Nikolay Кaramzin’s Dedication to the Emperor Alexander I as a Preamble to the “History of Russian State” in Manchu and Chinese Translation by Zakhar Leontievsky

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The first official history of the Russian state “Istoriia gosudarstva Rossijskogo” (“History of Russian State”) was compiled by Nikolay Karamzin in 12 volumes (published in 1816–1828). The first eight volumes were printed in 1816–1818 and were most probably taken to Beijing by the members of the 10th Ecclesiastic mission (1820–1830). Among the students of that mission was Zakhar Leontievsky (1799–1874), who had spent ten years in Beijing and had perfectly mastered the Chinese and Manchu languages. During his stay in China, Leontievsky has translated into Chinese three volumes of Karamzin’s “History of Russian state”. Nowadays, the manuscript copies of this translation are kept in the Oriental collections in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Russian original by Karamzin begins with the Dedication to the Russian tzar Alexander I. Only the manuscript from the Oriental department of the Scientific library of the St. Petersburg state university has the Dedication translated into two languages — Manchu and Chinese. The comparison of the Russian original with the Manchu and Chinese versions shows that the translations turn to be Leontievsky’s interpretations of the original text written according to the rules of Chinese addresses to the throne. Additional translator’s comments were added to explain some episodes from the Russian history to the Chinese reader. Zakhar Leontievsky’s translation of the “History of Russian state” was the first introduction of Russian history to China.

About the authors

Tatiana A. Pang

Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, Russian Academy of Sciences

Author for correspondence.
ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2597-2530

Cand. Sci. (History), Leading Researcher, Head of the Department of Far Eastern Studies, Deputy-director for Science

Russian Federation, St. Petersburg


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