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Block I Illinois Library Illinois Open Publishing Network


Vol. 8 (2020)

Серебряное перо Русского Путешественника: к прочтению одной сложной литературной истории



This article focuses on Karamzin’s seemingly off-hand remark about the fact that all the Letters of a Russian Traveler were written not with the traditional goose-feather quill-, but rather silver-nibbed pen. A brief study of late-18th century metal pens and their cultural connotations shows that the silver pen in this period was not only a new, fashionable, and convenient writing implement, but also a symbol for the arrival of the modern era. And, as a close reading of Letter of a Russian Traveler demonstrates, that is also the case for the protagonist’s repeated references to his silver pen. The author argues that Karamzin’s invocation of this meaning-laden writing implement, especially in connection with his appropriation of the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, made it possible for the Russian novelist to offer his readers a series of remarkable ideological statements about enlightenment in general, and Russia’s place in the modern world in particular.