Pushkin, Aleksandr Sergeyevich


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Pushkin, Aleksandr Sergeyevich

(po͝osh`kĭn, Rus. əlyĭksän`dər syĭrgā`yəvĭch po͞osh`kĭn), 1799–1837, Russian poet and prose writer, among the foremost figures in Russian literature. He was born in Moscow of an old noble family; his mother's grandfather was Abram Hannibal, the black general of Peter the Great. Pushkin showed promise as a poet during his years as a student in a lyceum for young noblemen.

After a riotous three years in St. Petersburg society, Pushkin was exiled to S Russia in 1820. His offenses were the ideas expressed in his Ode to Liberty and his satirical verse portraits of figures at court. The same year his fairy romance Russlan and Ludmilla was published; GlinkaGlinka, Mikhail Ivanovich
, 1804–57, first of the nationalist school of Russian composers. His two operas, A Life for the Czar (1836) and Russlan and Ludmilla (1842), marked the beginning of a characteristically Russian style of music.
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 later adapted it as an opera. In exile Pushkin was strongly moved by the beauty of the Crimea and the Caucasus. The poems The Prisoner of the Caucasus (1822) and The Fountain of Bakhchisarai (1824) describe his response to this beauty and reveal the influence of ByronByron, George Gordon Noel Byron, 6th Baron
, 1788–1824, English poet and satirist. Early Life and Works

He was the son of Capt. John ("Mad Jack") Byron and his second wife, Catherine Gordon of Gight.
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. The Gypsies (1823–24) expresses Pushkin's yearning for freedom. In 1824 he was ordered to his family estate near Pskov, where he remained under the supervision of the emperor until he was pardoned in 1826.

Pushkin established the modern poetic language of Russia, using Russian history for the basis of many works, including the poems Poltava (1828) and The Bronze Horseman (1833), glorifying Peter the Great; Boris Godunov (1831), the tragic historical drama on which MoussorgskyMoussorgsky, Modest Petrovich
, 1839–81, Russian composer. His name is also transliterated as Mussorgsky and Musorgsky. He was one of the first to promote a national Russian style.
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 based an opera; and two works on the peasant uprising of 1773–75, The Captain's Daughter (a short novel, 1837) and The History of the Pugachev Rebellion (1834). Pushkin's masterpiece is Eugene Onegin (1823–31), a novel in verse concerning mutually rejected love. A brilliant poetic achievement, the work contains witty and perceptive descriptions of Russian society of the period.

Pushkin's other major works include the dramas Mozart and Salieri and The Stone Guest (both 1830); the folktale The Golden Cockerel (1833), on which Rimsky-KorsakovRimsky-Korsakov, Nicolai Andreyevich
, 1844–1908, Russian composer; one of the group of nationalist composers called The Five. He prepared himself for a naval career, but after meeting Balakirev in 1861 he turned seriously to composing.
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 based an opera; and the short stories Tales by Belkin (1831) and The Queen of Spades (1834). TchaikovskyTchaikovsky, Peter Ilyich
, 1840–93, Russian composer, b. Kamsko-Votkinsk. Variant transliterations of his name include Tschaikovsky and Chaikovsky. He is a towering figure in Russian music and one of the most popular composers in history.
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 based operas on both Eugene Onegin and The Queen of Spades. Pushkin died as a result of a duel with a young French émigré nobleman who was accused, in anonymous letters to the poet, of being the lover of Pushkin's flirtatious young wife. He was buried secretly by government officials whom LermontovLermontov, Mikhail Yurevich
, 1814–41, Russian poet and novelist. Given an extensive private education by his wealthy grandmother, Lermontov began writing poetry when he was 14.
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, among others, accused of complicity in the affair. Most of Pushkin's writings are available in English.

Bibliography

See V. Nabokov's translation of Eugene Onegin (4 vol., 1964); biographies by E. J. Simmons (1937), D. Magarshack (1968), W. N. Vickery (1968), H. Troyat (1946, tr. 1970), R. Edmonds (1995), S. Vitale (tr. 1998), E. Feinstein (2000), and T. J. Binyon (2003); study by J. Bailey (1971).