Boris Tomashevsky 1929
Author: Boris Tomashevsky;
First published: 1929 in Encyclopedia Granat, Volume 34, pp. 156-188;
Translated by: Anton P.
Pushkin, Alexander Sergeevich, the greatest Russian poet of the 19th century. Born in Moscow on May 26 (June 6, n.s.), 1799. His father, Sergei Lvovich, belonged to an old family of service nobles, who had in the 18th century amassed considerable wealth (they once owned large land holdings in the Nizhny Novgorod province, from which the poet’s father inherited the village of Boldino). His mother, Nadezhda Osipovna, descended from Abram Gannibal, “the Moor of Peter the Great”, the colored ancestor of the new service nobility created by Peter. Nadezhda Osipovna owned an estate in the Pskov province, Mikhailovskoye (Opochetsky district). The Pushkin family led a comfortable, open life in Moscow, maintaining close ties with representatives of the Moscow literary intelligentsia, to which Sergei Lvovich’s brother, Vasily Lvovich, belonged. The family environment in which Pushkin grew up was not particularly favorable for him. The secular lifestyle of the parents, the unbalanced character inherited by the mother from the Abyssinian ancestors, alienated the son from his parents, especially since he was not a favorite child in the family: his older sister Olga and younger brother Lev enjoyed a clear preference over him. Pushkin was handed over to the hands of French tutors, from whom he received only the ability to speak French, to the detriment of the Russian language, and an early acquaintance with various forms of human depravity. Deprived of family care, he grew up in an environment of servants, quite depraved by the conditions of idle city life. He spent his early years in Moscow and in the Zakharov estate near Moscow, which belonged to the mother of Nadezhda Osipovna. Growing up, he became more and more a burden for the family, and finally, it was decided to take him to some closed educational institution. It was at this time that a lyceum was founded in Tsarskoe Selo. Using the patronage of A. I. Turgenev, Pushkin was placed in this privileged educational institution. In the summer of 1811, he arrived with his uncle Vasily Lvovich in St. Petersburg, on August 12 he held entrance exams; On October 19, the lyceum was solemnly opened. The education Pushkin received at the lyceum was disorderly, both because there were major defects in the organization of the educational part of the lyceum, and because he was not among the successful students. With all his abilities, Pushkin, who declared himself a mobile, playful student at the Lyceum, did not show sufficient perseverance and efficiency. However, Pushkin attended lessons of natural law, taught by a young professor Kunitsyn, who graduated from the University of Göttingen. These lessons were a presentation of the ideology of liberalism and constitutionalism. The defects in his education he replenished with comradely communication with a talented galaxy of his classmates, participation in literary experiments of lyceum students and literary connections, through his uncle Vasily Lvovich, with a group of young writers grouped around Karamzin. Among his comrades, special mention should be made of the two future Decembrists Küchelbecker and Pushchin, and Anton Delvig, perhaps his closest friend. Pushkin entered the Lyceum, having already absorbed the French literary tradition, represented by poets of the 17th and 18th centuries, by reading his father’s library. French poetry from the classics of the age of Louis XIV to the elegies of Parny and Milvois was familiar to him. In his first experiments, he joined those Russian poetic trends that transferred the French tradition to Russian soil and assimilated it into Russian poetry. Literary studies of lyceum students were expressed in the publication of magazines, partly that have come down to us, compiling “anthologies” of lyceum works, composing songs that were sung by a common choir. The literary trends of the lyceum students were most influenced by a group of young Karamzinists represented by Vyazemsky, Zhukovsky and others.
This group united in the literary society “Arzamas”, however, it did not represent a serious and stable organization, and was rather a “commonwealth” of persons who opposed themselves to the literary trend, united by the “Society of the Lovers of the Russian Word”, which was headed by Shishkov. Shishkovists, admirers of monumental poetry, grandiose forms and a weighty, archaic word, served as the object of attacks and ridicule from the Karamzinists, who tended to light forms of intimate poetry. Pushkin participated in “Arzamas” and bore the nickname “Cricket” there (all Arzamas members had their own literary nicknames). His Karamzinism was expressed in a number of his literary “messages”, which outlined the literary creed of the Karamzinist, and in the gravitation towards the genre of elegies, which, under the influence of the elegiac trend in France, Pushkin initially considered the main genre of his poetry. Pushkin early went beyond the lyceum magazines. In 1814, on July 4, in Vestnik Evropy, a magazine published by V. Izmailov, Pushkin’s poem To a Poet Friend, delivered to the magazine by Vasily Lvovich Pushkin, was published. In general, during his stay at the Lyceum, Pushkin published in the general press up to 25 works, some of which were included as exemplary works in the collection Collection of Exemplary Russian Essays and Translations in Verse (1816-1817) published during these years. Literary fame was given to Pushkin easily, without much struggle. Among the works of the lyceum period, one of the first places is occupied by literary epistles, some of which (for example, To a Poet’s Friend) date back to the high forms of French poetry of the 17th century, others (for example, The Town) to the more intimate forms of the 18th century. Among the little things of this period, most are imitative or translated, without a clearly expressed preference for one or another literary school. There are attempts to create works of a large form, for example, the beginning of the poem Bova, repeating that created in Russia in the beginning. 19th century the tradition of the comic “heroic” poem and partly dependent on Voltaire’s Virgin. Of the literary influences characteristic of the lyceum student Pushkin, it is necessary to note several samples of Ossian fragments, and a cycle of elegies that are clearly dependent on the pre-romantic French elegy from Parny to Milvois, with its tendency to motifs of nature and attempts to create a special elegiac hero, whose feelings are intertwined with descriptive poetry, the forms of which still dominated French and Russian poetry at the beginning of the 19th century. The lyceum situation, as well as the political events of the era – the war of 1812, the restoration of the Bourbons, the opening of the Polish Sejm, etc. – left a lasting imprint on Pushkin’s public views. The students of Tsarskoye Selo, the Lyceum of the Tsar and his entourage, were aware of palace gossip and the scandalous anecdotes about the private life of Alexander I. In addition, in Tsarskoye Selo, lyceum students encountered officers who had been in the campaign of 1812-14. in Paris and brought liberal convictions from there. Among these officers Chaadaev should be named, as well as N. Raevsky, although moderate in his political behavior, he sharply expressed Western liberal views.
Pushkin graduated from the Lyceum on June 8, 1817 and was enrolled in the Department of Foreign Affairs. However, his service was fictitious. Without breaking ties with the Arzamas, Pushkin began to seek literary connections outside the narrow circle of Arzamas members. While still at the lyceum, he met in Küchelbeker a supporter of a literary trend alien to Arzamas. After graduating from the Lyceum, Pushkin became close to P. Katenin, a representative of a literary movement close to Kuchelbecker. Katenin was at that time a supporter of radical ideas and held responsible positions in secret societies. In literature, he professed the ideas of creating national Russian forms, which brought him closer, on the one hand, to the future Decembrists (see A. Odoevsky for similar Slavic motives), on the other hand, to the Shishkov school, which professed a commitment to difficult, rough forms of poetry, in contrast to Karamzin’s ease of language. Through Katenin, Pushkin also met Shakhovsky, who was considered almost the main enemy of Arzamas. Pushkin was no longer satisfied with the elegiac genre. Along with elegies, he undertook a great work, the poem Ruslan and Lyudmila, which at the same time was supposed to confirm Karamzin’s positions in a large genre and, on the other hand, took Pushkin beyond the bounds of intimate forms, mandatory for Karamzinists. Ruslan and Lyudmila partly continued the Russian tradition of the “bogatyr” poem, no more than previous experiments, approaching the prototype - Voltaire’s satirical poem. A significant difference from Voltaire’s poem was the extreme conciseness and stinginess of narrative forms and the absence of a “second plan”, ideological satire. In contrast to Voltaire, Pushkin pursued purely literary goals, which explains the difference in the choice of topics and narrative episodes. This poem was completed on March 26, 1820, and made a different impression on the Karamzinists: Zhukovsky welcomed the poet, Vyazemsky was ambiguous about the new work, and the Karamzinist of the older generation, I. I. Dmitriev, sharply rebelled against the poem. Outside the narrow circle of literary friends, the. poem, published when Pushkin was already in the south, made a storm. Literary Old Believers attacked the young poet, the youth immediately saw in him the head of a new direction.
In the lyrics of Pushkin over the years, civic motives are heard more and more clearly. The Epistle to Chaadaev, The Village, Liberty are poetic expressions of the socio-political program of their author. Hatred of autocracy, aspirations for social reforms and the emancipation of the peasantry, and consistent constitutionalism, which advocated for the rule of law in contrast both to the autocracy of the Tsars and to democracy; constitutionalism, which did not hide its antipathy towards the tactics of the leaders of the French Revolution during the era of terror – all this was in harmony with the prevailing mood in the active milieu of Russian society, which was grouped around the secret Union of Welfare. During these years, liberalism in society was also supported by the fact that the constitutional ideas were officially proclaimed by Alexander I in his throne speech at the opening of the Polish Sejm. This speech contained quite definite assurances about the inevitability of extending the constitution to the whole of Russia. Thus, constitutional liberalism, in its monarchical forms, was officially tolerated. Among Pushkin’s literary friends, P. A. Vyazemsky, who himself took part in organizing the celebrations of the opening of the Polish Sejm, most sharply expressed the constitutional views. During the years 1814-1818 there was no open rupture between the Russian liberals and the government. The war with Napoleon was seen as a fight against a tyrant, the restoration of the Bourbons in France was seen as the enthronement of a constitutional king, bound by a liberal charter; the Polish policy of Alexander I, although it offended the national feelings of Russian liberals by the preference shown to the Poles over Russia, nevertheless seemed to be a guarantee of the constitutional aspirations of Russian society. In the Union of Salvation, which operated in 1816-1817, the majority were supporters of a loyalist policy, and only a minority envisaged the possibility of a violent coup, and then in the form of a palace coup, familiar to Russians from the practice, established in the 18th century, of forcibly changing the monarch. Pushkin did not take a direct part in the work of secret societies: his impetuous temperament, scattered way of life made him of little use in conspiracy, and his closest friends, N. I. Turgenev, I. I. Pushchin, involved in organizations, did not consider it possible to attract Pushkin to secret work. However, Pushkin was all the time in the sphere of the moral influence of the union, both through his friends and through participation in the Green Lamp society, which, under the guise of a literary and secular association, was a propaganda field that was under direct, although not explicit, control of union members. This work, which was not entirely clear to uninitiated members of the society, was combined with literary parties that were far from decorous, which created an unfair reputation for the society as a circle of secular revelers. During these years, Pushkin and wrote a series of epigrams that offended the most prominent representatives of the government. These epigrams diverged in many lists, as well as Pushkin’s civil poems, creating a reputation for him as a bold freethinker. Now it is difficult to establish exactly which epigrams were written by Pushkin, since in addition to his authentic epigrams, many anonymous ones attributed to Pushkin went around. These works reached the government, and, in the end, Alexander I decided to punish the poet. Only the intervention of Karamzin saved Pushkin from a more severe punishment. The government limited itself to expulsion from the capital, disguised as a transfer to the service on the outskirts of Russia. In 1820, on May 6, Pushkin left St. Petersburg for Yekaterinoslav at the disposal of the gene. Inzov, to the office of the trustee over the colonists. He did not stay in Yekaterinoslav for long, taking time off on vacation due to illness, and together with the Raevsky family went to the Caucasus. With this family, Pushkin was connected by friendship with Nikolai Raevsky Jr. Pushkin lived in Mineralnye Vody in the Caucasus for about two months, after which he followed the Raevskys to their estate in the Crimea (Gurzuf). The result of his stay in the south was the poem Prisoner of the Caucasus (1820) and The Fountain of Bakhchisaray (1822). This time spent with Raevsky, enriched Pushkin literary and worldly impressions. Here, with the brother of N. Raevsky, Alexander, Pushkin began to get acquainted with Byron, who suggested Pushkin a new form of the poem, which was outlined in the development of his literary ideas. In the Crimea, Pushkin first read a book of poems by Andre Chenier, whose poetry was reflected in a cycle of ancient short elegies (“anthological passages”). New forms enriched Pushkin’s poetry, for which his second period, the Romantic one, opened. In Pushkin’s southern poems, critics saw the true expression of Russian Romanticism and thus placed Pushkin at the head of modern literature, as the recognized leader of the most progressive literary trend. Southern poems mark the end of the first period of Pushkin’s literary activity, marked by fidelity to classical forms. Skepticism in relation to the classical canons, which appeared, in all likelihood, under the influence of such books as Madame de Stael’s On Germany, brought Pushkin out of the narrow circle of poetic forms consecrated by the classical tradition.
From now on, Pushkin turns to literary samples also outside of French literature. English and partly Italian influences from that time penetrate his poetry.
By the same time, Pushkin was seriously infatuated with one of the daughters of General Raevsky (probably Maria, who later married Volkonsky and, following his conviction in the Decembrist case, followed him to Siberia). This somewhat idealized feeling, especially after crude and primitive hobbies in St. Petersburg, which coincided with Pushkin’s dreamy-elegiac mood, left its mark in his poems, where he speaks of this love of his, hiding (even from friends) the name of the one in which he was in love with a hopeless, inseparable love. After a three-week stay in the Crimea, he went to his place of service. At this time, Inzov’s office was transferred to Chisinau, where Pushkin arrived on September 21, 1820. He lived in Chisinau until the beginning of July 1823, leaving from there to Kamenka, the Raevsky estate near Kiev, to Odessa and Akkerman. During this almost three-year stay of the poet in Chisinau, he completed the poem The Prisoner of the Caucasus on May 15, 1821), wrote Brothers Robbers (end of 1821) and The Fountain of Bakhchisarai (1822), started Eugene Onegin (May 28, 1823); in addition to many small poems, here he also wrote the Gavriiliada, which is a blasphemous parodic presentation of biblical events mixed with harsh eroticism (1821), and the first fairy tale, Tsar Nikita (1822), which is notable for its obscene plot. Of the political poems, Dagger was written here (June 22, 1821). The political events that abounded in these years gave an entirely new direction to Pushkin’s thought. It was during these years that the European balance established by the Congress of Vienna began to be sharply disturbed by a number of uprisings and revolutionary movements. The events in Naples, the movement in Spain, the Greek uprising, the strengthening of the Carbonari movement in Italy, the conspiracies in France marked a turning point in the mood of Western European society. At the same time, the activities of secret societies and the organization of those two centers of revolutionary ferment that openly came out in December 1825 – the “Southern Society”, uniting radical circles of the Republicans, and the “Northern Society”, uniting more moderate liberals, intensified. Pushkin in the south was in the sphere of influence of the “Southern Society”. An important reason for the assimilation of radical views was the personal feeling of a disenfranchised exile, which was acutely experienced by Pushkin. With all his behavior, he emphasized the protest of the violence done to him. This protest manifested itself in disorderly antics, not without an admixture of fanfare and cynicism. In the process of “moving to the left” he felt the collapse of his constitutional liberal aspirations. It was the events of this era that showed the social significance of the restoration of the Bourbons and the pan-European reaction. The predominance of the reactionary-feudal aristocracy and clergy at the French court showed that the Bourbons fought Napoleon not as a “tyrant”, but as the protector of those social gains of the revolution, the preservation of which the viability of the Empire ensured. That is why these years are characterized by the unification of Bonapartism with Republicanism. Political questions gave way to the task of defending the social upheaval brought about by the revolution. On Pushkin this was reflected in the change in the image of Napoleon in his poetry. In Liberty of 1817, Napoleon was portrayed as an “autocratic villain”, in the ode Napoleon of 1821, Pushkin can no longer “outrage his debunked shadow with a mad reproach.” In Liberty, Napoleon’s tyranny was opposed by constitutional guarantees, and shortly before that (Napoleon on the Elbe), Pushkin counterposed Napoleon to the “legitimate Tsars,” i.e., the restored Bourbons. In the ode Napoleon we hear the affirmation of the conquests of the Great Revolution: “On the rebellious square / The royal corpse lay in the ashes / And the day is great, inevitable / Freedom bright day rose ...”
It is to this revolutionary freedom that Pushkin opposes the “tyranny” of Napoleon. At the same time, there is a sharp change in the understanding of the events of the Great French Revolution, which was the measure of public opinion at the beginning of the 19th century. On the other hand, Pushkin has a growing interest in Jean Jacques Rousseau, in whose writings the Republicans sought to substantiate their social views. So, during these years he declared himself a convinced anti-militarist, and in the poem To the Sea, written a little later (1824), he introduced a declamation against “enlightenment”. Passion for the views of Rousseau was not deep and long, but it indicates the direction of Pushkin’s interest in a number of new issues. It was during these years that his abstract political liberalism was complicated by a new understanding of the social significance of the French Revolution.
In early July 1823, Pushkin was transferred to the service in Odessa, where he entered the disposal of the governor of the Bessarabian region, Count Vorontsov. Here he continued Eugene Onegin and wrote most of the poem Gypsies. This poem closes the cycle of “southern” poems, meaning the so-called “Byronic” period of his work. In fact, some features in the composition of these poems give the right to see in them traces of Byron’s direct influence on Pushkin. However, the very choice of a role model was prompted by Pushkin by the internal evolution of his own work. Continuing to think of himself primarily as an elegiac, Pushkin is constantly working hard to create a great poetic form. Ruslan and Lyudmila was the first experience that summed up the past. Pushkin’s “southern” poems are monumental elegies staged in the speeches and thoughts of the heroes and deployed against the backdrop of lyrical descriptions of nature and the “exotic” terrain in which the meager action unfolds. Adventure, “gamble” in these poems is absent. This is a story about one, almost unchanged situation, built on the contrast of the derived characters. This contrast is borrowed from the idea of opposing the disappointed representatives of the developed European civilization and the way of life of wild tribes living a “natural” life among nature close to them. The clash of two cultures is the main, if not the only theme of the poems, which reflect in the very setting the problem of the contrast of these cultures, a distant trace of the ideas of Rousseau, thanks to the ever-increasing influence of literary Rousseauism, mainly in French prose (for example, in Chateaubriand). This construction gave freedom to digressions, interruptions in presentation and reticence in the narrative.
Pushkin’s “southern” poems were the subject of lively controversy among contemporary critics. Pushkin found ardent supporters of the new, “Romantic” system. However, he himself did not enter into an alliance with them, since at the time of the appearance of his poem in print, Pushkin was already moving away from the system of a Romantic poem to new literary forms that were being developed in the process of creating Eugene Onegin.
It was during his stay in Odessa that he found the final self-awareness as a professional writer. The uncertainty of his earnings until that time, the ambiguity of his official position did not give Pushkin the opportunity to decisively dwell on the final choice of a career. He was almost unfamiliar with the life of the nobility, and the decline of the estates in the hands of his father destroyed the hope that these estates would ever be a source of his well-being. Material success in literature made Pushkin stop in choosing a career in the profession of a writer. At the same time, he began to think about retiring, which he did not hide from his superiors. Pushkin declared that he considered his salary as an exile’s ration, and not at all as payment for work. He claimed the independent fortune of a writer. He considered his noble origin in the societies around him. conditions as a guarantee against encroachments on its autonomy and independence. All this did not agree with Vorontsov’s views on his subordinate. In Odessa, service conditions were not as patriarchal as in Inzov’s office. A completely different tone prevailed in the relations of the governor with his subordinates. Pushkin was not subject to these conditions of official discipline. The matter was complicated by purely personal clashes between him and Vorontsov; as one of the reasons for Vorontsov’s personal dislike for Pushkin, Vorontsov’s jealousy is pointed out. Among the secular hobbies and successes of Pushkin in Odessa, we also find the governor’s wife, Countess Vorontsova. After a number of denunciation letters sent to St. Petersburg by Vorontsov against Pushkin and after the opening by the police of one letter in which Pushkin professed atheism, an order followed to expel Pushkin from service altogether and to send him to his father’s estate, the village of Mikhailovskoye, Pskov Province, under the supervision of local authorities. The shaded link turned into an explicit one. In August 1824, Pushkin moved from Odessa to Mikhailovskoye, where new troubles awaited him, a conflict with his father, etc. Pushkin left the south no longer in the same mood. The collapse of the revolutionary movements in the West made him disillusioned with the idea of a popular uprising: “Graze, peaceful peoples, / The cry of honor will not awaken you! / Why the herds of the gifts of freedom, / You need to cut or shear...”
In such verses, Pushkin expressed his disappointment in the hopes he placed on democracy as a source of political renewal of Europe. This, in turn, prepared his return to the old moderate-liberal constitutionalism. However, this return was never complete, and even during the years of his strong “correction”, he did not lose sight of the problem of the social shift that occurred in Europe as a result of the French Revolution.
On the basis of the prescribed supervision of Pushkin, in October 1824 he had a sharp clash with his father, after which the whole family left Mikhailovskoye, leaving Pushkin alone. Here, in seclusion, Pushkin divided his time between Mikhailovskoye and the neighboring Trigorsky estate, with the owners of which, Osipova and her daughters, Pushkin became close friends. At the same time, he did not leave hard work on his plans. The Gypsies were completed in Mikhailovskoye (October 10, 1824), and four chapters of Eugene Onegin were written here. In addition, in Mikhailovskoye he wrote Boris Godunov (1825), a work in which Pushkin tried to reform the classical system that dominated Russian drama. Pushkin attached great importance to this work, considering it an expression of the full flowering of their creative powers. However, it saw the light only six years after its writing, appearing in a new literary environment, and did not have the expected impact on literature, much less on the stage. Having conceived the tragedy, Pushkin opposed the “court customs” of the classical theater, leading from the French Classicism of the 17th century, the folk system of the Shakespearean theater. Years of work on Godunov coincide with the study of Shakespeare and theoretical works on drama. Having chosen the system of the folk theater, Pushkin rejected all conventions in the construction of his tragedy. But the most important thing is the rejection of the central character, the overflowing of action with secondary, episodic scenes, bringing the masses of the people onto the stage, generally introducing the people as a hero. Popular movements, popular unrest, this is the main motive of the play. To write it, Pushkin undertook a historical study of the era, starting mainly from the works of Karamzin. In general, Pushkin’s period of historical studies begins with Boris Godunov, and it is remarkable that eras marked by popular movements always attract his attention: Mazepa and the Ukrainian uprising he led, Stenka Razin, Pugachev, these are the main topics chosen by Pushkin for study and for artistic processing. The passion of Pushkin with the theater began in the Lyceum years. The first years after leaving the Lyceum, he diligently attended the theater, taking an active part in the theater groups of that time. The fruit of his theatrical hobbies was an excerpt from an article about the Russian theater and plans for unwritten comedies. These attempts at dramatic creation, so far as we can judge from the little that has come down to us, did not deviate in the least from the tradition of verse comedy of the early nineteenth century. In the early 1820s, under the influence of Western disputes about the Classical and Romantic system, Pushkin begins to experience romantic tragedy. The first experience of this kind was Boris Godunov, after which Pushkin wrote a number of other dramatic works. These probably include the works Jesus and Paul I that have not come down to us. This passion for drama continued until 1830. Later experiments, the folk fairy-tale drama Mermaid (a free adaptation of the plot of the Dnieper Mermaid, an opera popular at that time) and the historical drama from knightly times were not brought to an end.
Of the larger works in Mikhailovskoye, a playful verse story Count Nulin (1825) was also written. The appearance of this poem in print in 1828 caused criticism from critics that the author was developing a dirty plot. In fact, Count Nulin is a reaction to the Romantic tone of the “southern” poems, which marks a new stage in Pushkin’s work. Pushkin consistently “reduced” his plots from the heights of the solemn poetry of Classicism of the 18th century to the realistic forms of a free story. Comic works like Count Nulin meant creative conquests on the way of this “decrease”. Of the small poems of these years, we should mention Imitation of the Koran (1824) and in particular Andre Chenier (1825). In the last poem, called an elegy, Pushkin not only pays tribute to the poetry of Chenier, his favorite poet: here for the first time Pushkin clearly articulated his attitude to the French Revolution. Through the mouth of Chenier, through his denial of terror and the Robespierre regime, he accepted the Revolution as a necessary and just historical act, with the consequences of which the struggle is impossible.
Of great importance for the history of Pushkin’s lyrics are the following poems: October 19, 1825, The Bridegroom (an attempt to create a Russian ballad not on the model of Zhukovsky’s translated ballads and at the same time not on the model of Katenin’s ballads), and Scene from Faust, one of early examples of dramatized poetry. It is possible that already in this era Pushkin conceived, and perhaps partly sketched out the cycle of “little tragedies”, which he completed in the “Boldino Autumn” of 1830.
Rural solitude, occasionally interrupted by visits to Pushchin, Yazykov, and others, contributed to his poetic productivity. Rural impressions, direct contact with the people enriched his experience; I remember the stories about how Pushkin, dressed in a peasant outfit, walked around the fair and sang along with the blind at the Svyatogorsk Monastery. It was in Mikhailovskoye that Pushkin began to collect folk songs and fairy tales. This study of folk poetry was later reflected in his work in the form of Fairy Tales and Songs of the Western Slavs. But seclusion was involuntarily, Pushkin was subjected to obvious supervision, reinforced by a secret investigation of his behavior. In such conditions, the idea of escape abroad arises. Pushkin made an attempt to go abroad in two directions: at first he tried to leave legally, under the pretext of treating an aneurysm. Instead of permission to go abroad, this was followed by permission to travel to Pskov for treatment, and Zhukovsky, as if not understanding the true purpose of Pushkin’s petition, suggested that he send his doctor friend Moyer to Mikhailovskoye. When Pushkin decided to escape secretly, a whole conspiracy formed against him among his friends. Pletnev, who was in charge of his publishing affairs and settled accounts with publishers, by agreement with Zhukovsky and others, reported to Pushkin incorrect information about his literary income and delayed the transfer of money in order to deprive him of the funds necessary for secret departure abroad.
By the time of his stay in Mikhailovskoye, his “peasant” romance also dates back, his relationship with the serf girl Kalashnikova, who was soon sent with her father to Boldino, where she was married off.
Meanwhile, the December events of 1825 were approaching. Pushkin was going to take advantage of the confusion that reigned in the center and arbitrarily leave Mikhailovskoye for St. Petersburg, but put off his departure from day to day. The events of December 14 completely changed the situation. Pushkin considered himself personally connected with the Decembrists. Among them were his close friends. However, he thought that his non-participation in the uprising was sufficient reason to negotiate with the new government. He tried to enter into negotiations with Nicholas I, promising to retire from social activities in the future, but instead demanding freedom. However, the moment was, according to Zhukovsky, unfavorable for such negotiations, and negotiations in the tone of negotiating two equal parties, as Pushkin intended to start them, seemed especially inappropriate. freedom-loving sentiments and constitutional ideas. The political poems of Pushkin in the hands of members of secret societies were a powerful tool of propaganda. The government had no direct reason to accuse Pushkin of conspiracy. His non-participation in the material organization of the indignation became quite clear. But Nicholas I laid the ideological responsibility for what happened on Pushkin and did not intend to give freedom so easily to a person in whose hands there was such a powerful tool to fight the government as the word. Petitions from his family to allow him to move from Mikhailovskoye to St. Petersburg were systematically rejected. The matter was further complicated by the fact that an excerpt from Andre Chenier released by the censors, which went around from hand to hand with a false headline, connecting these verses with the events of December 14, reached the government. A rigorous investigation began. Meanwhile, Nicholas I, who was in Moscow after the coronation, demanded Pushkin to himself; Pushkin was taken to Moscow on September 8, 1826, with the sergeant chasseur. Here, the Tsar met Pushkin, which changed the fate of the exiled poet. In order to understand the results of this meeting, which some contemporaries considered as a betrayal of his ideals of youth, it should be noted that Pushkin was tired of exile, felt himself not called to public struggle, and recognized the futility of such a struggle after the defeat of December 14. On the other hand, Nicholas I took into account the enormous moral influence of Pushkin on Russian society and understood the full benefit of attracting Pushkin to the side of the government. It was not difficult for Nicholas I to convince Pushkin that the new government had the task of carrying out almost completely the program of the same secret society. Pushkin’s conversation with Nicholas I is not known to us, and it can only be restored from Pushkin’s later statements in what they coincided with the assurances of the government. Obviously, these coincidences of the “progressive” argumentation of Nicholas’ autocracy with the political judgments of Pushkin were the political platform on which the agreement took place. As a result of the conversation, Pushkin became a supporter of Nicholas I. There was no betrayal of social ideals, there was confidence that in the personality of Nicholas I Russia had a conductor of those events that put it forward in the direction dictated precisely by these social ideals. To this civic justification of Nicholas I, vividly expressed in the stanzas: “No, I am not a flatterer when I compose free praise to the Tsar,” was joined by a still living feeling of personal gratitude to Nicholas, who freed the poet from exile. The meeting with the Tsar had another important result for Pushkin: his works were withdrawn from the general censorship and went on to be considered by Nicholas I himself. The chief of the gendarmes, Benckendorff, was appointed as an intermediary between the Tsar and Pushkin.
The first days spent in Moscow were days of celebration and triumph. Here Pushkin personally convinced of his popularity in Russian society. The signs of attention that met him at every turn, the capital life, which replaced the boring and monotonous village solitude, little brightened up by the company of the nanny, Arina Rodionovna, all this did not make it possible to feel the reverse side of the new relations established with the government. Meanwhile, this reverse side soon made itself felt. Benckendorff turned out to be not an intermediary between Pushkin and the Tsar, but a police guardian, a civil authority, and disposed of Pushkin as a person subordinate to him. Tsarist censorship was at first fraught with great inconvenience, since Pushkin was forbidden to print anything other than Benckendorff. It beat already by Pushkin’s profession. Not everything that he printed and that had a price, he considered it possible to send the Tsar for personal viewing. “I had to give up the right to sell some part of my literary property.” His favorite work Boris Godunov, sent to the Tsar after the suggestion made by Benckendorff for reading the tragedy in some Moscow houses, was returned without permission for printing, but with the advice to remake the tragedy into a novel in the style of Walter Scott (in general, Nicholas I considered it necessary to combine with the role of censor, the role of critic, for which literary forces were mobilized, such as the famous Third Department, headed by Benckendorff, to prepare critical resolutions of the king). In general, Pushkin was very soon made to feel the heavy hand of the government, and from year to year his position became more and more difficult.
Having received “freedom” in the form of permission to live in the capitals and, consequently, close contact with representatives of the cultural Russian society, Pushkin at first began to seek ties with literary groups. Such a group, with which he entered into closest relations, turned out to be a group of Moscow youth, in the persons of M. P. Pogodin, S. P. Shevyrev, A. S. Khomyakov, I. V. Kireevsky, Venevitinov and others, a group that was the core of later Slavophilism. True, this group was separated from Pushkin by its passion for the ideas of German idealist philosophy, Schellingianism, but, on the other hand, Pushkin’s Boris Godunov with its interests in historicism, in the problem of nationality, with an acute national theme, coincided with the ideal of national literature, which was drawn in the imagination of young Muscovites. Together with Pogodin, Pushkin conceived the idea of publishing the magazine Moskovsky Vestnik, in which he intended to cooperate diligently. However, his alliance with the Moscow group did not last long, and little by little Pushkin moved away from the new journal, which did not last long (until 1831).
In 1827, Pushkin moved from Moscow to St. Petersburg, and spent the autumn in Mikhailovskoye. By this time is the work of Pushkin on the first major prose idea, the novel The Moor of Peter the Great. After the historical tragedy, Pushkin thus moves on to the historical novel. The following year he wrote the historical poem Poltava. The years of 1828 and 1829 he spent in St. Petersburg, in the estate of Malinniki, Tver province, staritsky district, owned by Osipova, a neighbor of Pushkin on an estate in the Pskov province. In 1828, while Pushkin was working on Poltava, a case arose about the Gavriiliade, which accidentally became the subject of government attention. Pushkin was summoned, interrogated, he denied authorship, during the second interrogation he wrote a letter to Nicholas I, after which the case was dismissed. This case showed Pushkin the fragility of his freedom. On the other hand, it gave Nicholas I the means to make Pushkin even more dependent on him: it can be assumed that in his letter Pushkin recognized himself as the author of the poem, and the termination of the case was an act of “mercy” of Nicholas. Such a “mercy” bound Pushkin morally, obliging him in relation to Nicholas I with personal gratitude. After the trial of Gavriiliada, Pushkin began to stubbornly renounce this work and destroy all copies of the poem that were at his disposal. It is possible that at the same time he destroyed other works that could cause him similar troubles (for example, the dramas Jesus and Paul I).
Poltava, which Pushkin considered the most mature of his poems, was not successful when published. Only his allies in Moscow saw in it a new proof of the “nationality” of his poetry. On the contrary, for the former supporters of his Romantic “southern” poems, Poltava seemed a boring work, and criticism was refined in the usual nit-picking.
In 1829, Pushkin arbitrarily left Moscow for the Caucasus, from where he joined the active army and reached Erzurum. One of the reasons for this trip was the unsuccessful matchmaking of Pushkin to N. N. Goncharova, whom he met in early 1829. In the very first years of his release from exile, Pushkin began to dream of family life and repeatedly tried to end his single existence. So, back in 1826, he married in Moscow to his namesake Sofya Pushkina, in 1828 he proposed to Anna Olenina in St. Petersburg. These marriage projects were interspersed with hobbies of the kind that his life was so rich in. Of these, his passion for A. P. Kern, which began as early as in Mikhailovskoye in 1825, but developed to the end only later, in St. Petersburg, is better known. His Romantic past, very loud, was often an obstacle to his family plans. That roughness in the history of matchmaking with Goncharova, which delayed the wedding for two years, was partly caused by conversations that reached the bride’s family about the turbulent past of Pushkin.
The trip to Erzerum did not pass without a trace for Pushkin: he received the strictest reprimand from Benckendorff for her and the requirement to continue to ask permission to leave. It should be mentioned that often his request for permission to be absent received categorical refusals without much reasoning. As a result of the trip, he wrote a travel diary: Journey to Arzrum during the campaign of 1829, which he published in 1836 and did not attract much attention at the time. This is one of his first experiences outside the genres of poetry and narrative prose. Prior to this, Pushkin in this way wrote only a few journal-polemical articles, a series of aphorisms and remarks, and a brief description of the journey through the Crimea in the form of a friendly letter. In the future, studies in journalism and historical topics increasingly distract Pushkin from strict poetic genres into the realm of pure prose.
In 1830, Pushkin managed to fulfill his dream of creating his own press organ. From this year, the Literaturnaya Gazeta, published by his friend Delvig, began to appear. At first, Pushkin was the actual editor of the newspaper, sharing editorial work with O. Somov. However, this publication did not live up to his hopes. On the one hand, it involved Pushkin in a fierce polemic against Bulgarin, the publisher of a rival organ, Severnaya Pchela, and then against Polevoy. On the other hand, the narrow scope of the publication program, purely literary, and at the same time restrictive censorship conditions prevented the conduct of the publication in the desired direction for Pushkin. He dreamed of a broad social and literary publication, modeled on French or English newspapers. Instead, the Literaturnaya Gazeta turned into an organ of interest only to writers and distributed only in a narrow professional circle.
The controversy did not enliven the pages of the publication, because it was monotonous, not going beyond literary topics and moving only on personal soil. Soon Pushkin lost interest in the newspaper, and then, having moved to Moscow, he almost completely stopped publishing in it.
By the time of his last visit to Moscow, in August 1830, there were European events that again stirred up public thought and were also reflected in domestic Russian politics. The July Revolution in France was the signal for the resumption of revolutionary movements that had ceased in the early 1820s. The revolutionary movement touched Italy, Belgium, Germany, and other countries. In November 1830, an uprising took place in Poland, which declared its independence and the deposition of Nicholas I as the king of Poland.
Pushkin closely followed European events. Being closely acquainted with E. M. Khitrovo, whose daughter was married to an Austrian envoy, he had the opportunity, in addition to any censorship, to follow the events in all their details and read newspapers of all directions.
In the midst of European events, Pushkin, who was already the official groom of Natalya Nikolaevna Goncharova, under the influence of constant clashes with the bride’s family, leaves for Boldino, where he spends the whole autumn. His stay there was extended even thanks to the cholera epidemic, which later spread to the entire territory of Russia and caused the widespread establishment of quarantines. The Boldino autumn of 1830 (from the beginning of September to the end of November) was unusually prolific in the work of Pushkin. Here, as it were, he summed up the last years of his poetic work, here he completed a number of his earlier ideas and wrote many new works. First of all, it is necessary to name the completed in draft Eugene Onegin (brought to its final form a year later, in October 1831). This is the greatest poetic work which for seven years was for Pushkin the main subject of his writings. Beginning in 1825, he published this “novel in verse” in separate chapters. The last chapter was published in 1832. The appearance of Eugene Onegin produced great controversy in the critics. Former admirers of Pushkin-the-Romantic, the author of the “southern poems”, were disappointed in their expectations, seeing a number of realistic images, interrupted by ironic lyrical digressions. The descriptions of nature and the sentimental images of characters, especially Tatiana, were accepted most favorably by criticism. As for the general plan of the novel, it aroused general bewilderment. However, the plan of the novel was unclear at the beginning even to Pushkin himself. He undertook the novel with the intention of writing a sharp satire and even at first did not intend his work to be published. The model of his poem Pushkin initially chose Byron’s Don Juan. But in the process of creativity, the satirical element began to appear less and less. Instead of a satire on high society, Pushkin gave a number of objective “pictures” of small-scale life, an almost idyllic mood. Hardly bound by the movement of the plot, which was completely free, Pushkin found himself bound by the types of his characters. The satirical “malice” was replaced by the image of the positive “ideal” of Tatyana. On the contrary, Eugene Onegin, who was originally supposed to serve as an instrument of satire, turned out to be somewhat relegated to the background. These images were intertwined with the themes of digressions, descriptions, etc., forming a very complex and intricate compositional pattern. But the very themes touched upon in Onegin testify to the simplification, the “decrease” of poetic fantasy. Exotic descriptions and Romantic feelings are contrasted with pictures of the Russian countryside, Moscow and St. Petersburg and the corresponding everyday psychology. The realistic tone of the narrative and the colloquial style of the language testify to a change in direction and the construction of the ideal of what Pushkin called the “charm of naked simplicity” and contrasted with the artificial “language of the gods” of traditional poetry. In the general plan of the novel, chapter X was also written in Boldino, which contained a chronicle of the December movement. This chapter was burned by Pushkin, and only small fragments of it have come down to us.
The desire to abandon high poetry for the sake of “low” forms was even more pronounced in The House in Kolomna, a playful story in octaves (in imitation of Byron’s English octaves), where a deliberately empty anecdote is told in order to parody the high themes of Romantic art. In this regard, Pushkin struggled with that imitative poetry, which continued the line of his “southern” poems. For Pushkin it was a passed stage, his smaller contemporaries continued to write romantic poems.
Finally, in Boldino, Pushkin wrote a number of prose stories, published under the title Belkin’s Tales. Pushkin began to engage in prose as early as 1827, when he began to write the historical novel The Moor of Peter the Great (partly under the influence of Walter Scott). The Tales of the late Ivan Petrovich Belkin at one time made almost no impression on the critics, who treated these experiments with a concise narrative with disdain. The Romantic short stories by the contemporary of Pushkin, Bestuzhev-Marlinsky were much more widespread and influential. Only in the next era of the development of Russian prose – at the end of the 1830s and start of the 1840s – did the paths outlined by Pushkin begin to influence, which affected, for example, the work of Gogol and Dostoevsky, who, following Pushkin’s The Stationmaster, turned to the development of stories with an inconspicuous hero, far from the high society characters of Romantic stories, with an intimate and everyday atmosphere of the story. These stories are not devoid of a parodic element, if they are compared with the form of Romantic anecdote that was fashionable in those years – a short story that preceded the heyday of the French novel in the 1830s.
In the plan of Belkin’s Tales, Pushkin sketched out in Boldino the completed History of the Village of Goryukhin, where in the parodic form of a broad historical work, pictures are presented of the devastated village of Goryukhin oppressed by the landowner’s power. This History is an unfinished attempt at a satirical depiction of the social consequences of serfdom. However, here, too, the purely literary tasks of parodic imitation of lofty historical narrative almost completely suppress the elements of social satire.
Somewhat apart from these searches for new themes and new forms lies the cycle of small tragedies completed in Boldino (The Miserly Knight, A Feast in the Time of Plague, Mozart and Salieri and The Stone Guest), written under the direct influence of English poets, whom Pushkin intensively studied, starting in 1828.
Lyrical works written in Boldino are very diverse. Here are written (or completed) Demons, the elegy Fun of Crazy Years Faded, the lyrical trilogy: For the last time your image is dear, Incantation and For the shores of the distant homeland, a series of hexameters, the polemical My genealogy, tertsy At the beginning of my life, I remember school, etc. While in large works and in prose Pushkin asserted forms of parody and a “low” realistic story, in lyrics he continued to develop high forms of meditative elegy. It is curious that of the lyrical poems written in Boldino and which are the pinnacle of lyrical creativity, most of them were not published during the life of Pushkin In Boldino, a number of journal polemical articles were undertaken, intended for the Literaturnaya Gazeta. However, the early marriage of Pushkin and the death of Delvig (d. January 14, 1831) distracted P. from journal work, and these articles remained unpublished.
From Boldin, having broken through the chain of quarantines, Pushkin arrived in Moscow on December 5, 1830. The next time was spent preparing for the wedding, which took place on February 18, 1831. In the next three months, Pushkin was finally convinced that a quiet life was impossible in the neighborhood with his family wives. In May he moved to Tsarskoye Selo. An epidemic that soon spread in St. Petersburg cut it off from the capital. In Tsarskoye Selo, Pushkin lived until October, in the immediate vicinity of the court that moved there, with which he was connected by friendship with Zhukovsky, who was constantly at the court in the service (as an educator of the heir). To the period his stay in Tsarskoye Selo, the acquaintance with Gogol, who was just beginning his career as a writer, also belongs.
In Tsarskoye Selo, close to the cultural center, Pushkin again found himself seized by public interests, under the influence of the ever-developing revolutionary movement in the West. It was here that Pushkin conceived a historical work on the history of the French Revolution, which remained unfinished. Only separate sketches, an introduction plan, and a small notebook of extracts from historical works and from the modern political press have come down to us. This work was undertaken, probably, not only for purely historical purposes, but for the tasks of an accurate political assessment of current events. His sketches show the strong influence of the latest historical French school of the liberal camp. In his plan, he outlines not the political, but the social causes of the revolution, and in the surviving sketches of journalistic articles of the same time, he sharply separates the political manifestation of the revolution (in particular, the policy of terror, to which he still had a negative attitude) from the social upheaval, which he accepted unconditionally. The construction of the introduction to the history of the Revolution indicates the strong influence of de Stael’s book A Look at the French Revolution, while the liberal ideas expressed in these sketches, as well as in various notes of the same time, reveal Pushkin’s undoubted closeness to the views of B. Constant set forth in his constitutional treatises. Pushkin quotes and outlines the works of Constant. The names Stael and Constant were close to Pushkin not only in their journalistic works, but also in their novels (Stael’s Dolphin and Constant’s Adolphe), which made a deep impression on Pushkin. He ardently sympathized with the rapprochement of consistent liberals with representatives of the left wing of aristocratic groups, for example. with Chateaubriand, whose liberal ideas he ardently sympathized with and whose literary activities he also closely followed. In the views of liberals like de Stael and Constant and liberal monarchists like Chateaubriand, the central place was occupied by the idea of reconciling new forms of European society with an aristocratic beginning. That is why the question of the upper chamber plays such a role in the constitutional plans of the moderate liberals as a guarantee of the stability of the new system. Pushkin accepted these ideas and tried to apply them to the Russian situation. His aristocratic views are an integral part of his constitutional convictions. An aristocracy independent of the crown, as a guarantee of political balance, is constantly put forward in his political sketches. In the Russian situation, it is the nobility that acquires an all the more important role in the political system of Poland, since the big bourgeoisie, as a fully formed social stratum, was still absent, and what in the West came from the third estate, for example, the intelligentsia, of which Peter considered himself a representative. ., as a professional writer, was recruited from the nobility in Russia. Thus, the constant promotion of the role of the nobility, which we meet in Pushkin’s works, is not at all a sign of his personal aristocratic arrogance, all the less evidence of the reactionary nature of his views. These are signs of his assimilation of moderate Western European liberalism. The aristocracy is mentioned by Pushkin not as an element of feudalism (he even denied the existence of feudalism in the history of Russia), but as a social element of the new liberal system. Obviously, in order to strengthen and historically justify his public views, Pushkin also undertook historical research on the history of the revolution, which he conducted in parallel with the study of Russian history.
With the move of Pushkin to St. Petersburg, his personal tragedy begins, connected with his attitude to the court. If in 1825 Pushkin dreamed of an agreement with the government, promising for his part non-interference in public affairs, now, even with a complete rejection of the open confession of his views, he had to decide on a personal plane the question of his cooperation with the autocracy. He was personally dependent on Nicholas I. Prior to his marriage, the matter was limited to the strictest control and prohibitive measures that prevented Pushkin from freely disposing of his fate. After the marriage, the new “favors” of Nicholas I bound Pushkin much more. In 1831, on November 14, a month after moving to St. Petersburg they determined his salary (insignificant, in comparison with the expenses that the wide social life of Natalya Nikolaevna caused). Two years later, Pushkin was promoted to chamber junker. He takes this production as a hidden insult, since this title was worn by young men who begin their court career. When, six months later, Pushkin tries to resign, he is threatened with punishment, disfavor, etc., and through Zhukovsky and Benckendorff they are forced to beg to leave him in the service. Moreover, all this is accompanied by humiliating reprimands, demands that all his petitions be written in the most humble tone, etc. When Pushkin points out that his forced stay at court causes unbearable expenses, Nicholas I gives him a loan of 30,000 rubles. and thus finally binds Pushkin. So, all attempts to escape from court life are forcibly suppressed; understandably, and in his family, in the person of Natalya Nikolaevna, Pushkin did not find unanimity. Secular life, continuous successes at court, of course, were much dearer to his wife than life somewhere in the wilderness, on a low-income estate. Natalya Nikolaevna, as a Muscovite who grew up in a somewhat provincial setting of a patriarchal city, understandably, all her life dreamed of a brilliant metropolitan life in St. Petersburg.
The last years of Pushkin can be divided into two periods, until the end of 1833 (before the chamber junkers) and the last 3 years of his life, before the duel. The first period, although creatively less prolific than the 1820s, was marked by several major works. In poetry, Pushkin more and more gravitates towards the themes and forms of folk poetry. He embarked on this path as early as 1828, but until the Boldino autumn he did not give anything complete. In the early 1830s, he wrote a number of folk tales (The Tale of Tsar Saltan, About the Dead Princess, About the Golden Cockerel, About the Fisherman and the Fish, About the Priest and His Worker Balda) and transcribed into Russian written in imitation of Illyrian folk songs imitations of Merimee. Adding to them translations from Serbian and several of his own compositions on South Slavic themes, Pushkin combined them into the cycle Songs of the Western Slavs. It is possible that Pushkin began working on this cycle as early as 1828 (Merimee’s imitations – Guzla – appeared in 1827), but he first printed it in 1835 and continued to work on them later. In October 1833, in Boldino, where Pushkin stopped during his trip to the Urals, among other works, his poem The Bronze Horseman was written, a composition that was completely new in concept, which combined broad historical themes with a story about an inconspicuous hero. This poem was not published, since Nicholas I banned it. The last poem Angelo was also written there in Boldino on a theme borrowed from Shakespeare. In parallel with this, Pushkin increasingly turns to prose. At the end of 1832, he began to write the novel Dubrovsky, but, without finishing it, he quit in February 1833. At the end of 1833, he wrote the fantastic story The Queen of Spades, in which the influence of Hoffmann is obvious, perceived by Pushkin probably through French translations and French imitations common in the early 1830s. Studying Russian popular movements, Pushkin turned to the Pugachev uprising and undertook a historical work on this topic. Not limited to studying the literature of the issue and archival material, he travels to the places of the events being studied, visits Kazan and Orenburg (in the autumn of 1833). As a result of these works, he wrote The History of Pugachev (renamed by Nicholas I into The History of the Pugachev Rebellion). In parallel with this purely historical work, he writes the historical novel The Captain’s Daughter, which he completed and published later, in 1836. In this novel, as well as in his earlier prose experiments, beginning with Peter the Great’s Moor, new prosaic forms under the influence of the flourishing of the Western European novel, in particular Walter Scott and his school (for example, Manzoni).
After 1833, his productivity dropped sharply. From poetry and artistic prose, he moves more to journalistic and historical works, for the most part unfinished. In recent years, he has been working on the history of Peter I, whose image attracted his attention even during the creation of Poltava. The problem of Peter’s reforms lies in close connection with the public views of Pushkin. Liquidation of the public. The movements of 1830 naturally have an effect on Pushkin. He becomes disillusioned with social movements, and the representatives of the cultural society surrounding him in Russia instill in him doubt that the most active members of the public are progressive forces. Strictly distinguishing in these years the problems of political freedom and social progress, Pushkin begins to doubt that liberal institutions will push Russia to the free development of its social forms. Not being an apologist for the autocratic regime until the end of his days, Pushkin approaches the problem: is autocracy the most progressive social force in the situation of the Russian public in the 1830s? Hence the interest in the activities of Peter, who carried out the cultural reform by the methods of autocracy. The question of autocracy is posed as a question of social progress under the given conditions, and Pushkin, daily indignant at the autocracy and the police practice of Nicholas I, did not see the possibility of social activity without cooperation with the autocracy.
In 1836, Pushkin undertook the publication of the journal Sovremennik. This is the last page of his literary activity. At the end of 1836, events took place that prepared the tragic denouement. Dantes, a French monarchist officer who entered the Russian service and adopted by the Dutch envoy Gekkern, began openly courting the wife of Pushkin. The clash between Pushkin and Dantes was complicated by the distribution (in early November) of anonymous letters, parodically classifying Pushkin to the “order of cuckolds”. In these anonymous letters, sent out, as it is now established, Prince. P.V. Dolgorukov, transparently hinted at the courtship of Nicholas I for Natalia Nikolaevna. Pushkin saw in these letters the participation of Gekkern and Dantes, and sent the latter a challenge. The duel was rejected by the fact that Dantes married Natalya Nikolaevna’s sister, but in January Pushkin, seeing Dantes’ incessant courtship and learning about his wife’s date with Dantes, again challenged him to a duel. Mortally wounded on January 27, Pushkin died on January 29 (February 10, N.S.) at three-quarters of three in the afternoon. His body was transported to the Holy Mountains (a village near Mikhailovskoye), where he was buried on February 6.
In recent years, Pushkin has been ignored by critics, as a writer who has already completed his literary career and does not promise anything in the future. After death, the attitude towards him immediately changes. His death was considered by his contemporaries as a fact of great social significance.
Death revealed the enormous popularity of Pushkin in the reader’s environment, whose sympathies did not always coincide with the opinion that prevailed in magazine criticism. The growth of his popularity after his death continues uninterruptedly until the mid-1850s. During this first period, Belinsky’s articles on Pushkin (1843-1846) are especially significant, in which the activity of Pushkin is connected with the entire previous development of Russian literature. The first period ended with the first critical edition of his works, edited by P. V. Annenkov (1855). New public interests, emerging in the late 1850s and 1860s, divert readers’ attention from Pushkin. He is becoming more and more the property of “bibliographers”. Pisarev’s articles (1865), debunking Pushkin as a poet and especially as a thinker, are characteristic of this period of denial of Pushkin and his school. A new rise in interest in Pushkin coincides with the celebration of the opening of the monument to Pushkin in Moscow (June 1880), when Dostoevsky’s famous speech was delivered, establishing Pushkin as a national poet. In 1887 the family’s ownership of the works of Pushkin ended, which opened his works to the public domain. A huge number of cheap publications contributed to their distribution in the reading environment. The celebrations of 1899 on the occasion of the centenary of the birth, not distinguished by their brightness, testified to the wide popularity of Pushkin.
Approximately from this time, the scientific study of Pushkin began. From the bibliographic and historical research of the previous decades, an independent discipline, “Pushkinism,” was gradually differentiated, which for a long time occupied a middle position between the amateur cult of the name Pushkin and an independent branch of Russian historical and literary science.
The initial steps of this discipline are characterized by the “stylization” of Pushkin both in the field of understanding his literary role and in the field of interpreting his historical personality, his social, philosophical and other views. Representatives of various currents turn to Pushkin in order to find in him a justification for their position. Little by little, stylization gives way to historicism. Pushkin becomes the subject of a double study: on the one hand, as a master, he retains all his significance to this day, and the study of his skill continues to be a source of artistic experience for writers of our time; on the other hand, as a cultural and historical personality, he becomes the property of history. The significance of his literary heritage and his literary era assigns him a completely exceptional place in historical and literary research.