Reading Karamzin (N.M. Karamzin “History of the Russian State” 250 unique illustrations, Moscow, EKSMO, 2003, 1024 pages)

“Nikolay Mikhailovich Karamzin is our the first historian and the last chronicler”-such a definition gave A.S.Pushkin to the great educator, writer and historian N.M.Karamzin (1766-1826).

The famous “History of the Russian State”, all 12 volumes of which were included into this book, became a big social event in the country, epoch in studying of our past. As an addition to it here is published “The Note about ancient and new Russia” to be banned almost for two centuries.

The publication is illustrated richly with engravings from the rare album “Picturesque Karamzin” to come out at Pushkin’s time.

Why we need to read Karamzin?

First. To understand our own character. What did I understand from the “History”?

Everything that I was taught at school in Russia, is not right. 

Karamzin describes in details the history (p.8) in years and dates ancient from Rurik to Ioann III, middle- from Ioann III to Peter and new- from Peter to Alexander.

System of lots was typical of the first epoch, autocracy-of the second, and the change of civil customs-of the third.

The centre of attention belongs to the main heroes who distinguished themselves in battles: Alexander Nevsky, Dmitry Donskoy, or in state ruling: Ivan Kalita, Dmitry Temny, Ioann III and others.

But those heroes were all dependable of Khan, and were searching for Khan’s approval for their ruling.

So, the gist of the Russian human character is bravery and flexibility

Second. To understand the way of writing by Karamzin. It was a new genre with the author’s personal attitude. In his note “About ancient and new Russia” (1811), starting with “No lies in my narrative…” (Psalom 138), Karamzin gives an advice to the rulers:

“1)learn how to select the people;

2)learn how to treat people.

And the prosperity arrives”.

It’s impossible to judge Karamzin only by his earlier works “Poor Liza”, or “The Notes of the Young Traveller”, read his “History”, please, and have a fuller impression of this interesting author.

For those readers who will attempt to read Karamzin, I am sending with love the last rose from my garden. (the picture above)

 

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