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Author(s) of the publication: Viktor MOLCHANOV

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by Viktor MOLCHANOV, Dr. Sc. (Hist.), MS Department, Russian State Library, Moscow

Russia's State Chancellor Rumyantsev (1754-1826) was at the beginning of the Russian State Library with its stock known far and wide. His collection was first mentioned in the 1780s. Up to his dying day Count Rumyantsev persevered in his activities as a collector of ancient manuscripts, books and other printed publications that saw light both here in this country and abroad. He collected rare coins and medals, minerals, sculptures, paintings and ethnographic materials, a focal point of this country's major cultural centers.

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Nikolai Rumyantsev as portrayed by George Dawe. 1827.

NIKOLAI RUMYANTSEV

His life story is that of great involvement and dedication where books and other cultural values were concerned. Thanks to his deep love of learning, Count Rumyantsev succeeded everywhere apart from his official pursuits. As a statesman, he was in for all possible top honors and kudos. As a courtier, he climbed up all the steps of the ladder, from gentleman's of the bedchamber to oberhofmeister's*. A brilliant diplomat, he first served as an ambassador extraordinary and then as Foreign Minister and State Chancellor. Count Rumyantsev was the first chairman of Russia's State Council.

An outstanding statesman and diplomat, Count Rumyantsev was also an expert publisher, one of the first in Europe to publish MS documents (Russia's official deeds and agreements dating anno 1229 through 1696). Furthermore, he was the originator of the glorious tradition by turning over his unique collection of manuscripts (12th to early 19th cent.), printed publications and museum valuables to state custody. His collections formed Russia's first museum bearing the giver's name.

* In keeping with the Table of Ranks of 1722, gentleman of the bedchamber was the lowest rank at the court. Oberhofmeister (steward of the household) was the highest rank in charge of the imperial staff and coffers.--Ed.

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MS TODAY

Established in 1828, this museum had 710 items in its upkeep. By 1864 their number rose to 2,245; in 1950 it had already 219,550 and as many as 650,000 in 2010, covering a period from the 6th to the 21st centuries. It all began with a collection of books and manuscripts. Today our department has a wide variety of hand-written masterpieces of the past 15th centuries. We are taking good care of manuscripts representing material and intellectual values of ages past.

We keep collecting books and manuscripts in many languages, Russian and Slavonic including; those coming from Western Europe and the Orient. Private archives, too, figure prominently by providing an insight into the keepers' interests and their contribution to intellectual culture and book publishing.

Ancient monuments of Slavonic and world literature make up the most precious part of the treasures of the Russian State Library. Our stock has been expanding greatly especially after the year 1861 when the Rumyantsev museum moved from St. Petersburg to Moscow It is world famous for a priceless collection of more than sixty thousand unique relics of book culture, such as the paterik* (Lives of the Fathers) from the Kiev-Pechery Lavra (Monastery of the Caves in Kiev) dating from the 13th century; the Evangelium According to Simeon the Proud (first half of the 14th century); the Book of the Prophets (1489); the illuminated Life of the Reverend Sergius of пїЅRadonezh, among many, many others.

The manuscripts of the 18th to early 20th centuries-penned by Old Believers (Ritualists)--are remarkable for their ancient style of writing. These are prayer-books, hymns sung by peasants sticking to the Old Faith, Lives of Saints and Holy Fathers, sermons and polemic discourses like the famed Pomor Replies of the Denisov brothers (denizens of Pomorye, or White Sea coast dwellers)...

The original title of the Pomor Replies is The Replies of the Hermits to the Questions of the Hieromonk Neophyte; this is one of the principal apologetic statements of the

* Paterik (<Lat. pater, or father)--a genre common in medieval Christian literature that dealt with lives of saints, their sayings and the like.--Ed.

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Old Believers. Here is some background information. In 1722 Hieromonk Neophyte of the Russian Orthodox Church was sent to the Old Believers' community at the river Vyg in Pomorye so as to put the dissenters on the right path. Father Neophyte wrote a pamphlet of 106 questions in which he argued his case. The Denisov brothers, the founders of the Vyg skete hermitage, responded (with Andrei Denisov as the main author of this polemic writing). The original manuscripts dispatched to Emperor Peter the First* and Neophyte had for a long time been in the collection of Yegor Yegorov, a Moscow Old Ritualist; now they are in the library's MS department.

Regional MS traditions and styles are featured in local collections dealing with this or that particular territory--Vologda**, Guslitsi (a district in Moscow Region's west), Kaluga, Samara, Smolensk, Yaroslavl*** and other places.

In addition to that, our department keeps collections of prominent philologists and historians conversant with MS and book publishing. These are naturally collections of Chancellor Rumyantsev, Archimandrite Amphilochi-us (his secular name, Pavel Kazantsev, 1818-1893); a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church, he was versed also in archeography and paleography). Mention should also be made of the collections of art critic Feodor Buslayev, elected to the St.пїЅ Petersburg Academy of Sciences in 1860, and those of other enthusiasts like Viktor Grigorovich, a Slavonic philologist, Andrei Popov, a historian...

Featured widely are also writings in other languages--in Byelorussian, Bulgarian, Polish, Serbian, Ukrainian, Croatian and Czech. This collection includes the famous Apostle, one of the oldest scripted writings in Church Slavonic (late 12th cent.); The Serbian Apostle (13th cent.); The Rgssky Nomocanon* (1305); The Stružzsky Nomothetqs (Lawgiver) of Stefan Du¡san (14th cent.)** and The Croatian Breviary or Book of Hours (1442-1443)***. These manuscripts rendered on parchment are illuminated with fantastic ornaments, images and initials in the shape of anthropomorphs (half animals, half humans).****

Many of these writings make references to historic personalities, the natives of White Russia (Byelorussia), Bulgaria, Poland, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine.

WEST EUROPEAN MANUSCRIPTS

We keep more than two thousand rare books in West European languages (of these, about a hundred illuminated books dating from the 12th to 17th cent.). Many are real masterpieces of the pictorial and letter-writing art. One of the earliest is a passage of the Greek Apostle (6th cent.) written on parchment. In 1218 Makarios, a monk from the Mount Athos monastery, scripted and bound it in a book form. Some of its sheets traveled to the National Library of Paris, H.M. Public Library in St. Petersburg, and Moscow Synodal Library. We have thirteen fragments of parchment Greek MS of the 9th and 10th centuries.

Overall, our MS department numbers something like 330 ancient Greek books and fragmentary texts within 16 separate files. A large number of old-style Greek manuscripts are also found in the collection of Pyotr Sevastyanov, in the library of the Moscow Theological Academy and in the collection of Abraham Norov (1795-1869), full member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences.

A few words about West European manuscripts dating from the 14th and 15th centuries, both in Latin and in national languages coming into use as of the 14th century.

See: Zh. Alferov,пїЅ E. Tropp, "St. Petersburg--Russia's Window on Science", Science in Russia, No. 3, 2003.--Ed.

** See: V. Darkevich, "Cultural Legacy with Monastic Flavor", Science in Russia, No. 1, 2000.--Ed.

*** See: V. Darkevich, "Yaroslavl, a Glory of the Volga", Science in Russia, No. 1, l998.--Ed.

* Nomocanon (nomos--law, kanōn-rule)-a Greek word denoting a collection of ecclesiastical canons and imperial laws. Nomocanon was known in Russia as the Kormchaya Kniga (or the Helmsman's book).--Ed., Tr.

** The first code of laws in Serbia. Adopted in 1349, revised in 1354. It regulated property, coaurt procedural and other matters.--Ed.

*** Breviary, a book containing the daily offices and prayers of the Roman Catholic Church or the Orthodox Eastern Church.--Ed.

**** This art is also known as theratology (<Gr. thqraton, monster). -- Ed.

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Italian books are wonderful indeed, nearly all of them written in Latin uncials (rounded Gothic-style letters) and in Carolingian minuscule characters much in use from the late 14th to the early 16th centuries. Standing out in this group of manuscripts (13th-early 14th cent.) are two with texts of the New Testament and the Book of the Prophets. They are of the pocket format much in vogue in biblical editions; originating in France, this style came to Italy. The texts are written in very small, minute letters.

The Missal ("Mass Book")* is truly a gem. Meant for the Liturgy in the Roman Catholic Church, it displays 85 exquisite miniatures done probably in Ferrara, Italy. Ornamental frames, initials and miniatures rendered at two goes (in the early 15th century, and then between 1475 and 1493) are masterpieces of the Renaissance book-publishing art. This hand-written book, rather small, is written in Gothic letters.

The Instructions of the Venetian doge Agostin Barba to the newly appointed governor of the town of Feltra, Domenico Contarini (1492), is just as lovely. Parch-ments adorned with picturesque miniatures were long in use in Venice as official documents along with printed matter.

As to the German manuscripts in our custody, we should mention The Life of St. Williguise, the archbishop of Mainz (12th cent.). It carries two miniatures on one and the same page: one of St. Williguise, the founder of the Mainz Cathedral with Provost* Hartman beside; the other depicting Williguise and Archbishop Heinrich. This hand-written masterpiece is a splendid model of the Romanesque style of book miniatures.

A Bible of the early 13th century is yet another glorious example of the book tradition of the day. In its artistic design, it is akin to the South England style. Aside from miniatures, this edition is remarkable for curious penciled sketches in the margin.

The treatise on the First Punic War by the Italian humanist Leonardo Bruni (Aretino)** is one of the most precious items in Count Rumyantsev's collection. Having written this work first in Latin, the author turned

* In the Roman Catholic Church, a book containing all the prayers necessary for celebrating Mass throughout the year; hence, any book of prayers and devotions.--Ed.

* Provost--in ecclesiastical usage, the head of a cathedral chapter or principal church.--Ed.

** Born in Arezzo, Toscana (Tuscany), Italy, the author would call himself Bruno of Arezzop, or Aretino (1370/74-1444).--Ed.

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it into French in 1421. Aretino prefaced this writing with a dedication to the king of France, Charles VII the Victor (1403-1461 ) of the Valois dynasty. By tradition the opening miniature shows the presentation of this opus classicum to the crowned ruler.

The collected works authored in Latin by Professor Iohann Revisius Textor (1480-1524) of the Navarre College and rector of Paris University is among unique monuments of 16th-century European culture. This work, a teaching aid that made the professor famous overnight, is illustrative of how the humanities were taught in this college affiliated with the glorious la Sorbonne at the end of the 15th and the beginning of the 16th centuries.

We keep purchasing manuscripted books in West European languages, for they tell about the characteristic features of day-to-day life and artistic tastes of different lands and ages. Unfortunately most of the scribes and designers are anonymous.

DOCUMENTS AND AUTOGRAPHS

Our collection of documents, autographs and personal archives is most diversified both in content and in the range of authors and addressees; it ranks among Russia's largest. One of its treasures is the Codex Mosquensis (Moscovian) of Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), which is a bound manuscript containing treatises of this great thinker.

THE LIFE OF SERGIUS OF RADONEZH. A miniature with a canonic image of the Rev. Sergius.

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As many as 77 parchment documents contain autographs from France--those of kings and the queens Catherine de Medici (1519-1589) and Maria de Medici (1575-1642), of statesmen and high priests, such as Charles de Guise ( 1525-1574) and Jean Baptiste Cobert, a French statesman and financier in charge of the royal treasure under King Louis XIV (Louis the Great).

A set of documents deals with various aspects of the life and culture of the peoples of the Orient.* These are the collections of hand-written books of the 10th to 20th centuries, drawings, pictures, maps and diaries as well as memoirs and travel notes penned by savants state officers, merchants and pilgrims. The numerous reminiscences left by pilgrims trekking to the holies of the Middle East are particularly instructive. These travelers tell about their meetings with famous statesmen, scholars and savants, and men of letters; they describe nature sights, the customs and mores of many tribes. Take the travel notes of

Varvara Pelskaya--My Sensations of Anno 1867--a lady who made a pilgrimage together with the family of the writer and historian Mikhail Pogodin to Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Jaffa. She tells us a remarkable lot.

Dating to the days of Count Rumyantsev, this glorious tradition is carried on. Early in this decade we have acquired a collection of twelve book of the 16th to 20th centuries in Arabic and Persian from the archives of Sabir Rasulov.* These are the writings on the canonic law, Moslem dogmas, Arab grammar, religious treatises in verse, and Sufistic compositions with rubaiyah quatrains and lamaat verses illustrating the narratives. Two manuscripts are the only ones dating from the 16th and 17th centuries: a convolute (roll) on the 16th-century Moslem doctrine and a study on 17th-century Arab grammar (with the owner's note that he bought the book in 1644 just "for ten dirhems", i.e. for ten Arab silver coins). That is why these two MS are of special value to us.

See: I. Zaitsev, "Osman Manuscripts in Moscow", Science in Russia, No. 4, 2009.--Ed.

* Iman Sabir-khazrat (Zainulla Rasulov), an influential Moslem leader in Russia at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.--Ed.

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ARCHIVES OF THE RUSSIAN ELITE

Our stock includes documents coming from the family archives of the Russian noble clans of the Apraksins, Baryatinskies, Vorontsovs, Golovins, Korsakovs, Samarins, Sheremetevs, Yusupovs...

In addition to that, our library keeps the archives of Emperor Peter the Great, and of the leading lights of Russian literature: Gavriil Derzhavin, Vassily Zhukovsky, Mikhail Lermontov, Alexander Griboyedov, Nikolai Gogol, Ivan Turgenev, Feodor Dostoyevsky, Anton Chekhov, Ivan Bunin, Sergei Yesenin, Valery Bryusov, Vladimir Korolenko, Mikhail Bulgakov, among the other best pens of the day.

These archives keep swelling--with more autographs and documents of the recent generation of men of letters, such as Vassily Shukshin, Valentin Rasputin and Vassily Belov--coming in.

The archives of the great Russian writers, historians and army generals are also there: of Timothy Granovsky; Sergei Solovyov; Vassily Klyuchevsky; Yuri Gotier; Nikolai Tikhonravov; Mikhail Speransky; of Generalissimo Alexander Suvorov*; Count Pyotr Rumyantsev; Field-Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov; Count Alexei Arakcheev; of Field-Marshal Dmitry Milyutin, and other celebrities.

NEW OPPORTUNITIES

The interest in our unique stock of manuscripted memorabilia has never slackened. The number of inquiries to us keeps on the rise. Between 1900 and 1915 there were 11,094 visits, with 7,830 MS handed out; in 1990 to 1999 the figures were up to 78,234 and 246,819 respectively, and as many as 75,382 and 271,539 in 2000 to 2009 (although for 18 months our department was closed to visitors because of its relocation to other quarters).

Seeking to make a contribution to the advancement of scholarship and letters, we are stepping up our publishing activities. In 2008 and 2009 alone we published the facsimiles of such masterpieces of writing as The Elizabethian Evangelium; Feasts in the House of the Orthodox Czar of Russia; George Amartol's Chronicle, among many others. Our scholars have published studies of their own, too, in particular those dealing with the history of the Russian manuscripted books of the 6th to 16th centuries, the history of freemasonry in Russia of the 20th century in three volumes, and a study on the Edifying Evangelium of the 16th century lettered in Old Russian.

See: A. Bogdanov, "Sword of Russia", Science in Russia, No. 1, 2011.--Ed.

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In 2008 we moved into the renovated Pashkov House--a stately mansion of the 18th century in the heart of Moscow just opposite the Kremlin. It was a lucky break, for before that we had been confined to rather cramped quarters. Now we can work full tilt, opening new avenues of research and using up-to-date technologies.

At present we are handling a large stock of well-nigh illegible texts because of so many markings, scratchings, deletions, erasures and the like. Faded, such texts, too, are often hard to read. In some cases as much as 15 percent of the stuff is in retrograde state and thus cannot be placed even in specialist, academic editions.

In many cases such texts have to be decoded with the use of the latest techniques, optoelectronics for one. It thus becomes possible to interpret a vast body of materials without damaging the original.

Supported by the Russian Humanities Foundation, we are studying some of the hand-written texts of the world-famous writers Feodor Dostoyevsky and Anton Chekhov* and restoring deleted or bleached passages and lines. The use of optoelectronic methods in studying documents in visible and IR rays, in combination with analog-digital cameras and computers, has enabled us to make major discoveries. Such studies will soon become part and parcel of facsimile editions of literary culture.

High-tech technologies expand our contacts with research, teaching and cultural centers in this and other countries, and help us pool efforts in getting a broader access to written language masterpieces. The Russian State Library and the St. Trinity-and-Sergius Lavra (Monastery)* have teamed up in this research. In the last few years we have numbered and put on our joint site as many as 2,495 manuscripts (950,000 pages) of the 16th to 19th centuries stored at the St. Sergius Monastery and salvaged by the Rumyantsev Museum at the height of the atheistic campaign of the 1920s-1930s. These books are now in our custody. Our activities have fine prospects-master book editions are high in demand both here and abroad. In 2009 alone our site got as many as 42,763,916 requests from 135 countries of Europe, Asia, America, Africa and Australia. Quite a lot, sure!

We are putting forth much effort in spurring the interest in written monuments of the past in pooling the country's intellectual and material potential and by encouraging private and social initiative. In 2008 our activities won support from Russian entrepreneurs. The Society of Lovers of Ancient Letters had another birthday then. In the fall of 2008 we endorsed the charter of the Charity Fund for the Advancement of Culture.

Joining hands, the Russian State Library and the Charity Fund are publishing facsimile editions. They have set up a pay-free course for Moscow residents to teach them to read old Russian texts of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries--the course known as the "House of Pashkov Talks".

... At the beginning was the Word, the be-all and end-all... Big as life in the eyes of the Russian man of letters Ivan Bunin (Nobel Prize in literature, 1933).

... Rising from primordial darkness

Are old letters, all-enduring

And speech, a gift immortal...

In these verses written in 1915 Bunin urged to hold dear this priceless gift "in the age of malice and tribulations". This priceless national heritage, which is in our care.

See: V. Darkevich, "The Monastery of St. Sergiy", Science in Russia, No. 2, 2000.--Ed.

See: O. Borisova, "Life Portrait", Science in Russia, No. 1, 2010; Yu. Balabanova, "Seven Years in Melikhovo", Science in Russia, No. 1, 2010.--Ed.


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