«The luminary of Russian poetry»
You are like the first love, the heart of Russia will never forget!..
Alexander Pushkin was born on 6 June 1799 in Moscow in a landowner’s family. Alexander Sergeevich’s origin comes from the noble family of Pushkin. On the mother’s side, there were Africans in the family, in particular, the great-grandfather of the poet, Abram Petrovich Hannibal, godson of the Emperor Peter I, General-in-chief, to whom he dedicated the historical unfinished novel «The Moor of Peter the Great».
Poets, artists, and musicians used to gather in Pushkin’s parents’ house. The mind and personality of Pushkin were formed by gallophilia that prevailed in society at that time, upbringing in the French style with French tutors, and by the rich libraries of his father and relatives.
The poet’s grandmother Maria Alekseevna and his nanny Arina Rodionovna, who later accompanied Alexander Sergeevich throughout his life, were engaged in raising little Pushkin. «Comrade of my wretched youth» as Pushkin calls her in one of his poems, certainly influenced the work of Alexander Sergeevich. He dedicated poems to her and made her the prototype of nanny Tatiana from the novel «Eugene Onegin», one of the most significant works of Russian literature.
Despite his brilliant mind, the future «luminary of Russian poetry» could not be called a diligent student. Alexander Sergeevich’s grandmother noted: «The boy is smart and a hungry for books, but bad at studying, he rarely does his homework properly».
In 1811, Alexander Pushkin was admitted to the Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum, near Saint-Petersburg. While studying at the Lyceum, his poetic gift was revealed, and then for the first time Pushkin’s poems were published in the journal «Vestnik Evropy». The poet recalled: «I started writing poetry at the age of 13 and publishing almost at the same time».
After graduating from the Lyceum in June 1817, Pushkin entered the service of the Collegium of Foreign Affairs in Saint-Petersburg as a secretary. Having attracted the attention of secular society with his independent behavior, he energetically started writing. At that time, Alexander Pushkin was working on the poem «Ruslan and Lyudmila», which he began writing at the Lyceum, actively participated in the literary society «Arzamas», and became a member of the literary and theatrical society “Green lamp”.
Pushkin created not only lyrical poems, fairy tales, but also works that were incompatible with his position as an official — for his free-thinking poems, he was exiled.
So, Pushkin goes to the Caucasus. The years spent in the South are reflected in the poet’s poems: «The Fountain of Bakhchisaray», «The Prisoner of the Caucasus», «The Brothers Robbers», «The Gypsies». In 1824, he was ordered to live in his mother’s estate in the Mikhailovskoye village, the Pskov Oblast.
Russian nature, the charm of the ancient Pskov land with its «noble» mounds and settlements, communication with farmers, with his nanny Arina Rodionovna – «everything excited the gentle mind» of Pushkin and contributed to understanding the soul of the Russian people.
Alexander Pushkin created about a hundred works in the Mikhailovskoye, including chapters of the novel «Eugene Onegin», which is considered to be the «encyclopedia of Russian life».
In 1826, Pushkin returned to Moscow, where he was granted an audience with Emperor Nicholas I, who had just ascended the throne and guaranteed the poet personal highest patronage and exemption from the usual censorship.
In 1828, at one of the Moscow balls, the poet met Natalia Nikolaevna Goncharova – the first beauty of Moscow and the love of his life. On 6 May 1830, the betrothal of Pushkin and Goncharova took place, and the poet went to the village of Boldino, Nizhny Novgorod Governorate, to mortgage the estate and get married. However, the cholera epidemic that began in Moscow detains Pushkin in Boldino until December 1830. This period in the work of Alexander Pushkin is called «Boldin Autumn» and is characterized by an extraordinary creative rise: the poet’s talent has fully blossomed.
In 1831, Alexander Sergeevich and Natalia Nikolaevna got married. In a letter to a friend shortly after the wedding the poet noted: «I am married and happy; my only wish is that nothing in my life will change — there is nothing much better. This state is so new to me that I seem to have been reborn».
The same year, the couple moved to Tsarskoe Selo, and then to Saint-Petersburg on Galernaya street. During six years of marriage, the Pushkin couple had four children.
In the Autumn of 1836, hints and gossip about the very obvious signs of attention to Pushkin’s wife Natalia Nikolaevna by Chevalier Guard d’Anthès became more frequent. This was the reason for sending a «highly offensive letter», the only response to which could be a challenge to a duel.
On 27 January 1837, the duel with d’Anthès took place on the Black River. Pushkin was mortally wounded in the stomach. Emperor Nicholas I, knowing about the poet’s serious condition, promises to provide prosperity for the family and pay all debts, which he later fulfills. Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin died on 29 January 1837 at the age of 37 in Saint-Petersburg and was buried in the Pskov Oblast.
Pushkin has already got the reputation of the greatest National Russian poet and the founder of the modern Russian literary language during his lifetime. It was he who first dared to combine the literary and colloquial styles of the Russian language, which differed much at that time. As a result of the mixture of styles, a lively and modern Russian language appeared, which Russians still use today, and the works of the great writer are still as clear to modern readers as they were two centuries ago.
Back in 1832, N.V. Gogol wrote about the significance of the personality and creativity of A.S. Pushkin for Russia: «Pushkin is an extraordinary phenomenon, and perhaps the only phenomenon of the Russian spirit: this is the Russian man in his evolution, in which he may appear in two hundred years. He reflects Russian nature, Russian soul, the Russian language, Russian personality in the same purity, in such a refined beauty, as the landscape is reflected on the convex surface of optical glass».
The apparent simplicity of his works is another element of Pushkin’s popularity, because he had a unique talent for transferring vivid images to paper in just two or three words and permanently fixing them in the reader’s mind. Behind the apparent ease and simplicity of the works of A.S. Pushkin is an extraordinary talent and hard work, because the poet carefully thought over every line.
Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin also reflected on the fate of the people, the Fatherland, and the whole world. He can be surely called a Global Citizen and a Russian patriot.
Now, the name of the great Russian poet, playwright and prose writer, who laid the foundation of the Russian realist movement, is known all over the world, as well as his works: they are a part of school programs, studied at universities; performances and movies are being made on their basis, and also being read because of love for the poet and the Russian language.
It is well known that more than one generation of people grew up on Pushkin’s fairy tales, which became an invisible thread that connected entire generations for centuries! The works of Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin have become an essential part of our identity. The poet’s ideas, talent and creativity were ahead of their time for many centuries, and also influenced the formation of entire generations of Russians.
Anyone who has graduated from school in our Country or lived in Russia knows that A.S. Pushkin is the «luminary of Russian poetry» and «our everything». It is no coincidence that since 2010, on Pushkin’s birthday, the UN Russian Language Day, established by the UNESCO, is observed. In 2011, the President of the Russian Federation issued a decree about the observance of the Russian Language Day in Russia, and A.S. Pushkin and the Russian language has officially become one.
There are a lot of places in Russia associated with the life and works of A.S. Pushkin. We offer you to get acquainted with the most significant:
- The Memorial Lyceum Museum
A.S. Pushkin studied here from 1811 to 1817. Museum has a recreated interior in which the Lyceum students of the first graduation, so-called «Pushkin», lived and studied.
Part of the National Pushkin Museum.
Address: Russia, Saint-Petersburg, Pushkin, Sadovaya Str. 2
- Museum-Reserve of A. S. Pushkin «Mikhailovskoye» (The Pushkin Museum-Reserve)
Mikhailovskoye is the poetic birthplace of A.S. Pushkin, the place of creative formation of the poet, where he spent a lot of time and where he was buried.
Address: Russia, Pskov Oblast, Pushkinskiye Gory settlement, S.S. Geychenko Ave. 1
- Museum Boldino
Here is the ancestral estate of the poet, where he wrote many works.
Address: Russia, Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, Bolshoye Boldino village, Pushkinskaya Str. 144
- A.S. Pushkin Memorial Museum-apartment
A.S. Pushkin lived here from September 1836 until his death. The interior was recreated according to the memories of Pushkin’s contemporaries. The family’s personal belongings are kept in the Museum.
Part of the National Pushkin Museum.
Address: Russia, Saint-Petersburg, Moika River Emb. 12
- Pushkin Memorial apartment on Arbat Street
A.S. Pushkin lived here with N.N. Goncharova for the first three months after the wedding.
Part of the National Pushkin Museum.
Address: Russia, Moscow, Arbat Str. 53
- Culture of Russia: https://www.culture.ru/persons/8195/aleksandr-pushkin
- History of Russia: https://histrf.ru/lichnosti/biografii/p/pushkin-alieksandr-sierghieievich
- Stark V. P. Pushkiny v «Istorii Petra» i «Istorii Pugachyova» // Pushkin: Issledovaniya i materialy / RAS. Institute of Russian Literature (Pushkin House). — Saint-Petersburg.: Nauka, 2004. — Vol XVI/XVII. — P. 188—197.
- Lukomskij V. K. Arhivnye materialy o rodonachal’nike Pushkinyh — Radshe // Pushkin: Vremennik Pushkinskoj komissii / USSR ACADEMY OF SCIENCES. Institute of Literature. — Moscow.; Leningrad.: Publishing House of the USSR ACADEMY OF SCIENCES, 1941. — № 6. — P. 398—408. p. 398
- Great Russian Encyclopedia: https://bigenc.ru/literature/text/3485181#
- RUSSIAN VIRTUAL LIBRARY A. S. Pushkin. Sobranie sochinenij v 10 tomah. Moscow.: Khudozhestvennaya Literatura publishing house, 1959—1962. Vol. Letters 1831–1837. https://rvb.ru/pushkin/01text/10letters/1831_37/01text/1831/1584_396.htm
- Our everything // Russkiy Mir Foundation URL: https://russkiymir.ru/publications/225739/
- Federal State Budget Institution of Culture «State Memorial Historical-Literary and Natural-Landscape Museum-Reserve of A. S. Pushkin «Mikhailovskoye» (The Pushkin Museum-Reserve): http://pushkinland.ru/2018/pushkin/push1.php
- National Pushkin Museum: http://www.museumpushkin.ru/muzej_online/stati/tajna_geniya.html
- Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library: https://www.prlib.ru/history/619292
1. Pushkin and the nanny. By Y.M. Neprintsev, 1938-1958.
2. A.S. Pushkin on the exam in Tsarskoye Selo on 8 January 1815 года. By I.Y. Repin.
3. A.S. Pushkin in the Mikhailovskoye village. By N.N. Ge, 1875.
4. N.N. Goncharova. Pushkin’s drawing, 6 October 1833.
5. The final shot of A.S. Pushkin. By A.M. Volkov, 1869.
6. «The Blizzard» musical stage performance, based on the story of A.S. Pushkin. The State Academic Maly Theatre. By Viktor Gusejnov.