Fedorova's edition of Mikolaj Radziwill's Peregrinacya in its Muscovite translation

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Posted by Daniel Waugh <dwaugh@u.washington.edu>.

Fedorova’s edition of Mikołaj Radziwill’s Peregrinacya in its Muscovite translation

I[rina] V[ladimirovna] Fedorova. “Puteshestvie v Sviatuiu Zemliu i Egipet” kniazia Nikolaia Radzivilla i vostochnoslavianskaia palominicheskaia literatura XVII-nachala XVIII v. Issledovanie i tekst. Sankt-Peterburg: Izdatel’stvo “Pushkinskii Dom,” 2014. 608 pp. + 6 pp. color insert. ISBN 978-5-91476-059-2.

Were I one of Irina Fedorova’s parents, to whom she dedicates her book, I would be hugely pleased at the tribute this scrupulously edited and informative volume offers.

Radziwill’s pilgrimage to the Holy Land was undertaken to fulfill a vow he made when recovering from a serious illness in 1575.  His obligations (notably, he was in Stefan Bathory’s army when it besieged Polotsk and Pskov in 1581-82) delayed his departure so that his travels took place in 1582-84.  Tomasz Treter took his narrative of the pilgrimage in hand, edited it into the form of several long letters, and published the result in Latin (1st ed. 1601). A German translation was printed in 1603 and a Polish translation in 1607.  The book was certainly popular, judging from the number of subsequent reprints. While there is some uncertainty about the date of the Muscovite translation, Fedorova cogently argues it was made in 1677 (from the Polish edition of 1628), and most of the manuscript copies of its text date from the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Copies were in the Patriarchal treasury in Moscow, in the library of A. T. Likhachev (Tsarevich Aleksei Alekseevich’s tutor), Evfimii Chudovskii, Archbishop Afanasii of Kholmogory, and a bit later in the Arkhangel’skoe library of Dmitrii Mikhailovich Golitsyn. Copies of the Latin and Polish editions are also known to have been in the collections of several important Muscovite bookmen. A new Russian translation was produced and published in the 18th century, and a careful edition of the Muscovite translation (based on Evfimii’s manuscript) was published with very useful annotation by P. A. Gil’tebrandt in 1879, an edition that was reprinted in Riazan’ in 2009. 

Even though the text has attracted the attention of scholars who write on Russian pilgrimage literature, as Fedorova argues, it has not to date received a really thorough analysis in a comparative framework, nor had there been a proper annotated edition, such as is offered here, based on all the manuscripts.  She distinguishes three redactions of the Muscovite translation, the primary one being a literal translation of the Polish text. What she calls the “Pilgrimage redaction” merely adds occasional material from the marginal annotations of the Polish text which had not been included in the primary redaction.  The third redaction is one done personally by Evfimii Chudovskii, who apparently was preparing the text for a publication that never appeared.  Evfimii made some stylistic changes and completed the process of incorporating some of the marginal notations the translator had omitted. Fedorova’s critical edition here then is the primary redaction, with variants from the other redactions included in notes.

Apart from her introduction concerning Radziwill and the history of his text, she has a chapter documenting her analysis of the redactions and the expected archaeographic description of the manuscripts.  The bulk of her lengthy and heavily documented introductory essay is devoted to contextualizing Radziwill’s account with reference to medieval and Baroque pilgrimage accounts.  She follows Radziwill on his journey, noting carefully where his descriptions are similar to or differ from the other well-known (and some lesser known) pre-modern Russian (and occasionally other) pilgrimage accounts. While in many ways his is typical of the medieval devotional narratives, in other respects (especially when he moves on to Egypt from the Holy Land), he provides more of a documentary descriptive record.  For the well-known holy sites, even though he is concerned to relate his personal impressions in visiting them, he consciously limits his detail if other pilgrims (with whose work he was familiar) had already described them. The concluding chapter of Fedorova’s introduction makes for particularly interesting reading, as she is arguing that earlier approaches to pilgrimage accounts, which had emphasized the generic features of them, now must give way to a fuller analysis and contextualization of each individual text if we are to be able to write a true literary history of it. She admits that even for Radziwill there is still much that can be done in this regard.

Her notes to her edition of the text are impressively thorough.  Some merely explain each and every person or place reference or term, but others quote descriptions of the same specific locations from other pilgrimage narratives. She complements the notes with numerous illustrations from period engravings and prints and from illuminated manuscripts of some of the well-known medieval Russian texts. The insert of well-printed color plates includes several pages from different manuscripts of the Muscovite translation, a couple of plates from the Polish edition (one with Radziwill’s portrait), and several of the color city images in the well-known 1575 publication of Civitates Orbis Terrarum. One goal here is to illustrate the different ways Western and Russian artists visualized the landscapes and sites the pilgrims visited. There are indexes of personal names and of geographic locations and holy sites.

The format of this edition is similar to that of the long-established series “Literaturnye pamiatniki,” in which there have been several recent editions of pre-modern Russian travel accounts.  The availability of these good annotated text editions and a growing body of scholarship on this literature is a boon to those who are interested in the so-called “transitional” period between the “medieval” and the “modern” in Russia.  Clearly Radziwill’s text, which seems to have a foot in both worlds, fitted nicely into the context of changing literary norms and cultural interests in late Muscovy.