Off topic: New English-language biography of Pushkin
Thread poster: GaryG

GaryG  Identity Verified
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Nov 17, 2003

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sergey (X)
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Russian to English
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Does 'Washington Post' always read like a tabloid? Nov 17, 2003

"We [Russians] have no literature," says the critic Vissarion Belinsky in the same play, "because what we have isn't ours. It's like a party where everyone has to come dressed up as something else - Byron, Voltaire, Goethe, Schiller and the rest . . . but we have produced Pushkin."

..... Byron, whom he idolised for a time, and Walter Scott, whose narrative drive he imitated. But he surpassed them, or rather he used them as pots of paint to mix into a canvas that was immensely rich, in the variety of the forms in which he wrote - poetry, novels, short stories, history and journalism - and in the intensity of the feeling and the collision of styles that burst out of most of his writings....

... the insatiable lover of women who died in defence of his wife's honour...

He was never a Russian patriot in the Slavophile sense, though he made enough jokes at the expense of Russian intellectuals who aped Western manners and swallowed Western doctrines whole that he could be passed off as one in retrospect.

He was courageous: the final duel was not his first. He could be generous, was tremendously entertaining, seemed to have little self-pity and helped his family, in particular his spendthrift brother, as he could.

He is not much read in the west. Nor are Byron and Scott - but neither of these stand in the same relation to their national literature as Pushkin does to his. If he wrote quickly, he wrote relatively little: and for many of us, the most accessible of his works are the Tchaikovsky operas, Evgeny Onegin and The Queen of Spades - the latter one of his best stories which, like the even better Bronze Horseman, has more than a little anticipation of Edgar Allen Poe in it.


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New English-language biography of Pushkin

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