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Тоporkov A.L. The Verse about the Holy Mountain by Vyacheslav Ivanov: a Close Reading. Second Essay. Studia Litterarum, 2018, vol. 3, no 4, pp. 216–239. (In Russ.)

DOI: 10.22455/2500-4247-2018-3-4-216-239

Author: Andrey L. Тоporkov
Information about the author:

Andrey L. Тоporkov, DSc in Philology, Corresponding Member of RAS (since 2006), Professor, Director of Research, A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Povarskaya 25 а, 121069 Moscow, Russia.

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Received: June 12, 2018
Published: December 25, 2018
Issue: 2018 Vol. 3, №4
Department: Russian Literature
Pages: 216-239

UDK: 821.161.1
BBK: 83.3(2Рос=Рус)53
Keywords: Vyacheslav Ivanov, symbolism, religious verses, legend, Kiev Pechersk Patericon, Assumption Cathedral, Kiev Pechersk Lavra.


This article addresses the problems of dating “The Verse about the Holy Mountain,” by Vyacheslav Ivanov, the origin and the meaning of the epigraph, and establishes the connection between the poem and the topic of Kiev. It formulates a hypothesis about the connection of the “Verse” with the written sources and folklore legends about the construction of the Assumption Cathedral of the Kiev Pechersk Lavra. By studying the letters written by Vyacheslav Ivanov, we can establish that the poem was written in March 1900 and not at the end of 1900 (as it was stated by several commentators), and that the epigraph was added later. It is argued that the deathbed words of Vladimir Solovyov that the poem uses as its motto, attracted Vyacheslav Ivanov not only due to their profound meaning but also because they correlate with the images of the “Verse,” which had been written before their utterance albeit under the influence of the ideas of Vladimir Solovyov. Vyacheslav Ivanov’s verse about the construction of an invisible church and the impending transformation of the Russian land echoes the ideas of Vladimir Solovyov about the mystical church and future theocracy, therefore the dedication of the verse to the memory of the philosopher seemed quite natural. The plot of the “Verse” recalls the folkloric version of the legend about the construction of the Assumption Cathedral that circulated in the 19 th century publications. The immediate source for the “Verse” could have been a legend recorded by a 60-year-old peasant from the Tver’ province, Mikhail Vasilyevich Baldovkin, and published in 1899 in the periodical Zhivaya Starina.


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