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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

A Dust-Free Guide to the Literature of Ancient Rus

Scholars of ancient Rus need not drudge through musty libraries in search of obscure texts because most are available on the Internet

One web site, located at old-russian.chat.ru, focuses on Russian literature from the 12th to 15th centuries, as well as some later works.

"I would like to extend the time period to include the 18th century," said Viktor Aisin, the site's author and an amateur student of ancient Russian literature, although he added that "strictly speaking, the 18th century is not ancient."

Aisin created the site in 1999. "I wanted to do something useful on the Internet," he said. There are very few humanities resources in Russian on the Internet, he said.

The texts are listed along the left hand side of the main page, beginning with the 11th-century "Tale of Bygone Years" ("Povest Vremenykh Let"), more commonly known as the "Primary Russian Chronicle," which is among the most important texts on the early history of Rus.

The site also includes religious works such as "The Sermon on Law on Grace," written by Hilarion, the metropolitan of Kiev, sometime between 1037 and 1051.

"The Lay of Igor's Campaign" -- the tale of a rather disastrous expedition by Igor, Prince of Novgorod-Seversk, against the Cumans, and his capture and subsequent escape -- is given significant attention.

Among the most famous of medieval Russian texts, the tale comes in four translations: the original text in modern orthography, a modern translation and two modern translations in verse

The chosen works on the site are all landmarks of ancient Russian literature, Aisin said, adding that he would like to add some lesser-known works as well.

Aisin has authored a number of other literature-related sites on the Internet, including Lonely Russian Writer at www.ah.chat.ru and Dal's Dictionary at www.art-modul.ru/dal.