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Lev Nikolaevich
Menshikov

Professor
Doctor of Sciences (equiv. Habilitation) - Philology
(17.02.1926 — 29.10.2005)
Dr Lev N. Menshikov was born on February 17, 1926, in Leningrad in the family of Nikolai A. Menshikov, a respected geologist, and Revekka E. Nikhamovskaya-Menshikova, a school teacher of Russian language and literature. His work life Dr L.Menshikov started when he was boy, in the 1940s, taking part in the geological expeditions. At one of the geologists’ he noticed the book of The Secret History of the Mongols edited by S.A.Kozin (1941). After he read it he decided firmly that he would become an Orientalist and for that purpose proceed to the Sinological Department of Leningrad University so as to be taught one of the most developed branches of Russian philology.

In 1947, after graduating from school with high marks, L. Menshikov was admitted to the Faculty of Oriental Studies of Leningrad University, first he was at the Section of Manchu Philology but, thanks to his good luck and a recommendation from acad. V.M.Alekseev (1881-1951), who foresaw a real great passion in L.M.’s wish to study Sinology, he was moved to the Section of Chinese Philology. L.M. kept gratitude to his Teacher, whose influence was crucial in turning him, throughout his life, into an unique scholar, and the highest expression of his feeling was that he took an active part in the publication of archival papers by acad. V. Alekseev.

L.M. published his first academic paper in 1951, while being a student. It was a short paper entitled Folk Elements in Chinese Drama [Народные элементы в китайской драме].

In 1952, after graduating from the university, L.M. was directed to the doctoral course at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the USSR Academy of Sciences, which he followed in Moscow, under the supervision of Dr L.Z.Eidlin (1909-85). In December 1955, L.M. defended ahead of time his PhD dissertation entitled Modern Reform of Chinese Classical Drama [Современная реформа китайской классической драмы], which was highly approved by the experts, and on December 31, he was enrolled to the staff of the Leningrad Branch of the IOS, where he worked until his death.

In 1959, his PhD dissertation was published as a monograph Reform of Chinese Classical Drama [Реформа китайской классической драмы], a pioneering research into some of the most important dramatic plots of the traditional Chinese theatre and their transformation during various historical periods.

Fifty years of academic activities by L.M. resulted in more than 200 papers, including 15 monographs and some extensive translations. He supervised eight PhD dissertations and four Habilitation dissertations, all of which were defended successfully.

There is a special branch of Chinese studies that is tightly associated with the name of L.M., namely Dunhuang studies, which brought to Prof Menshikov worldwide respect and honor. From 1957, L.M. headed the group for the description of the Dunhuang collection kept at the Leningrad Branch of the IOS. It resulted in The Description of the Manuscripts from Dunhuang [Описание рукописей из Дуньхуана], in 2 volumes, published in 1963 and 1967, covering 2,954 items and supplied with introductions by L.M. In 1999, it was republished by the Chinese Ancient Book Publishers. From 1994 to 2002, L.M. edited the Russian part of the big International project for the edition of Dunhuang manuscripts, carried out together with the aforementioned Ancient Book Publishers. Thus, there appeared 17 volumes of The Dunhuang Manuscripts Kept in Russia [Дуньхуанские рукописи, хранящиеся в России]. During his long academic activities L.M. scrutinized a great number of original and mostly unstudied texts, this way contributing to a serious revision of academic concepts on the role of Buddhism in traditional China.

Another branch of Sinological studies, in which the name of L.M. ranks one of the first throughout the world, is the study of pienwen, a genre of Chinese vernacular literature. In 1963, he edited the book Chinese Manuscripts from Dunhuang. Texts of Buddhist Suwenxue Literature [Китайские рукописи из Дуньхуана. Памятники буддийской литературы сувэньсюэ], this being the beginning of the series of his editions and studies of unique Dunhuang texts belonging to pienwen and suwenxue genres. Thus, he edited, translated and scrutinized Pienwen About Wei Mo Chieh and Pienwen “Ten Auspicious Signs Pienwen” [Бяньвэнь о Вэймоцзе, Бяньвэнь Десять благих знамений] (Moscow 1963), Pienwen “Requital for Favour” [Бяньвэнь о воздаянии и милости] (Moscow 1972) and The Lotus Sutra Pienwen [Бяньвэнь по лотосовой сутре] (Moscow 1984). In 1976, his monograph on Pienwen “Requital for Favour” was defended as his Habilitation dissertation.

Thanks to these and some other papers by L.M., there was developed a clear understanding of the role of stories combining narrative, epic and dramatic features in the history of Chinese literature, were defined their own sources and their meaning for the later Sung and Yuan Drama. L.M. made a number of innovations into the methods of academic research into manuscripts from the eighth through the tenth century.

An important discovery, highly approved by Sinologists worldwide, was a description (made along with B.L.Riftin) of Shih tou chieh from the collection kept at the Institute (An Unknown Manuscript of the Novel “Dream of the Red Chamber” [Неизвестный список романа «Сон в Красном тереме»], - in Narody Azii i Afriki, 1964, No 5, p.121-8). Among the other significant academic achievements by L.M. there should be mentioned his description of the Chinese part of the Khara Khoto collection, studies of Chinese Buddhism, Buddhist literature, Chinese modern and classical plays.

L.M. was a talented translator of Chinese poetry, and had a clear poetical gift. He is the author of wonderful by their accuracy and expressiveness poetical translations of around 1,000 lines at the Anthology of Chinese Poetry [Антология китайской поэзии] and 3,500 lines for the Dream of the Red Chamber, translations of poems by Lu Hsun, Tang poets such as Cen Can, Wang Wei, Gao Shi, Wei Yingwu, Zhang Ji, etc. He also published his translation of a play by Wang Shifu Romance of the West Chamber (the 14th century), supplied with his introduction and notes (1960), and Gan Bao’s In Search of the Supernatural: The Written Record (1963; re-issued 1994, 2000, 2004).

In his later years, L.M. edited the unique Tang Chronology [Танская хронология], a collective project of which he made two-thirds. The chronology, modeled after Chinese nianpu, lists events of Tang Era in succession of years, months, and days.

The academic value of works by L.M. (Professor from 1991, academician of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences) was proved by two high awards such as the Julien Award from the French Academy of Inscriptions and Humanities for 1964 and the S.F.Oldenburg Award from the Russian Academy of Sciences for 1991. For many years L.M. was a member of the Dissertation Councils at both our Institute and the Faculty of Oriental Studies of Leningrad/St Peterburg University, a member of Academic council of Research Center of Xi Xia Studies, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (from 1998) and a member of editorial boards of several periodicals.

Prof Dr Lev N. Menshikov had unique and universal knowledge, but for us he will remain first of all a real Sinologist, whose limitless Chinese expertise covered literature, history, textology, culture, religion, epigraphics. For many generations of Sinologists it has been and will continue to be, necessary to read his works.

Prof Dr I.F.Popova, head of the IOM

Tr. by A.Zorin; proofread by S.Wickham-Smith

Publications ( the entire list as a *.pdf file)

[2004]

Алимов И.А., Серебряков Е.А. Вслед за кистью. Материалы истории сунских авторских сборников бицзи. Исследования. Переводы. Часть II. СПб.: «Петербургское востоковедение», 2004. 448 с. Ответственный редактор Л.Н.Меньшиков.

[1999]

Воробьева-Десятовская М.И., Гуревич И.С., Меньшиков Л.Н., Спирин В.С., Школяр С.А. Эцзан Дуньхуан ханьвэнь сецзюань сюйлу (Описание китайских рукописей Дуньхуанского фонда Института народов Азии). В 2 выпусках / Ответственный редактор Л.Н.Меньшиков. Шанхай, 1999. Вып. 1.

Воробьева-Десятовская М.И., Зограф И.Т., Мартынов А.С., Меньшиков Л.Н., Смирнов Б.Л. Эцзан Дуньхуан ханьвэнь сецзюань сюйлу (Описание китайских рукописей Дуньхуанского фонда Института народов Азии). В 2 выпусках / Ответственный редактор Л.Н.Меньшиков. Шанхай, 1999. Вып. 2.

[1997]

Menshikov L. An Album of Illustrations to the Famous Chinese Novels // Manuscripta Orientalia. Vol. 3, No 3, November 1997. P. 54-68.

[1995]

Menshikov L. A Fragment of an Unknown “Leishu” from Tunhuang // Manuscripta Orientalia. Vol. 1, No 3, December 1995. Pp. 3-15.

[1991]

Хуэй-цзяо. Жизнеописания достойных монахов (Гао сэн чжуань) / Пер. с китайского, исслед., коммент. и указатели М.Е.Ермакова. В 3-х т. Т. I (Раздел 1: Переводчики). Ответственный редактор Л.Н.Меньшиков. М.: «Наука». ГРВЛ, 1991. 251 с. (Памятники письменности Востока. ХС1Х, 1. Bibliotheca Buddhica. XXXVIII).

[1988]

Волкова М.П. Описание маньчжурских ксилографов Института востоковедения АН СССР. Выпуск 1 / Ответственный редактор Л.Н.Меньшиков. Приложения составила Т.А.Пан. М.: «Наука», ГРВЛ, 1988.

[1987]

Вельгус В.А. Средневековый Китай (исследования и материалы по истории, внешним связям, литературе) / Составитель И.Э.Циперович. Ответственный редактор Л.Н.Меньшиков. М.: «Наука», 1987. 204 с.

[1986]

Pai yü ching (The Sūtra of a Hundred Parables) [Бай юй цзин (Сутра ста притч)]. Tr. from Chinese, with notes by I.S.Gurevich. Introduction and tr. of poetical fragments by L.N.Menshikov. Moscow, Nauka, 1986. 128 p. (Pamyatniki pismennosti Vostoka, LXXVI).

[1984]

Заново составленное пинхуа по истории Пяти династий / Пер. с кит., исслед. и коммент. Л.К.Павловской. Ответственный редактор Л.Н.Меньшиков. М.: «Наука», ГРВЛ, 1984. 447 с.

Меньшиков Л.Н. Описание китайской части коллекции из Хара-Хото (фонд П.К.Козлова). М.: «Наука», ГРВЛ, 1984. 528 с. Приложения составил Л.И.Чугуевский.

[1982]

Alekseev V.M. The Academic Study of the Orient. Papers and Documents [Наука о Востоке. Статьи и документы]. Editorial Board: M.V.Bankovskaya, L.N.Menshikov, V.V.Petrov, N.T.Fedorenko, L.Z.Eidlin. Moscow: Nauka GRVL Publishers 1982. 535 p.

[1977]

Written Monuments of the Orient. Historical and Philological Researches [Письменные памятники Востока. Историко-филологические исследования]. Ed. by L.N.Menshikov, S.B.Pevzner (executive secretary), A.S.Tveritinova (chief), A.B.Khalidov. Annual issue 1972. Moscow, Nauka Publishers 1977.

[1974]

The Written Monuments of the Orient. Historical and Philological Researches [Письменные памятники Востока. Историко-филологические исследования]. Ed. by L.N.Menshikov, S.B.Pevzner (executive secretary), A.S.Tveritinova (chief), A.B.Khalidov. Annual issue 1971. Moscow, Nauka Publishers 1974.

[1972]

Азиатский музей - Ленинградское отделение Института востоковедения АН СССР / Редакционная коллегия: А.П.Базиянц, Д.Е.Бертельс (отв. секретарь), Б.Г.Гафуров, А.Н.Кононов (председатель), Е.И.Кычанов, И.М.Оранский, Ю.А.Петросян, Э.Н.Тёмкин, О.Л.Фишман, А.Б.Халидов, И.Ш.Шифман. М.: «Наука», 1972.

[1967]

Воробьева-Десятовская М.И., Зограф И.Т., Мартынов А.С., Меньшиков Л.Н., Смирнов Б.Л. Описание китайских рукописей Дуньхуанского фонда Института народов Азии. В 2 выпусках / Ответственный редактор Л.Н.Меньшиков. М.: «Наука», ГРВЛ, 1967. Вып. 2. 687 с.

[1963]

Воробьева-Десятовская М.И., Гуревич И.С., Меньшиков Л.Н., Спирин В.С., Школяр С.А. Описание китайских рукописей Дуньхуанского фонда Института народов Азии. В 2 выпусках / Ответственный редактор Л.Н.Меньшиков. М.: ИВЛ, 1963. Вып. 1. 778 с.


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