Innokenty Fedorovich Annensky and the classical ideal : poetry, translations, drama and literary essays
Innokenty Annensky (1855-1909) was better known to his contemporaries as a classics teacher and translator than as a poet; but, with the exception of two or three obituary articles, nothing has been written on his work as a classicist. His work has often been misconstrued and he has been described as an outstanding scholar. It has not been generally appreciated that his interest in the scholarly world was not really academic; he saw classical texts as models for his own literary works, and as inspiration for the 'Slavonic renaissance' he looked forward to with F.F. Zelinsky. This thesis covers Annensky's classical education, the essays he wrote on classical literature, and his translations of classical texts. Particular attention is given to the essays and translations which were intended to be published in Teatr Evripida, the first complete Russian version of Euripides. Annensky wrote no essay explicitly devoted to the subject of classicism. But from his essays on classical literature and the remarks on classical literature in his essays on modern literature it is possible to extrapolate his views on the nature of the classical tradition and on how he thought classical literature should be imitated. I show that Annensky's attitude to the classics was idiosyncratic and paradoxical. On the one hand, the classical world was viewed elegaically as an ideal of lost perfection; on the other, it was one of many cultural traditions on which he drew in his literary works and which was adapted in accordance with Modernist poetics. The discussion of Annensky's views on classicism is accompanied by information about the system of classical education in Russia 1870-1910, and about the history of classical scholarship and of literary classicism in Russia. Annensky's essays are compared with those of a representative scholar, Zelinsky, and a representative Symbolist, Vyacheslav Ivanov.