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Author: Olga A. Tufanova
Information about the author:

Olga A. Tufanova, DSc in Philology, Leading Research Fellow, А.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Povarskaya 25 а, 121069 Moscow, Russia.

ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2254-7969

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



For citation:

Tufanova, O.A. “Rhymed Couplets on Drunkenness as a Poetry Sermon.” Germenevtika drevnerusskoi literatury [Hermeneutics of Old Russian Literature]. Issue 22. Ed.-in-chief O.A. Tufanova. Moscow, IWL RAS Publ., 2023, pp. 357–384. (In Russian) https://doi.org/10.22455/HORL.1607-6192-2023-22-357-384 

DOI: https://doi.org/10.22455/HORL.1607-6192-2023-22-357-384
UDC: 821.161.1.0
Keywords: rhyming couplets, drunkenness, preaching, suggestive rhetorical devices, thematic rollcalls.
Date of publication: 20.09.2023


Throughout the entire period of the development of Old Russian literature, the topic of drunkenness was devoted to many both independent works and separate fragments as part of literary monuments. The article analyzes two poetic texts of the 17th century about drunkenness from the point of view of inductive historical poetics in order to identify the leading suggestive devices and possible sources. Fifth Word. On Drunkenness and Fornication, which is a part of Letter to a Certain, is distinguished by the presence of suggestive rhetorical devices and compositional features characteristic of sermon genre. In particular, this is multiple repetition, semantic parallelism, appeal to authority, ring composition. However, unlike the classical sermon, the formidable edification, given by the first lines about ferocity and destructiveness of drunkenness and fornication, dissolves in the lightness of poetic couplets. At the end of the text, author renounces the “militant” didacticism typical of the educational literature of Old Russia, but the representative methods of speech influence and the “dotted” stylistic coincidences found in the poetic monument and in Antony Podolsky’s Tale of Much-Deadly and Insidious Drinking allow to suggest that in case of Fifth Word. On Drunkenness and Fornication we are still dealing with a sermon, but written in verse. In the verses On Immeasurable Drinking and Immeasurable Drinking, the Double Line Is Simply Written in Two Lines, in contrast to the Fifth Word, the method of appeal to authoritative sources dominates: from the Bible, literary texts to spiritual verses and monuments of didactic eloquence. Of particular interest are the thematic echoes of the verses with the Word on Drunkenness by St. Demetrius of Rostov (Tuptalo). In general, the reviewed monuments On the Immeasurable Drinking ... and Fifth WordOn Drunkenness and Fornication is an interesting literary phenomenon. The creative transformation of speech methods influence, typical for the prosaic educational literature of Old Russia, turned rhymed couplets, from the point of view of content, into a kind of poetic concentration of the most important moral maxims and striking artistic finds scattered over the centuries in texts about drunkards and drunkenness, and from the point of view of form, into unique sermon.


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