Alexander Pushkin’s four compact plays, later known as The Little Tragedies, were written at the height of the author’s creative powers, and their influence on many Russian and Western writers cannot be overestimated. Yet Western readers are far more familiar with Pushkin’s lyrics, narrative poems, and prose than with his drama. The Little Tragedies have received few translations or scholarly examinations. Setting out to redress this and to reclaim a cornerstone of Pushkin’s work, Evodokimova and her distinguished contributors offer the first thorough critical study of these plays. They examine the historical roots and connective themes of the plays, offer close readings, and track the transformation of the works into other genres.
This volume includes a significant new translation by James Falen of the plays—"The Covetous Knight," "Mozart and Salieri," "The Stone Guest," and "A Feast in Time of Plague."
Alexander Pushkin’s lyric poetry—much of it known to Russians by heart—is the cornerstone of the Russian literary tradition, yet until now there has been no detailed commentary of it in any language.
Michael Wachtel’s book, designed for those who can read Russian comfortably but not natively, provides the historical, biographical, and cultural context needed to appreciate the work of Russia’s greatest poet. Each entry begins with a concise summary highlighting the key information about the poem’s origin, subtexts, and poetic form (meter, stanzaic structure, and rhyme scheme). In line-by-line fashion, Wachtel then elucidates aspects most likely to challenge non-native readers: archaic language, colloquialisms, and unusual diction or syntax. Where relevant, he addresses political, religious, and folkloric issues.
Pushkin’s verse has attracted generations of brilliant interpreters. The purpose of this commentary is not to offer a new interpretation, but to give sufficient linguistic and cultural contextualization to make informed interpretation possible.
The early decades of the nineteenth century in Imperial Russia embraced a sequence of catastrophic events—the assassination of Paul I, Napoleon’s invasion, the Decembrist rebellion, the cholera epidemic, the Polish uprising—along with radical changes in the fabric of society. Yet, far from exhausted by these convulsions, Russian literature blossomed as never before, producing the first in the long line of novels now regarded as masterpieces throughout the world. With all the sentimentality, nostalgia, and mythic echoes the term evokes, posterity has called this the golden age of Russian letters.William Mills Todd describes the ideology of the educated westernized gentry (obshchestvo) of the time, then charts the various possibilities for literary life: first patronage, the salons, popular literature; then the rapid emergence of an incipient literary profession, which was encouraged by copyright laws, journals and booksellers, and an increasing readership. Through an examination of three brilliant fictions—Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin, Lermontov’s A Hero of Our Time, and Gogol’s Dead Souls—he explores the complicated interactions of literature and society as these writers “discovered” their own milieu and were discovered by it, confronting the fragility, exclusiveness, and potential for hypocrisy and self-delusion in Russian culture. Todd’s interdisciplinary approach will ensure his book’s appeal to students of comparative and other national literatures as well as of Russian culture.
The story of Don Juan first appeared in writing in seventeenth-century Spain, reaching Russia about a century later. Its real impact, however, was delayed until Russia’s most famous poet, Alexander Pushkin, put his own, unique, and uniquely inspirational, spin on the tale. Published in 1830, TheStone Guest is now recognized, with other Pushkin masterpieces, as part of the Russian literary canon. Alexander Burry traces the influence of Pushkin’s brilliant innovations to the legend, which he shows have proven repeatedly fruitful through successive ages of Russian literature, from the Realist to the Silver Age, Soviet, and contemporary periods. Burry shows that, rather than creating a simple retelling of an originally religious tale about a sinful, consummate seducer, Pushkin offered open-ended scenes, re-envisioned and complicated characters, and new motifs that became recursive and productive parts of Russian literature, in ways that even Pushkin himself could never have predicted.
In 1833 Alexander Pushkin began to explore the topic of madness, a subject little explored in Russian literature before his time. The works he produced on the theme are three of his greatest masterpieces: the prose novella The Queen of Spades, the narrative poem The Bronze Horseman, and the lyric "God Grant That I Not Lose My Mind." Gary Rosenshield presents a new interpretation of Pushkin’s genius through an examination of his various representations of madness.
Pushkin brilliantly explored both the destructive and creative sides of madness, a strange fusion of violence and insight. In this study, Rosenshield illustrates the surprising valorization of madness in The Queen of Spades and "God Grant That I Not Lose My Mind" and analyzes The Bronze Horseman’s confrontation with the legacy of Peter the Great, a cornerstone figure of Russian history. Drawing on themes of madness in western literature, Rosenshield situates Pushkin in a greater framework with such luminaries as Shakespeare, Sophocles, Cervantes, and Dostoevsky providing an insightful and absorbing study of Russia’s greatest writer.
Readers often have regarded with curiosity the creative life of the poet. In this passionate and authoritative new study, David Bethea illustrates the relation between the art and life of nineteenth-century poet Alexander Pushkin, the central figure in Russian thought and culture. Bethea shows how Pushkin, on the eve of his two-hundredth birthday, still speaks to our time. He indicates how we as modern readers might "realize"— that is, not only grasp cognitively, but feel, experience—the promethean metaphors central to the poet's intensely "sculpted" life. The Pushkin who emerges from Bethea's portrait is one who, long unknown to English-language readers, closely resembles the original both psychologically and artistically.
Bethea begins by addressing the influential thinkers Freud, Bloom, Jakobson, and Lotman to show that their premises do not, by themselves, adequately account for Pushkin's psychology of creation or his version of the "life of the poet." He then proposes his own versatile model of reading, and goes on to sketches the tangled connections between Pushkin and his great compatriot, the eighteenth-century poet Gavrila Derzhavin. Pushkin simultaneously advanced toward and retreated from the shadow of his predecessor as he created notions of poet-in-history and inspiration new for his time and absolutely determinative for the tradition thereafter.
Since his death in 1837, Alexander Pushkin—often called the “father of Russian literature”—has become a timeless embodiment of Russian national identity, adopted for diverse ideological purposes and reinvented anew as a cultural icon in each historical era (tsarist, Soviet, and post-Soviet). His elevation to mythic status, however, has led to the celebration of some of his writings and the shunning of others. Throughout the history of Pushkin studies, certain topics, texts, and interpretations have remained officially off-limits in Russia—taboos as prevalent in today’s Russia as ever before.
The essays in this bold and authoritative volume use new approaches, overlooked archival materials, and fresh interpretations to investigate aspects of Pushkin’s biography and artistic legacy that have previously been suppressed or neglected. Taken together, the contributors strive to create a more fully realized Pushkin and demonstrate how potent a challenge the unofficial, taboo, alternative Pushkin has proven to be across the centuries for the Russian literary and political establishments.
Includes the original Russian text and, for the first time, an English translation of that version.
“Antony Wood’s translation is fluent and idiomatic; analyses by Dunning et al. are incisive; and the ‘case’ they make is skillfully argued. . . . Highly recommended.”—Choice
In Writing a Usable Past, Brintlinger considers the interactions of post-Revolutionary Russian and emigre culture with the genre of biography in its various permutations, arguing that in the years after the Revolution, Russian writers looked to the great literary figures of the past to help them construct a post-Revolutionary present. In detailed looks at the biographical writing of Yuri Tynianov, Vladislav Khodasevich, and Mikhail Bulgakov, Brintlinger follows each author's successful biography/ies and their failed attempts at biographies of Alexander Pushkin on the centennial anniversary of his death. Brintlinger compares the Pushkin biographies to the other biographies examined, and in a concluding chapter she considers other, more successful commemorations of the great poet's death. She argues that popular commemorations--exhibits, concerts, special issues of journals--were a more fitting biography than the genre of the "usable past." For post-revolutionary cultural actors, including Tynianov, Khodasevich, and Bulgakov, Pushkin was a symbol rather than a model for constructing that usable past.
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