|There is no doubt about it, the Russian Primary Chronicle
vremmennykh let; or Повѣсть временныхъ лѣтъ) is a complicated
document; better not to call it "a" document but to understand it as
many "documents" all spliced together (not sure if that makes sense). The Chronicle
dates to the early twelfth
century and has often
been attributed to Nestor, a learned monk in the Monastery of the Caves
Kiev, but it is also the case that the monk Silvestr added much to
Nestor's version; and later chroniclers added still more. In any
case, we have no real idea who was the actual author (if there was any
one author), and it is
probably a pointless question anyway since twenty-first century notions
of authorship hardly apply to an early medieval Russian document.
There is no extant original copy; the earliest known version, the
Laurentian codex dates to 1377 (by a monk named Laurentius for Prince
Dmitrii Donskoi). Other slightly different versions do exist. The
Chronicle, which is in the traditional form of recorded entries of what
happened in each specific year, remains probably our most important
source for the history of
early Russian civilization.
For more complicated introductions to the Primary Chronicle, see www.languagehat.com/archives/002010.php or Donald Ostrovskii's introduction (*.pdf file).
page is copyright © 2005, C.T. Evans
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