"The Word about Igor's Campaign" - a unique monument of ancient Russian literature

"The Lay of Igor's Host" is the most famous and most mysterious literary work of Russia. Despite the fact that thousands of scientific works are devoted to this masterpiece, there are no less questions. It is not even known when "The Lay of Igor's Campaign" was written and who is its author.

The only manuscript of this work was in the collection of the famous historian and collector of Russian antiquities Alexei Ivanovich Musin-Pushkin. By the end of the 18th century, he had about 2, 000 manuscripts, including the Word. How did this unique monument of ancient Russian literature end up with a famous collector? There are several versions.

According to Musin-Pushkin himself, he acquired "The Lay of Igor's Campaign" in 1791 from Archimandrite Joel (in the world Ivan Bykovsky) - the abbot of the Transfiguration Monastery in Yaroslavl. This option is quite possible, especially since Musin Pushkin often bought entire libraries from well-known bibliophiles at that time. For example, he acquired the collections of the professor of Moscow University A. A. Barsov and the historian I. P. Elagin.

In addition, in 1791, the Synod issued a decree on the study of manuscripts and early printed books that were kept in monasteries in Russia. But there were also rumors that Musin-Pushkin, being the chief prosecutor of the Synod, simply, using his official position, took this manuscript not in Yaroslavl, but in the library of the Kirillo-Belozersky monastery near Vologda and "forgot" to return it. One way or another, but in the nineties of the 18th century, Count Alexei Ivanovich Musin-Pushkin became the owner of a priceless book treasure.

In 1797, the first printed mention of the "Word" was published in the "Spectateur du Nord" magazine, which was published in Hamburg. And three years later, the work was published in Russia. As it turned out later, this was done in a very timely manner, since several years later the original "Lay of Igor's Regiment" died under tragic circumstances.

In "The Lay of Igor's Regiment" an unknown author told about the unsuccessful campaign against the Polovtsians of the Novgorod-Seversk Prince Igor. This campaign took place in 1185, therefore, there is reason to assume that the work itself was written at the end of the XII century. Even more researchers were worried about the issue of authorship. Despite all attempts to establish it, this question remains open to this day.

A variety of hypotheses have been put forward for two centuries. For example, academician Boris Alexandrovich Rybakov suggested that the author could have been Pyotr Borislavich, a Kiev boyar. Rybakov explained his version by the fact that there is a clear similarity between the "Lay" and the Kiev chronicle, which was written by Peter Borislavich.

The famous Soviet historian Alexander Alexandrovich Zimin had a completely different opinion. Zimin believed that "The Lay of Igor's Regiment" was written not in the XII century, but much later. And the author could have been Archimandrite Joel himself, from whom the manuscript passed to Musin-Pushkin.

Among the possible authors of the work were also named Prince Igor himself, his wife Efrosinya Yaroslavna and even their son Vladimir, who also participated in the campaign of 1185 and, together with his father, was captured by the Polovtsy. None of these versions can be completely ruled out, as, incidentally, and it can be recognized as indisputable.

Some critical linguists generally doubted that "The Lay of Igor's Campaign" can be attributed to the treasures of ancient Russian literature. They assumed that, in pursuit of a sensation, Aleksey Ivanovich Musin-Pushkin himself wrote this work. Despite the fact that this version had supporters, no serious evidence was presented.

In 1807, the historian and archaeographer Nikolai Nikolaevich Bantysh-Kamensky, who actively participated in the preparation of the first edition, made an attempt to convince Musin-Pushkin that such a valuable manuscript as "The Lay of Igor's Campaign" should not be kept in a private collection. It would be much better to donate it to the Moscow Archives of the Collegium of Foreign Affairs. And even received consent from the count. But Musin-Pushkin was in no hurry with the transfer of the manuscript.

And in 1812, Moscow was captured by Napoleon's army and the entire manuscript collection of Mussin-Pushkin was destroyed in a fire. The collector himself had a hard time going through such a loss and soon began to compile a new collection. But, we managed to collect a little, in 1817 Musin-Pushkin died. It is known that his new collection consisted of only sixteen manuscripts.

The death of the original "The Lay of Igor's Campaign" was a huge loss. As Nikolai Mikhailovich Karamzin wrote: "Our history has lost its treasure." And the text of the work itself has survived to this day only thanks to the publication of the Lay in 1800. Later, this work was translated into dozens of the most different languages ​​of the world.