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A. Voznesensky

16th-17th Century ABC Books, Grammars and Dictionaries

Ivan Fedorov's Primers

The first edition of a book in Cyrillic for teaching reading was published in 1561 in Tubingen at Primus Truber's printing press, where, at that time, the Protestants printed books in Glagolitic and Cyrillic fonts for the South Slavs for missionary purposes. Howerver, although, printers announced the issued books as ABC-darians, elementary texts occupied only a small part in them; the main place was given to the catechetical texts. It is interesting that exactly the same textbook in Glagolitic script was printed in the same place and in the same year.

The first Primer for the Eastern Slavs was published by Ivan Fedorov in 1574 in Lviv (No. 5).

Primer. Lviv, 1574. Fol. [1]<sub>5</sub>.<BR> Two copies of the book are known to have survived (stored in the libraries of England and USA). Reproduced from the facsimile edition: Ivan Fedorov. Primer / Preparation of the edition and postface by G.V. Karpuk. Moscow, 1574.
According to the printing pioneer, he himself, shortened traditional school texts "a little" and thus "abridged" the book (No. 6). During the rest of his life, Ivan Fedorov issued another two ABC books, but he did it already in Ostrog, a city in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. There, he reprinted the Primer of Lviv and substantially expanded it, adding to it the Legend on how St. Cyril the Philosopher compiled the Slavonic ABC - an essay demonstrating the merits of the Slavonic language, and its equality with the three biblical languages (No. 7). The ABC of Ostrog became the model for a number of later editions, including publications made by the Moscow printer Vasily Burtsov.

Another Ostrog publication undertakrn by Ivan Fedorov was very unusual; in 1578 he printed the primer for the Greek language learners (No. 8). In comparison with the Slavonic Primer, it was notably abridged edition; besides the Greek alphabet, it contained only the main prayers in Greek with its translation into Church Slavonic. The publisher's information bears one very important remark that explains the purpose for which the book was printed by Ivan Fedorov: he said that the need for the publication was caused by the establishment of a school for children in Ostrog.