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Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin

Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin

born on 26/5/1799 in Moscow, Russian Federation

died on 29/1/1837 in St. Petersburg, Russian Federation

Alexander Pushkin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin

Alexander Pushkin by Vasily Tropinin
Born June 6 1799
Moscow, Russian Empire
Died 10 February 1837 (aged 37)
Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire
Occupation Poet, novelist, playwright
Influences Nikolai Karamzin, Denis Fonvizin, Lord Byron, Konstantin Batyushkov, Vasily Zhukovsky, André Chénier, Évariste de Parny
Influenced Nikolai Gogol, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Ivan Turgenev, Mikhail Lermontov, Maxim Gorky, Henry James, Alexander Blok, Boris Pasternak, Anna Akhmatova, Osip Mandelstam, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Marina Tsvetaeva, Vladimir Nabokov, Stanislavski, abdulla Tuqay

Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin ( , Russian pronunciation: [lksandr srejvt pukn]) (6 June [O.S. 26 May] 1799 10 February [O.S. 29 January] 1837) was a Russian author of the Romantic era[1] who is considered by many to be the greatest Russian poet[2][3][4][5] and the founder of modern Russian literature.[6][7] Pushkin pioneered the use of vernacular speech in his poems and plays, creating a style of storytellingmixing drama, romance, and satireassociated with Russian literature ever since and greatly influencing later Russian writers. He also wrote historical fiction. His The Captain's Daughter provides insight into Russia during the reign of Catherine the Great.

Born in Moscow, Russia, Pushkin published his first poem at the age of fifteen, and was widely recognized by the literary establishment by the time of his graduation from the Imperial Lyceum in Tsarskoye Selo. Pushkin gradually became committed to social reform and emerged as a spokesman for literary radicals; in the early 1820s he clashed with the government, which sent him into exile in southern Russia. While under the strict surveillance of government censors and unable to travel or publish at will, he wrote his most famous play, the drama Boris Godunov, but could not publish it until years later. His novel in verse, Eugene Onegin, was published serially from 1825 to 1832. Due to his political views and influence on generations of Russian rebels, Pushkin was portrayed by Bolsheviks as an opponent to bourgeois literature and culture and a predecessor of Soviet literature and poetry.[7] In 1937, the town of Tsarskoe Selo was renamed Pushkin in his honour.

Life and career

Pushkin's father Sergei Lvovich Pushkin (1767-1848) descended from a distinguished family of the Russian nobility which traced its ancestry back to the 12th century.[8][9] Pushkin's mother Nadezhda (Nadja) Ossipovna Gannibal (1775-1836) descended through her paternal grandmother from German, Scandinavian nobility.[10][11] She was the daughter of Ossip Abramovich Gannibal (1744-1807) and his wife Maria Aleksejevna Pushkina (1745-1818). Ossip Abramovich Gannibal's father, Pushkin's great-grandfather, was Abram Petrovich Gannibal (1696-1781), a black page raised by Peter the Great. The only known fact was that he himself wrote in a letter to Empress Elizabeth, Peter the Great's daughter, that he was from the town of "Lagon." Russian biographers concluded from the beginning that Lagon was in Ethiopia, a country with Christian associations. Vladimir Nabokov, researching Eugene Onegin, cast serious doubt on the Ethiopian angle. Dieudonné Gnammankou outlined the strong case in 1995 that "Lagon" was a town located on the southern side of Lake Chad, now located in northern Cameroon. There is no conclusive evidence.[8][9][11][12][13][14] After education in France as a military engineer, Abram Gannibal became governor of Reval and eventually General-en-Chef for the building of sea forts and canals in Russia.

Born in Moscow, Pushkin published his first poem at the age of fifteen. By the time he finished as part of the first graduating class of the prestigious Imperial Lyceum in Tsarskoe Selo near Saint Petersburg, the Russian literary scene recognized his talent widely. After finishing school, Pushkin installed himself in the vibrant and raucous intellectual youth culture of the capital, Saint Petersburg. In 1820 he published his first long poem, Ruslan and Lyudmila, amidst much controversy about its subject and style.

Pushkin gradually became committed to social reform and emerged as a spokesman for literary radicals. This angered the government, and led to his transfer from the capital (1820). He went to the Caucasus and to the Crimea, then to Kamenka and Chiinu, where he became a Freemason. Here he joined the Filiki Eteria, a secret organization whose purpose was to overthrow the Ottoman rule over Greece and establish an independent Greek state. He was inspired by the Greek Revolution and when the war against the Ottoman Turks broke out he kept a diary with the events of the great national uprising. He stayed in Chiinu until 1823 and wrote there two Romantic poems which brought him wide acclaim, The Captive of the Caucasus and The Fountain of Bakhchisaray. In 1823 Pushkin moved to Odessa, where he again clashed with the government, which sent him into exile at his mother's rural estate in Mikhailovskoe (near Pskov) from 1824 to 1826.[15] However, some of the authorities allowed him to visit Tsar Nicholas I to petition for his release, which he obtained. But some of the insurgents in the Decembrist Uprising (1825) in Saint Petersburg had kept some of his early political poems amongst their papers, and soon Pushkin found himself under the strict control of government censors and unable to travel or publish at will. He had written what became his most famous play, the drama Boris Godunov, while at his mother's estate but could not gain permission to publish it until five years later. The drama's original, uncensored version would not receive a premiere until 2007.

In the year 1831, during the days of Pushkin's growing literary influence, he met one of Russia's other greatest early writers, Nikolai Gogol. After reading Gogol's 18312 volume of short stories Evenings on a Farm near Dikanka, Pushkin would support him critically and later in 1836 after starting his magazine, The Contemporary, would feature some of Gogol's most famous short stories. Later, Pushkin and his wife Natalya Goncharova, whom he married in 1831, became regulars of court society. When the Tsar gave Pushkin the lowest court title, the poet became enraged: he felt this occurred not only so that his wife, who had many admirersincluding the Tsar himselfcould properly attend court balls, but also to humiliate him. In 1837, falling into greater and greater debt amidst rumors that his wife had started conducting a scandalous affair, Pushkin challenged her alleged lover, his brother in-law Georges d'Anthès, to a duel which left both men injured, Pushkin mortally. He died two days later. His last home is a museum now.

The government feared a political demonstration at his funeral, which it moved to a smaller location and made open only to close relatives and friends. His body was spirited away secretly at midnight and buried on his mother's estate.

Pushkin descendants

Pushkin had four children from his marriage to Natalya: Maria (b. 1832, touted as a prototype of Anna Karenina), Alexander (b. 1833), Grigory (b. 1835), and Natalya (b. 1836) the last of whom married, morganatically, into the royal house of Nassau to Nikolaus Wilhelm of Nassau and became the Countess of Merenberg. Of Pushkin's children only the lines of Alexander and Natalia continue. Natalia married Prince Nikolaus Wilhelm of Nassau, and their grand-daughter, Nadejda, married into the British royal family.[16] The descendants of the poet now live around the globe: in England, Germany and Belgium. About fifty of them live in Russia, including Tatiana Lucas, whose great-grandmother (grand-daughter of Pushkin) was married to the nephew of Nikolai Gogol. Ms. Lucas currently lives in Klin.

Literary legacy

Critics consider many of his works masterpieces, such as the poem The Bronze Horseman and the drama The Stone Guest, a tale of the fall of Don Juan. His poetic short drama "Mozart and Salieri" was the inspiration for Peter Shaffer's Amadeus. Pushkin himself preferred his verse novel Eugene Onegin, which he wrote over the course of his life and which, starting a tradition of great Russian novels, follows a few central characters but varies widely in tone and focus. "Onegin" is a work of such complexity that, while only about a hundred pages long, translator Vladimir Nabokov needed two full volumes of material to fully render its meaning in English. Because of this difficulty in translation, Pushkin's verse remains largely unknown to English readers. Even so, Pushkin has profoundly influenced western writers like Henry James.[17]

Pushkin's works also provided fertile ground for Russian composers. Glinka's Ruslan and Lyudmila is the earliest important Pushkin-inspired opera, and a landmark in the tradition of Russian music. Tchaikovsky's operas Eugene Onegin (1879) and The Queen of Spades (1890) became perhaps better known outside of Russia than Pushkin's own works of the same name, while Mussorgsky's monumental Boris Godunov (two versions, 1868-9 and 1871-2) ranks as one of the very finest and most original of Russian operas. Other Russian operas based on Pushkin include Dargomyzhsky's Rusalka and The Stone Guest; Rimsky-Korsakov's Mozart and Salieri, Tale of Tsar Saltan, and The Golden Cockerel; Cui's Prisoner of the Caucasus, Feast in Time of Plague, and The Captain's Daughter; Tchaikovsky's Mazeppa; Rachmaninov's one-act operas Aleko (based on The Gypsies) and The Miserly Knight; Stravinsky's Mavra, and Nápravník's Dubrovsky. This is not to mention ballets and cantatas, as well as innumerable songs set to Pushkin's verse. Suppé, Leoncavallo and Malipiero, among non-Russian composers, have based operas on his works.[18]


Although Pushkin is considered the central representative of The Age of Romanticism in Russian literature, he can't be labelled unequivocally as a Romantic: Russian critics have traditionally argued that his works represent a path from neo-Classicism through Romanticism to Realism, while an alternative assessment suggests that "he had an ability to entertain contrarities which may seem Romantic in origin, but is ultimately subversive of all fixed points of view, all single outlooks, including the Romantic" and that "he is simultaneously Romantic and not Romantic".[1]

Influence on the Russian language

Alexander Pushkin is usually credited with developing Russian literature. Not only is he seen as having originated the highly nuanced level of language which characterizes Russian literature after him, but he is also credited with substantially augmenting the Russian lexicon. Where he found gaps in the Russian vocabulary, he devised calques. His rich vocabulary and highly sensitive style are the foundation for modern Russian literature. His talent set up new records for development of the Russian language and culture. He became the father of Russian literature in the 19th century, marking the highest achievements of 18th century and the beginning of literary process of the 19th century. Alexander Pushkin introduced Russia to all the European literary genres as well as a great number of West European writers. He brought natural speech and foreign influences to create modern poetic Russian. Though his life was brief, he left examples of nearly every literary genre of his day: lyric poetry, narrative poetry, the novel, the short story, the drama, the critical essay, and even the personal letter. Pushkin's work as a journalist marked the birth of the Russian magazine culture, including him devising and contributing heavily to one of the most influential literary magazines of the 19th century, the Sovremennik (The Contemporary, or ). From him derive the folk tales and genre pieces of other authors: Esenin, Leskov and Gorky. His use of Russian language formed the basis of the style of novelists Ivan Turgenev, Ivan Goncharov, and Leo Tolstoy. Pushkin was recognized by Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol, his successor and pupil, the great Russian critic Vissarion Grigoryevich Belinsky, who produced the fullest and deepest critical study of Pushkin's work, which still retains much of its relevance. Alexander Pushkin became an inseparable part of the literary world of the Russian people. He also exerted a profound influence on other aspects of Russian culture, most notably in opera. Translated into all the major languages, his works are regarded both as expressing most completely Russian national consciousness and as transcending national barriers. Pushkin's intelligence, sharpness of his opinion, his devotion to poetry, realistic thinking and incredible historical and political intuition make him one of the greatest Russian national genii.

The secret journal

In 1986, a book entitled Secret Journal 1836-1837 was published by a Minneapolis publishing house (M.I.P. Company), claiming to be the decoded content of an encrypted private journal kept by Pushkin. Promoted with few details about its contents, and touted for many years as being 'banned in Russia', it was an erotic novel narrated from Pushkin's perspective. Some mail-order publishers still carry the work under its fictional description. In 2001 it was first published in Moscow by Ladomir Publishing House which created a scandal. In 2006 a bilingual Russian-English edition was published in Russia by Retro Publishing House. Now published in 24 countries. Staged in Paris in 2006.[19] In 2011 new editions published in France by Belfond [20] and in the USA by M.I.P. Company.[19]


  • The Pushkin Trust was established in 1987 by the Duchess of Abercorn to commemorate the creative legacy and spirit of her ancestor Alexander Pushkin and to release the creativity and imagination of the children of Ireland by providing them with opportunities to communicate their thoughts, feelings and experiences.
  • A minor planet, 2208 Pushkin, discovered in 1977 by Soviet astronomer Nikolai Stepanovich Chernykh is named after him.[21] A crater on Mercury is also named in his honour.
  • MS Alexandr Pushkin second ship of the Russian Ivan Franko class (also referred to as "poet" or "writer" class).


List of works

Narrative Poems

  • 1820  Ruslan i Lyudmila ( ); English translation: Ruslan and Ludmila
  • 182021  Kavkazskiy plennik ( ); English translation: The Prisoner of the Caucasus
  • 1821 Gavriiliada () ; English translation: The Gabrieliad
  • 182122  Bratya razboyniki ( ); English translation: The Robber Brothers
  • 1823  Bakhchisaraysky fontan ( ); English translation: The Fountain of Bakhchisaray
  • 1824  Tsygany (); English translation: The Gypsies
  • 1825  Graf Nulin ( ); English translation: Count Nulin
  • 1829  Poltava (); English translation: Poltava
  • 1830  Domik v Kolomne ( ); English translation: The Little House in Kolomna
  • 1833 Andjelo (); English translation: Angelo
  • 1833  Medny vsadnik ( ); English translation: The Bronze Horseman

Verse novel

  • 182532  Yevgeny Onegin ( ); English translation: Eugene Onegin


  • 1825  Boris Godunov ( ); English translation: Boris Godunov
  • 1830  Malenkie tragedii ( ); English translation: The Little Tragedies
    • Kamenny gost ( ); English translation: The Stone Guest
    • Motsart i Salyeri ( ); English translation: Mozart and Salieri
    • Skupoy rytsar ( ); English translations: The Miserly Knight, The Covetous Knight
    • Pir vo vremya chumy ( ); English translation: A Feast in Time of Plague


  • 1831  Povesti pokoynogo Ivana Petrovicha Belkina ( ); English translation: The Tales of the Late Ivan Petrovich Belkin
    • Vystrel (); English translation: The Shot, short story
    • Metel (); English translation: The Blizzard, short story
    • Grobovschik (); English translation: The Undertaker, short story
    • Stanzionny smotritel ( ); English translation: The Stationmaster, short story
    • Baryshnya-krestyanka (-); English translation: The Squire's Daughter, short story
  • 1834 Pikovaya dama ( ); English translation: The Queen of Spades, short story
  • 1834 Kirdzhali (); English translation: Kirdzhali, short story
  • 1834 Istoriya Pugacheva ( ); English translation: A History of Pugachev, study of the Pugachev's Rebellion
  • 1836 Kapitanskaya dochka ( ); English translation: The Captain's Daughter, novel
  • 1836 Puteshestvie v Arzrum ( ); English translation: A Journey to Arzrum, travel sketches
  • 1836 Roslavlev (); English translation: Roslavlev, unfinished novel
  • 1837 Arap Petra Velikogo ( ); English translation: Peter the Great's Negro, unfinished novel
  • 1837 Istoriya sela Goryuhina ( ); English translation: The Story of the Village of Goryukhino, unfinished short story
  • 1837 Yegipetskie nochi ( ); English translation: Egyptian Nights, unfinished short story
  • 1841 Dubrovsky (); English translation: Dubrovsky, unfinished novel

Fairy Tales in verse

  • 1830 ; English translation: The Tale of the Priest and of His Workman Balda
  • 1830 ; English translation: The Tale of the Female Bear (was not finished)
  • 1831 ; English translation: The Tale of Tsar Saltan
  • 1833 ; English translation: The Tale of the Fisherman and the Fish
  • 1833 ; English translation: The Tale of the Dead Princess
  • 1834 ; English translation: The Tale of the Golden Cockerel

See also

  • Anton Delvig
  • Anna Petrovna Kern
  • Fyodor Petrovich Tolstoy
  • Literaturnaya Gazeta
  • Pushkin Prize
  • Skazka
  • Vasily Pushkin
  • Vladimir Dal


  1. 1.0 1.1 Basker, Michael. Pushkin and Romanticism. In Ferber, Michael, ed., A Companion to European Romanticism. Oxford: Blackwell, 2005.
  2. Short biography from University of Virginia, retrieved on 24 November 2006.
  3. Allan Reid, "Russia's Greatest Poet/Scoundrel", retrieved on 2 September 2006.
  4. "Pushkin fever sweeps Russia". BBC News, 5 June 1999, Retrieved 1 September 2006.
  5. "Biographer wins rich book price". BBC News, 10 June 2003, Retrieved 1 September 2006.
  6. Biography of Pushkin at the Russian Literary Institute "Pushkin House". Retrieved 1 September 2006.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Maxim Gorky, "Pushkin, An Appraisal". Retrieved 1 September 2006.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Aleksander Sergeevich Pushkin's descendants at. Retrieved on 2 March 2010.
  9. 9.0 9.1 . . [N. K. Teletova] (2007).
  10. [Lihaug], . . [E. G.] (November 2006). " . . : () [Ancestors of A. S. Pushkin in Germany and Scandinavia: Descent of Christina Regina Siöberg (Hannibal) from Claus von Grabow zu Grabow]". [Genealogical Herald].- [Saint Petersburg] 27: 3138.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Lihaug, Elin Galtung (2007). "Aus Brandenburg nach Skandinavien, dem Baltikum und Rußland. Eine Abstammungslinie von Claus von Grabow bis Alexander Sergejewitsch Puschkin 1581-1837". Archiv für Familiengeschichtsforschung 11: 3246.
  12. Works of Alexander Pushkin By Alexander Pushkin
  13. Dieudonné Gnammankou, Abraham Hanibal  l'aïeul noir de Pouchkine, Présence Africaine Éditions, Paris 1996. ISBN 2-7087-0609-8.
  14. "Of African Princes and Russian Poets". The New York Times.
  15. Images of Pushkin in the works of the black "pilgrims". Ahern, Kathleen M. The Mississippi Quarterly. Pg. 75(11) Vol. 55 No. 1 ISSN: 0026-637X. 22 December 2001.
  16. PBS
  17. Joseph S. O'Leary, Pushkin in 'The Aspern Papers' , the Henry James E-Journal Number 2, March 2000, retrieved on 24 November 2006.
  18. Taruskin R. Pushkin in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera. London & New York, Macmillan, 1997.
  19. 19.0 19.1
  21. Schmadel, Lutz D. (2003). Dictionary of Minor Planet Names, 5th, New York: Springer Verlag.

Further reading

  • Binyon, T. J. (2002) Pushkin: A Biography. London: HarperCollins ISBN 0-00-215084-0; US edition: New York: Knopf, 2003 ISBN 1-4000-4110-4
  • Yuri Druzhnikov (2008) Prisoner of Russia: Alexander Pushkin and the Political Uses of Nationalism, Transaction Publishers ISBN 1-56000-390-1
  • Dunning, Chester, Emerson, Caryl, Fomichev, Sergei, Lotman, Lidiia, Wood, Antony (Translator) ( 2006) The Uncensored Boris Godunov: The Case for Pushkin's Original Comedy University of Wisconsin Press ISBN 0-299-20760-9
  • Feinstein, Elaine (ed.) (1999) After Pushkin: versions of the poems of Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin by contemporary poets. Manchester: Carcanet Press; London: Folio Society ISBN 1-85754-444-7
  • Pogadaev, Victor (2003) Penyair Agung Rusia Pushkin dan Dunia Timur (The Great Russian Poet Pushkin and the Oriental World). Monograph Series. Centre For Civilisational Dialogue. University Malaya. 2003, ISBN 983-3070-06-X
  • Vitale, Serena (1998) Pushkin's button; transl. from the Italian by Ann Goldstein. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux ISBN 1-85702-937-2
  • , . . (Teletova, N. K.) (2007) .. (The forgotten family connections of A. S. Pushkin). Saint Petersburg: Dorn OCLC 214284063
  • Wolfe, Markus (1998) Freemasonry in life and literature. Munich: Otto Sagner ltd. ISBN 3-87690-692-X
  • Wachtel, Michael. "Pushkin and the Wikipedia" Pushkin Review 12-13: 163-66, 2009-2010

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