Trediakovskii, Vasilii

Trediakovskii, Vasilii Kirillovich


Born Feb. 22 (Mar. 5), 1703, in Astrakhan; died Aug. 6 (17), 1768, in St. Petersburg. Russian writer.

The son of a priest, Trediakovskii studied at the Slavonic-Greco-Latin Academy from 1723 to 1726 and at the Sorbonne from 1727 to 1730. That year he published a translation of P. Tallemant’s allegorical French novel Voyage to the Island of Love, with an appendix consisting of Trediakovskii’s own love poetry. Both were written in the simple Russian language that established Trediakovskii’s literary popularity. Trediakovskii became a translator at the Academy of Sciences in 1732 and from 1745 to 1759 was an academician. He retired from the academy that year because of conflicts with the academy’s authorities.

Trediakovskii propounded a syllabotonic system of versification in his treatise New and Brief Method for Composing Russian Verses (1735). His versification reform, which was based on the accentual system of the Russian language, to a great extent determined the further development of Russian poetry. However, Trediakovskii was inconsistent, since he retained syllabic versification for short lines. M. V. Lomonosov completed Trediakovskii’s reform.

In 1748, Trediakovskii published his Discourse on Orthography, the first attempt by a Russian to study the phonetic structure of Russian speech. He expounded his theory of poetic translation in the collection Works and Translations in Poetry and Prose (vols. 1–2, 1752), which included his verse translation of Boileau’s The Art of Poetry. Trediakovskii presented a historical outline of syllabic poetry in On the Ancient, Middle, and New Russian Versification (1755). He wrote the philosophical narrative poem Theoptia (1750–53) and translated a number of historical books. Trediakovskii’s translation of F. Fénelon’s novel Telemachus was published in 1766. The meter Trediakovskii used for this verse adaptation, the Russian hexameter, was his own innovation and was later used by N. I. Gnedich and V. A. Zhu-kovskii. A. N. Radishchev and A. S. Pushkin praised Trediakovskii’s contributions to the development of Russian prosody.


Soch., vols. 1–3. St. Petersburg, 1849.
Izbr. proizvedeniia. [Introductory article and preparation of text by L. I. Timofeev.] Moscow-Leningrad, 1963.


Timofeev, L. I. “Reforma Trediakovskogo i Lomonosova.” In Ocherki teorii i istorii russkogo stikha. Moscow, 1958.
Serman, I. Z. “Trediakovskii i prosvetitel’stvo (1730-e gody).” In XVIII vek, collection 5. Moscow-Leningrad, 1962.
Gukovskii, G. A. “Trediakovskii kak teorik literatury.” In XVIII vek, collection 6. Moscow-Leningrad, 1964.