Solovyov’s Short History of the Antichrist

Below is the Russian original of Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov’s Short History of the Antichrist, from this handy site which has all his writings online, with original (?) footnotes, which I’ve included here. If you are familiar with the English version, and you’re able to read the Russian, you’ll notice that there is a slight (ha!) difference between the two. The book from which this story originally comes, Три разговора о войне, прогрессе, и конце всемирной истории со включением краткой повести об антихристе (Three Dialogues on War, Progress, the End of Universal History, and the Beginning of the Short History of the Antichrist), published in English as War, Progress, and the End of History, (notice the implicit rejection in the translation title of the Christian eschatology of Solovyov–mustn’t frighten the natives!) was written in dialogue form. How very Patristic of him!

My Russian is poor, but I may assay a translation of this in the future, or just wimp out and scan one of the old English translations. In the meantime, my readers who are fluent in Russian may enjoy seeing this tale here, and I will also have it easily accessible. The English version I have begins at the second paragraph (Был в это время…), leaving out the beginning dialog and first very long paragraph, and it ends at the end of the last large paragraph of the original with Они ожили и воцарились с Христом на тысячу лет, in English, And they came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. That last line doesn’t really give the story away, I think. Anyhow, enjoy it!

[Due to an increased amount of Russian spam comments, I’ve removed the text of Solovyov’s chapter from this entry, and placed it in a zipped Word document.

3 Replies to “Solovyov’s Short History of the Antichrist”

  1. I don’t really understand why people so often feel the need to hack out so much when they translate Russian stuff. (Divide run-on sentences, sure. I don’t have a problem with that; it makes sense. But half the time, they lose really good stuff!)

    I’d also like to know why so many Russian stories and novels start with a weather report. I mean, yeah, everybody does it occasionally; but Russian writers can’t seem to write fiction without talking about the clouds to set a mood, and making a seasonal reference to boot!

  2. I’m with you there, Maureen. The other is that since the West in general doesn’t have a tradition of familiarity with Russian, either in education or literary matters, most of our familiarity with the greats of Russian literature are often first through poor or only partial translations.

    I really noticed this in this case. This story is an integrated part of the dialog, and is read by one character to two others during the course of a book-length discussion of philosophy. This is not a short story called “A Short History of the Antichrist” as though it is a separate small work in a collection. It’s an integral part of a discussion of the philosophy of history (really Pansofism) that Solovyov is trying to convey, as described by the original title: Three Dialogues on War, Progress, the End of Universal History, and the Beginning of the Short History of the Antichrist. The ending of the depiction of the short and inglorious history of said antichrist depicts the end of history, and it is the manner in which history ends that is the topic of the conversation, not the specifically religious content of the story. I find it fascinating that, for one thing, Christian pre-Revolutionary Russian intellectuals like Solovyov were so immersed in the Christian worldview that they don’t even question that aspect, the nearly biblical paraphrase of various New Testament passages which compose the story, but rather simply accept it and continue in their abstruse intellectual discussions. Moderns these days, would just say demeaningly, “You don’t actually believe that, do you?” Half the conversation would be wasted on a tired antitheology with the intellectual and theological depth of Washington’s portrait on a quarter. The other half would be trite parroting of whatever current intellectual trend is most fashionable.

    Anyhow, I look forward to reading the complete work. Solovyov’s philosophy is peculiar. He’s even now respected as a thinker, but it seems his philosophical intersection with theology had too much influence of the former on the latter to be acceptable. I’ll have to learn much more about him. But knowing that people like Dostoevsky and Lossky found value in his writings will make it worth the effort.

    That’s so funny about the weather! I hadn’t noticed that! Or at least I tend to enjoy it, when in a land like Russia, which is mostly “big sky country”, the weather is the prime actor in any given day. And, being in California, I tend to find depictions of real weather to be definitely mood-setting. I’ll have to ask some Russian friends about that interest in weather. I’m sure they’ll have a fascinating perspective on it.

Comments are closed.