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The translation (originally published by Stanford University Press in the 80s) was produced by a much-loved and respected Hungarian Pushkin scholar, Paul Debreczeny, who passed away some years ago. So it is surely 'authoritative' in the sense of being faithful and reliable. From a literary point of view, though, it really doesn't work in the way that, say, Rosemary Edmonds' or the Pevear-Volkhonsky translations do. With phrases like "the idea of relinquishing trivial and dubious anecdotes in favour of relating true and great events had long been stirring my imagination", "having sufficiently acquainted myself with these precious memorabilia..." , "everybody envied the accord reigning between the haughty Troekurov and his poor neighbor..." etc., the spirit and vivacity of the text (there must be some!) unfortunately does not come through. Content-wise, the stories don't seem to carry the truth or the poetry of Chekhov or Turgenev or Gogol or Gorky - but that's a question of taste...
Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837) was born into the gentry class. He was killed in a duel in 1837 fought with a French courtier of his adulterous wife. Pushkin is best known today as a great Romantic poet such as his masterpiece "Eugene Onegin. Thjis novel in verse was turned into a wonderful opera by Peter Tchaikovsky later in the nineteenth century. This delightful Everyman edition contains such masterpieces as "The Queen of Spades" a fascinating tale of the supernatural which was also turned into an opera by Tchaikovsky. Other stories deal with love and duels and warfare as experienced by the aristocratic class of Russian society during the travails of the Napoleonic era. Pushkin would influence such giants of Russian literature as Tolstoy, Chekhov, Gogol and Pasternak. He writes with an intimate style as if he is sitting down with the reader and talking to her one on one. The book is well bound, includes a useful glossary of Russian terms and includes a helpful chronology of Pushkin's short and tragic life as well as a lengthy introduction to his importance in Russian literary history. Sit back and enjoy!
A whole book could be written on the fascinating story of Pushkin's life cut short at 37 in an 1837 duel, as well as the undeniable impact Pushkin had on Russian literature, including on two Russian giants of Western literature, Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, and, to a lesser degree, on Russian music, including that of Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky.
Pushkin was a poet, but wanting to "deal with the affairs of society, he had to learn to speak its language" thus, he had to "train himself to write in prose."
This is a splendid collection of all of Pushkin's stories in prose, including the novella "The Captain's Daughter." His prose has been labeled "swift and economical." To Pushkin, the style of the prose was secondary to the story itself. I love his stories and, in my opinion, this purchase is worth it for the masterful "History of Pugachev," Pushkin's history of the man who rebelled against Catherine the Great.
I had just finished Anna Karenina and remembered that I had this volume of Pushkin on the shelf. I figured that since Tolstoy took his clues from "Russia's first great writer" that these must be at least as good. I must say that I enjoyed these stories much more, and I adored Anna Karennina.
Perhaps this is because they were short stories yet I believe that Pushkin has a more direct style and some of his stuff is just hysterical. Having read Massey's incredible "Peter the Great," I thought the Blackamoor of Peter the Great caught Peter's spirit perfectly.
All in all, like Tolstoy, Chekov and the rest of the Russian greats, this is a wonderful glimpse into a far way land of long ago with curious customs and characters that are so well developed. I love how he illuminates the position and sentiments of serfdom for it goes a long way to understand just how many of us had families who emerged from serfdom which was just another form of slavery and how freedom as we understand it is really a modern thing. I believe that the story "Dubrovskii" to be worth the price of admission by itself.