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One of the chief names in literature during the Romantic era was Alexander Pushkin. He was an eminent Russian romantic poet and deemed the father of modern Russian literature. He penned some of the nineteenth century’s most momentous poetry, novels, prose, and dramas.
See the fact file below for more information on the Alexander Pushkin or alternatively, you can download our 29-page Alexander Pushkin worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Born on June 6, 1799, in Moscow, Russia, Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin belonged to Russian nobility, which traces its ancestry back to the 12th century. His mother was a great granddaughter of Gannibal, the legendary Abyssinian, who served under Peter the Great.
- Pushkin’s mother took little interest in the upbringing of her children, so he was raised under the care and supervision of nursemaids, governesses, and French tutors.
- He learned the Russian language through communication with household serfs and his nanny, Arina Rodionovna, whom he loved dearly and was more attached to than to his own mother.
- At an early age, he developed a passion for writing and had his first poetry work published during his adolescence.
- In 1811, Pushkin attended the prestigious Imperial Lyceum in Tsarskoe Selo, where he put his artistic creativity to use and began working on his first widely recognized literary work. An unofficial laureate of the Lyceum, Pushkin quickly drew the acclaim of his teachers and peers for his poetry.
- His first publication appeared in the journal, The Messenger of Europe, in 1814. In 1815, at the public examination at the Lyceum, the audience was swept by his poem Recollections in Tsarskoe Selo, which was highly praised by Gavriil Derzhavin, the most influential poet of the time.
- While at the Lyceum, Pushkin formed solid friendships with many other students, and cherished this “Lyceum brotherhood” for the rest of his life.
- After graduating from the Lyceum in 1817, Pushkin was given a sinecure in the Collegium of Foreign Affairs in St. Petersburg. The next three years he spent easily sailing through life, welcome both in literary circles and at bacchanal Guard parties.
- Despite this frivolous lifestyle, Pushkin nevertheless was committed to social reform. Like many of his Lyceum friends, he became associated with members of a radical movement responsible for the Decembrist uprising of 1825, but Pushkin himself was never a part of the plot.
- Between 1817 and 1820, his ideas were vocalized in “revolutionary” poems, namely his Ode to Liberty, The Village, and a number of poems about Emperor Alexander I and his conservative minister Arakcheev. At the same time, Pushkin took up his first large-scale work, Ruslan and Ludmila, on a Russian folk tale he had heard as a child.
- Written in verse form, it is considered to be among the distinguished poetry works in Russian literature.
- Ode to Liberty angered the Russian Emperor, and Pushkin was banished from St. Petersburg for six years. On his journey as he moved from place to place, he discovered George Gordon Byron’s poetry. Pushkin eventually became the leader of the Russian Romantic movement.
- In 1823, Pushkin penned two Romantic poems, The Captive of the Caucasus and The Fountain of Bakhchisarai, which received enormous praise. Subsequently, he published a verse novel, Eugene Onegin (1833) that later earned the status as a milestone in Russian literature.
- The title character served as a model for unconventional literary protagonists. The work was first published in serialized form in a magazine during the 1820s and early 1830s.
- The narrator of the story, a persona of the author himself, appears to be educated and worldly. The major theme of the novel involves the correlation between fiction and real life, intelligence of the fairer sex, and the vile constraints imposed by society.
- After postal officials intercepted a letter which revealed his thinly-veiled support of atheism, Pushkin was exiled to his mother’s estate of Mikhailovskoe in northern Russia. From August, 1824, till August, 1826, he lived under surveillance at Mikhailovskoe.
- However unpleasant Pushkin might have found his virtual imprisonment, the years at Mikhailovskoe saw the maturation of his talent as he moved away from the sensuous flavor of his southern poems toward a more austere and incisive form.
- While in exile, he completed The Gypsies, wrote the dramas Boris Godunov and Count Nulin, and wrote the second chapter of Eugene Onegin.
- The sweeping historical tragedy Boris Godunov was published in 1831 and was based on the controversial reign of Boris Godunov, the Russian Tsar from 1598 to 1605.
- Early 1930s proved to be an extremely productive time for Pushkin in terms of literary contribution. He wrote a host of highly acclaimed plays, such as The Feast During the Plague, Mozart and Salieri and The Avaricious Knight.
- One of his plays, Tales of the Late Ivan Petrovich Belkin (1831), is assumed to be inspired by Sir Walter Scott’s novel. Besides poetry and play writing, Pushkin wrote short stories as well.
- The Queen of Spades (1834) is a poignant story of a gambler who shared quite a few similarities with his creator. The short story was later adapted by Tchaikovsky into an opera.
- In his final years, Pushkin began writing Sovremennik, a historical account of Peter the Great, that he failed to finish.
Exiled in Freedom
- When the new Emperor, Nicolas I, allowed Pushkin to return to Moscow, the exiled poet openly and willingly abandoned his revolutionary sentiments.
- Pushkin was still at Mikhailovskoe when the Decembrist Uprising took place in St. Petersburg on December 14, 1825. Although he was not involved, he greatly sympathized with the rioters, many of whom were his friends.
- In the late spring of 1826, Pushkin sent the Tsar a petition that he be released from exile. After a very detailed interview with the Emperor himself, Pushkin was ecstatic to find that his appeal had been granted. However, the Emperor personally censored all of his works.
- Later, Pushkin discovered that his freedom was not entirely unconditional: he was not to make any trip, participate in any journal, or publish — or even publicly read — any of his works. Pushkin was questioned several times by the police about poems he had written.
- Meanwhile, Pushkin, still light-hearted and at the stage of matrimony, engaged in searching for an appropriate wife. In 1829, he met Natalya Goncharova, and pledged his love to her in April of that same year. She finally agreed to marry him on the condition that his ambiguous situation with the government be clarified — and it was.
- He was formally freed on May 6, 1830, and the couple married in February, 1831, in Moscow. In May, the Pushkins moved to Tsarskoe Selo, to settle for a more frugal life and enjoy the peace and tranquility of the countryside.
- The marriage was put under the rocks in 1834 when Natalya met George d’Anthes, a French royalist émigré in Russian service who had been pursuing her for two years, resulting in Pushkin challenging d’Anthes to a duel.
However, when Pushkin learned that d’Anthes was in love with Natalya’s sister Ekaterina, he retracted the challenge. The marriage took place on January, 1837, but Pushkin refused to attend.
- After the marriage, d’Anthes resumed pursuing Natalya with doubled tenacity. The duel took place on January 27, 1837, where D’Anthes fired first. Pushkin was mortally wounded, dying two days later, on January 29.
Death and Legacy
- Thousands of people came to Pushkin’s apartment to express sympathy and to mourn his death. Fearing a public outcry over the senseless loss of a prominent figure, the authorities falsely declared that a funeral service would be held in St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg, with admission granted only to members of the court and diplomatic society.
- The real service, however, was held in secret a day before it was announced, and Pushkin’s body was smuggled out of the capital in the dead of night.
- Pushkin was buried beside his mother at dawn on February 6, 1837, at Svyataya Gora Monastery, near Mikhailovskoe. It has become a Mecca for all those in love with Pushkin’s work.
- Pushkin’s literary work was heavily inspired by his predecessors; Derzhavin, Karamzin, Zhukovsky, and Batyushkov. In addition to his instrumental literary contribution to modern Russian literature, he was also credited for expanding Russian lexicon.
Alexander Pushkin Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Alexander Pushkin across 29 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Alexander Pushkin worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about one of the chief names in literature during the Romantic era – Alexander Pushkin. He was an eminent Russian romantic poet and deemed the father of modern Russian literature. He penned some of the nineteenth century’s most momentous poetry, novels, prose, and dramas.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Authors Online
- Pop Quiz
- In Pushkin’s Time
- Library Hunt
- According to Alex
- Pushkin’s Footsteps
- Prominent Poets
- A Poem for the Poet
- Writers in Exile
- Young Blood
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