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Author: Mikhail Yu. Ljustrov
Information about the author:

Mikhail Yu. Ljustrov, DSc in Philology, Professor of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Head of Old Slavic Literature Department, 1) А.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Povarskaya 25 а, 121069 Moscow, Russia; Professor, 2) Russian State University for the Humanities, Miusskaya sq. 6, 125993 Moscow, Russia.

ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8475-0700 

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 



For citation:

Ljustrov, M.Yu. “Virginian Bears and Muscovite Boars: Russian Theme in the Swedish ‘Short Story on the West Indies, or America’.” Germenevtika drevnerusskoi literatury [Hermeneutics of Old Russian Literature]. Issue 22. Ed.-in-chief O.A. Tufanova. Moscow, IWL RAS Publ., 2023, pp. 331–342. (In Russian) https://doi.org/10.22455/HORL.1607-6192-2023-22-331-342 

DOI: https://doi.org/10.22455/HORL.1607-6192-2023-22-331-342
UDC: 821.161.1.0+821.113.6.0
Keywords: Swedish literature of the 17th century, English literature of the 17th century, Dutch literature of the 17th century, Russian theme in European literature of the 17th century.
Date of publication: 20.09.2023


The article examines the chapter On Virginia, included in the book “Kort Berättelse om Wäst Indien eller America, Som elliest kallas Nya Werlden” published in Sweden in 1675 and containing a “Russian” fragment. The section describes the Virginian fauna and, among other things, notes that North American wild pigs are smaller than “Tatar and Muscovite.” The chapter On Virginia was borrowed by the Swedish translator from the book “Nieuvve wereldt, ofte, Beschrijvinghe van West-Indien” (AD 1625 and 1633) by Dutch geographer and director of Dutch West Indies Company J. de Laeta or containing a “Virginian” section his works of the “collection” “Beschrijvinghe van Virginia, Nieuw Nederlandt, Nieuw Engelandt, en d’Eylanden Bermudes, Berbados, en S. Christoffel” (1651), and in them not wild pigs, but bears are compared with Russian and Tatar ones. The “Virginia” chapter of de Laeta’s work goes back to the book of Captain J. Smith, who visited Russia, A Map of Virginia (1612) or to its abridged version, placed in chapter 4th Purchas his Pilgrimes (1625), and they deal with on bears. In contrast to the Dutch version, in the Latin (1633) and French (1640) versions of the arrangement of Smith’s work, “Muscovite and Tatar” bears are replaced by “northern” bears. The Swedish translator, who has every reason to do the same, replaces the bear, which is considered the Swedish “iconographic national symbol” (H. Helander), with a wild pig and thus formulates his attitude towards the eastern neighbor. In the Swedish version the fragment becomes an episode of the Russian-Swedish controversy.


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