University of Cambridge > > Slavonic Studies > Russia's Libertine Century: Trediakovskii's 'Voyage to the Island of Love' and Cultural Change from Peter I to Catherine II

Russia's Libertine Century: Trediakovskii's 'Voyage to the Island of Love' and Cultural Change from Peter I to Catherine II

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  • UserIgor Fedyukin, National Research University – Higher School of Economics in Moscow
  • ClockTuesday 13 November 2018, 17:00-18:30
  • HouseLatimer Room, Clare College.

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The story of V.K. Trediakovskii’s translation of Paul Tallement Voyage de lisle d’amour has a special place in the history of Russian eighteenth-century culture. It is often credited with creating a new vocabulary of love and amorous intercourse, an innovation that would pave the way for much of the later poetry and prose, but more importantly, it is presented as a vivid example of the ways in which literature preceded and even created (or sought to create) social context in eighteenth century Russia – as opposed to Western Europe, where it was the context that gave birth to texts.

What was the social context of Trediakovskii’s translation and its publication, however? As it turns out, on the one hand, it was the secret liaison between Ekaterina Ioannovna, the Duchess of Mecklenburg, the most important patron of Trediakovskii and his work in the early 1730s, and Prince Beloselskii. On the other, a trove of unpublished letters written by a variety of French, German, and Dutch ladies to Prince A.B. Kurakin, another of Trediakovskii’s patrons, shed light on Kurakin’s life in Europe. Taken together, these documents not only provide context for Trediakovskii’s translation and its popularity, but also call for considering how social practices created demand for literary texts in eighteenth century Russia, rather than being created by them.

Igor Fedyukin is Associate Professor of History at the National Research University – Higher School of Economics in Moscow. His research focuses on history and politics of education. He received his Ph.D. in History from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill in 2009 and worked as a reporter and editor at some of the leading Russian newspapers, including Vedomosti and Kommersant. He was a deputy minister of education and science of Russia in 2012-2013. Fedyukin has held appointments as a Diderot Fellow at the Foundation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme in Paris and a visiting fellow at the Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen in Vienna. He has authored or co-authored articles in Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History, Cahiers du Monde russe, Journal of Social History, and Journal of Interdisciplinary History.

This talk is part of the Slavonic Studies series.

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