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Boris Borisovich
Vakhtin

Candidate of Sciences (equiv. Ph.D.) - Philology
(03.11.1930 — 12.11.1981)
A well-known Sinologist, philologist, writer and translator who worked at the Institute for 25 years, from 1957, and contributed much to the study of Chinese literature. He published a number of serious academic papers on ancient and mediaeval Chinese literature, translations of Chinese poetry and fiction.

Born on November 3, 1930, in Rostov-na-Donu to the family of journalists. His father was oppressed as a ‘Trotskist’ in late 1930s, his mother, V.F.Panova, became later a respected Soviet writer.

In 1954, he graduated from Leningrad State University, the Faculty of Oriental Studies.

While a doctoral student, he published his first monograph, The Epic Stories of Peoples of South China [Эпические сказания народов Южного Китая], in collaboration with R.F.Its (Moscow & Leningrad 1956). In 1957, his translation of The Diary of Yang Zhongliang was published in the book China Today and Tomorrow by V.Ketlinskaya [Китай сегодня и завтра], and, in 1958, that of a story by the well-known Chinese writer Zhao Shuli, The Taxman, was published in the book of Zhao Shuli’s collected stories. In 1959, defended his PhD dissertation Yue fu from the Han and Nanbeichao Periods as classic texts of Chinese literature [Юэфу эпохи Хань и Наньбэйчао - памятник китайской поэзии]. In the same year, he took part in the edition of the semi-popular book, The Country of Han. Essays on Culture of Ancient China [Страна Хань. Очерки о культуре древнего Китая] (Leningrad, 1959) and his personal monograph, Yue fu Selected from Ancient Chinese Songs [Юэфу. Из древних китайских песен] (Moscow & Leningrad 1959) was published, too. Ten years later, his selected translations, Yue fu. From Mediaeval Chinese poetry [Юэфу. Из средневековой китайской поэзии] was issued (Moscow 1969).

After the death of Prof V.M.Stein in October 1962, B.B.Vakhtin was appointed the head of the Department of Far Eastern Studies at the Leningrad Branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies that was, according to his suggestion, divided into Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Dunhuang, Tangut and some other working groups. Earlier, in 1961, the group for the cataloguing of Chinese block prints headed by B.B.Vakhtin was formed. Its work resulted in The Catalogue of the Collection of Chinese Block Prints Kept at the Institute of Oriental Studies, the USSR Academy of Sciences [Каталог фонда китайских ксилографов Института востоковедения АН СССР], in three volumes, Moscow 1973.

By 1976, B.B.Vakhtin completed his work on Yuitai sinyong, the Tower Jade and wrote the Habilitation Dissertation based upon it. But he never got a chance to defend it because the Soviet authorities suspected his loyalty. His last work at the Institute was on poetry by Meng Hao-Jan (689–740).

In 1966, B.B.Vakhtin visited China, the only time in his life.

In 1961, he was elected to the USSR Union of Writers, he wrote a few novels most of which were never published officially but were typed and spread half-illegally. He was also the leader of the literary group called Gorozhane (the Urbanites). Thanks to him, at the Institute some famous Russian poets such as Joseph Brodsky and Bulat Okudzhava gave concerts.

Publications

[1973]

Вахтин Б.Б., Гуревич И.С., Кроль Ю.Л., Стулова Э.С., Торопов А.А. Каталог фонда китайских ксилографов Института востоковедения АН СССР. М.: ГРВЛ, 1973. В 3-х т.


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