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Viktor Zhivov Passes Away in Berkeley

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Viktor Zhivov Passes Away in Berkeley


18.04.2013

Professor Viktor Zhivov died on Wednesday morning in Berkeley, California. He was 68 years old. Viktor Zhivov was a respected specialist on the history of the Russian literary language, Eastern Slavic writing, church scripts and culture and the history of Russian literature of 18th century.

“Viktor was a remarkable man, warm, caring, learned, highly distinguished within the academy in Russia, Europe and the US, deeply knowledgeable about his area of specialization and profoundly curious about all that was outside of it,” said Eric Naiman, Acting Chair, Department of Slavic Languages at Berkeley. “We loved him for his intelligence, humor and empathy.  He will be missed terribly, both at Berkeley and in the larger intellectual community of Slavic Studies.”

Born in Moscow on February 5, 1945, his father was Mark Zhivov, a literary scholar and translator, Pravmir.com reports. He was a graduate of the Division of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at the Philological Faculty of Moscow State University, where he studied the typological structure of languages and phonology, defending his candidate’s dissertation in 1977. He later received his doctoral dissertation, also from Moscow State University, in 1992.

From the mid-1970s his primary academic interest lay in the study of Russian literary language in both its external and internal aspects, with special emphasis on the role of the Church Slavonic tradition on various stages of the growth of Russian literary language.

He began attending church in adolescence, owing in part to the influence of his older sister, later receiving baptism. Early in his career he translated several works into Russian for the publishing department of the Moscow Patriarchate, including Fr. John Meyendorff’s Study of Gregory Palamas. He became close to Archpriest Alexander Men (1935-1990), whom he later remembered as an active pastor who combined love, kindness, and intellectual interests. He remained involved in church life after moving to Berkeley in 1995 and was engaged in the study of sin and salvation in Russian cultural history.

The author of over a dozen books and scores of articles, his book Language and Culture in Eighteenth Century Russia (Brighton, MA: Academic Studies Press, 2009) exists in English translation. Among his articles that have appeared in English are studies of the Mystagogia of St. Maximus the Confessor, church reform in the seventeenth century, and the handling of sin in eighteenth-century Russia. (For a full bibliography, see here.)

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