Andrey (azangru) wrote,

Another example of a piece of history whose leakage into the public consciousness I found surprising, was the argument about the genuineness of the Tale of Igor’s Campaign.

This is a text that was (or was not, as the other side suggested) written some eight centuries ago. Only a microscopic fraction of the population ever tried to read it in its transcribed original. A slightly larger fraction perhaps gave it some conscious attention and can in any meaningful way discuss its contents. It has an indisputable value for a linguist, a literary scholar, or a historian. It surely may have some value for an amateur connoisseur of literature. But other than that, I fail to comprehend its importance.

Does that mean that students of literature should not study it? Certainly not.

Does that mean that Andrei Zaliznyak didn’t do a brilliant job with his historico-linguistic analysis of this document pushing the forgery hypothesis out of the bounds of probability? Certainly not; his book is a masterpiece of linguistic reasoning.

Does that mean that kids shouldn’t study this text at school? I have no idea (I am generally confused as to the purpose of studying literature at school).

But why oh why should the general public be passionate about whether it’s a genuine historical text or an 18-th century forgery? Why does this argument leave the confines of the academia?

I can imagine some reasons, like arguing that the ancient Russians had their original literature as early as ... century; and that somehow should elevate the modern Russians in their eyes. But that’s childish!

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