The Chevalier d’Éon and His Contemporaries’ Contribution to French Rossica: From Diplomatic Dispatches and Notes to Anecdotes Secrètes
Keywords:Russian Empire in the eighteenth century, historiography, source studies, Chevalier d’Éon, anecdote as a literary genre
The review is devoted to a book by S. Mezin and the publication of an interesting historical source. Mezin is a well-known specialist in the history of modern Russo-French relations in various spheres. He consistently focuses on eighteenth-century French Rossica in his works. Now he has presented an unknown essay about the court of Empress Elizabeth to the scholarly community. It was written in 1757 by Chevalier d’Éon in the genre of historical anecdote, very popular at the time. The essay has been published both in French and in Russian, with Mezin doing the translation himself. The reviewed book includes the text Secret Anecdotes about the Court of the All-Russian Empress by the French diplomat and spy, along with comments, study, and substantive analysis. The publication and accompanying materials are preceded by a detailed essay by Mezin entitled “French Russia in the Mid‑18th Century (1725–1762)”. This is not only used to provide a historical background for the source, but also to study an important but insufficiently examined topic. The reviewer considers Mezin’s book a valuable contribution to the historiography of the less explored period in the eighteenth century between the reigns of Peter I and Catherine II and to the source studies of this period in Russian history. At the same time, the reviewer clarifies some chronological and thematic characteristics of the historical anecdote as a specific genre, linking its emergence and formation with French historiography and literature in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
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