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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!
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.
Pushkin, like many Russian writers, is great at setting the context and then presenting a conflict that makes sense in that context. The reader has a sense of being present in the Russia of the time and sharing the complex relationships that would naturally emerge in such a place. He presents the drama of the ordinary and also of the extreme. Again, like other Russian writers, sometimes her presents stories that lack a narrative arc and simply end without resolution. This, too is similar to life; sometimes life begins, is, and ends with drama. How weird is that?