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Prince Serge Wolkonsky delivered the first of his series of four lectures on Russian History and Literature last evening in Sanders Theatre. The audience was large and frequently applauded the speaker. After a few happy words of introduction by Professor Norton, the Prince spoke as follows:
Inviting you to all that is beautiful and noble, I ask you to follow with me the history and literary and literary development of my country. The first striking figure in Russia's history is Peter the Great. He marks the moment in the nation's life when her own his orical development was augmented by the outside influence of other nations. He shatters the wall separating Russia for 700 years from the rest of the world. But Peter's name marks one transition moment. The personality of the Empress Catherine II seems to absorb the entire eighteenth century.
In the last year of Peter's reign the Academy of Sciences was established. The first scientists were Germans, who had no part in advancing Russian literature. The first real litterateur was Prince Cantamile. He wrote the first Russian verses-mainly satires directed against those who opposed the reforms of Peter the Great. The next great writer was Lomonossov. Abandoning the life of a fisherman he fled to Moscow, and later to St. Petersburg, where he obtained his education. He marks the real beginning of Russian poetry. He was in literary life what Peter the Great was in practical life. He expelled the hybrid German words and establised rules of versification. The two other important writers of the period were Soumarakov and Trediakovsky.
On June 28, 1762, Catherine II was proclaimed empress. No monarch ever cared so much for contemporary opinion. She carried on correspondences with Voltaire and other great writers, in this way spreading her fame throughout Europe. As a natural result the French had great influence at court; but they lost their power after the time of Napoleon and a distinct Russian influence arose. The empress now became the centre of a circle of poets who celebrated her deeds in verse.
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