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Humanitarian sciences in Siberia

2020 year, number


Institute of Russian Literature RAS, 4, Makarov emb., Saint-Petersburg, 199034, Russian Federation
Keywords: , , , XVII , spiritual verse, book revision of the text, Princes Boris and Gleb, XVII century story


The article objective is to find out to what extent the story On the murder of Boris and Gleb, the earliest copy of which is in the manuscript of 1670-80s, correlates with the records of spiritual verses about Boris and Gleb. It was first published in the miscellany of spiritual verses by P.A. Bessonov in 1861 in his collection The Itinerant Cripples. There is a steady tradition to consider the story as a spiritual verse, although the scientist noticed that he had received the text from K. F. Kalaydovich, who handed him a copy of literature work from Count F. A. Tolstoy`s library, emphasizing that this copy was a book remake of the verse. It is rather difficult to give convincing proof of the oral traditions duration of folklore works. Besides, it is not clear to what extent the written fixation made in the New time is correlated with the oral version. Spiritual verses about Boris and Gleb were the subject of a special study by L. S. Soboleva, who considered spiritual verses and their book modifications as something unified. The researcher focused on identifying folk-poetic ideas about the first Russian saints in understanding the conflict and developing the plot among Old Believers. She found and published 4 new copies of the book version in the Ural collections of the late XVIII-XX centuries. The article reveals that when the text was included into the manuscript collection, it lost the rhythmic characteristic of spiritual poems, a number of motifs changed, and separate details were added. On the authors opinion, the text originally reworked from the late XVII-century version was several times rewritten (the manuscript of F. A. Tolstoy collection including the earliest known copy of the story On the Murder of Boris and Gleb has been found in Russian National Linrary, Department of Old-Printed Books and Manuscripts, Inv. O. I. 61). So-called book versions of the spiritual verse are textologically connected, having received a steady handwritten tradition, mainly among Old Believers. The author prepared for publication the earliest copy of the novel to which later copies ascend.