Feinstein, Elaine Pushkin

ISBN 13: 9780880016742

Pushkin

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9780880016742: Pushkin

In an engaging biography of Russian literary genius Alexander Pushkin, whose life was as dramatic as any story he invented, poet and novelist Feinstein explores the paradoxes of the unruly writer. 8 illustrations.

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Review:

Considered Russia's greatest poet as well as the spiritual father of its prose literature, Aleksandr Pushkin (1799-1837) is best known to English-speaking readers for the Tchaikovsky opera based on his masterpiece, Eugene Onegin, and for his turbulent personal life. British poet and novelist Elaine Feinstein devotes plenty of time to the latter, displaying an almost Russian gusto for the details of Pushkin's many love affairs and the circumstances leading to the duel to defend his wife's honor in which he died. Among the recently uncovered material her biography includes are letters suggesting that the man who shot Pushkin had a homosexual relationship with a Dutch diplomat who protected him after the fatal event. But Feinstein also quotes extensively from various translations (including her own) to give a vivid sense of a writer with "the facility of Byron, the sensuous richness of Keats and a bawdy wit reminiscent of Chaucer." These English renderings do better justice to his sexy, light lyrics than to more serious efforts, and Feinstein's thorough biography does not entirely convey to Western readers Pushkin's epic importance in Russia. It certainly offers a vivid sense of his volatile personality--good-natured yet quarrelsome, witty yet painfully sensitive--and of the intricate social world in which he moved, that of the Russian empire at the height of its power. --Wendy Smith

About the Author:

Elaine Feinstein is a prize-winning poet, novelist and biographer. She was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1980 and her work has been translated into many languages. She is the author of highly praised lives of Pushkin and Ted Hughes (the first biography).

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