To my mind, Grigoryan's book fully comes into its own in the middle chapters on Faddei Bulgarin
and Nikolai Gogol.
In this regard, Reyfmans discussion of Pushkin offers an illuminating glimpse of the watershed years of 1828-35, when the model of aristocratic literature was challenged by the rise of popular literature in conjunction with a popular press (pioneered by Senkovskii and Faddei Bulgarin
) and a broader readership that, while not exactly "bourgeois," was certainly more inclusive of other social strata.
In January of 1838, Faddei Bulgarin
published an article titled "Readers and Writers" ("Chitateli i pisateli") in the Northern Bee (Severnaia pchela), the newspaper he edited jointly with his long-time collaborator Nikolai Grech.
The publication of Pushkin's "Poltava" did not bring to an end new interpretations of Mazepa in history and literature, but the central historical questions of his "liberty" or "treason" were already fully developed and subsequent authors, with the exceptions of the Poles Juliusz Slowacki (1809-1849), an emigre, and Tadeusz Bulharyn (1789-1859), a Russified literary critic who wrote under the Russian name Faddei Bulgarin
), belong to a different era, a time subsequent to the Romantic period.
And what of the nature of his friendship with the infamous police spy and journalist Faddei Bulgarin
? Griboedov's relationship with Pushkin was also central to conversations, as is always the case in griboedovedenie, and it is delightful that our "other Alexander Sergeevich" inaugurates the "Pushkin's Contemporaries" section of Pushkin Review.
(2) Practical literature gave every individual the opportunity to be the best Russian he or she could be; as Faddei Bulgarin
put it in the first issue of his journal Ekanam, everyone from "agriculturists, industrialists, and manufacturers" to all "good little housewives and conscientious proprietors" could play a role in the process of redefining Russian everyday life, in improving and changing the world around them.
In the interest of time, I will cite merely two of them here.1 My first example is especially telling, because it appears in Pushkin's response to what was certainly the most notorious public, racially-charged journalistic attack on the poet during his lifetime: the yellow journalist Faddei Bulgarin
's claim, transparently referring to Pushkin, that the poet's great-grandfather had been "bought for a bottle of rum." Pushkin's answer to Bulgarin--at the urging of friends, Pushkin refrained from dignifying Bulgarin's foray with a public response, but confined himself to circulating it unofficially--appears in the "Post scriptum" to his poem "My Genealogy" ("Moia rodoslovnaia").
A still more optimistic--in fact, crudely triumphalist--account of the role of generation in nation-building was offered by Faddei Bulgarin
in the foreword to the multi-volume history of Russia to which he put his name in the late 1830s.
attack by Faddei Bulgarin
(1789-1859), by no means the first but rather
Anyone following the literary squabbles of 1831 would not fail to recognize here an obvious reference to Faddei Bulgarin
. Equating Bulgarin with Orlov (whose 1831 novel Marfa Ivanovna Vyzhimkina was part imitation and part unsuccessful parody of Bulgarin's Vyzhigin) was fast becoming a running joke among Bulgarin's numerous literary enemies.
, in his 1829 review of Poltava, planted the seeds for this trend, accusing Pushkin not only of grossly distorting history but also of fabricating a romance that was implausible due to the lovers' age difference.
Begichev, The Kholmsky Family, memoiristic anecdotes of the gambling practices of Pushkin and Lermontov, and memoirs and letters by such figures as Nikolai Grech, Petr Viazemsky, Faddei Bulgarin
, and many others, both well-known and obscure.