by Elena Talalaeva




"The study of any literature, if undertaken in the right spirit, should enable us to follow the successive patterns of the life and consciousness of the nation which gave it birth. "(Janko Lavrin, p.1) If examining the history of Russian Literature more closely then it could be found out that for some time Russia did not have its own distinctive writing style. At the end of tenth century Kievan Russia received Christianity and the first religious book  was written by Balkans. For a long time Russian writers (most of them were religious representatives) used Church-Slavonic language in their work (Janko Lavrin, pp.1,2) in 1667 as a result of Poland giving up east part of Dnieper (to Russia) Kiev once again became a link with Western Europe. Because of that Western writers started influencing Russian literature but the influence was not very strong. (Janko Lavrin, p.7)


During ruling of Peter the Great things started to change for Russian literature. He made changes in alphabet and he also created the first Russian newspaper (in 1703). (Janko Lavrin, p.10) Also Russia was learning writing style from European countries until the end of eighteenth century. (Janko Lavrin, p.11) However, "It was only after Russia's continuous military successes against the Turks that her national conciseness began to grow and to take an interest not only in her warlike but in her cultural achievements as well." (Janko Lavrin, p.12) As a result Russian writers started to write about Russia echoing French writing style. (Janko Lavrin, p.12)

"If Peter I "annexed" Russia to Europe and at the same time turned her into a Great Power, Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin (1799-1837) achieved, just over a century later, something similar with regard to Russian literature and, for that matter, Russian culture in general." (Janko Lavrin, p.7)


Pushkin was born in a well-known and influential family. However, it seems that young Pushkin was not very close with his parents. But there was one person who had a big impact in his life: his nanny Anna Rodionovna who was coming from a peasant background She was the first person who exposed Pushkin to Russian culture and traditions. (Janko Lavrin, p.20) When Pushkin was twelve he left Moscow for Tsarskoye Selo, where he received his education. He was not a very good student, but he was recognized for his outstanding poetic ability (Janko Lavrin, pp.27,28) "To My Poet Friend" was his first published poem in 1814. (Janko Lavrin, p. 28)

"In spite of her eagerness to make up for lost opportunities in the past, Russia, between Peter the Great and Alexander 1, failed to express herself adequately in terms of literature. What the world now understands and admires under the name of Russian literature came with and after Pushkin. "(Janko Lavrin, p.65) He had a unique writing style - not complicated, understandable by many (Lavrin, p.65)


Much of work of young Pushkin was dedicated to revolutionary topics. However he did not limit himself just to that. (Troyat, p.126) In 1817 while still in school he started working on "Ruslan and Ludmila" and he continued for three years. " (Troyat, p.126) "it seems almost as if the difficulties of versifying did not exist for him... The heavy, rugged Russian verse form in his hands became as malleable as wax. He could do anything he liked with it. ...he was a juggler of words, a virtuoso of rhymes, a demon of facility. "Troyat, p.127) The poem was one of the best known work of Pushkin in Russian literature. Probably not everybody read it but it could be safely assumed that majority of Russians al least heard of it. (my experience)

The main "highlight" of his career was his lyrical creation "Evgeny Onegin". Pushkin was writing it for eight years before it was first published. (Troyat, p.] I9,120) But Pushkin was not only writing poems,  he also dedicated much of his time writing prose. He started doing it because he wanted "...to explore the possibilities of prose in the same way as he had explored the possibilities of verse. Here too he proved to be a pioneer, and was largely responsible for the character of modern Russian prose... "(Janko Lavrin, pp. 18Z 183)


Russian literature developed its identity due to Pushkin's work in lyrics, drama, prose. His work was also unique because he was able to incorporate European experience in literature into his work. Great Britain and Russia developed connection through his work (Lavrin, p.214). "Since the future of the world depends largely on the rapprochement between these two countries, it is almost imperative that such a process should first take place in the realm of cultural values. "(Lavrin, p.214)

Pushkin's work was timeless and was appreciated by his readers in 1800s and 1900s.(Lavrin, p. 214) Even during revolutionary years in Russia (in 1917s) when communists were changing many values of the post, he still remained the Russia's favorite writer. (Lavrin. pp.214,215) His place in Russian literature was established over a century ago and will be kept forever.


Lavrin, Janko. "Pushkin and Russian literature." New York: The MacMillan Company,1 948. pp.1,2,7,10,12,l 7,'''' l82,183~2l4,2 15, Troyat, Henri. "Pushkin a biography."(translation: Weaver, Randolph). New York: Pantheon Books, Inc.,1950. pp.119,120,126,127.




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