The French Original of the Diary of Aleksandr Chicherin, 1812-1813

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The diary written in French by Aleksandr V. Chicherin, Lieutenant of the Se-myonovsky Regiment, is the only surviving and the last of a series of illustrated diaries: an autobiographical project in which the text is combined with an illustration at the conceptual level. The specificity of the events reflected in the diary is determined by the tasks other than literary: creating a personal space, fixing material for self-analysis, communicating with relatives. In this case, the selection of some events and the decon-struction of others are based on literary samples. Chicherin's approach to depicting the events of the outer and inner life obeys the Sternian principles of narration. First of all, this is manifested in the selection of events worthy of fixation, in the rejection of events of an indisputable historical or genre status and the selection of "insignificant" events from this point of view. Chicherin conducts systematic work aimed at using the potential of the picture in describing the event. He is looking for an adequate system for displaying selected events in a drawing. But the richness of expressive means of verbal and graphic forms is incomparable: there are no samples for drawing, and he has to develop the necessary drawing language independently. The literary samples are A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy and The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Lawrence Sterne. Diary entries are generally spontaneous in nature, but many of them are built according to a well-thought-out plan. They demonstrate the presence of a certain literary model focused on the tasks of self-reflection: a description of the event is followed by retrospection, then a comparison of the past and the present, from which a certain lesson is derived. The plot is built as a path to self-improvement through experience, which can be negative or positive, but always contradicts the original expectation. With the author's obvious interest in the literary side of the case, the spontaneous nature of the diary is undoubted: the same images, the same turns are repeatedly used throughout the notes. This spontaneity is fundamental; it is considered as the only honest fixation of the present self. In the Russian translation of 1966, the diary lost this quality, stylistically approaching the best samples of the national literature of this time and genre, such as N.M. Karamzin's Letters of a Russian Traveler. Working with the French original clarifies the connection between the text of the diary and its pictorial series, which was extremely important for the author.

Translated title of the contributionФранцузский оригинал дневника А.В. Чичерина 1812-1813 гг.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-71
Number of pages17
JournalТекст. Книга. Книгоиздание
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019


  • Author's illustration
  • Diary
  • Francophony
  • diary
  • author's illustration



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