Alexsandr Petrovich Sumarokov Criticism - Essay

D. M. Lang (essay date January 1948)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Lang, D. M. “Sumarokov's Hamlet: A Misjudged Russian Tragedy of the Eighteenth Century.” Modern Language Review 43, no. 1 (January 1948): 67-72.

[In this essay, Lang argues that Sumarokov's version of Hamlet has not deserved the unfavorable criticism it has received, claiming that the drama is an important work of the early Russian stage.]

Like many prominent figures of the Russian neo-Classical school, Alexander Petrovich Sumarokov (1718-77) was for a long time unjustly neglected by succeeding generations. His eccentricities, which in the heyday of Romanticism would have been greeted as visible signs of genius, were exaggerated by his many...

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D. M. Lang (essay date October 1948)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Lang, D. M. “Bolieau and Sumarokov: The Manifesto of Russian Classicism.” Modern Language Review 43, no. 4 (October 1948): 500-506.

[In the following essay, Lang examines Sumarokov's Epistle on Poetry and compares it in detail to Despréaux Boileau's tract Art Poétique by which it was inspired, emphasizing the work's influence on the development of Russian literature.]

The publication in 1748 of Sumarokov's1 “Epistle on Poetry” (“Epistola o Stikhotvorstve”) was a significant event in the history of Russian literature. Since the death of Prince Kantemir,2 Russian letters had been dominated by...

(The entire section is 3705 words.)

John Fizer (essay date 1970)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Fizer, John. “A. P. Sumarokov.” In Selected Tragedies of A. P. Sumarokov, translated by Richard and Raymond Fortune, pp. 3-39. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1970.

[In the excerpt below, Fizer explains the social conditions that gave rise to Sumarokov's interest in French culture and ideas, and offers an appraisal of the aesthetic significance of Sumarokov's work on the growth of Russian literature.]


Works of art should be judged and appreciated in themselves. However, at a certain stage of critical judgment one comes to realize that art originates in an intricate matrix of sociocultural and aesthetic trends as...

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Zita Dapkus Dabars (essay date 1973)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Dabars, Zita Dapkus. “The Simile in the Poetry of Sumarokov, Karamzin, and Derzhavin.” Russian Literature Triquarterly 7 (1973): 389-406.

[In the following excerpt, Dabars examines the use of similes in Sumarokov's poetry, claiming that while the writer's neoclassicism is reflected in the emphasis he places on reason and common sense, his use of imagery shows that he also had some affinities with the sentimentalists and later Romantics.]

Sumarokov was of the opinion that poetic speech should be characterized by simplicity, clarity, and restrained good sense. And indeed the impression conveyed by Sumarokov's similes is that their creator is a highly rational...

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Michael Henry Heim (essay date 1974)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Heim, Michael Henry. “Two Approaches to Translation: Sumarokov vs. Trediakovskij.” In Mnemozina: Studia litteraria russica in honerem Vsevolod Setchkarev, edited by Joachim T. Baer and Norman W. Ingham, pp. 185-92. Munich, Germany: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 1974.

[In the essay which follows, Heim compares the translation techniques of Sumarokov and Trediakovsky, showing that the two men were engaged in a serious literary rivalry and claiming that Sumarokov's translations were elegant and flowing while the other writer's were far more literal.]

Though translation was one of Trediakovskij's major literary activities and no more than a sideline for Sumarokov, both...

(The entire section is 3158 words.)

Walter Gleason (essay date December 1976)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Gleason, Walter. “Sumarokov's Political Ideals: A Reappraisal of His Role as a Critic of Catherine II's Policies.” Canadian Slavonic Papers 18, no. 4 (December 1976): 415-26.

[In the following essay, Gleason argues that Sumarokov's political ideals of a civil monarch restricted by moral and legislative restraints were at odds with his support for some of Catherine the Great's practices and policies.]

For a writer considered by his eighteenth-century followers to be “our Racine, Moliere, LaFontaine [or] Boileau,”1 Aleksandr Sumarokov has frequently been of less interest to historians than his successors such as Nikolai Novikov or Denis...

(The entire section is 5690 words.)

Karen Rosenberg (essay date 1988)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Rosenberg, Karen. “Trediakovsky on Sumarokov: The Critical Issues.” Russian Literature Triquarterly 21 (1988): 49-60.

[In this essay, Rosenberg analyzes Trediakovsky's criticism of Sumarokov in the 1740s and 1750s, arguing that beyond a personal rivalry there were substantive differences between the two writers on matters of language, style, convention, and form.]

In the late 1740s and early 1750s, Vasily Trediakovsky and Alexander Sumarokov engaged in a series of discussions on matters of languages and literature. According to earlier scholars such as P. O. Morozov and N. N. Bulich, the principal source of the conflict was the pugnaciousness of both...

(The entire section is 5881 words.)

Catherine Spitzer (essay date fall 1989)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Spitzer, Catherine. “Alexander Sumarokov's Translations of Paul Fleming's Sonnets to Moscow.” Canadian-American Slavic Studies 23, no. 3 (fall 1989): 331-38.

[In the following essay, Spitzer discusses Sumarokov's translation of three sonnets by the German lyric poet Paul Fleming, arguing that Sumarokov freely changed the content of the original verse, “beautifying” the poetry and imbuing it with a definite eighteenth-century Russian classicism.]

The purpose of this study is to discuss Alexander Sumarokov's translations of three sonnets written by Paul Fleming1 in 1636, entitled in German: Er redet die Stadt Moskau an, als er ihre...

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Ilya Serman (essay date 1989)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Serman, Ilya. “The Eighteenth Century: Neoclassicism and the Enlightenment, 1730-90.” In The Cambridge History of Russian Literature, edited by Charles A. Moser, pp. 45-91. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

[In this excerpt, Serman offers a brief assessment of Sumarokov's major works and his contribution to and place in the history of Russian letters.]

Alexander Sumarokov (1717-77), unlike Trediakovsky and Lomonosov, came from the hereditary gentry and studied from 1732 to 1740 at the Cadet School for the Nobility, an elite training ground which prepared young aristocrats to enter government service, and principally military service.


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Kenneth H. Ober and Mara R. Wade (essay date 1990)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Ober, Kenneth H., and Mara R. Wade. “Moßkaw/Moskva: Sumarokov's Translations of Fleming's Sonnets.” Germano-Slavica 6, no. 5 (1990): 259-84.

[In the essay below, Ober and Wade offer a close analysis of Sumarokov's translation of sonnets by Paul Fleming, contesting the view of an earlier critic that Sumarokov drastically changed the content of the original works and maintaining instead that the Russian presents a faithful rendition of the works while making them accessible in another language.]

Although Michael Henry Heim has pointed out that “translation was … no more than a sideline for [Aleksandr Petrovich] Sumarokov”1 (1717-77), and...

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Marcus C. Levitt (essay date summer 1994)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Levitt, Marcus C. “Sumarokov's Russianized ‘Hamlet’: Texts and Contexts.” Slavic and East European Journal 38, no. 2 (summer 1994): 319-41.

[In the following excerpt, Levitt attempts to reconstruct the context and meaning of Sumarokov's Hamlet in order to define its central dramatic and philosophical concerns.]

The truism about the eighteenth century's rejection of Shakespeare as a “barbarian” who was lacking in “good taste” upon closer examination reveals a much more complex and nuanced picture of cultural reception. The question to consider is not how eighteenth-century writers misunderstood or corrupted Shakespeare but how they adapted...

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Ronald Vroon (essay date 1995-96)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Vroon, Ronald. “Aleksandr Sumarokov's Ody toržestvennye: Toward a History of the Russian Lyric Sequence in the Eighteenth Century.” Zeitschrift für Slavische Philology 55, no. 2 (1995-96): 223-63.

[In the following essay, Vroon attempts to show that the odes in Ody toržhestvennye, which are often radically edited versions of earlier poems, were altered not only because of Sumarokov's changing ideological concerns and attitudes toward his subjects but because he had a particular artistic vision for the collection as a whole.]

In 1774 the Russian Imperial Academy of Sciences published several new collections of verse by Aleksandr Sumarokov,...

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Marcus C. Levitt (essay date summer 1999)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Levitt, Marcus C. “The Illegal Staging of Sumarokov's Sinav I Truvor in 1770 and the Problem of Authorial Status in Eighteenth-Century Russia.” Slavic and East European Journal 43, no. 2 (summer 1999): 299-323.

[In this essay, Levitt discusses the episode in which P. S. Salykov ordered the staging of Sumarokov's Sinav I Truvor against the playwright's will.]

Authors and authorship had little formal legal status in eighteenth-century Russia. Over the course of the century the basic elements and institutions of literary life—from writer and audience, to the text, means of dissemination, and its very linguistic medium—underwent dramatic...

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Ronald Vroon (essay date 2000)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Vroon, Ronald. “Aleksandr Sumarokov's Elegii liubovnye and the Development of a Verse Narrative in the Eighteenth Century: Toward a History of the Russian Lyric Sequence.” Slavic Review 59, no. 3 (2000): 521-46.

[In the essay which follows, Vroon argues that the love poems in Elegii liubovnyia, were intended as a narrative sequence, and maintains that the Russian lyric sequence has its beginnings some decades earlier than has been assumed by most critics.]

Most studies of the lyric sequence (or “cycle,” as it is most commonly referred to in the Russian critical tradition) situate its origins in the Romantic period, and its period of...

(The entire section is 12256 words.)