PUSHKINISM

Pushkinism, in Russia, in the opinion of many critics, is the equivalent of Shakespearianism in England or Danteism in Italy. Pushkin established the techniques and provided the standards for the extraordinary development that took place in Russian arts and letters in the nineteenth century. He is generally regarded as the foremost Russian nationalistic poet. Although he was a writer from the past, the Russian communists «adopted» him for propaganda purposes.
Aleksandr Sergyevich Pushkin (1799-1837) was born in Moscow, educated at the lyceum at Tsarkoye Selo, and was employed by the foreign office at St. Petersburg. He lived a romantic life, but he was charged by the foreign office for writing subversive poetry and for affiliation with secret societies. He was punished by transfer, ultimately, to Odessa, where his love affairs with two married women (including the wife of his superior in the foreign office) occasioned some of his most passionate lyric poetry.
The secret police intercepted some of Pushkin’s letters, which they considered anti-Russian. He was dismissed from his post and sent into exile. But Pushkin had a protector in the form of Nicholas I, who pardoned him and placed him under his personal protection.
Pushkin fell in love with a sixteen-year-old girl, Natalie Goncharova. As his wife, she ran into heavy debt. When an affair between her and a Frenchman, Georges d’Athnes, became the subject of widespread gossip, Pushkin challenged the Frenchman to a duel. Pushkin was wounded by a pistol shot and died two days later.
The inventory of Pushkin’s writing consisted of romantic poems, dramatic poems, and narrative poems. Flis Boris Godunov was used by Mussorgsky for his opera. He worked on his masterpiece, Eugen Onegin, a verse novel, from 1823 to 1830. It had eight chapters, each of about fifty 14-line stanzas in iambic tetrameter. This magnificent work, which provided the story for Tchaikovsky’s opera of the same name, became the linguistic and literary standard against which the Russian literary developments of the nineteenth century were measured.