GIL’FERDING, Aleksandr Fedorovič (Alexander Hilferding). Warsaw 2.7.1831 — Kargopol, Arhangelsk oblast 20.7.1872. Russian Historian, Slavic Linguist and Folklorist interested in Sanskrit, a Slavophil. Public servant. Son of Fëdor Ivanovič G., a civil servant, and Amalija Jakovlevna Vitte, ancestors came from Germany in the early 18th century. Educated at home by his father, who was heading the office of the governor of Poland, later also by a tutor. Learned classical, European and Slavic languages. From 1852 studied at Moscow University, mainly under Slavist V. I. Grigor’evič. Like his father he mixed with Slavophils and came under influence of —> Homjakov, who advised him to study Sanskrit. Presented his mag. dissertation in 1853 and joined the Foreign Ministry. From 1856 consul in Bosnia. In 1861 moved to state secretariate. After Polish revolt of 1863 he participated in the rearrangement of administration. Then in the Commission of popular education. From 1867 President of the St.Petersburg branch of the new Slavic Commission of charity, soon also President of the Ethnographic Division of Imperial Geographic Society. Travelled in Olonec government collecting Bylinas. In 1872 started new field trip but caught cold and died soon. During his last years prepared a great historical work, Istorija slavjan. Married Varvara Frantsevna.
His comparison of Sanskrit and Slavic was reviewed very harshly by Schleicher in Btr. z. vgl. Spr. 1, 1858, 265f. Now best remembered for his Slovincian studies.
Publications: Manuscript Kratkij očerk’ istorii slavjanskih narodov v IX i X v. c. 1850.
– Mag.diss. Ob otnošenijah jazyka slavjanskago k drugim rodstvennym. 1853.
– O srodstve jazyka slavjanskago s sanskritskim. 6+288 p. Izv. II-go otd. Akad. nauk. St.P. 1853.
– Bosnija, Gercegovina i Staraja Serbija. 9+694 p. St.P. 1859; Les slaves occidentaux. 104 p. Paris 1858; Onežskija byliny. 732 p. St.P. 1873.
– Further books and articles on Slavic linguistics and history.
– Sočinenija. 1-4. 1868-74 (some philological works left out).
Sources: K. B.-P., Ènciklop. Slovar’ 8, 1893, 685; (*)P. Lavrov, Russkij biogr. slovar’ 5, 195-204; Wikipedia with photo (uncritical and with no biography; more in French and especially in Russian version, with further references).
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