Encyclopedic Dictionary of Brockhaus and Efron


July 6, 2022

"The Encyclopedic Dictionary of Brockhaus and Efron" (abbr.: ESBE) is a universal encyclopedia in Russian, published in the Russian Empire by the joint-stock publishing company "F. A. Brockhaus - I. A. Efron ”(Petersburg) in 1890-1907. The publication was published in two versions - 41 volumes and 2 additional ones (a smaller part of the circulation) and in semi-volumes - 82 and 4 additional ones. Semi-volumes have double numbering - for example, semi-volumes 49 and 50 (numbers on the spine) on the title pages are numbered XXV and XXVa. The first 8 semi-volumes were published under the editorship of I. E. Andreevsky, the rest - under the editorship of K. K. Arseniev and F. F. Petrushevsky. The encyclopedia contains 121,240 entries, 7800 illustrations and 235 maps. In 1899-1902, the Small Encyclopedic Dictionary of Brockhaus and Efron (MESBE) was published (in 3 volumes); in 1907-1909 its second edition was published in 4 volumes. In 1911-1916, the New Encyclopedic Dictionary (NES) was published (29 volumes out of the planned 48 were published, the last article was Otto). ESBE materials are in the public domain.

History of creation

In 1889, the owner of one of the St. Petersburg printing houses, Ilya Abramovich Efron, on the initiative of Semyon Afanasyevich Vengerov, entered into an agreement with the German publishing house F. A. Brockhaus for the translation into Russian of the large encyclopedic dictionary Konversations-Lexikon, published by the same publishing house. Initially it was supposed to be limited to the translation of this edition, but only with a more detailed presentation of issues relating to Russia. It was supposed to release only 16-18 volumes. The first eight volumes (up to the letter "B"), published under the general editorship of Professor Ivan Efimovich Andreevsky, were an almost literal translation with a little adaptation for the Russian reader. These volumes caused a lot of complaints about the quality of the translation, and the general management of the publication also left much to be desired. Thus, the journal Severny Vestnik noted: “There are too many significant shortcomings. Too little effort, too little love, and, strangest of all, not enough impressive editing, both literary and purely scientific! (1890. No. 4. - P. 76-77), and the journal Historical Bulletin added to this that the Encyclopedic Dictionary was “carelessly and unsatisfactorily compiled. The very language of the articles is heavy and sometimes incorrect. Translation is immediately visible