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Alexander ( Aleksandr ) Pushkin . 1799-1837. Early Life. Born in Moscow on June 6, 1799 into a wealthy family The second of 8 surviving children Pushkin’s great grandfather was African, and he inherited many of his features Began writing poems as early as age 7

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early life
Early Life
  • Born in Moscow on June 6, 1799 into a wealthy family
  • The second of 8 surviving children
  • Pushkin’s great grandfather was African, and he inherited many of his features
  • Began writing poems as early as age 7
  • Received the best education available in Russia at the time at the Lyceum, or Lycee

My time under my father’s roof leaves little in the way of pleasant memories. Of course he loved me- but he showed no interest in me.  I was entrusted to a series of French tutors, who were constantly being hired and fired.  My first gouverneurwas a desperate drunkard, the second, while not stupid or uneducated, could fly into such rages that he once tried to murder me for spilling a few drops of ink onto his waistcoat.  The third, who was kept in our house for a whole year, was totally and obviously insane.

  • Pushkin

What does that mean, our near and dear ones?

Our near and dear ones are just these ones: 

The ones we are obliged to kiss, 

Caress, and love, and warmly miss, 

Also, by custom and good cheer, 

On birthdays we should pay them calls, 

At least by mail should send them cards, 

So all the rest of all the year 

They will not think of us a mite… 

And so, God grant them health, long life!

-- Pushkin

early life cont
Early Life Cont…
  • Pushkin’s first poem, To a Friend who Writes Poems, was published as a prank
  • Wrote over 120 poems while at Lycee, many of them about love
  • Decides at Lycee that he is destined to be a poet:Farewell to ye, cold sciences!I’m now from youthful games estranged!I am a poet now; I’ve changed.Within my soul both sounds and silencePour into one another, live,In measures sweet both take and give
  • After graduation, he is employed as a collegiate assessor
  • **Met with a fortune teller who prophesized “great fame, two terms of exile, and a long happy life, provided only that at the age of 37 he avoided any conflicts due to a white horse, white head, or white (meaning blond) man.”
important works
Important Works
  • Ruslan and Lyudmila, 1820
  • Ode to Liberty
  • The Prisoner of the Caucasus
  • Eugene Onegin, 1833
  • Almost all of his works dealt with love and passion
common themes
Common Themes
  • Love!
    •  ”Love at first sight, and at long last, by chance or arrangement, erotic and platonic, sexual and spiritual, jealous and calm, ironic and accepting, ruefully bitter, and reconciled, uncomplaining, mysteriously warm, accepting…love is his theme, love in which every happiness seems to lead to grief, yet every grief seems to lead to happiness.”
  • also criticized government
  • Elements of mystery and simplicity (Cherchez la femme)

Alone she’d understand, decipherMy blur of verse, confused unclear;            Alone within my heart she’d fireThe lamp of love that’s pure, austere!Alas, in vain such aspirations!My prayers, all my invocations,                              My heart’s grief –all – she would not heed!,                                Of cries of earthly joys and passions,Of the divine, she had no need!

second exile and later life
Second Exile and Later Life
  • In a letter to a friend Pushkin joked about atheism, which was a huge offense in Russia at the time
    • Tsar had him exiled to his parents house
    • Wrote To the Sea as a goodbye
  • Married Natalya NikolayevnaGoncharova
  • Died in 1837 of a gunshot wound
influence on dostoevsky
Influence on Dostoevsky
  • Dostoevsky admired Pushkin
  • Said that reading Pushkin made him happier and gave him comfort
  • “a corroboration of all my thought”
  • Famous Pushkin Speech
    • “Pushkin is an extraordinary phenomenon, and, perhaps, the unique phenomenon of the Russian spirit, said Gogol. I will add, ‘and a prophetic phenomenon.’ Yes, in his appearing there is contained for all us Russians, something incontestably prophetic. Pushkin arrives exactly at the beginning of our true self-consciousness, which had only just begun to exist a whole century after Peter’s reforms, and Pushkin’s coming mightily aids us in our dark way by a new guiding light. In this sense Pushkin is a presage and a prophecy.” –Dostoevsky 1880
relation to c p
Relation to C&P

“At times monstrous images are created, but the setting and the whole picture are so truthlike and filled with details so delicate, so unexpectedly, but so artistically consistent, that the dreamer, were he an artist like Pushkin or Turgenev even, could never have invented them in the waking state.” Part I, Ch V

  • Raskolnikov is very liberal and seems to disagree with Russian politics as did Pushkin

  • HI