Sunday, October 29, 2017

Review: A Short Life of Pushkin

"A short yet fascinating account of Russia's most celebrated writer. "   And that's it in a nut-shell.  

I was initially drawn to this work by Robert Chamdler as I have been reading many "Pushkin Press" titles and was intrigued - was this publishing company named after or in honour of the man, Pushkin?  And if so, why was he so deserving of such an honour?

Apart from being one of Russia's great historians and poets who left a lasting literary legacy, Alexander Pushkin's own story was larger than life.

Here was a man whose family was from the old Russian nobility, who were loyal to Peter III, fell under Catherine the Great; whose maternal great-grandfather was referred to as the "Blackamoor" of Peter the Great.  Pushkin himself lived on the edge - from an early age, his life was dedicated to writing, poetry, women, gambling, did I mention women, drinking, politics, theatre, frivolity - a dissolute life by all standards which led to duelling, imprisonment, exile, then repeat again and again - ".... only the intervention of friends and the dowager empress forestalled a worse fate and not for the first time ..."  A man who lived a charmed life, though towards the end, this lavish lifestyle led to his latter years spent in debt and ended in a fatal duel (1837).

I doubt very much any writer of fiction could have created such an extraordinary life for any character.  I very much want to track down and read not only is poetry but more in-depth biographies.

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