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A.M. Gorky Institute
of World Literature
of the Russian Academy of Sciences

IWL RAS Publishing

A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature
of the Russian Academy of Sciences


Povarskaya 25a, 121069 Moscow, Russia



Types of publications

Information about the author:

Lidiia I. Sazonova, DSc in Philology, Director of Research, A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Povarskaya 25A, bld. 1, 121069 Moscow, Russia.


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The article is the first attempt to examine the phenomenon of authorial commentary in 17th and 18th century rhetorical literature, that considers it as an integral part of the book. An important role in its functioning belongs to literary theory. Poets and writers follow a system of rules and patterns, recommendations and materials elaborated
in rhetoric and poetic, subjecting the rhetorical principles to literary purposes. The process of synthesizing elements that compose a literary work at all levels (language, genre, stylistic, semantic) is closely related to the analytic approach that was the necessary criterion of art in the Middle Ages and later in the era of baroque and in the 18th century. For a baroque writer, his own text is not only a product of his creativity but also an object of analysis and reflection. The author’s reasoning becomes an integral part of the composition and aesthetic content of the texts. The role and meaning of authorial commentaries in the composition of a literary work are also predetermined by the fact that writers and theorists see their activity as the mission of creators owning an almost absolute knowledge of the world, an awareness that is reflected in some concepts that were very popular in the era of baroque and humanism (poeta doctus, artifex doctus, poesia docta, poeta-inventor). Authorial commentaries collaborates in the creation of the semantic text structure and general meaning of the work, and in setting up correspondences between life and art. The gap between elite and profane knowledge is filled by introducing into the scope of the reader’s reception important categories of the baroque poetic and formal techniques that allow the content coming to the forefront, and also by means of providing information about the title of the work, its purpose and the author’s intentions, its genre and composition, the possible ways to read and understand it. The author, like a tutor, lets his reader into the rules that are necessary to decipher and read a large, intricate, and complicated text. This kind of interpretation is a sort of poetic treatise and a necessary condition for a most complete understanding. The authorial commenting grows out of prefaces and gets into the literary work itself, and collaborate in synthetizing elements that organize its content and form.

  • Keywords: author, commentary, rhetoric, baroque, genres, poeta doctus, poesia docta, inmost, elite and popular knowledge, code, index.


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