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Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin 6 June [O.S. 26 May] 1799 – 10 February [O.S. 29 January] 1837) was a Russian author of the Romantic era who is considered by many to be the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. Pushkin was born into Russian nobility in Moscow. His great-grandfather from his mother's side – Abram Gannibal – was brought over as a slave from Africa and had risen to become an aristocrat. Pushkin published his first poem at the age of fifteen, and was widely recognized by the literary establishment by the time of his graduation from the Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum. Alexander Pushkin
Pushkin's father, Sergei Lvovich Pushkin (1767–1848), was descended from a distinguished family of the Russian nobility that traced its ancestry back to the 12th century. Pushkin's mother Nadezhda (Nadya) Ossipovna Gannibal (1775–1836) was descended through her paternal grandmother from German and Scandinavian nobility. She was the daughter of Ossip Abramovich Gannibal (1744–1807) and his wife, Maria Alekseyevna Pushkina (1745–1818). Life
Born in Moscow, Pushkin published his first poem at the age of fifteen. By the time he finished school as part of the first graduating class of the prestigious Imperial Lyceum in Tsarskoe Selo near Saint Petersburg, his talent was already widely recognized within the Russian literary scene. After school, Pushkin plunged into the vibrant and raucous intellectual youth culture of the capital, Saint Petersburg. In 1820 he published his first long poem, Ruslan and Lyudmila, amidst much controversy about its subject and style. Career
Pushkin descendants Pushkin had four children from his marriage to Natalya: Maria (b. 1832, touted as a prototype of Anna Karenina), Alexander (b. 1833), Grigory (b. 1835), and Natalya (b. 1836) the last of whom married, morganatically, into the royal house of Nassau to Nikolaus Wilhelm of Nassau and became the Countess of Merenberg. Of Pushkin's children only the lines of Alexander and Natalya continue. Natalya's granddaughter, Nadejda, married into the British royal family (her husband was the uncle of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh). Descendants of the poet now live around the globe: in Great Britain, Germany, Belgium and the United States.
Literary legacy Critics consider many of his works masterpieces, such as the poem The Bronze Horseman and the drama The Stone Guest, a tale of the fall of Don Juan. His poetic short drama "Mozart and Salieri" was the inspiration for Peter Shaffer's Amadeus. Pushkin himself preferred his verse novel Eugene Onegin, which he wrote over the course of his life and which, starting a tradition of great Russian novels, follows a few central characters but varies widely in tone and focus. "Onegin" is a work of such complexity that, while only about a hundred pages long, translator Vladimir Nabokov needed two full volumes of material to fully render its meaning in English. Because of this difficulty in translation, Pushkin's verse remains largely unknown to English readers. Even so, Pushkin has profoundly influenced western writers like Henry James.
Musical legacy Pushkin's works also provided fertile ground for Russian composers. Glinka's Ruslan and Lyudmila is the earliest important Pushkin-inspired opera, and a landmark in the tradition of Russian music. Tchaikovsky's operas Eugene Onegin (1879) and The Queen of Spades (1890) became perhaps better known outside of Russia than Pushkin's own works of the same name. Mussorgsky's monumental Boris Godunov (two versions, 1868-9 and 1871-2) ranks as one of the very finest and most original of Russian operas. Other Russian operas based on Pushkin include Dargomyzhsky's Rusalka and The Stone Guest; Rimsky-Korsakov's Mozart and Salieri, Tale of Tsar Saltan, and The Golden Cockerel; Cui's Prisoner of the Caucasus, Feast in Time of Plague, and The Captain's Daughter; Tchaikovsky's Mazeppa; Rachmaninov's one-act operas Aleko (based on The Gypsies) and The Miserly Knight; Stravinsky's Mavra, and Nápravník's Dubrovsky.
Romanticism Pushkin is considered by many to be the central representative of Romanticism in Russian literature, however, he can't be labelled unequivocally as a Romantic. Russian critics have traditionally argued that his works represent a path from neo-Classicism through Romanticism to Realism. An alternative assessment suggests that "he had an ability to entertain contrarities which may seem Romantic in origin, but are ultimately subversive of all fixed points of view, all single outlooks, including the Romantic" and that "he is simultaneously Romantic and not Romantic".
The Secret Journal In 1986, a book entitled Secret Journal 1836–1837 was published by a Minneapolis publishing house (M.I.P. Company), claiming to be the decoded content of an encrypted private journal kept by Pushkin. Promoted with few details about its contents, and touted for many years as being 'banned in Russia', it was an erotic novel narrated from Pushkin's perspective. Some mail-order publishers still carry the work under its fictional description. In 2001 it was first published in Moscow by Ladomir Publishing House which created a scandal. In 2006 a bilingual Russian-English edition was published in Russia by Retro Publishing House. Now published in 25 countries. Staged in Paris in 2006. In 2011 new editions were published in France by Belfond, in Spain by Funambulista and in the USA by M.I.P. Company.
Works 1820 – Ruslan i Lyudmila (Руслан и Людмила); English translation: Ruslan and Ludmila 1820–21 – Kavkazskiy plennik (Кавказский пленник); English translation: The Prisoner of the Caucasus 1821 – Gavriiliada (Гавриилиада) ; English translation: The Gabrieliad 1821–22 – Bratya razboyniki (Братья разбойники); English translation: The Robber Brothers 1823 – Bakhchisaraysky fontan (Бахчисарайский фонтан); English translation: The Fountain of Bakhchisaray 1824 – Tsygany (Цыганы); English translation: The Gypsies 1825 – Graf Nulin (Граф Нулин); English translation: Count Nulin 1829 – Poltava (Полтава); English translation: Poltava 1830 – Domik v Kolomne (Домик в Коломне); English translation: The Little House in Kolomna 1833 – Andjelo (Анджело); English translation: Angelo 1833 – Medny vsadnik (Медный всадник); English translation: The Bronze Horseman
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