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Translated Tales


During the period of the Mongol invasion and rule Russia’s relations with foreign centres of culture became far more difficult, but were not broken off completely, as we can see from the appearance of translated literary works in North-Eastern Russia during this period. We referred above to Bulgarian literature as the intermediary for the literature of Kievan Russia. Now the literature of the Dalmatian coast of the Adriatic also began to play this role. Slavonic, Byzantine and Romance (via Italy) culture met here. In the latter half of the thirteenth and the fourteenth century literary works of Oriental origin began to appear in Russia, some of which may have been translated directly from the Oriental original.

The translated works that may reasonably be dated to the latter half of the thirteenth and the fourteenth century are in keeping with the mood of the age. They are works of a Utopian and eschatological nature. On the one hand, they reflect dreams of lands where justice reigns and life is peaceful and prosperous, and on the other, they express man’s fear and insecurity in the face of the disasters and misfortunes around him, his disillusion with the moral foundations of society. These works are character­ised by hyperbole of both positive and negative elements. They arouse in the reader admiration and amazement at the variety and wonders of the world and at the same time a disquieting sense of the helplessness of the ordinary mortal threatened by all sorts of unknown dangers.

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