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The Life Written by Himself Archpriest Avvakum Petrov

The Life Written by Himself By Archpriest Avvakum Petrov

The Life Written by Himself by Archpriest Avvakum Petrov


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Summary

Archpriest Avvakum's autobiography is a record of his life, ecclesiastical career, painful exile, religious persecution, and imprisonment, written in the 1660s and '70s from a cell in an Arctic village where the archpriest had been imprisoned by the tsar.

The Life Written by Himself Summary

The Life Written by Himself by Archpriest Avvakum Petrov

Moscow in the middle of the seventeenth century had a distinctly apocalyptic feel. An outbreak of the plague killed half the population. A solar eclipse and comet appeared in the sky, causing panic. And a religious reform movement intended to purify spiritual life and provide for the needy had become a violent political project that cleaved Russian society and the Orthodox Church in two. The autobiography of Archpriest Avvakum-a leader of the Old Believers, who opposed liturgical and ecclesiastical reforms-provides a vivid account of these cataclysmic events from a figure at their center.

Written in the 1660s and '70s from a cell in an Arctic village where the archpriest had been imprisoned by the tsar, Avvakum's autobiography is a record of his life, ecclesiastical career, painful exile, religious persecution, and imprisonment. It is also a salvo in a contest about whether to follow the old Russian Orthodox liturgy or import Greek rites and practices. These concerns touched every stratum of Russian society-and for Avvakum, represented an urgent struggle between good and evil.

Avvakum's autobiography has been a cornerstone of Russian literature since it first circulated among religious dissidents. One of the first Russian-language autobiographies and works of any sort to make use of colloquial Russian, its language and style served as a model for writers such as Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Gorky. The Life Written by Himself is not only an important historical document but also an emotionally charged and surprisingly conversational self-portrait of a crucial figure in a tumultuous time.

The Life Written by Himself Reviews

Brostrom does a good job of representing this stern, intransigent yet oddly vulnerable writer to an anglophone reader, and of conveying his stylistic innovations. Part travelogue, part invective, part autobiography, part auto-hagiography (complete with miracles of healing), The Life Written by Himself fits no generic convention. -- Simon Franklin * Times Literary Supplement *
[Brostrom's] translation is exceptionally well done, re-creating . . . the rhythms, stylistic alternations, and vernacular intonations of the original. -- Priscilla Hunt, Slavic Review
Avvakum's combination of ecclesiastical and colloquial language transposed into writing the pathos of his oral rhetoric, and has remained a source of inspiration to modern Russian literature ever since the Life was published. -- Jostein Bortnes, The Cambridge History of Russian Literature
The daring originality of Avvakum's venture cannot be overestimated, and the use he made of his Russian places him in the very first rank of Russian writers: no one has since excelled him in vigor and raciness and in the skillful command of all the expressive means of everyday language for the most striking literary effects. -- Prince Dmitry Svyatopolk Mirsky, A History of Russian Literature
Reading The Life Written by Himself is like meeting a Dostoyevsky or Chekhov character come to life - but Avvakum was alive and kicking long before Russian literature could invent him. -- Robert Blaisdell * Russian Life *
While even Russians struggle to read this story, written in an archaic language, English readers are lucky to be able to read it more easily in the beautiful translation by Kenneth N. Brostrom. -- Alexandra Guzeva * Russia Beyond *

About Archpriest Avvakum Petrov

Avvakum Petrovich (1620/1-1682) was born near Nizhny Novgorod to a priest and a nun. He became a leader in the Old Believers movement. He wrote the earliest version of his autobiography between 1669 and 1672 while imprisoned in Pustozersk, and was burned as a heretic in 1682.

Kenneth N. Brostrom (1939-2020) was associate professor of Russian at Wayne State University.

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction by Kenneth N. Brostrom
The Life Written by Himself
Notes
References

Additional information

NGR9780231198080
9780231198080
0231198086
The Life Written by Himself by Archpriest Avvakum Petrov
New
Hardback
Columbia University Press
2021-07-06
208
N/A
Book picture is for illustrative purposes only, actual binding, cover or edition may vary.
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