In the genres system of medieval literature, the historical-chronological texts are distinguished as a special literary-historical genre with a specific expressional form, created and modeled in close dependence of the amount of the historical information.
Clarifying the category of the literary genre as a historical category, D.S.Lihacov points out that no genre is “everlasting”, in literature, because throughout times the principles of differentiating certain genres change as well as their types, characters and functions1F. The differentiation of Lihacov concerning the mutual relations of literature genres presented by the material from old Russian literature, can be used also in the old Slavic literature, because it defines the typological traits of the genre system typical for all Old Slav territory. As general base for the genre differentiation of Old Slavic period was the theme, or the subject, to whom it was dedicated. That, on one side, was leading to unclearly distinguished genres. The literary (structural-composition) signs of the genre at its demarcation had no great importance. Their existence and endurance in the Old Slavic period greatly depended upon their exercise in practical life, which does not match the modern definition of genre. Because of that, genres in the medieval period are defined as reflections of the way of living, of every day life and habits2F. The appearance or disappearance of certain genres was a process that was connected with the objective necessity of the medieval feudal state and the social estate, the social order, as well as the functions defined for literature to accomplish. The social and political conditions characteristic for the feudal social order were an important factor also in the process of defining the forms, contents and the direction in the development of the Macedonian historiography. The tempos and the specifics of this social process, also define the hierarchy order of certain literature genres.
The genres also differ by their use in the spheres of the church and worldly social life. So, the general differentiation is present in the medieval literary of the spiritual (church) and the worldly (profane). The official Old Slavic literary developed exactly out of these two genre-theme directions: in the spiritual-religious, liturgical and worldly course3F. So, for example, according to its own function, the writs were spoken in the church, the hagiography were read on different occasions, and were closely connected with church masses and monastery rules. The development of the worldly genres was also submitted to the practical, working necessities of the society. Under the influence of the official copy different kinds of writings, letters and epistles appear; further, different kinds of travelogue genres (“hozdenie”) emerge, as well as different kinds of acts of the state government and so on. But, also the church, for her needs, introduces the practice of writing annals and chronologies, records and letters of non-religious nature.
The genres did not appear suddenly by the will of their author, but they were happening according to the requests of the ones who made their orders – the church or the official worldly governments (rules, aristocrats), and were used to a certain address. Every genre has its own tradition, elaborated physiognomy of the author, writer or performer. In the medieval period the genres reflected a collective view of the world, collective feelings. One’s own physiognomy as a performer had the hagiography genre, quite different from the physiognomy of the authors of chronological compositions, historical sermons and so on.
The artistic idea of the work did not tend to reveal the individuality of the author. The traditional physiognomy of the author, as well as the traditional artistic expression, guided the reader or the listener into a certain direction. On the one side that marked the absence of an unexpected character, an unexpected style procedure, leading to stereotyping, but on the other side the reader, or the listener, had a clear vision of where the narration was going. For that reason, extensive titles appeared, explaining the subject of the narration within the framework of a tradition very well known to the readers. These kinds of titles, used in the headlines of some works: hagiography, writs, sermon, epistles, story etc. gave a certain orientation in the Old Slavic genre system. But, in a lot of cases it is hard to figure out to what level a certain title have the characteristics of a genre. In some cases, a connection with few genre traits in the name of the work were made: “story and sermon”, “hagiography and deeds and hozdenie”, “historiography and writings” and so on, which tells us not only about the doubts of the writer what sign to choose to define the work, but that this kind of connection sometimes was a result of the old literary works that encompassed several genres. Through the fate of a great deal of titles of Old Slavic genres, the process of marking the subject of narration can be followed. This process gradually developed all of these literary features with which that subject was connected in accordance to the medieval literary labeling, and after that it was transformed into genre marks in the real sense of the word4F. Because of that, three classifying principles used in the literary compositions were determined: structural and compositional, functional and thematic5F. Their essence is closely related to their division in type and context.
The development of the genres system in the Middle Ages advanced also under the influence of the blooming ritual, and ceremony of literature depending upon the increased intellectual interests of the medieval authors and readers. Representatives of the ruling feudal class also stepped forward with their own requests for the writers who were creating the literary process. That served as a practical incentive in the process of formation of new genre forms. Genre in old literature is not only defined as a literary concept, but also as concept beyond the field of literature connected to a certain use in church and political life. Social movements and ideas influence literature at all times, however the change of style touches every genre differently. The literary genres in old literature in a significantly greater extent are related to certain types and styles unlike modern genres. So, there was uniqueness in style of festival letters, chronicles, chronographic texts, etc., even though on the borders of each genre individual features of specific literary development can be noticed. A different relation in the treatment of the artistic time in narrative literature and in the chronologies might be noticed, even a different relation on the borders of every genre towards solving certain questions connected with the medieval philosophy and views of life6F. The constant connection of literary and non-literary creations facilitated the development of the literature. This connection and conflict of the two tendencies as a characteristic can be seen in the formation process and in the further development of the historical-chronological genre.
The medieval historical compositions, chronicles and annals, have a typical medieval form derived from their literary character. That is why we don’t regard them as scientific works. The basics of medieval chronicles and annals consist of various materials: written testimonies with a historical and literary character, legendary short stories, folklore traditions, personal impressions, etc. This kind of content emphasises their historical, and at the same time, literary character. Beside the tendency of the documentary in presentation, chroniclers create works as incomplete historical documents because they find themselves under the influence of certain religious and political believes, so they follow the events judging subjectively with their own comment. The authors of the literary-historic works in the medieval period did not undertake scientific analysis of the reasons and consequences stipulating active reality and the course of events. They used familiar actions of narrative literature – descriptions, dialogues, comparison etc., and they used to fall under the strong emotional forms, thus reducing the objective grade of the actions. That is why we say that in the medieval period historical stories with literature value were actually created and not real scientific works. This period does not note any formed scientific-historiography opinion. The formed historical-chronicle compositions and chronicles, as a medieval genre, were changing in accordance with the development of historiography as a social realization and of artistic literature in general.
In the early period of development of historical ideas, the historiografic works were perceived with only the first elements of historical performances expressed through individual reproduction of certain events. Because of that, only by theoretically deliberated internal relations between the events, that forms the scattered facts in a realistic system of active relations, followed from the knowledge of certain historical facts towards the active erudition of history, while the historical knowledge are transformed into historical science7f. Because historical works in the medieval period reflected the testimonies of the events, and by the mediation of the author’s interpretation the spirit of the epoch was represented, at the same time they fulfilled the function of historical sources and historiografic monuments.
1. D.S. Lihacov, Poetics of Old Russian literature (translated by D. Bogdanovik), Belgrade 1972, pg.51.
2. D.S. Lihacov, Poetics…, pg.60.
3. Katica Kulafkova, The continuity of the Macedonian literary history – (some literary– historical and theoretical-methodical confrontations), Literary context, 1, Skopje 1995, pg.36.
4. D.S. Lihacov, Poetics… , pg. 55-56.
5. Krasimir Stancev, Styles and genres of Old Bulgarian Literature, Sofia 1985, pg. 58.
6. D.S. Lihacov, Poetics… , pg. 69-70.
7. Milijana Kaimakova, Bulgarian medieval historiography, Sofia 1990, pg. 12.