Title of the article:



Andrei V. Karavashkin

Information about the author/authors

Andrei V. Karavashkin — DSc in Philology, Рrofessor, A. M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Povarskaya St. 25 а, 121069 Moscow, Russia; Russian State University for the Humanities, Miusskaya Sq., bld. 6, 125993 Moscow, Russia. E-mail: karavash2008@yandex.ru


Philological sciences




Vol. 52


pp. 117–131


December 04, 2018

Date of publication

June 28, 2019

Index UDK


Index BBK



The paper examines the literary works of Ivan Peresvetov, one of the most distinguished social commentators of the 16th century. He has long been the subject of contention. While some scholars consider him to be a fictional character, others insist on his having actually existed. A scarcity of historical information has not impeded attempts at reconstructing his biography whilst incorporating his literary output. During the 19th century, one of the most common views was that “Peresvetov” was the pen name of one or multiple authors putting forward prophecies, who (to varying degrees) served as apologists for Ivan the Terrible. Not only were author and biography declared fictional, then, but the prophecies themselves were alleged to be forgeries.  Even after the release of what was considered to be a fundamental edition of Peresvetov’s collected works (“The Complex of Peresvetov”), compiled and edited by A. A. Zimin to incorporate Peresvetov’s personality and philosophies within a broader socio-cultural context, fresh doubts nevertheless surfaced as to the writer ever having existed. D. N. Alshitz would become a leading skeptic to argue with both pre-Revolutionary and Soviet scholars of Peresvetov. He put forward that Peresvetov’s collected works were in fact a compilation of different texts written by various people and for a multitude of reasons (Pyotr Gubastiy, Aleksei Adashev, Ivan the Terrible). Apart from direct mention of the historical figure, which would undoubtedly shed light on Peresvetov`s personality, there is also an issue of the integrity of his ideas and poetics. In this article, we consider whether or not the works were written by different people. Our argument is based on secondary sources. Nevertheless, they are crucial to proving the integrity of his literary texts as inevitably belonging to a single personage with a single set of views. We believe that Peresvetov’s collected works are united by a running theme of prophecies and divinations. This theme becomes Peresvetov’s essential means of formulating an ethic founded in the complicated relationship between “faith” and “truth” — two of the most significant concepts of ancient Russian philosophy and history. 


social commentary, anthology, poetics, prophecies, writer’s identity, philosophy of history, attribution, pseudonym.


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