Biography of Alexander Pushkin

Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin was a Russian poet, short-story writer, novelist, and dramatist. He is widely considered to be the founder of modern Russian literature.

Born into an aristocratic family, Pushkin attended school at the prestigious Imperial Lyceum at Tsarskoye Selo from 1811 to 1817, where, at age 15, he published his first poem. Pushkin followed the traditional aristocratic career path by taking a post in the foreign service office in St. Petersburg after his graduation.

In 1820 Pushkin was exiled from the capital due to his politically subversive poems. Pushkin went south to the area now known as Ukraine, and was later exiled again to Mikhailovskoe, his mother's estate. The year after the 1825 Decembrist Revolt, Pushkin was pardoned by Tsar Nicholas I and allowed to return to Moscow. Within a few years, he received a court position and reentered government service. Despite the pressures of censorship, mounting debts, and personal attacks, Pushkin remained prolific throughout his life. In 1837, Pushkin fought a duel with Georges d'Anthès, his wife's alleged lover, and died of his wounds.

Pushkin's is credited for his rejuvenation of the Russian language and literary forms. From a wide, international reading and an intimacy with traditional Russian culture, Pushkin produced a distinctly new idiom which, as twentieth-century novelist Vladimir Nabokov wrote, combined the profundity of Church Slavonic (the classical Russian language), the flavor of the French which was popular among Russian aristocracy, and the realism of colloquial speech from all rungs of Russian society. By opening the quotidian topic of contemporary society to literature, Pushkin paved the path for the nineteenth-century Russian realist novels of Leo Tolstoy, Ivan Turgenev, and Fyodor Dostoevsky.


Study Guides on Works by Alexander Pushkin

Pushkin, already an established poet, began writing Eugene Onegin in 1823 while exiled from the capital to southern Russia. He published parts of each chapter in serialization as he wrote them before printing each complete chapter in booklet form....

Alexander Pushkin's "The Queen of Spades" is a short story about Hermann, a calculating officer in the Army Engineers whose extreme greed leads him to obsess over finding out an old countess's magic formula to winning at the gambling game faro....