NIKOLAY KARAMZIN'S "RUSSIAN TRAVELLER'S LETTERS" AS PRE-ROMANTICISM LITERATURE AND A TRAVELLER'S GUIDEBOOK
Pre-Romanticism literature is characterized by several features reflecting its approaching towards Romanticism. Karamzin's “Russian Traveller's Letters” (Письма русского путешественника / Pis'ma Russkogo Puteshestvennika,1791-92) is not a chaotic sequence of unselected impressions, it is not a descriptive enumeration of unsorted facts. In contrast, it is a collection of thoughts and ideas deliberately chosen for the book and mirroring different events of less than two years, 1789-1790, witnessed by N.M.Karamzin (1766-1826) in Germany, Switzerland, France, and England. The genre of the “Letters” could be readily identified, as it does the title itself, but not as transparently. The collection of letters is epistolary and memoir-like, on the one hand, it has characteristics of the periodical and historical essays and literary reviews, on the other hand. The Romantic literature created literary genres and their fusions merging them in epic poems, poetic novels, or prose fragments and periodical notes and pre-Romanticism started this process. Romanticism created its literary theory in the forewords, introductions, or prefaces, on the margins and in dedications, as well as in the letters, diaries, memoirs, notes and observations and pre-Romanticism had had precedents. Some of Karamzin's letters specify the literary achievements of the European literature and some of the letters discuss the lacks of European books' merits, some of the letters are similar to epistles, diaries or memoirs showing the real events, places and people, and some of them are written as historical notes, essays or fragments of the literary criticism reflections. One of the accompanying features of the “Letters” is its evident similarity to the traveller's guidebook, which helps reveal the author's psychological, intercultural and even emotional attitudes toward the events and the impressions received in the travel, which also previews the Romanticism emotional outbursts. To sum up, in “Letters” Karamzin wrote a socio-cultural essay, a description of European 18th century achievements. He started his reflections in “Letters” and completed them when his extended historical research “History of the Russian State” (История государства Росссийского / Historya Gosoudarstva Rossiyskogo, 1816-1826) was published. To what extent Russian pre-Romantic writer Nikolay Karamzin and his contemporary, Romantic writer Walter Scott could be compared is a question but there are certain points to be compared in their lives and works as pre-Romantic trends flow into the Romanticism.