Dmitry Sergeyevich Likhachov

Written by Ана Стойкова
Dmitry Sergeyevich Likhachov Dmitry Sergeyevich Likhachov

November 28, 1906 – September 30, 1999

Russian theorist and historian of literature, philologist, paleo-Slavicist, cultural scientist, art critic.


Born in St Petersburg in the family of an electrical engineer. He graduated from the classical high school in his hometown, and in 1923 enrolled in the Department of Linguistics and Literature of the Faculty of Social Sciences of Leningrad University, where he graduated simultaneously in two majors – Romano-Germanic studies and Slavic studies. In 1928, Likhachov was arrested for his participation in a clandestine student circle and sentenced to five years in prison for counter-revolutionary activity. He spent four years (1928–1932) in a detention camp on the Solovetsky Islands in the White Sea and returned to Leningrad after his early release. He managed to get his sentence revoked and worked with various publishers as an editor and proof-reader.

In 1938, Lihachov enrolled as a Junior Research Associate at the Institute of Russian Literature (Pushkin House) in Leningrad, with which he remained engaged until the end of his scientific activity. In the following years he became a Senior Associate (1941), Doctor of Science (1947), Member of the Scientific Council of the Institute (1948) and Head of the Sector for Old Russian Literature (1954). In 1946 and onwards he worked at the Leningrad State University as an Associate Professor, and after 1951 as a Professor. In 1953, Likhachov was elected a Corresponding Member, and in 1970 – an Academician at the USSR Academy of Sciences. He was a foreign member of the following establishments: Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (1963), Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (1971), Hungarian Academy of Sciences (1973), British Academy (1976), Austrian Academy of Sciences (1978), Göttingen Academy of Sciences (1988), and American Academy of Sciences and Arts (1993). He was elected a honorary doctor at the Universities of Torun (1964), Oxford (1967), Edinburgh (1971), Bordeaux (1982), Zurich (1982), Budapest (1985), Sofia (1988), Prague (1991) and Siena (1992). He was Chairman of the Russian Cultural Foundation (since its founding in 1986).

For his scientific and social work D. S. Likhachov has been awarded numerous government awards – twice with the USSR State Prize for his scientific works История культуры Древней Руси [History of the Culture of the Ancient Russ] (1952), and Поетика древнерусской литературы [Poetics of Ancient Russian Literature] (1969). He was holder of the State Prize of the Russian Federation for the series Памятники литературы Древней Руси [Monuments of Literature of the Ancient Russ] (1993). He was a laureate of the Cyril and Methodius Prize of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (1977) and the first winner of the international Brothers Cyril and Methodius Award (1979, together with Roger Bernard). In 2001, an International Charitable Foundation was established in Russia in his name.

D. S. Likhachov’s scientific activities were in a very broad field, related to the theory and history of Russian and other Slavic medieval literatures and cultures and their modern development and condition. Much of his theoretical work, based on his research of ancient Russian literature, is valid throughout the Orthodox Slavic medieval tradition. Particularly valuable from this point of view are his Текстология [Textology] (1962), in which he first paid attention to the importance of history for the creation of the medieval text as a key to its interpretation and the Поэтика древнерусской литературы [Poetry of Ancient Russian Literature] published in 1967, in which he elaborated the problem about artistic time and space based on the literature of the Slavic Middle Ages. For the first time, Likhachov substantiated the need for a comprehensive study of the medieval literary work against the background of its surroundings in the manuscript and in connection with its place of origin and with the overall production of the literary centre.

For the theoretical understanding of the cultural interactions during the Slavic Middle Ages, and the question of the ways and means of the transfer of the Byzantine-Slavic cultural model from medieval Bulgaria to Kievan Russ important is his concept of the functioning of Orthodox Slavic literatures as a system. Likhachev introduced the term literary transplantation to define the process of transfer, adaptation and independent development of the Old Bulgarian literary phenomena on Russian soil. He defined the Old Bulgarian literature from the Simeon Age as mediator literature, whose language and repertoire were common to the medieval Orthodox Slavic literatures. Although some of his ideas gave rise to discussion, his undoubted contribution to the contemporary interpretation of these processes was in the affirmation of the historical role of the Old Bulgarian literary heritage in the creation of the Russian and the other Orthodox Slavic medieval literatures and cultures.

Among the important researches of Likhachov special mention deserve those devoted to the old Russian chronicles, to the processes of the transition from medieval to modern literature, to the culture of laughter in ancient Russian literature, to the theoretical aspects of medieval literary works – poetics, genres and style, to the links of the literature with folklore and with art, to mention but a few. He paid special attention to the most important monuments of ancient Russian historiography – above all to the Повесть временных лет [Tale of Bygone Years], and Слово о полку Игореве [The Tale of Igor’s Campaign], which he translated into modern Russian and commented on (1950), and later devoted to them numerous new publications and studies. At his initiative and under his leadership, in the 1980’s, the Энциклопедия Слова о полку Игореве [Encyclopedia of the Tales of Igor’s Campaigns] was published.

Another aspect of his interests is represented in the studies related to the theory and history of visual arts. In them he elaborated issues about the origin and nature of art, about its manifestations and about the regularities in the development of the artistic process. Likhachov was also the author of a number of publications devoted to the role of culture as a nationwide spiritual foundation and to the importance and the necessity of preserving cultural heritage and traditions.

Selected works

  • Национальное самосознание Древней Руси: очерки из области русской литературы XI–XVII вв. Москва–Ленинград, 1945.
  • Культура Руси эпохи образования Русского национального государства. (Конец XIV – начало XVI в.) Ленинград, 1946. (reprint The Hague, Paris: Mouton, 1967).
  • Русские летописи и их культурно-историческое значение. Москва–Ленинград, 1947.
  • Слово о полку Игореве. Подготовка текста, перевод с древнерусского, примечания, вступительная статья. Лениград, 1949.
  • Повесть временных лет. По Лаврентьевской летописи 1377 г. Историко-литературный очерк, подготовка текста, перевод с древнерусского (совм. с Б. А. Романовым) и комментарии. Под ред. В. П. Адриановой-Перетц. Ч. 1–2. Москва–Ленинград, 1950.
  • Слово о полку Игореве: Историко-литературный очерк, подготовка текста, перевод с древнерусского (совм. с Б. А. Романовым) и комментарии и примечания. Под ред. В. П. Адриановой-Перетц. Москва–Ленинград, 1950.
  • Литература XI–XIII вв. – В: История культуры Древней Руси. Под ред. Н. Н. Воронина, М. К. Каргера. Москва–Ленинград, 1951. Т. 2: Домонгольский период, ч. 2: Общественный строй и духовная культура, 163–215.
  • Возникновение русской литературы. Москва–Ленинград, 1952.
  • Изображение людей в летописи XII–ХIII веков. – Труды Отдела древнерусской литературы, 10, 1954, 7–43.
  • Человек в литературе Древней Руси. Москва–Ленинград, 1958. (2 изд. 1970, 3 изд. 2015).
  • Некоторые задачи изучения второго южнославянского влияния в России. – В: Исследования по славянскому литературоведению и фольклористике. Доклады советской ученых на IV Международном съезде славистов. Москва, 1960, 95–151.
  • Изучение „Слова о полку Игореве“ и вопрос о его подлинности. – В: „Слово о полку Игореве“ – памятник XII века. Москва–Ленинград, 1962, 5–78.
  • Культура Руси времени Андрея Рублева и Епифания Премудрого (конец XIV – начало XV в.). Москва–Ленинград, 1962.
  • Об эстетическом изучении памятников культуры прошлого. – Вопросы литературы, 1963, № 3, 100–111.
  • Текстология: на материале русской литературы Х–XVII вв. Москва–Ленинград, 1962. (2 перераб. и доп. изд. 1983, 3 перераб. и доп. изд. (при участии А. А. Алексеева и А. Г. Боброва) 2001).
  • Поэтика древнерусской литературы. Ленинград, 1967 (2 доп изд. 1971; 3 доп изд. 1979).
  • Предвозрождение на Руси в конце XIV – первой половине XV века. – В: Литература эпохи Возрождения и проблемы всемирной литературы. Москва, 1967, 136–182.
    Древнеславянские литературы как система. – В: Славянские литературы. VI Международный съезд славистов, Прага 1968. Доклады советской делегации. Москва, 1968, 5–48 (на бълг. език: Литературна мисъл, 13, 1969, 1, 338).
  • Размисли за националното своеобразие и европейското значение на старобългарската литература. – Литературна мисъл, 14, 1970, 2, 73–85 (=Делото на Константин-Кирил Философ. София, 1972, 94–110).
  • Человек в литературе Древней Руси. Москва, 1970.
  • Зарождение и развитие жанров древнерусской литературы. – В: Славянские литературы. VII Международный съезд славистов, Варшава, август 1973 г. Доклады советской делегации. Москва, 1973, 160–177.
  • Развитие русской литературы Х–XVII вв.: эпохи и стили. Ленинград, 1973.
  • Гoлемият свят на руската литература. Изследвания и статии. Съст. и ред. П. Динеков. София, 1976.
  • Смеховой мир Древней Руси. Ленинград, 1976 (совм. с А. М. Панченко).
  • Монументально-исторический стиль древнеславянских литератур. – В: Славянские литературы. VIII Международный съезд славистов, Загреб – Любляна, сентябрь 1978 г. Доклады советской делегации. Москва, 1978, 119–150.
  • Литература – реальность – литература. Ленинград, 1984.
  • Прошлое – будущему: статьи и очерки. Ленинград, 1985.

About Dmitry Likhachov

  • Биография Д.С. Лихачева. – В: Площадь Д. С. Лихачева
  • Библиография трудов Д.С. Лихачева. – В: Площадь Д. С. Лихачева (с пълни текстове на публикациите)
  • Николова, Св. Дмитрий Сергеевич Лихачов като изследовател на старите славянски литератури. – Език и илитература, 42, 1987, 4, 3–11.
  • Салмина, М. А. Литература о жизни и трудах академика Дмитрия Сергеевича Лихачева. – В: Исследования по древней и новой литературе. Ленинград, 1987, 417–448.
  • Николова, Св. Лихачов, Дмитрий Сергеевич. – В: Кирило-Методиевска енциклопедия. 2. София, 1995, 547–553.
  • Сазонова, Л. И. Академик Дмитрий Сергеевич Лихачев (К 100-летию со дня рождения). ИМЛИ РАН, 30.11.2006
  • Трендафилов, Хр. Българинът като културен посредникLiterNet. Електронно списание, 30.03.2010.
  • Запесоцкий, А.С. Дмитрий Лихачев – великий русский культуролог. Санкт-Петербург, 2012.


SESDiva ERA.Net RUS Plus Call 2017 – S&T

SESDiva. Project № 156

SESDiva aims at creating a virtual museum of written culture in relation to the social, religious, cultural, and ideological environment and relations between the South and East Slavs throughout the centuries from the 11th to the beginning of the 20th century.

Duration: 2018-2020
Program: ERA.Net RUS Plus Call 2017 ‐ S&T Projects