Karamzin, Nikolai Mikhailovich

Karamzin, Nikolai Mikhailovich nyĭkəlīˈ mēkhīˈləvĭch kərəmzēnˈ [key], 1766–1826, Russian historian and writer. His Letters of a Russian Traveler, 1789–90 (1792, abr. tr. 1957), dealing with a journey to Western Europe, brought a cosmopolitan awareness into Russian writing. Karamzin made the Russian literary language more polished, elegant, and rhythmic. These reforms were important for later writers, especially Pushkin. Karamzin's sentimental story of a betrayed peasant girl, “Poor Lisa” (1792), forecast the novel of social protest. His greatest work, an 11-volume History of the Russian State (1818–24), was a widely read dramatic account of the political actions of the Russian princes up to 1613. He believed in a strong monarchic state, but criticized 18th-century rulers in his vigorous Memoir on Ancient and Modern Russia, written in 1810–11 (1914, tr. 1959).

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