A. K. Gavrilov. On Philologists and Philology: Articles and Speeches / Ed. by O. Budaragina, A. Verlinsky, D. Keyer. St. Petersburg University Publishing House. St. Petersburg, 2011 – 380 P.
The present collection of articles and speeches of Alexander Gavrilov on classical philology in Russia, dating from the mid-1970s to 2010, is briefly characterized by the editors, who are close colleagues of the author. This selection is based mostly, but not exclusively, on St. Petersburg scholars and institutions. Besides the selective approach, translations of some items published previously only in German or English were prepared especially for this volume: seven articles translated by Serafima A. Gavrilova, are marked in the Table of Contents by the asterisk. As a whole, one third of the articles in the book were revised or written for this occasion.
The First Part is a historical overview in a series of studies on development of classics in Russia during several centuries. Sometimes the author inquires into particular episodes of this long and multifarious process. The Second Part mostly includes personal accounts: with the exception of F. F. Zielinski and M. Rostovtzeff, people who received a particular treatment in the book were known to the author personally or described on the basis of personal recollections of their friends or families. The Third Part is dedicated to questions and subjects, which illustrate various features, achievements and dangers of philology, which of course are especially obvious against the background of vicissitudes of classical philology over a period of so many centuries and within different national cultures. An article on further developments in the Bosporan Kingdom connected with a trouble-maker Saumakos attested in the Diophantos’ decree from Chersonasos Taurica (IPE I2 352) shows, how ideological approaches of the first half of the 20th century, esp. Marxism with its historical materialism, mingled with the scholarly pursuit can make the search for historical truth an adventurous and sometimes courageous enterprise. A polemical statement against structuralist principles and semiotic methods, which became quite popular in Russia in 1960s and 1970s (to a great extent due to their opposition to the Marxism as an official ideology), is reproduced here once again, as representatives of the Moscow and Tartu school, among whom were persons of remarkable erudition and zeal, still exert some influence on younger scholars which can be harmful for classics. The Third Part also contains some speculations on the foundation of the Bibliotheca Classica Petropolitana which is at the moment a productive centre of classical philology and education in St. Petersburg.