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Author: Anatoly S. Demin
Information about the author:

Anatoly S. Demin, DSc in Philology, Director of Research, А.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Povarskaya 25 а, 121069 Moscow, Russia.

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For citation:

Demin, A.S. “India in Old Russian Literature.” Germenevtika drevnerusskoi literatury [Hermeneutics of Old Russian Literature]. Issue 21. Ed.-in-chief O.A. Tufanova. Moscow, IWL RAS Publ., 2022, pp. 197–215. (In Russian) https://doi.org/10.22455/HORL.1607-6192-2022-21-197-215  

DOI: https://doi.org/10.22455/HORL.1607-6192-2022-21-197-215
UDC: 821.161.1.0
Keywords: Old Russian literature, India, figurative motifs, household details.
Date of publication: 16.12.2022


The article examines India in Old Russian literature. The purpose of the article is to highlight subject-pictorial motifs in the whole Old Russian texts about India. There are not so many such works of literary significance, and even fewer detailed descriptions. The oldest fantastic motif about India as a dangerous country appeared in Rus’ in the 11th century in historical and geographical monuments: Chronicle by Georgy Amartol and in Christian Topography by Kozma Indikoplov — and was continued in translated in the first third of the 16th century Lucidaris. Conditional India appears in The Tale of Barlaam and Joasaph and The Tale of Eruslan. In the chronographic and Serbian Alexandria, Journey Beyond the Three Seas by Afanasy Nikitin, Cosmography in 76 chapters, a combination of fantastic and realistic descriptions in Indian plots is observed. Listed in the early 16th century The Tales of the Indian Kingdom appear military and defensive motives caused by harsh historical events in Rus’. In general, from the 11th to the 17th centuries in the literary works of Old Rus’ India, from a subject-pictorial point of view, seemed to be an extremely dangerous, unpleasant and uncomfortable country, despite its overwhelming stone, fruit and vegetable wealth. And so it should have been: after all, India was closest to the earthly paradise and, along with other inhuman objects near paradise, blocked the path to it.


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