Russia is home to many great writers, all of whom owe inspiration to romantic era author and poet Alexander Pushkin. Pushkin is considered the father of modern Russian literature and is often compared to the likes of England’s Byron or Shakespeare. Pushkin challenged literary norms and was a vital voice in Russian society. Although Alexander Pushkin’s greatest piece, “Eugene Onegin”, is a narrative tale it says much about Russian character and culture itself as influenced by the time and circumstance.
Pushkin was born May 26, 1799 into Moscow nobility. In 1817, Pushkin accepted a foreign affairs job in St. Petersburg, the capital at the time (Edmonds, 1). This was his first encounter with politics which he soon became engrossed in. His support of the failed Decembrist Uprising of 1825 caused him to be exiled to the south of Russia for 6 years, which allowed him to make great headways in his work. While in exile he fell in love with the daughter of a count and made advances towards her which got him exiled to his mother’s estate of the other side of the country for another 2 years (Edmonds, 3). Due to his deep loneliness he began to find solace in reading Russian history and speaking with peasants and serfs employed on his mother’s estate, this led to two things; “Boris Godunov” his first attempt at historical fiction, and the focus on the power of the common man and the corruption of authority in his work. His ability to capture the essence of the Russian man gained him increased fame throughout Russia; because of this he was allowed out of exile, but spent the rest of his life being closely watched by the Tsar’s political police.
His encounter with politics in the nation’s capital and emersion into Russian culture and everyday life during exile greatly influenced his views and by proxy his work, which began to asses many political and societal institutions of the day. As well as examine natural human emotions and the human condition, much of his work explored themes like loneliness, loss, love and desire. A major theme throughout his work is the idea that when one is young they are filled with hopes, dreams and desire but as they grow older it fades and they become jaded, apathetic or just run-down due to the hardships and cruelty of real life. This, along with his social commentary and criticism of the autocratic system greatly influenced writers like Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Pushkin introduced Russia to western genres, ideas and writers. He defined Russian literature with his sensitive style and rich vocabulary, which greatly influenced the Russian language for he was able to express deep feelings and emotions in a simpler, more comprehensive manner.
Alexander Pushkin’s novel in verse, “Eugene Onegin”, is considered a Russian classic; it is a great example of Pushkin’s poetic vision. Eugene Onegin, the protagonist, has served as a model for many Russian literary heroes; he was the definition of the superfluous man, “a talented...