Syntax of ‘The tale of Igor’s campaign’ compared with its poetic interpretations

2015. №1, 39-78

Natal’ya V. Patroeva
Petrozavodsk State University, Petrozavodsk, 185910, Russia;


The article discusses the typology of syntactic constructions presented in «The tale of Igor’s campaign» and its poetic versions created by V. A. Zhukovsky and N. A. Zabolotsky. The description of the structure and semantics of one-member and two-member sentences, complex predicate units and certain types of syntagmas, complicating the basic model of the proposals, participate at the analysis of artistic images and motifs, as well as a melodic-rhythmic organization of ancient monument. The grammatical structure of «The tale of Igor’s campaign» poetic versions is analyzed in terms of matching the syntax of the original text or the directions of transformation of one of its units in the translation in poetic form. The syntactical architectonic of the ancient monument is very diverse typologycally and complicated by the symmetry of the columns and their links, parallelism, repetitions of structures and their parts, inversion, dialogic unity, quotation fragments, metaphorically indivisible syntagmas, asyndetons in the league with a rich system of pausing formed by the division of the text into single, simple sentences or predicate parts inside complex integrals, words of address, verbal structures, comparative syntagmas. The syntax of «The tale of Igor’s campaign» was brilliant in conception and execution and heralded the future «building» of a syntactic rules system, attributed to the classic Russian poetic speech. This concept will be fulfilled in Karamzin’s and Pushkin’s period. The observations, made on the syntactic structure V. A. Zhukovsky’s and N. A. Zabolotsky’s versions, show that the translation of the mid-twentieth century is a freestyle one in comparison with Zhukovsky’s experience, that is conservating syntactic features of the original text. The grammatical structure of Zabolotsky’s translation really is more close to the poetic morphology and syntax of the beginning of the 19th century, and to the historical romantic stylization of Pushkin’s time.