Alexander Pushkin

Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin (June 6 (May 26, O.S.), 1799 - February 10 (January 29, O.S.), 1837), Russian author, is considered by many to be the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. Pushkin pioneered the use of vernacular speech in his poems and plays, creating a style of storytelling which mixed drama, romance and satire that has been associated with Russian literature ever since and greatly influenced later Russian writers.

Pushkin's father was a descendant of one of the Russian gentry's oldest families who traced their history 600 years back, while his mother was the grand-daughter of Ibrahim Petrovich Gannibal, a slave from Abyssinia (Ethiopia) who was sent as a gift from Constaninople and became the adopted godchild and Engineer-General of Peter the Great. Born in Moscow, Pushkin published his first poem at fifteen. By the time he finished as part of the first graduating class of the prestigious Imperial Lyceum in Tsarskoe Selo, his talent was widely recognized within the Russian literary scene. After finishing school, Pushkin installed himself in the vibrant and raucous intellectual youth culture of the capital, St. Petersburg.

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, first to Kishinev in 1820, where from then until 1823 he wrote two poems which brought him wide acclaim, The Captive of the Caucasus and The Fountain of Bakhchisaray., and later, in 1823, to Odessa, where he again clashed with the government who sent him into exile at his mother's rural estate in north Russia from 1824 to 1826. However, he was allowed to visit Tsar Nicholas I to petition for his release, which was granted. But his early political poems had been found among the insurgents in the Decembrist Uprising in St. Petersburg, and soon Pushkin found himself under the strict control of government censors and unable to travel or publish at will. He had written what was to be his most famous play, the drama Boris Godunov, while at his mother's estate, but was not allowed to publish it until five years later.

Later, Pushkin and his wife Natalya Goncharova, whom he married in 1831, became regulars of court society. When Pushkin was given an honorary title by the Tsar, he became enraged, feeling this was done simply so that his wife, who had many admirers including the Tsar himself could properly attend court balls. In 1837, falling into greater and greater debt while his wife was having a scandalous affair, Pushkin challenged her lover to a duel which left both men injured, Pushkin mortally. He died two days later. The government feared a political demonstration at his funeral, which was moved to a smaller location and made open only to high society members. His body was spirited away secretly at midnight and buried at his mother's estate.

Pushkin was influenced by the satire of Voltaire and by the tragedies of Shakespeare, and 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. Pushkin's own favorite was 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.

Perhaps because of his political influence on generations of Russian rebels, Pushkin was one of only a few Russian pre-Revolutionary writers who escaped condemnation by the Bolsheviks during their attacks on bourgeois literature and culture and indeed they re-named Tsarskoe Selo after him.

Pushkin's works also provided fertile ground for Russian composers. Tchaikovsky's opera Eugene Onegin (1879) is perhaps better known outside of Russia than Pushkin's own work of the same name, while Mussorgsky's monumental Boris Godunov (1874) is considered one of the very finest and most original of Russian operas.

  • The Captive of the Caucasus
  • The Fountain of Bakhchisaray
  • Boris Godunov
  • The Tale of Tsar Saltan (1831)
  • The Bronze Horseman
  • The Stone Guest
  • Eugene Onegin

This biography was taken verbatim from the Wikipedia. We're providing a snapshot just in case the Wikipedia servers were temporarily unreacheable. The original page is not only much more up-to-date, it also features links to other pages and sites. This snapshot was last updated: 09/09/2004. (mm/dd/yyyy)

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