Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin
Alexander Pushkin is as well known to the world of canonised literature as are the authors Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Leo Tolstoy.
Given the significance and scope of his genius, Pushkin made an exceptional contribution to world culture.
Within twenty-five years of literary output, Pushkin had broken with established literary conventions and fully developed 'Russian Realism', reflecting in his works the inexhaustible multiplicity of life.
Pushkin is known as the greatest single influence on the subsequent development of Russian literature and culture as a whole.
He completed the great work begun by Mikhail Lomonosov and continued by Nikolai Karamzin - the work of creating a Russian national literary language.
Contrary to what one might expect, the fact that Pushkin as a child knew French better than Russian benefited him greatly once he began to write in Russian.
He was meticulous in the use of his native tongue and carefully considered the choice of each word, regarding it critically.
The poet carefully studied both the poetic and the vernacular. At the same time, he showed interest in provincial and local dialects and peculiarities of speech.
A profound artist, Pushkin combined a veracity of feeling with the coherence of reason, and with the power of his genius he soon surpassed all other poets.
The honoured poet Vasily Zhukovsky gave his portrait to the young Pushkin with the inscription: "To the victorious pupil from his defeated master."
But while Pushkin's literary career was successful, his personal life wasn't very happy.
The poet was born in 1799 into an aristocratic family of little means, and suffered his whole life from lack of money - as literary work allowed him to earn only a precarious living.
Along with being the descendant of an ancient boyar line, Pushkin was the great-grandson of the Abyssinian Abraham Gannibal - a military leader in the time of Peter the Great.
Pushkin's talent was awakened early inspired by the burst of patriotism following the victory over Napoleon.
The young poet quickly rose to fame, however, his freedom-loving lyrics and witty epigrams became a nuisance to the government.
Particularly irritating for Emperor Nicholas I and Chief of Police Benkendorf were the poet's connection with the Decembrists, members of a secret political society, whose aim was to overthrow the tsarist regime.
Therefore, Pushkin was forced to suffer the imposition of his freedom being significantly limited, and the doubtful "honour" of being made "gentleman of the chamber".
Anonymous libellous letters sent by mail insulted the poet and instigated a duel in which the shot of the French emigre D'Anthes cut short Pushkin's life right in its prime (1837).
The poet accomplished a lot in the course of his epigrammatic life.
In his works he was first influenced by 18th century poets, and then by Lord Byron. Finally, he developed his own style, which was realistic but classical in form.
His earliest long poem was the romance, "Ruslan and Lyudmila" (1818-1820). A series of verse tales followed: - "The Prisoner of the
Caucasus", "The Robber Brothers", "The Fountain of Bakhchisarai", and "The Gypsies". They were inspired by Byron's poetry.
In 1823 Pushkin began writing his masterpiece "Eugene Onegin", a novel in verse, which set the linguistic and literary standard for Russia. It critiques the life of early 19th century Russia, and is noted for its virtuoso lyricism.
He also wrote other long poems, including the "Bronze Horseman" (1833), considered to be one of the finest collections of lyrics in Russian literature.
As a truly national writer, Pushkin achieved particular success borrowing historical themes from Russia's past and rich heritage of Russian folklore. Especially popular to this day is the small masterpiece "The Song of the Wise Oleg".
Pushkin created also a number of masterpieces in drama and prose. "Little Tragedies" and "The Stone Guest" are among the best works in the world history of drama. Pushkin's love to Russia's past resulted in his historical drama, "Boris Godunov" (1825). "Tales of the Late I.P.Belkin", "Dubrovsky", "The Captain's Daughter" are the most important of his prose works. Pushkin's use of Russian influenced the language of great Russian writers Turgenev, Goncharov, Tolstoy.
Pushkin's early death shocked the country. Pushkin, called by many "the sun of Russian literature", belongs among the foremost poets and writers of the world.
Back to Personalities