6 months ago



ALEXANDER PUSHKIN: A SHINING GENIUS OF POETRY The year 1799. An entry was made in the book of births, marriages and deaths of the Twelfth Day Church in Moscow. It read, "27th May, Sergiy Pushkin, a college registering clerk, tenant of Ivan Skvortsov.... hereby registers the birth of his son Alexander. Baptized on the eighth day in June..." Without anybody knowing it, this entry proclaimed to the world the appearance under the sun of a person destined to become an outstanding man of letters, the founder of a new Russian literature, the creator of the Russian literary language. Alexander Pushkin's father belonged to an old aristocratic dynasty, once prosperous but eventually reduced to a gradual decline. He was sufficiently educated for his time and wrote poems. His house was visited by well-known writers. There were often lively creative discussions to which little Sasha gave an interested ear. His uncle was a popular poet who helped his nephew develop an interest in literature. His mother was the granddaughter of Hannibal, an Abyssinian whom Peter I had brought from Turkey. A son of an Ethiopian prince, Hannibal was a small boy when he had been captured, eventually to become a friend and follower of the Russian czar, and a reputed military engineer (Pushkin later portrayed him in his novel, The Ethiopian of Peter the Great). The Pushkins entrusted the education of their children to French private tutors of both sexes. Alexander, however, was most influenced by his nurse Arina - an ordinary Russian village woman-who opened before the boy's eager eyes the wonderworld of Russian folk tales and awakened in him a love of folk poetry. Beginning at age 7, Pushkin usually spent summers in Zakharovo, a village near Moscow where his grandmother had her estate. There, he took every opportunity -of which there were plenty -to have a closer look at the common folk, get acquainted with their daily life and learn to understand folk songs and the vernacular. Pushkin's extremely abundant creative life was preceded by a period of "accumulation the stockpiling of impressions and knowledge. At 8, he could read and write and indulged in writing small comedies and epigrams about his teachers. In 1811, a lycee was opened in Tsarskoe Selo, not far form St. Petersburg. It was a private college for young sons of the privileged nobility and specialized in cultivating literary tastes and inclinations. On January 8, 1815, young Pushkin recited during examinations his poems under the general title Reminiscences in Tsarskoe Selo, dedicated to the occasion. He had written them under the fresh impressions of the Patriotic War against Napoleon (1812), when the victorious Russian troops had cleared the country of the invaders and