- The Tale of Igor's Campaign
"The Tale of Igor's Campaign" (Old East Slavic: Слово о плъку Игоревѣ, "Slovo o plŭku Igorevě"; _uk. Слово о полку Ігоревім, "Slovo o polku Ihorevim"; Modern Russian: Слово о полку Игореве, "Slovo o polku Igoreve") is an anonymous
epic poemwritten in the Old East Slavic languageand tentatively dated to the end of 12th century.
It is also occasionally translated as "The Song of Igor's Campaign", "The Lay of Igor's Campaign", and "The Lay of the Host of Igor". The Ukrainian sources transliterate the name as "Ihor". The authenticity of the book is disputed, though today prevailing opinion is that the book is authentic.
The "Tale of Igor's Campaign" was adapted by
Alexander Borodininto one of the great classics of Russian opera. Entitled " Prince Igor", it was first performed in 1890.
The plot of this classic work is based on a failed raid of
Kniaz Igor Svyatoslavich, Prince of Novgorod-Seversk(of the Chernigov principalityof ancient Rus') against the Polovtsians or Cumans living in the southern part of the Don region in 1185.
Other Rus' historical figures are mentioned, including the bard Boyan, the princes
Vseslav of Polotsk, Yaroslav Osmomyslof Galich, and Vsevolod the Big Nestof Suzdal. The author appeals to the warring Rus' princes, pleading for unity in the face of the constant threat from the Turkic East.
An interesting aspect of the text is its mix of
Christianityand ancient Slavic religion. Igor's wife Yaroslavna famously invokes natural forces from the walls of Putyvl. Christian motifs present along with depersonalised pagan gods in the form of artistic images. Another aspect, which sets the book apart from contemporary Western epics, are its numerous and vivid descriptions of nature, and the role which nature plays in human lives.
Discovery and publication
The only manuscript of the Tale, claimed to be dated to the
1400s, was discovered in 1795, in the library of a Yaroslavlmonastery, where the first library and school in Russia had been established back in the 12th century. The monks sold it to a local landowner, Aleksei Musin-Pushkin, as a part of a collection of ten texts. He realised the value of the book, and made a transcription for the empress Catherine the Greatin 1795 or 96, and published it in 1800with the help of leading Russian paleographers of the time, Alexei Malinovskyand Nikolai Bantysh-Kamensky. The original manuscript was claimed to have burned in the great Moscow fire of 1812(during the Napoleonic occupation), together with Aleksei's entire library. Vladimir Nabokovproduced a translation into English in 1960. Other notable editions include the standard Soviet edition, prepared with an extended commentary, by the academician Dmitry Likhachev.
Reaction of 19th century scholars
The release of this historical work into scholarly circulation created quite a stir in Russian literary circles, because the tale represented the earliest Slavonic writing without any mixture of
Church Slavonic. Ukrainian scholars in the Austrian Empiredeclared, upon linguistic analysis, that the document contained transitional language between a) earlier fragments of the language of "Rus' propria" (the region of Chernihiv, eastward through Kiev, and into Halych) and, b) later fragments from the Halych-Volynian era of this same region in the centuries immediately following the writing of the document. The current dialectologyupholds Pskovand Polotskas the two cities where the Tale was most likely written. Numerous persons have been proposed as its authors, including Prince Igor and his brothers.
When the first modern edition of the Tale was published, questions about its authenticity were raised, mostly on account of its language. Suspicion was also fueled by contemporary fabrications (for example, the "Songs of
Ossian" which were actually written by James Macpherson). Today, majority opinion accepts the authenticity of the text, based on similarity of its language with that of other texts discovered after the Tale.
Proposed as forgers were
Aleksei Musin-Pushkinhimself, or the Russian manuscript forgers Anton Bardinand Alexander Sulakadzev(Bardin was publicly exposed as the forger of four other copies of 'Slovo'). One of the notable early proponents of the falsification theory was the notorious journalist and orientalist Josef Sienkowski.
It should be noted that the authenticity of the document has never been questioned by any professional linguist. According to the majority view, such a perfect imitation of 12th-century language would not have been practicable before the discovery of
birch bark documents in 1951, let alone two centuries earlier.
The problem was politicized in the
Soviet Union: any attempts to question the authenticity of 'Slovo' (for example, those by French Slavist André Mazonor by Russian historian Alexander Zimin) as well as the non-standard interpretations, based on Turkic lexis, such as proposed by Oljas Suleimenov(who considered Igor's Tale to be an authentic text), were officially condemned. Mazon and Zimin's views were opposed, e.g., by Roman Jakobson, the most reputable Slavist of the 20th century, whose works were also banned from publication in the USSR.
One of the crucial points of the controversy is the relationship between Slovo and
Zadonschina, an unquestionably authentic poem, preserved in six medieval copies and created in the 15th century to glorify Dmitri Donskoi's victory over Mamaiin the Battle of Kulikovo. It is evident that there are almost identical passages in both texts where only the personal names are different. The traditional point of view considers Zadonschina to be a late imitation, with Slovo being its pattern. The forgery version claims vice versa that the Igor's Tale is written using Zadonschina as a source. Recently, Jakobson's and Zaliznyak's analyses show that the passages of Zadonschina with counterparts in Slovo differ from the rest of the text by a number of linguistic parameters, whereas this is not so for Igor's Tale. This fact is taken as evidence of Slovo being original with respect to Zadonschina.
Historians and philologists, however, still continue to question the tale's authenticity, due to an uncharacteristic modern nationalistic sentiment (cf.
Panslavism) contained therein ( Omeljan Pritsakinter alia). The Tale is sometimes considered to have an agenda similar to that of Kraledvorsky Manuscript. For instance, in his article "Was Iaroslav of Halych really shooting sultans in 1185?" and in his book "Josef Dobrovsky and the origins of the Igor's Tal"e ( 2003) the Harvard Professor of History Edward L. Keenanstates that Igor's Tale is a fake, written by Czech scholar Josef Dobrovsky. It has also been suggested that The Tale is a recompilation and manipulation of several authentic sources put together similarly to Lönnrot's Kalevala. [http://www.ceeol.com/aspx/getdocument.aspx?logid=5&id=75b25a31-5a9f-4a88-8d64-726bccdeb0c3]
A 2004 book by Russian linguist
Andrey Zaliznyakanalyzes the arguments of both sides and concludes that the forgery theory is virtually impossible. He also refutes some of Jakobson's linguistic arguments for the authenticity of the text. Only in the late 20th century, when hundreds of bark documents were unearthed in Novgorod, was it demonstrated that the puzzling passages and words from the tale actually existed in everyday speech of the 12th century, although they didn't find their way to chronicles and other written documents. Zaliznyak concludes that no 18th century scholar could possibly imitate the subtle grammatical and syntactical features that are present in the known text. Nor could Dobrovsky, Keenan's candidate, fulfill such a task, as his views on Slavic grammar were strikingly different from the system found in Igor's Tale. Vladimir Nabokovonce said that there is not a single work in world literature that could approach the tale by sheer range and complexity of its prose rhythms. 18th-century Russia had neither the scholars to understand Old East Slavicso perfectly, nor the great poets capable of creating such a masterpiece. Juri Lotman's opinion supports the view of authenticity of the Tale, based on the absence of a number of semiotic elements in the Russian Classicist literary tradition before the publication of the Tale, notably "Russian Land ("русская земля")" that becomes popular only in the 1800s, so a presumed forger of the 1780s-1790s could not use such elements while composing the text. [ [http://feb-web.ru/feb/slovo/critics/s62/s62-330-.htm Ю. М. Лотман «СЛОВО О ПОЛКУ ИГОРЕВЕ» И ЛИТЕРАТУРНАЯ ТРАДИЦИЯ XVIII — НАЧАЛА XIX в.] ]
In 1975 a noted Russian-language
Kazakhpoet Olzhas Suleimenovchallenged the mainstream view of Tale in his book "Az i Ya". O. Suleymenov's research is claimed to reveal that Tale cannot be completely authentic since it appears to have been rewritten in the XVI century. Another unusual aspect, according to him, was the presence of unusually large number of Turkic words in Tale that would be unfamiliar to XVI and XVIII centuries' Russians. Suleymenov claimed that a traditional "obscure passage" in Svyatoslav's dream contained a part that is written completely in Cuman(Kipçak) language: «Блеснь скана болони беша дебрь кисан ю инес ошлюкъ син» or "Bilesıñ skana boloni bäşa debir kisan yu ines öşlük sın (reconstructed by O.Suleymenov). [ [http://kitap.net.ru/sulejmenov/aziia1-11.php] [http://kitap.net.ru/sulejmenov/aziia1-12.php] ] This phrase is considered by some Turkologists as the earliest example of Cuman language.Fact|date=August 2008Az i Ya was followed by criticism from mainstream Slavists, including Dmitri Likhachev, [Дмитриев Л. А., Творогов О. В. «Слово о полку Игореве» в интерпретации О.Сулейменова // Русская литература. 1976. № 1. С.257] and Turkologists [Н.А. Баскаков. "Слово о полку Игореве". Памятники литературы и искусства XI-XVII веков. М., 1978. С. 59-68] as well, qualifying Suleymenov's etymological and paleography conjectures as amateur.
Old East Slavic language
* [http://www.imwerden.de/pdf/slowo_o_polku_igorewe.pdf The original edition of 1800]
* [http://nevmenandr.net/slovo/main-en.html The parallel corpus of “The Tale of Igor’s Campaign” translations]
* [http://titus.uni-frankfurt.de/texte/etcs/slav/aruss/slovigor/slovi.htm Roman Jacobson's edition]
* [http://www.litera.ru:8080/stixiya/themes/slovo/ Several Russian translations]
* [http://litopys.org.ua/links/inslovo.htm Text and Ukrainian interpretations]
* [http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/tai/index.htm Leonard Magnus English translation of 1915, parallel English/Russian]
* [http://www.sras.org/the_lay_of_igor_s_campaign_and_works_it_inspired The Lay of Igor’s Campaign and the Works It Has Inspired] Analysis of artistic works based on the original tale.
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