Linguistic research of Andrey Kurbsky’s correspondence with Ivan IV shows not so much ideological and political, but a culturally conditioned confrontation, which manifests itself in the peculiarities of text building, starting from the choice of the form of presentation, the way of quoting texts of the Holy Scriptures, the choice of arguments and facts and the manner of their interpretation, the degree of individuality within accepted standards and etiquette formulas. Comparative analysis of the texts of Kurbsky’s correspondence with Ivan IV allows to trace literary-written and culturally conditioned norms and values, which due to the peculiarities of messages «in response» determine the structure and content of the text, as well as change the behaviour of communicants and their self-presentation. At the same time, the traditional rhetorically decorated dialogue, which is characteristic of the Middle Ages, is also built inside the messages, where citation and virtual, but conceivable as a real question-response system is used in line with modelling of the corresponding communicative space. The solidity of the fragments, which are interpreted and transformed in the texts of opponents, allows to clarify their literary-aesthetic and mental preferences, which are quite clearly manifested in the criticism of the «multi-noise message» of Tsar in the second message of Andrey Kurbsky and the answer from Ivan The Terrible. Violating accepted traditions, Ivan IV mixes the language means available in his arsenal for effective influence on his subjects, including disgraced boyars.
Keywords: Andrey KurbskyIvan IVlinguistic personalitylinguistic worldviewlinguoculturologylinguocultural differences
It is rather obvious that Andrey Kurbsky's correspondence with Ivan IV must be regarded as a phenomenon of Russian sociopolitical thought of the late XVI century, which provoked a wide range of issues of historiographic, philological and textological nature, as well as problems of source studies. It has become a certain “eternal theme” not only in science, but also in public attitudes (2015a), Florya (2019), Likhachev (2015), Perezventsev (2017). The discussions about the meaning of the correspondence do not stop either, as “the monarch, aspiring to reign “on his own”, and a boyar Prince, representing the principle of boyar oligarchy, exchange their thoughts with unprecedented outspokenness and abruptness in it” (Platonova, 1917, p. 179).
The frankness in comprehension of the most important questions for the Russian society and regarding them from the opposing points of view explain the significance of the legendary correspondence between Tsar and
Ivan IV and Andrey Kurbsky’s correspondence perfectly fits in with the layer of events in spiritual culture, to which, according to Panchenko (2008) “the books, composed in sequences, authors’ names suddenly becoming famous, melodies, previously unheard of, extraordinary paintings, freshly constructed buildings and monuments, unexpected ideas and their public recognition and discussion” (p. 81) belong. Despite the fact, that “medieval Russia knew both the dispute principle (there was even a special genre of “strife”, and real, face-to-face or without seeing, oral or written scholarly and philosophical arguments” (Panchenko, 2008, p. 267), Tsar’s correspondence with the escaped boyar with all its internal, and especially external, consequences, appeared to be completely unprecedented and transitioned to be “an indispensable element of culture”. This proves the relevancy of studying the given monument from various points of view and with consideration to achievements of contemporary science, including linguoculturology, which makes it possible to study correspondence of language and culture (Krasnykh, 2017; Maslova, 2018; Morozova & Pimenova, 2016), the peculiarities of linguistic worldview (Lutovinova, 1917; Simashko, 2019) and refraction of national and individual linguistic worldviews in a linguistic persona’s activity (Charaudeau, 2014; Morozova, Pimenova, & Utegenova, 2017; Shpilnaya, 2017).
Purpose of the Study
In connection with all the above-mentioned details, the purpose of this study is to investigate linguoculturological discrepancies in the correspondence between Ivan IV and Andrey Kurbsky. Claiming this purpose is in many ways established by the particularities of the texts of the correspondence, where we can clearly see specific representation of linguistic worldview, linguistic consciousness, and the variety of real, prescribed and virtual mental-lingual complex.
The established purpose demands complex research methods for investigating linguocultural facts from the point of view of their functioning in the comparative aspect with consideration to the intentions and axiological directions of the correspondents. Such approach fits to the main tendencies in linguoculturogical studies, which are aimed at discovering culturally valuable meanings and investigating the patterns of their representation, functioning and transformation in the structuring of linguistic worldview through the localization of linguistic signs (Kovshova, 2016).
Andrey Kurbsky’s first letter
The meaning of such debates on sociopolitical, class-hierarchic and religious “sore spots” is not just in the search of truth, but it is more likely to be in the proclamation of one’s own pragmatic and ambitious positions, especially under the conditions of public disclosure. In this regard, Ivan Vasilyevich’s correspondence with the escaped boyar, judging by the conditions of its origin and genesis, was targeted at a wide audience within Moscovia – “within all the great state of Russia [Vo vse ego velikija Rossii gosudarstvo]” – and beyond its borders (Lourie & Rykov, 1979, p. 12). Andrey Kurbsky begins his correspondence (Lourie & Rykov, 1979, p. 8):
During the emigration period, it was important for him to pose himself as a great warchief, who brought numerous victories to Ivan the Terrible: “
Such evil and outrage have I suffered from you! Such calamities and miseries have you sent upon me! Such lies and treasons have you shown me! I cannot name their numbers as my soul is still smothered in grief! [Koego zla i gonenija ot tebe ne preterpeh! I koih bed i napastej na mja ne podvigl esi! I koih lzhej i izmen na mja ne v"zvel esi! …za mnozhestvo ih, ne mogu izreshhi, ponezhe gorest'ju eshhe dusha moja ob"jata byst'].
It also explains why Kurbsky threatens Tsar with “the Incorruptible Judge’s Trial”, which would measure up to Kurbsky’s accusations.
Ivan IV’s first letter
Ivan VI’s response is built like a certain “mirroring” of Kurbsky’s text, as it
What have you written? Who has proclaimed you to be the judge or the teacher? And why have you written this, having reigned terribly, with demon’s spite! You have written it out of your evil, treacherous, pathetic wish and intent, having lost your mind, outraging, trembling, like an evil spirit! [Chto zhe ubo pisal esi? Kto tja postavi sudiju ili uchitelja? – I k chesomu ubo vlast' tvoja, ponezhe ubo pretitel'no povelevaeshi, jako zhe ubo besovskomu zlohitriju podobno! … ty po svoemu zlobesnomu, izmennomu, sobackomu hoteniju i umyshleniju, izstupiv uma, neistovjasja, besnomu podobjasja, kolebljasja, pisal esi].
In such close detail, meticulously investigating and commenting on every argument, Tsar returns the accusations of “hubris beyond measure”, which is extended and corrected with “demon’s spite” and“evil intent”, to the sovereign’s traitor, who tragically fell out in both spiritual and physical ways.
Such massive rebuff from the Tsar’s side was caused by Kurbsky’s battalious individualism, amplified by his ordinary military career and the fact that Yaroslavl princes had always been alienated from Muscovite princes, combined with the shock value of his treason and an obvious implication about Ivan Vasilyevich’s illegitimate birth in a dare subscript to the message. One the one hand, Tsar could have ignored the accusations of yet another deserter, the more so since in the very beginning of the Letter Tsar thoroughly explained his origin from Tsar Konstantin,
…as the time fit your sinister devilry, you convinced the feebleminded that our mother’s mother, princess Anna Glinskaya, with her children took out people’s hearts and with such sorcery they set Moscow on fire [aki vremja blagopoluchno svoej izmennoj zlobe uluchisha, nauchisha narod skudozhajshih umov, butto materi nashej mat', knjagini Anna Glinskaja, s svoimi det'mi i ljud'mi serdca chelovecheskija vyimali i takim charodejstvom Moskvu popalili].
It must be noted that social-hierarchic breach in Kurbsky’s consciousness, that caused outraged response from the sovereign’s side, was genetically rooted from the inner strife between princely families and opposition between princes, devoid of power under the conditions of constant elevation of the Muscovite branch. It seems that this insatiable desire of power and redeeming ancestral, career and personal failures explained Kurbsky’s arrogant public statement on the necessity to destroy traditional grounds, which, to Ivan IV’s mind, “corrupts reigns”, but to Kurbsky’s opinion, it justified not only his treason for his vassal, but also for the whole state; moreover, he openly pronounced the right of “benevolent” war chiefs to desert to enemy sovereigns and to serve them even at the price of defamation at their former homeland.
Ivan The Terrible’s providentialism in regard to Kurbsky’s messages was not groundless in the era of equality between the word and the action; it was proven with abundance of lists and corrections of polemic correspondence, as well as the scheme of “Two Ivans”, presented by escaped prince and which later became quite relevant in XIX-XXI centuries as a reflection of ideological orientations of both ruling and aspiring to rule political elites.
Contrasts in paradigms, axiological priorities and behavioural reactions
Kurbsky’s letter, with all its visible accusatory heat, was not unheard of in Ancient Rus, especially since its recent past – the collision of Josephites and non-possesors, which was spread way beyond monastery’s walls, and it shook not only the Church, but also spiritual-political system of the state, and it could significantly affect the mentality of Russian society; even more so that “the second wave” of this clash took place in the period of Ivan Vasilyevich’s rule. However, Andrey Kurbsky infringed a whole range of rules for composing the appeals of such nature. With all the seeming traditionality – altiloquence of utterances, original reference to Tsar as “renowned by God”, rhetorical adornment and confessional pathos, Kurbsky’s “little scripture” not just brought “the seeds” of new times with western shade to “the basic national cultural prototype” (Benoit, 1906, p. 65), but it really conflicted with the Old Russian cannons of textual composition, including writings of such kind.
In particular, the minimal recognition of people’s individuality principle was infringed (Bekasova, Moskalchuk, & Prokofyeva, 2013, p. 158-159), as Kurbsky values his own personality almost in a modern way. It was characteristic for all the Kurbsky’s messages, where he presented himself not just as first advisor to the ruler, but also as the sovereign; according to the escaped boyar writings, he was numerously mistaken for Tsar on the battlefield.
Notably, Ivan IV’s reaction to Kurbsky’s selfish claims mostly correspond with Benoit’s accusations of individualism in heresy, as he acts “for the madness of his devilish hubris” (Bekasova, Moskalchuk, & Prokofyeva, 2013, p. 86). That’s why in Ivan The Terrible’s First Letter there are numerous repetitions of key words that arrange semantic space of the text and in the very beginning of the letter they determine the main goals of condemning this “devilish note” (Lourie & Rykov, 1979, p. 16):
…is this your decent and benevolent service, if you blame and offend me? You’re like a demon, admiring the Judgement of God, and before that, with your vile and selfish accusations [se li vasha prjamaja i dobrohotnaja sluzhba, ezhe ponoshati i ukarjati? Besnomu podobljashesja, kolebletesja i bozhij sud voshishhajushhe, i prezhde bozhija suda svoim zlolukavym samohotnym izlozheniem].
It also explains the transition of semantic dominant to the second part of defining “benevolent” [dobrohotnyh] war chiefs (according to Kurbsky), where the main formations to describe their words and actions stem from the root -hot- (117 cases), while they actually have a very negative connotations from the point of view of traditional spiritual culture, from
Transformation of the good into the evil becomes the strongest argumentation in Ivan VI’s First message, when the actions of benevolent boyars like Kurbsky are characterized with the formations with the root
Tsar’s anger also touched upon Kurbsky’s insolence to preach him on behalf of “benevolent” war chiefs, which were prescribed all the achievements of the Russian state, and to threaten to preach by his own name (Lourie & Rykov, 1979, p. 7-8):
He is my Christ <…> - the judge between you and me [On est' — Hristos moj <…> — suditel' mezhu toboju i mnoju]”, “until the end of my days I will blame you, crying, before begininngless Trinity [do dni skonchjanija zhivota moego budu bezprestanno so slezami vopijati na tja prebeznachjal'noj Troicy]”, “I will command to put this tear soaked little letter to my coffin, before facing the God’s judgement with you [A pisanejce sie, slezami izmochennoe, vo grob s soboju povelju vlozhiti, I grjadushhi s toboju na sud boga moego Isusa].
Ivan Vasilyevich justifies the inadmissibility of Kurbsky’s moral teachings with his status of the God-sent ruler, his opponent’s secular behavior, his bad knowledge of the Holy Scripture, and, most importantly, with “
Metalinguistic concepts in the continuation of correspondence between Andrey Kurbsky and Ivan IV
After uncovering closely investigated main controversies in the first letters, irreconcilable opponents get focused on less significant contradictions, but still important for medieval viewpoints, as each of them understood that they were forming and establishing some new axiological system, shaping it into a verbal body, which, in its turn, would create a new reality under the conditions of the emerged discord and disagreements.
In particular, each author begins to pay attention to some philological controversies. Kurbsky chooses brief epistle with a direction to western examples of belle-lettres (Likhachev, 2015, p. 203-204). Therefore, his Second “brief response” is mostly devoted to elaborating “an extended letter” from Ivan VI, downgraded to the rank of Muscovite prince, from the viewpoint of Kurbsky’s “new education”. What he noted was “magniloquence and noisefulness”; “poisonous words”, which are not worth even a crippled warrior; something, rigorously and viciously snatched “out of many holy words”, not just in verses, but in “superfluously and clamorous beyond measure, in whole volumes, in paroemia, in messages”. Not being afraid of calling hard names, on two occasions Kurbsky underlines that such writings about “beds and bodywarmers is much like women’s blather”, and it is not fit for sophisticated and learned men, moreover, it can only amuse small children (Lourie & Rykov, 1979, p. 101). In the Third letter Kurbsky turns to a straight offence:
…when you come to your senses, when your soul calms, without outrage, read them! I also beg you not to write to other people’s servants, as even they can answer to you [ashhe budesh' mudr, v tishine duha, bez gneva, da prochteshi ih! I k tomu zhe molju ti sja: ne derzaj uzhe pisati do chuzhih slug, pache zhe ide zhe umejut otpisati].
Ivan Vasilyevich’s Second letter (1577) was called a missive letter with the emphasis on pointing out the returned city – “
For Ivan The Terrible such thoroughness is an important public business, the whole point of his epistolary strategy (cf. Bekasova, 2015b), rather than exercises in “attical” eloquence; even more so, his reply is corrected by the rules of court action, while Ivan IV understands that this “court” “is for everyone who rejects Holy Christian Mystery” [ne tokmo tebe semu otvet dati, no i protivu popravshih svjatyja ikony, i vsju hristijanskuju bozhestvennuju tajnu otvergshim]” (Lourie & Rykov, 1979, p. 14-15), that’s why he, as a defendant (cf. Bekasova, 2015b), being responsible for his subjects and for himself before God and before people claims: “This is how I answer them” and “This is how I answer to you”. The reply is made, the letter is composed – and now Ivan The Terrible, in his sovereign habit, demands that his response is “read in syllables”, so he tells Kurbsky (Lourie & Rykov, 1979, p. 105):
…See for yourself, what you have done, and if you want God’s Providence to be merciful to us, think of what you have done. Look within yourself and open yourself! [Sam sebe razsudi, shto ty i kakovo delal, i za chto, i bozhieja smotrenija velichestva ego o nas milosti; razsudi, chto ty sotvoril. Sija v sebe razsmotri i sam sebe raztvori sija vsja].
Ivan The Terrible’s replies, thoroughly elaborated and comprehensive, as in a court action, prove that he can not be regarded as an “emotional writer”, as even his outraged bursts were sharply calculated and reasonably inserted into the correct contexts. Moreover, we must agree with Perezventsev (2017) that “Ivan The Terrible’s words manifest a deeply insightful, inwardly systematized worldview of a person, who have intensively thought about his own place in the transient world, as well as the meaning of his own life” (p. 231).
In all probability, infringements of literary cannons, social and religious customs, moral values and traditions established in ancient Rus in Kurbsly’s “epistles” provoke a detailed elaboration of all the letters from “Christ’s traitors”. Plural forms in this case prove the fact that Ivan The Terrible, from Kurbsky’s regard, gives “a firm command and word” “in the whole Orthodox city of Moscow” to everyone who would dare to doubt the God-sent sovereign (Lourie & Rykov, 1979, p. 52).
The meaning of Ivan IV’s letters is in the fact that he presents to Kurbsky and other traitors a thoughtfully elaborated and hard-fought world model, that the first autocrat built, among others, on the rejection of his opponents’s ideas: extreme individualism, a possibility of confessional transformations for personal benefit, ignoring class and power hierarchy:
The clash of the opponents’ polar worldviews, embodied in the language, inevitably causes a certain battle in the field of the language: the discussions of literary manners, making key word rows, establishing one’s own style, linguistic comment and analysis, semantic deepening or transformations in lexical space.
The correspondence between Ivan IV and Andrey Kurbsky, started by the escaped boyar with the purpose of establishing his reputation as a “benevolent war chief”, which, along with the others, was given to Tsar to establish the most glorious state, but eventually underwent unjustified troubles and prosecutions, caused “a wide resonance”, where Ivan The Terrible elaborated the grounds for Russian autocracy with thorough forethought, and, on the bases of traditional material and spiritual culture, he built an appropriate life model, which was publicly imposed on his subjects.
Understanding the fact that Kurbsky tried to cover his treason under the sycophancy of the language, in many ways determines the degree of Ivan IV’s linguistic analysis, which, on the one hand, helps to discover defectiveness and inappropriateness of aggressive personal establishment, and on the other hand, it amplifies the objectivization of one’s own worldview setting and its importance in the context of unrestricted autocracy of a God-chosen sovereign.
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03 August 2020
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Sociolinguistics, linguistics, semantics, discourse analysis, translation, interpretation
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Bekasova, E. N. (2020). Andrey Kurbsky's Correspondence With Ivan Iv: Linguocultural Discrepancies. In N. L. Amiryanovna (Ed.), Word, Utterance, Text: Cognitive, Pragmatic and Cultural Aspects, vol 86. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 81-91). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2020.08.11