Fedor Buslaev

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Buslaev, Fedor Ivanovich

 

Born Apr. 13 (25), 1818, in Kerensk, now the village of Vadinsk, Penza Oblast; died July 31 (Aug. 12), 1897, in the settlement of Liublino, Moscow Province, now within the Moscow city limits. Russian philologist and art critic; academician of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences (1860). Graduated from Moscow University in 1838 and was a professor there (1847).

Buslaev’s works in the area of Slavic and Russian linguistics, ancient Russian literature, oral folklore, and ancient Russian fine art have retained their scientific value to a substantial extent. In his research on the Russian language, Buslaev was an adherent of the comparative-historical method. He sought to establish a link between the history of the language and the life, mores, customs, traditions, and beliefs of the people in such works as On the Teaching of the Mother Tongue (parts 1-2, 1844; 2nd ed., 1941), Concerning the Influence of Christianity on Slavic Language: The Experience of the History of the Language According to the Ostromir Gospel (1848), and Historical Grammar of the Russian Language (parts 1-2, 1863; the first edition came out under the title The Experience of the Historical Grammar of the Russian Language [parts 1-2, 1858]). Buslaev also engaged in philological research and the publication of ancient manuscripts. The major work Historical Sketches of Russian Folk Literature and Art (vols. 1-2, 1861) characterizes Buslaev as the most consistent spokesman for the mythological school in Russian science. Buslaev ties language, poetry and mythology together; he regards folklore as the nonindividual creation of the people—as “fragments of ancient myths.”

Buslaev later joined the so-called borrowing school. In the work Wandering Tales (1874; published in the collection My Leisure Time, 1886), Buslaev developed and propagandized the ideas of the German scholar T. Benfey and came to the conclusion that the homeland of European folklore is the East. Buslaev is to be credited in the area of comparing instances of oral poetry with written poetry and verbal art with fine art (specifically with icon painting). The book The Russian Personal Apocalypse: Summary of Images From Personal Apocalypses According to Russian Manuscripts From the 16th Through the 19th Centuries (vols. 1-2, 1884) brought Buslaev world renown.

WORKS

Soch., vols. 1-3. St. Petersburg-Leningrad, 1908-30.
lstoricheskaia grammatika russkogo iazyka. Moscow, 1959.

REFERENCE

Azadovskii, M. K. Istoriia russkoi fol’kloristiki. Moscow, 1958.

O. A. KNIAZEVSKAIA and E. V. POMERANTSEVA