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Pushkin, poet and troublemaker - the early years

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Portrait of Alexander Pushkin   View of the river Neva - (painting view of the river)
Portrait of Alexander Pushkin, based on an oil by Vasily Tropinin (1827)
British Library Ac.9088b, p.98
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  View of the river Neva
British Library 150.k.17

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The Kaback - Russian men drinking in an inn    
Men drinking in an inn
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In 1817, less than two years after leaving school and now working in the Imperial Civil Service, Pushkin was already famous and already in trouble with the authorities. In St Petersburg he launched into a life of gambling, women and poetry. He wrote incessantly, producing a stream of poems, one of which, Ode to Freedom, caused his expulsion from the capital and later on threatened his survival. His first major epic, Ruslan and Lyudmilla, was also completed during this period, along with The Village, which attracted the attention of the censors and the police because it makes an overt attack on the horrors of serfdom.

Pushkin wrote with an unaccustomed clarity and directness. His poems avoid decorative metaphors, and lavish descriptions of landscapes, but his renderings of people and events have a seductive fluency of mood and emotional. His talents made his satires even more dangerous in the eyes of the authorities - especially because Pushkin compounded his notoriety by his wild behaviour. He had an uncertain temper, and he fought or threatened to fight duels on a regular basis.

Everything about Pushkin made sure that he was unlikely to be overlooked. In 1820 he came under police suspicion because of the subversive tone of his poems, and he was called before the authorities to account for his political views. He made a favourable impression, reinforced by the pleadings of friends on his behalf, but the Tsar insisted on some punishment. He stopped short of sending Pushkin to Siberia, transferring him to another department in the south of Russia, where he would report to Lieutenant-General Inzov.

Guest-curated for the British Library by Mike Phillips

Pushkin in exile - the prisoner of the Caucasus Next - 'Pushkin in exile - the prisoner of the Caucasus'

Introduction Introduction
Alexander Pushkin
Alexander Dumas Alexandre Dumas
George Polgreen Bridgetower George Polgreen Bridgetower
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
John Archer John Archer
 
 
 
Discover more:
Introduction
Introduction
Alexander Pushkin
Pushkin's African background - the Pushkins and the Gannibals
Pushkin's African background - the Pushkins and the Gannibals
Childhood and schooldays
Childhood and schooldays
Pushkin, poet and troublemaker - the early years
Pushkin in exile - the prisoner of the Caucasus
Pushkin in exile - the prisoner of the Caucasus
Back from exile - life on the family estate
Back from exile - life on the family estate
The Decembrist disaster
The Decembrist disaster
The Negro of Peter the Great
The Negro of Peter the Great
Pushkin takes a wife and writes The Bronze Horseman
Pushkin takes a wife and writes The Bronze Horseman
Pushkin's death and its aftermath
Pushkin's death and its aftermath
Alexandre Dumas
Alexandre Dumas
George Polgreen Bridgetower
George Polgreen Bridgetower
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
John Archer
John Archer
 
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