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Possible Reasons for the Beginning of Book Printing in Russia: Some Preliminary Notes – О возможных причинах начала книгопечатания в России

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Предварительные замечания

image of Canadian-American Slavic Studies

This article examines the factors that influenced the creation of the first Russian (so-called “anonymous”) printing press around 1553. The article shows that the first attempts to introduce printing took place as early as the 1540s (as seen in the Hans Schlitte mission and in a letter from Ivan IV to the Danish King Christian III). Thus the Sloglav Council (1551) or the conquest of Kazan (1552) could not be the immediate reasons for the introduction of printing in Russia. The direct reason was the need to standardize church service books. The article argues that the production of printed books in Russia also greatly accelerated as a result of the fire in Moscow in 1547, which destroyed an enormous quantity of books in the libraries in the capital. The capacities of the existing scriptoria in Moscow at the time were insufficient to restore quickly the large quantities of books lost in the fire. It became necessary to employ new methods for replacing the lost books (first and foremost, liturgical books). This study is based in a wide range of sources, including materials connected with the so-called “Viskovatyi Affair,” chronicles, the Tale of the Moscow Fire of 1547, the Book of Degrees, marginalia and other inscriptions found in some books, inventories compiled by the scribal staffs in chanceries, the colophon of the 1564 Apostol, and other sources.

Affiliations: 1: Российский государственный гуманитарный университет, Московский государственный институт международных отношений


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