The Song of Igor's Campaign is the most imaginative, celebrated, and studied work of early Russian literature. It describes a chivalric expedition undertaken in the late twelfth century by a minor prince in the land of Rus to defeat, against overwhelming odds, a powerful alliance in a neighboring territory. The anonymous poet who chronicled this adventure packed unprecedented metaphorical agility, keenness of observation, and fascinating imagery into the lean and powerful tale of the doomed campaign. Discovered in the late eighteenth century and only narrowly distributed, the original manuscript was destroyed in a fire, leading to endless debate about the provenance and authenticity of extant versions. It also served as the basis of Borodin's opera Prince Igor. Translated by Vladimir Nabokov, the verses that constitute The Song of Igor's Campaign are presented in their original rhyme and meter, and Nabokov's extensive annotations provide illumination on all aspects of text.
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