Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Happy birthday, Alexander Pushkin

Alexander Pushkin
It is the birthday of Russian novelist and poet Alexander Pushkin (1799), who is widely considered the father of Russian literature. Pushkin was easily insulted and was forever fighting duels. He is said to have fought 29 of them, the last one leading to his demise. He fought with his brother-in-law, whom he had long suspected of trying to seduce his wife. Each shot the other but Pushkin's stomach wound proved fatal. He died at 37, a literary life tragically cut short. He wrote plays, novels, fairy tales and poetry. Pushkin's play, Boris Godunov (1831), dealt with a Russian czar who ruled in the late 16th and early 17th centuries but the play wasn't cleared by censors for production until 1866. Many of Pushkin's works were critical of the Russian ruling class, earning him unwanted attention from the secret police. Pushkin's novel, Eugene Onegin (1833), is a Russian classic written entirely in verse. It was first published in serialized form over seven years, beginning in 1825. The saga follows the life of a selfish and superficial young nobleman whose life consists only of parties, balls and concerts. The story ends tragically, Onegin a victim of his own selfishness. Pushkin is credited with creating the style of Russian literature that would influence writers Maxim Gorky, Leo Tolstoy, and others. Pushkin was known for his rich vocabulary. In fact, if he couldn't find a Russian word to express his meaning, he frequently borrowed words from other languages and Russianized them. Pushkin's work inspired operas, ballets and cantatas. Composers wrote music for his verses.

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