petrarchists), where he exposed the paradox of the assimilation of Petrarch in Russia: he wrote about petrarchists in the country where petrarchism didn't exist.

Lozinskiy is right in the main thing: with regard to Russia, the term petrarchism could be applied only with a number of reservations and only as a very broad term for denoting various forms in which Petrarch's writings and biography affected the Russian writers of the late eighteenth to the early nineteenth centuries. Unlike in other European countries, in Russia Petrarch had become neither the topic of popular admiration nor the subject of general imitation, and his legacy was accepted in the general context of western European culture. At the same time it is also clear from the above analyses that Russia, in spite of all its uniqueness, in certain ways followed the experience of the 'classical' petrarchist countries.

One of the ways was manifested in the specific features of the first translations. In the history of European petrarchism there was a distinct sequence in mastering the poet's writings (firstly the Latin writings, then The Triumphs, and finally Canzoniere) as well as there existing a certain consistent pattern in the familiarization with Canzoniere. It started with the assimilation at the topic-and-motif level and the first translations inherent in this phase. These aren't so much translations in the modern sense of the term but rather liberal interpretations in the form of compilations from different texts with an emphasis on the 'I' of a translator-interpreter. These translations are often lacking a clear-cut boundary between a translation per se and an imitation. As this article has demonstrated, such were the first attempts to translate Petrarch in Russia, but he had been translated in the same way by Maurice Sceve and Clement Marot in France, Thomas Wyatt in England and Jordi de Sant Jordi in Spain.

Another way that European petrarchism was similar to that in Russia was in the combination of interest to imitate Petrarch with the desire to boost the development of the national language. As in sixteenth-century Europe, in nineteenth-century Russia, Petrarch--and in a broader sense the Italian poetical tradition--evoked the awareness of the imperfection of its native poetical language and inspired the process of language formation. It is only natural that in the 'classical' petrarchist countries (Italy, France, Spain, England) the period of the initial learning from the poet quickly paved the way for new level discussions about the development of the national language. This made petrarchism not a mere adoption of the Italian phenomenon but rather a factor of a national language construction. From this perspective, Petrarch deserves a mention for his role in Russia, too.


This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

DOI: 10.1177/0014585813479330


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Tatiana Yakushkina

Saint Petersburg State University of Culture and Arts, Russia


(1.) The biographical details on Tinkov (died after 1772) are very poor. He was a sergeant of the Imperial Guard Semenovskiy Regiment, and between 1770 and 1772 he served as a private inspector in Moscow. In 1768, Tinkov published another translation from French Razniye Zabavniye I Lyubovniye Ovidievi Sochineniya v Stikhah. Perevedeni s Fransuzkogo na Russkiy Yazik (Different Entertaining and Love Stories by Ovid Composed in Verses and Translated from French into Russian). According to some researchers, the famous Russian writer of the period Mikhail Chulkov (1743-1793) participated in both Tinkov's editions (Furman, 2000:80-81; Pilschikov, 2006: 19-20).

(2.) See also some data on grammar books published in the 1780s and 1790s that give indirect proof of French and German dominance in eighteenth-century Russia in Marker (1985: 197).

(3.) This is how the name Chabeau was translated into Russian.

(4.) The French original book Lettre de Petrarque a Laure, Suivie de Remarques sur ce Poete, & la Traduction de quelques-unes de ses plus jolies Pieces par N A Romet, Paris: S Jorry, 1765 was attributed by Stefano Garzonio (Garzonio, 1988: 34-35; Garzonio, 1989: 20).

(5.) Four Russian translations in the period of twenty years manifested the extreme popularity of the poem in Russia: 1794-95--Vasilij Kapnist; 1804--Pyotr Karabanov; 1814 Aleksandr Palitsin; 1816--Aleksandr Voyejkov.

(6.) The popularity of the book by Dupaty is demonstrated by the following Russian translations: 1796--Arma Lavanda (a fragment); 1798--Aleksandra and Natalya Magnitskiye, Katerina Scherbatova, and Mariya Boske (though the book was translated, only part of it was published); 1800-1801--Ivan Martinov; 1807--Pavel Sokovnin (a fragment); the end of the 1790s--Andrey Turghenev (remained in a manuscript). For further details see: Lappo-Danilevskiy 2004.

(7.) In 1792, the translation of the second part of Rousseau's novel Novava Eloisa, ili Perepiska Dvukh Lyubovnikov, Zhivuschikh v Malen'kom Gorodke pri Podoshve Alpijskih Gor (The New Eloise, or The Correspondente of Two Lovers Living in a Small Town at the Foot of the Alpine Mountains) was published under one cover with Lyubovnoye Pis'mo ot Eloisi k Abelyardu (A Love Letter from Eloise to Abelard). The translator of both pieces was Pyotr S Andreev. In 1792 to 1793, the full translation of Rousseau's novel was published. Andreev is considered to be the translator of the first part, too (see Lotman, 1967: 218). It was the second and anonymous translation of The New Eloise in Russia; the first, made by Pavel Potyemkin, appeared in 1769 while Rousseau was still alive. In 1803-1804, there was a third translation by Aleksandr Palitsin, reprinted in 1820-1821. As for translations of the Heroide by Pope, some others should be mentioned besides that by Andreev: 1794--Vladislav Ozerov (a fragment); 1802--Andrej Turghenev (not realized); 1806--Vasiliy Zhukovkiy. For further details on this subject see Vatsuro (1994: 60-61).

(8.) Here and throughout the word by word translation of the quoted Russian texts is made by the author of the article.

(9.) For example, in Batyushkov's letter to Zhukovskiy: Turgenev % full of ... some Laura. He has lost his heart in earnest' (Batyushkov, 1886: 188) or in Aleksander Pushkin's letter to his younger brother Lev: 'I've read to him [to Tumanskiy] some fragments from The Fountain of Bakhchisaraj, my new poem, explaining that I am not willing to publish it as many scenes refer to a woman whom I loved for a long time and very foolishly, and as the role of a Petrarch is not for me' (Pushkin, 1989: 53).

(10.) On Russian periodicals of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries see: Levin (1990); Lisovskij (1915); Russkaya Periodicheskaya Pechat (1959).

(11.) For background information about these poets and bibliography see: Russian Literature and Language Institute (1988-1999); Tatarinova (2006); see also the website Poetry of Moscow University from Lomonosov to ...: index.html.

(12.) For more details on the principles of translation in this period see: Levin (1985, 1995).

(13.) 1770s--Nikolay L'vov (in prose, remained unpublished); 1796--Yefim Lyutsenko; 1797 Ivan Dmitriyev; 1804--Pyotr Zheleznikov (prose rendering).

(14.) 1768 Aleksandr Tinkov; 1770s--Nikolay L'vov (in prose, remained unpublished); 1798--Mikhail Kajsarov; 1808--Gavriil Derzhavin. The popularity of this sonnet in Russia was foredoomed by Voltaire.

(15.) The list of research papers on Batyushkov and Petrarch is extensive. See, for example: Nekrasov (1911); Contieri (1959); Varese (1970); Fridman (1971); Semenko (1977); Tomashevskiy (1974); Tomashevskiy (1981); Solonovich (1979); Pilschikov (2000, 2003).

(16.) The plan is given in: Pismo k Gnedichu (Letter to Gnegich) (Batyushkov, 1886: 423).

(17.) For further details see the article and comments by Dmitriy D Blagoy in Batyushkov (1934).

(18.) Ginguene's Histoire was in the poet's personal library.

(19.) Quoted in Rosanov (1930: 120).

(20.) Cf. in Byron's poem Beppo:
   I love the language, that soft bastard Latin,
   Which melts like kisses from a female mouth,
   And sounds as if it should be writ on satin,
   With syllables which breathe of the sweet South,
   And gentle liquids gliding all so pat in,
   That not a single accent seems uncouth,
   Like our harsh northern whistling, grunting guttural,
   Which we're obliged to hiss, and spit, and sputter all.
   (Beppo, 1818: XLIV)

(21.) Aleksander Pushkin, appreciating Batyushkov's merits in perfecting Russian verse sound and technique, spoke about his poetry as Italian-like, well-sounding and harmonious and in particular noted that Batyushkov 'did for the Russian language the same as Petrarch had done for Italian" ('Prichinami, zamedlivshimi khod nashej slovesnosti ...' (The Reasons which Slowed Down the Development ofOur Literature) in Pushkin (1996, vol. 11: 21). See also his 'Zametki na Polyah 2-j Chasti Opitov v Stihah i Prose KN Batyushkova' (Marginalia to the 2nd Part of Essays in Verse and Prose by KN Batyushkov) where be exclaims in admiration: 'Italian sounds! What a magician this Batyushkov is!' (Pushkin, 1996, v. 12: 267). The first analysis of these notes can be found in Majkov (1899).

(22.) For more details see Vatsuro (1994: 217-219).

(23.) The chief work by Bogdanovitch (1743/44-1803) was his romantic poeta Dushen'ka, published in 1775.

(24.) As a singer of spiritual love, Petrarch was compared to Evariste Parny. See a quotation which is eloquent of the public attitude to these poets in the 1810s and 1820s: 'I don't like Parny," writes an anonymous Russian writer. 'He is a gifted poet and has rich imagination, but I can't find true sensitivity in him. He estranged himself from the distinctive characteristic of modern poetry which is, no doubt, nobler than the erotic poetry of ancients. Parny sometimes captures my imagination but doesn't feast my soul. It's too bad that his harmonious verses do not sing things and feelings more sublime! In my understanding he didn't know how to love. Petrarch! This is my poet! His poetry is as innocent as his passion which never diminished, rather, sublimated his moral virtues.' Quoted in Vatsuro (1994: 197).

(25.) For more details on Russian elegiac poets' interest in Petrarch see Vatsuro (1994). The sonnet, another genre which experienced Petrarch's influence in Russia, is studied in Titarenko (1985).

(26.) As Rosanov rightly remarks, Petrarch was not the only Italian poet due to whom Russians adopted the motif of the lady-love's divinity and that of her adoration. Petrarch entered the Russian mind together with Dante, so it is quite in order to speak about Petrarch and Dante as one poetical resource for the mentioned motifs. For further details see Rosanov (1930).

Corresponding author:

Tatiana Yakushkina, Saint Petersburg State University of Culture and Arts, Dvortsovaya Emb. 2, Saint

Petersburg, 191186, Russian Federation.

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Author:Yakushkina, Tatiana
Publication:Forum Italicum
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:4EXRU
Date:May 1, 2013
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