Act & Punishment: The Pussy Riot Trials

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Re: Act & Punishment: The Pussy Riot Trials

Postby admin » Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:09 am

The Devil's Right Hand
by Kim Kelly
Oct 17 2016, 9:55am



Religious fanatics in Russia want to 
strong-arm metal bands into silence.

This story appeared in the October Music issue of VICE magazine, a collaboration with THUMP and NOISEY.

In front of the Moscow Art Theater, a severed pig's head sat in silent protest, the words "To Tabakov" scrawled in black ink across its clammy forehead. Around the shrine, on April 1, 2015, Dmitry Enteo and the members of God's Will, his Russian Orthodox activist group, shouted anti-blasphemy slogans and theatrically crossed themselves. It's unclear whether the target of their ire, artistic director Oleg Tabakov, was present that day, but nonetheless, the group certainly achieved its goal of expressing disgust at the man's decision to stage Oscar Wilde's play An Ideal Husband. As the spokesperson for God's Will, Enteo—a slight man with a high forehead, a perennial self-satisfied smirk, and large, expressive eyes ripped straight out of a Pushkin verse—is no stranger to fomenting public chaos.

The Orthodox religious views he and the others share have led them to denounce any art that smacks of Satanism, homosexuality, or cultural deviance. His actions are typically showy and over-the-top; in addition to throwing pig heads and interrupting theater performances, some of his more colorful transgressions include tossing eggs at members of Marilyn Manson's band before a 2014 performance in Moscow, allegedly vandalizing an art show for showing "pornographic" images of Jesus Christ, staging a "missionary flashmob" in the capital's Darwin museum, and reportedly assaulting LGBTQ activists and Pussy Riot supporters.

Born Dmitry Tsorionov, Enteo participates in a burgeoning new wave of activism headed by young Orthodox religious fanatics: With a moral worldview of the 19th century, they attempt to spread their message using the technology of the 21st century. Their movement first gained notoriety in 2012, when Russian feminist punk collective Pussy Riot ignited a media firestorm after police arrested three of its members for performing the song "Punk Prayer" on the steps of Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior. In 2013, following Pussy Riot's protest action, Orthodox activists pressured lawmakers to set an example and strengthen the official penalty for sacrilege. As a result, legislators amended the Russian criminal code to add Article 148, which classifies "public actions, expressing clear disrespect for society and committed in order to insult the religious feelings of believers," as a federal crime; in other words, it outlaws blasphemy.

Today, Article 148 proved useful to Orthodox activists like Enteo, who is in large part responsible for shifting the hard right's focus away from operas and art shows to more populist art forms, like the perceived blasphemers in Western heavy-metal and hard-rock bands. With the law on their side, these young religious fanatics have made a habit of intimidating promoters, showing up to protest concerts, phoning in bomb threats, and threatening to call the Federal Migration Service to tamper with musicians' visas, all in service of their goal to rid Russia of these "satanic" elements.

On August 26, 2016, Orthodox activists sent a statement to the Russian police urging them to permanently ban American death-metal icons Incantation, Austrian black/death metallers Belphegor, and American dark-folk act King Dude, insisting that the bands promote Satanism and blasphemy. While Incantation seemed to have little trouble at its Russia dates, protesters appeared outside its Moscow show, and band members complained of being prohibited from saying their "blasphemous" song titles onstage, a provision that King Dude also encountered on a more recent run. "I am clearly not a Satanist," says King Dude's TJ Cowgill. But "I am a Luciferian, as I've said for many years now. I am in no way anti-Christian, and in that same regard, I am definitely not anti-Satanist."


Enteo denied our request for an interview, but that's not to say he doesn't relish attention. "Thank God!" he tweeted after an anonymous bomb threat canceled a Marilyn Manson concert in 2014. After another Manson show, in Novosibirsk, Russia's third-largest city, was also canceled, Enteo told NBC News, "We cannot allow for something like that [a Manson performance] to happen again." Twitter appears to be Enteo's favorite social medium; in his bio, he aligns himself with the "God's Will movement, orthodox christian, right-wing, conservative, pro-life, pro-family, pro-gun, creationism, anti-communism, fusionism" and broadcasts his views on religion and politics, his admiration for failed presidential candidate Ted Cruz, and his own exploits to more than 50,000 followers. With his social-media acumen, millennial flair for spectacle, and almost pathological craving for attention, he's like an ultra pious Russian equivalent of Milo Yiannopoulos.

In 2014, Enteo also targeted American death-metal legends Cannibal Corpse, which had eight shows booked across Russia for an October tour. Enteo told that "we send mass requests to the prosecutor, the description of what is happening at the concerts of the group, the texts of their songs, which describe in detail the rape and murder of children." He went on to note, "At first, we will try to resolve this issue with the help of law enforcement agencies. If it does not work, [there] may be rallies, prayer meetings—mass protest in different forms."

Ultimately, three shows were canceled. Cannibal Corpse explained its understanding of the circumstances in a statement, writing, "In Ufa the power was turned off shortly before the show (we were told because the venue was late on rent), and in Moscow and St. Petersburg we were told that we did not have the correct visas and that if we attempted to perform the concert would be stopped by police and we would be detained and deported (prior to the tour we had been told that we did have the correct visas and that all of our paperwork was in order). Our show in Nizhny Novgorod also had problems. In that city we performed half of our set before being stopped by police. We were told the police needed to search the venue for drugs and that the show had to be terminated."


These Cannibal Corpse cancelations came on the heels of a similar incident concerning Polish death metallers Behemoth. Religious protesters in Moscow sent the city mayor, Sergey Sobyanin, a letter condemning the group's concert program, writing that it "insulted the feelings of believers," and officials detained and then expelled the band from the country. On May 21, once Behemoth arrived at a club in Yekaterinburg, the police took the band members to the migration office, where they learned they did not have the proper visa for a live performance. Ultimately, Behemoth was fined 2,000 rubles (about $30) and deported after playing only four of 13 scheduled concerts in the country.

More recently, another extremist mouthpiece, Anatoly Artyukh, has jumped into the fray, using a more confrontational and even violent approach. Both he and Erteo are notoriously attention-hungry and have made very public appearances to spread their rhetoric and gloat about their successes in repressing Western metal bands. Our requests for interviews with Artyukh were not returned, but we know that the 55-year-old musician and former businessman heads up the St. Petersburg branch of Narodny Sobor (the "people's council"), a nationalist group closely allied with the Russian Orthodox Church, and has made his bones by stirring up hate against the LGBTQ community; he's lobbied to classify homosexuality and transgenderism as psychological disorders, distributed anti-gay literature to schoolchildren, and even created a ballet that condemns gays, abortion, and women without children.

Artyukh made headlines this past April when he spat in the face of an Austrian heavy-metal musician, Belphegor vocalist Helmuth Lehner, as the band arrived at the St. Petersburg airport to kick off its planned Russian tour. A video capturing the incident clearly shows Artyukh, a big man with a dark parka and hardened features, explaining his motivation—calling the band "perverts," "gays," and "Satanists" and promising "to do everything [he] can" to prevent "this freak show"—while citing Article 282 of the Russian criminal code, which prohibits "incitement to hatred or hostility, and humiliation of human dignity." After interrogating a hapless fan who'd been waiting at the gates to meet Belphegor, Artyukh strode up to the band members themselves and spat in Lehner's face; Lehner spat back and called for security. Artyukh continued to verbally harass him and his companions, including the American death-metal band Nile, and he threatened to have Belphegor's concert canceled. Artyukh and his henchmen closely followed the bands out of the airport, clearly begging for a fight; tensions came to a head after Artyukh struck Nile frontman Karl Sanders's arm.

Video of the incident, which was posted on YouTube, is uncomfortable to watch, and the result was even messier— Belphegor's St. Petersburg concert was canceled hours before stage time, and its Moscow concert devolved into farce, as the band was ordered to remove its backdrop and stage props, and Lehner was ordered not to sing on the track "Lucifer Incestus"; the sound engineer ended up muting the vocals for the rest of the show due to the band's lyrical content, and once the guys got offstage, they learned that their next two shows, in Ekaterinburg and Krasnodar, had been canceled too.

"Of course Belphegor will return to Russia," Lehner claims, though it remains unclear whether criminal charges will be brought against the band and succeed in barring it and similar acts from the country.

"The thing is," Lehner says, "I don't see Belphegor nor me as the victim. We did something right to piss those kinds of people off."

While it appears that Enteo, Artyukh, and their ilk primarily concern themselves with big-name artists—the better to draw attention to their cause—another recent incident shows how they've taken a passing interest in the local underground-metal scene. In April, Polish band Batuskha was forced to cancel two shows, stating in an email, "We had all the approvals and 'green light' from the Russian Police, immigration control and responsible officials. Unfortunately we received threats from extremists affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church stating that they will beat up and even kill people attending both shows. Since it's beyond our control and we are not able to assure that the concerts will be 100% safe for both the audience and us we are forced to cancel both of them immediately."

Local promoters have also been targeted. An American metal band (that spoke under the condition of anonymity to ensure the safety of the Russian promoter who put on its Moscow and St. Petersburg dates) arrived to play its first show, only to find that the promoter had been asked to sign a document declaring that the band wouldn't be endorsing anything blasphemous. It was also rumored that Orthodox-affiliated plainclothes policemen—"out of place older guys in white button-up shirts"—were seen lurking around the band's Moscow gig, but fortunately, none of them ran into any further trouble. The band seemed unruffled by the experience, though, commenting, "[We've] played Russia a few times already, and, yes, the first time [we] went there I was very aware of bands having some trouble there. It didn't make [us] not want to go to Russia; in fact, [we] would say that it had the complete opposite effect."

Perhaps that's the best way to approach a group of shadowy extremists who operate under a Russified version of the Westboro Baptist Church model—taking their wailing and gnashing of teeth in stride, and refusing to back down. For all the activists' bluster and the foreign bands' headaches, it's homegrown Russian metalheads who ultimately suffer, and while these Orthodox extremists have yet to fully focus their hatred on local scenes as they have with Western bands, Andrei P. of Novosibirsk-based funeral-doom band Station Dysthymia told us that people are still nervous about the possibility.

"The really uneasy part [is] that whenever you play or plan to attend a gig," says Andrei, "you're now always worried that someone's gonna show up to shit on your parade."

"I am Russian, I love my people and my country," he continues, "and that's why I think we need to fight against shit like this, be it related to music or anything else. I am not against religious people, but I think that just as I have no business telling them how to live their life, they also have no business imposing their beliefs on other people."

Photos by Anthony Tafuro
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Re: Act & Punishment: The Pussy Riot Trials

Postby admin » Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:37 am

Topless against Putin: Femen activists protest in Italy ahead of Russia-Ukraine talks
by euronews (in English)
Published on Oct 16, 2014




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Re: Act & Punishment: The Pussy Riot Trials

Postby admin » Sun Aug 12, 2018 8:14 am

Please Wear Safety Gear! Femen activists cut down cross in favour of Pussy Riot.
Published on Aug 17, 2012





































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Re: Act & Punishment: The Pussy Riot Trials

Postby admin » Tue Aug 14, 2018 6:03 am

Report on Monitoring of Incidents of Discrimination and Violence on Grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in 2014 -- EXCERPT
by Coming Out, LGBT Group
St. Petersburg



Table of Contents:

• Introduction
• Main Body: Analysis of Revealed Violations
o Hate Crimes (Physical Violence, Assaults
o Hate Speech
o Interaction with Police
o The Law Against “Propaganda,” Its Application and Consequences
o Outing and Persecution
o Refusal of Goods and Services
o Civil Rights Violations on the Grounds of Gender Identity
• Recommendations
o To the St. Petersburg Ombudsman
o To Law Enforcement Agencies
o To Courts
o To Educational Institutions
o To Medical Specialists Working With Transgender People
o To Non-Government Organizations


This report is based on the results of the LGBT rights abuses monitoring program carried out by LGBT-initiative group “Coming Out” in St. Petersburg in 2014.

Since 2008, “Coming Out” has worked for the acceptance of human dignity and equal rights of each person by the government and society regardless one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity. We organize workshops and round tables, public brochures, provide free psychological and legal assistance for LGBTIQ communities and their relatives, take on strategic court cases, and carry out a monitoring program of discrimination and other human rights abuses against LGBTIQ [1] [This report uses abbreviations “LGBT” (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people), as well as LGBTIQ (lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender, intersex*, and queer people)] people.

The methodology of this research is a standard methodology of human rights abuses and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity, developed by the Russian LGBT network together with ILGA-Europe and HURIDOCS.

Throughout the monitoring process, the monitoring program coordinator and volunteers collect narratives of the cases of human rights abuses and discrimination against LGBT people on the grounds of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Such monitoring is based upon four sources: 1. Victims and witnesses, 2. Mass media, 3. Information collected and passed on by other governmental and non-governmental institutions, 4. Internet messages (blogs, forums, websites).

All cases of abuses are put into a database, after which the coordinator of the monitoring program contacts victims and witnesses in order to check and confirm the information.

Some cases are put into the database by lawyers of “Coming Out,” who consult and provide legal assistance to victims of human rights abuses. Details of such cases are then also checked in communication with victims and witnesses.

Analysis of data gathered through monitoring allows us to highlight main problems present in the life of LGBTIQ communities and LGBTIQ activists in St. Petersburg in 2014.

Currently, the first problem of interest is hate crimes. In 2014 lawyers of “Coming Out” and other groups continued to work on cases of infamous attacks on LGBTIQ activists, but criminal cases are either not opened at all or are not qualified with the motive of social hatred. Assailants remain unpunished.

Several new attacks took place in 2014 during public actions or festival activities. At the same time, in the past year a new problem came to light: homophobic attacks which are not related to LGBTIQ rights activism, where assailants identify same-sex couples in public places as members of the LGBTIQ community and attack them.

Organized groups, which carry out attacks on members of LGBTIQ communities through the setting up of fake romantic dates, still operate.

Another remaining problem is homophobic and transphobic hate speech voiced by Saint Petersburg’s politicians and journalists who justify and legitimate violence and discrimination towards LGBTIQ people and support existing negative stereotypes. Since LGBT people are not legally recognized as a social group and are thus not protected under the Criminal Code of Russian Federation, the lawyers of “Coming Out” could not apply the existing legal, administrative, and criminal defense tools to situations involving hate speech in 2014.

Despite a series of positive examples of productive interaction with the police (defense of the public activities and their participants), specific problems remain in this field. For example, activists illegally arrested at public events and rallies in 2013 and charged with allegedly committed hooliganism were unable to receive any compensation payments. There were also allegations of blackmail by police.

The infamous Saint Petersburg law against “propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism and transgenderism amongst minors” was repealed in 2014. Unfortunately, the abolition of this law is not a result of the authorities’ will to perform their duties in the area of human rights and non-discrimination, but only of a similar law having been passed on the federal level. Even worse, all the negative effects of the criminalization of “propaganda” are still present to their full effect due to the federal law. Thus in 2014, there was a legal case based the Russian Code of Administrative Offenses (CoAO RF) against one of city’s LGBTIQ activists. The law is sometimes used unofficially to discredit LGBTIQ activists in court cases unrelated to “propaganda”.

Another problem that emerged in 2014 is the so-called “outing” [2] [Outing is an act of disclosure of sexual orientation or gender identity of a person by others without that person’s consent; usually done in order to cause damage to that person’s reputation and/or initiation difficulties in professional or private life] of LGBTIQ persons and activists. This problem strongly affected schoolteachers, some of whom were forced to retire or were fired for “amoral activities” after their school administrations received “dossiers” and demands to fire these teachers from homophobic activists.

Finally, despite the relatively decent situation with transgender rights in St. Petersburg (in comparison to other Russian regions), abuses were found in this area as well. We have recorded cases of refusal to diagnose and issue medical reports to transgender individuals unless they divorce, as well as the outing and bullying of a transgender employee in an educational institution.

Thus, the monitoring and analysis of gathered information of the LGBTIQ communities’ situation in St. Petersburg reveals that members of this social group remain exceptionally unprotected from both the legal perspective and the perspective of existing law enforcement practices. In order to improve the situation of LGBTIQ people and LGBTIQ activists we provide a complex of recommendations to authorities, healthcare professionals, and human rights organizations.



The term “hate crimes” applies to criminal acts caused by prejudice and bias towards a specific group of persons. [3] [See, for example, the definition of Methodological Guide in OSCE Region “Hate Crimes: prevention and response” (2009), p. 15. URL] Homophobic and transphobic hate crimes, of which members of LGBTIQ communities and LGBTIIQ human rights defenders become victims, are crimes (often physical violence and assault) with the main motive of hatred or animosity towards homosexual, bisexual, or transgender people.

Several international organizations have developed a series of standards for governmental authorities to prevent and investigate homophobic and transphobic hate crimes, as well as to punish such crimes and compensate the victims. Thus, the recommendation of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe proposes to member states to provide effective, immediate and imparial investigation in such criminal cases, and to ensure that the motive relating to sexual orientation and/or gender identity would be used as an aggravating circumstance in determination of punishment. [4] [Recommendation of Committee of Ministers of European Council CM/Rec (2010) 5 (Appendix, parts 1 and 2).] As of 2012, The Committee Against Torture has recommended that Russian Federation will, without delay, impartially and effectively investigate all acts of violence and discrimination towards LGBT persons, to hold those found guilty responsible, to compensate the victims, to keep statistics of such crimes and the results of their investigation, and to publicly condemn attacks on LGBT persons and to hold informative educational programs among the police. [5] [Committee Against Torture: Final notes: Russian Federation CAT/C/RUS/CO/5 (2012). Paragraph 15.]

Despite the fact that the current revision of the Criminal Code of Russian Federation allows prosecutors to consider a motive of hatred towards a social group as an aggravating circumstance (paragraph “e” part 1 article 63 of the Criminal Code) or as a qualifying factor (in particular paragraph “l” part 2 article 105, paragraph “e” part 2 article 111, paragraph “e” part 2 article 112 CC RF), according to our data, it has never happened in the criminal practice of St. Petersburg.

It is necessary to highlight that as of 2015, The UN Committee on Human Rights has recommended that Russia “undertakes all necessary measures to strengthen legal protections of LGBT people from discrimination and violence and provides investigation, criminal prosecution and punishment of any acts of violence, motivated by sexual orientation or gender identity of the victim, and applies paragraph “e” part 1 article 63 CC RF”. [6] ]Human Rights Committee. Final notes: Russian Federation. CCPR/C/RUS/CO/7 (2015). Paragraph 10.]

In 2014, our monitoring program has documented incidents of violence motivated by hatred towards LGBTIQ and also police reaction on reports of such acts and court cases that followed criminal charges. The collected data can be grouped in three categories: 1) attacks on LGBTIQ activists during LGBT-activities, motivated by homophobic and transphobic hatred, 2) attacks on LBGTIQ community members unrelated to human rights activism or other public activity, 3) attacks committed by luring victims to a fake romantic date (activities of groups like “Occupy-Pedophilia” have brought such attacks into the public arena). [7] [See, for example, part “Violence and Harassment against LGBT People and Activists in Russia”. URL:



One day prior to the opening of the festival, calls to disrupt the event appeared on multiple pages on social network “VKontakte” belonging to well-known homophobic activists and nationalistic groups.

On September 18, 2014, several hours before the beginning of the event, owners of the venue (art-space “Freedom” in business center “Kazanskiy”) terminated their lease to the festival’s organizers. [8] [See Case F1 for details] After the organizing team had left, a group of about ten people, among whom were the deputy of the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg Vitaly Milonov, radical Orthodox activists Anatoly Aryukh and Dmitry Enteo (Tsorionov) attempted to break into the art-space “Freedom.” Vitaly Milonov was making offensive statements.

Approximately at 7:30 PM during the opening ceremony of “QueerFest,” a group of more than 10 people attempted to enter the new venue. Vitaly Milonov, Anatoliy Artyukh, Mihail Kuzmin, Dmitriy Enteo (Tsorionov) and Timur Isaev (Bulatov) were in that group. Security guards stopped these people from entering the venue, and the members of this group shouted out several insults. Then the doors were closed. Homophobic activists began to pour water on the security guards, as well as green antiseptic liquid on the attendants of the vent. The latter was poured through the holes between doors with syringes and hit people’s clothes and faces. Then the homophobic activists closed the doors from the outside, placing a metal hanging lock on them. After approximately half an hour, the same people attempted to enter the room through a different door. Guards prevented them from entering, and again they began to pour green dye on people through syringes. In addition they spread a pungently odorous substance through the cracks between doors. As a result, many participants of “QueerFest” began to feel unwell, but were unable to leave due to the fact that one of the doors was closed from the outside and aggressive homophobic activists were standing near the other. Some people who attempted to leave the venue were assaulted by homophobic activists; the aide of deputy Milonov punched one of the participants, Alexey Poskrebyshev, in the face. The police, despite the fact that they knew what was happening, were inactive and took steps to ensure the safety of the guests of the festival only after the St. Petersburg Ombudsman arrived on site. None of the assailants were detained. Six guests of the event filed complaints to the police on the spot, others did so later; overall, 26 complaints were filed. During the following day several people visited medical professionals due to health concerns. After the complaints were reviewed, one homophobic activist, so-called Timur Isaev, was charged with an administrative infraction. However, as became known later, police accidentally arrested the wrong person.



Hate speech (or pronouncements of hatred) is a form of self-expression, which can be reasonably understood as incitement, proliferation, or support of hatred or other forms of discrimination towards lesbians, gays, bisexual or transgender people. [9] [Definition in Recommendation of Committee of Ministers of European Council CM/Rec(2010)5 Appendix, part 6).

International standards of human rights demand that governments ban and publicly refute such hate speech regardless of where they take place; [10] [Recommendation of Committee of Ministers of European Council CM/Rec(2010)5 (Appendix, part 6)]. they also demand increased education of public authorities and public institutions on all levels about their duty to abstain from hate speech, and especially those made via mass media. [11] [Recommendation of Committee of Ministers of European Council CM/Rec(2010)5 (Appendix, part 7)].

In March 2015, the UN Human Rights Committee recommended that Russian authorities “clearly and officially declare their intolerance of […] hate speech […] towards people due to their sexual orientation and gender identity.” [12] [Human Rights Committee, Final recommendations, Russian Federation. CCPR/C/RUS/CO/7 (2015). Paragraph 10.

Theoretically, Russian law allows conviction for homophobic and transphobic hate speech. As such, article 282 CC RF recognizes as a crime “actions, intended to incite hatred or aggression, and also to insult the human dignity of a person or a group of persons based on sex, race, nationality, language, social status, relationship to religion, as well as being a part of a social group [Author’s note: our highlight], which are made in public or with use of mass media or informational telecommunication networks, including the Internet.” CoAO RF provides liability for insults (article 5.61) and discrimination (article 5.62). Finally, the personal non-proprietary rights and non-material goods, for example the right of private and family life, right of non-discrimination and respect of citizens, can be protected by Civil Code (articles 150-152.2).

However, in practice, despite the fact that politicians of St. Petersburg and journalists allow homophobic and transphobic hate speech (deputy Vitaliy Milonov is especially known for such utterances), it is impossible to hold them liable and the tools of criminal, administrative and civil law are ineffective.


Through 2014, court cases related to events of September 2013, when deputy Vitaliy Milonov came to the opening of International Festival of Queer Culture, publicly insulted participants and volunteers (including Kseniya Kirichenko, lawyer of “Coming Out”), have been continuing. Kirichenko’s request to the prosecutor to start administrative proceedings under articles 5.61 (“insult”) and 5.62 (“discrimination”) CoAO RF were unsuccessful. In October, the prosecutor’s office of Primorskiy district of St. Petersburg answered that it is impossible to begin administrative proceedings against the deputy, since the procedure of stripping of deputy immunity does not exist. The answer of the district prosecutor was appealed in Primorskiy District Court, which confirmed the legality of the answer on March 20, 2014.


In 2014, another case concerning the incident with Vitaliy Milonov has continued. In November 2013, after the attacks on the office of project “LaSky” (see case A.3 above), in an interview to “Fontanka” newspaper, Vitaliy Milonov used a range of homophobic statements and statements justifying violence and violation of human rights of members of LGBT communities. In particular, he said that the attack on the office itself was a provocation planned by LGBT activists and the eye of the victim was hit “on complete accident.” The deputy has likened representatives and members of the LGBT community as murderers, saying: “These are not human rights, but the rights of the sick and perverts.” The complainant, injured in the attack on the office of the “LaSky” project has addressed the investigative committee with a statement about the crime, asking to check the statements of the deputy Milonov, and to start criminal proceedings with regard to hate speech.

However, through 2014 there were refusals to initiate the criminal proceedings. Throughout this period investigators have setup several examinations, some of which have confirmed the existence of “characteristics of insult, negative emotional evaluations and negative attitudes towards representatives of a specific social group (people with homosexual sexual orientation)” within Vitaliy Milonov’s speeches. The examinations also revealed that “this [Milonov’s] interview contains information that inspires action against the given social group, and specific language tools for intentional transmission of offensive characteristics in relation to a given social group.” At the same time, other examinations have shown that “people with homosexual sexual orientation are a group, however they cannot be clearly defined as a social group.” On this basis, and also listing the lack of evidence of intent in actions of Vitaliy Milonov, a denial of initiation of criminal proceedings was given. [13] [In particular, see a decree of acting investigator of the investigation department of the Central district of the Main Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in St. Petersburg Lieutenant Justic Stephanov EA on the refusal to initiate criminal proceedings on 01/13/2014 based on inspection of reports of the crime number 1019 paragraph 13, the investigator of the investigation department of the Central district of the Main Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in St. Petersburg Lieutenant Justice Sedyshev S.I. on the refusal to initiate criminal proceedings on 03/31/2014 based on inspection of reports of the crime number 1010 paragraph 13, the investigator of the investigation department of the Central district of the Main Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in St. Petersburg Captain of Justice Yasman P.A. on the refusal to initiate criminal proceedings on 05/12/2014 based on inspection of reports of the crime number 1019 paragraph 13, the Investigator of the Investigation department of the Central district of the Main Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in St. Petersburg Captain of Justice Yasman P.A. on the refusal to initiate criminal proceedings on 08/07/2014 based on inspection of reports of crime number 1019 paragraph 13; the investigator of the investigation department of the Central district of the Main Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in St. Petersburg, Senior Lieutenant of Justice V.V. Vlasov on the refusal to initiate criminal proceedings on 09/11/2014 based on inspection of reports of the crime number 1019 paragraph 13.]



2014 saw the development of positive cooperation between LGBTIQ activists, the ombudsman’s office and the police in St Petersburg. As a result of this cooperation, a series of public events in support of LGBTIQ rights took place in relative safety. There were individual actions related to LGBTIQ or columns within public demonstrations. Police have provided security of activists, stopped provocations, and were holding themselves reasonably correctly.

However, the interaction of the police with the members of the LGBTIQ communities and LGBTIQ activists still has certain difficulties. Although all administrative court proceedings were terminated in cases against activists arrested in 2013 during the planned action on Mars Field, activists were unable to receive adequate compensation for illegal arrests. Besides this case, our monitoring program has revealed several cases of abuse and improper behavior of police towards LGBTIQ people.


In 2014, the courts of St. Petersburg considered a range of civil cases to recognize police actions as invalid and to recover compensations for moral damages.

On October 12, 2013, LGBT activists had planned to hold a rally on Mars Field in light of the International Coming Out Day. Although the organization of the rally was carried out in full compliance with legal requirements and authorities were notified in advance of the planned action, it was impossible to hold it. By the time of the announced start of the rally, an aggressive crowd of people gathered at the site. Among the crowd were religious activists, two Orthodox priests with devotional articles, a Mufti, Cossacks, nationalists, and a man who had previously attacked LGBT activists and was at that time being prosecuted for those attacks, etc. The crowd of counter-protestors was 5-6 times larger than the number of LGBT activists, and they would not allow anybody to get to the place of the rally. These people surrounded LGBT activists and were yelling, insulting, and physically pushing them. The Cossacks stood in two rows at the exact site of the rally and were singing patriotic and religious songs. Police officers were present, but did nothing besides request the crowd get off the lawn. Police did not react on several demands to allow the rally to start, to detain the people who are committing physical and verbal assault, and to detain the people who are committing physical and verbal assault, and to detain the participants of an obviously unsanctioned counter-rally. Police officers did not answer which one of them was responsible for security at the site; many police officers refused to identify themselves. After some time, the LGBT activists, who were unable to get to the place of the rally, were detained by whole groups, put on police buses and taken to police stations. Some of the activists were released within three hours, while others were processed with the protocol and charges of administrative misconduct. Detained activists were charged with petty hooliganism, shown as verbal misconduct and offensive molestation of persons. Subsequently all cases were dismissed in city courts due to lack of evidence or lack of offense.

On April 24, 2014, Primorskiy District Court of St. Petersburg has dismissed T.’s case to recognize the actions of police as illegal. On October 6, 2014, the decision of the district court was upheld by St. Petersburg City Court. An analogous case of B. was rejected by Vasileostrovskiy District Court on October 22, 2014.

In December 2014, Petrogradskiy District Court partially granted I. and B. compensation for moral damages caused to them on October 12, 2013 by illegal actions of police officers. However, the amount of compensation awarded by the court was a hundred times less than the activists had demanded (the amount sought was 225,000, in accordance with the amount of compensation awarded in similar cases by the European Court of Human Rights). I. was awarded 300 rubles, and B. has received 2000. However, even these decisions were appealed by the police.

Treatment of detained LGBTIQ persons

We have learned of one case through the monitoring program, where the detained person was assaulted and then threatened on the grounds of his sexual orientation.


On April 10, 2014, Ivan was arrested by police officers when he was drawing graffiti in the city with his friends. In the police station where he was taken, the police officers hit him several times. Then, the police have forced him to show them his “VKontakte” social network page, where they learned about his sexual orientation. Under threats of disclosing this information to his mother, the police officers demanded that Ivan does not report the physical violence in the police station against him. Ivan has not reported the incident for the fear of outing.


In 2014, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has expressed concern about the Russian law banning promotion of “non-traditional sexual relationships” and stressed that such laws “encourage stigma and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI), persons, including children, and children from LGBTI families.” The Committee has specifically noted that “the vague definitions of propaganda has led to the continued harassment targeted against the LGBTI community in the country, including through the verbal abuse and violence, especially towards juvenile LGBTI civil rights activists.” The authorities of Russia were recommended to repeal the existing laws on “propaganda.” [17]

In July 2014, the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg repealed the amendments to the regional administrative legislation establishing liability for so-called “propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality, and transgenderism among minors.” However, this was done only in connection with the adoption of the federal ban on “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors.” Federal law covers the territory of St. Petersburg and it continues to be used to persecute LGBTIQ activists, both formally, through the attempts to charge civil rights activists with administrative offenses, and informally, for example, through discrediting LGBTIQ activists in court.


During the court proceedings on the suit of Ksenia Kirichenko, lawyer of “Coming Out,” against Vitaliy Milonov (see Case B.1 above), the representative of the defendant was trying to discredit the plaintiff’s side, referring to the law against “propaganda.” In this way, although insults made by Vitaliy Milonov were the subject of the proceedings, the defendant’s representatives to claim that “the activities of [LGBT organizations] are already declared unlawful and the Administrative Code prohibits the dissemination of such information.” The plaintiff responded that “the statements of the defendant made right now are irrelevant and insulting to my honor and dignity.” Subsequently, the defendant’s representative used the dialogue in the objections to the suit, characterizing them as follows: “From this episode we can see that the plaintiff takes offense at anything that does not follow her world views”; “it is important for the plaintiff to take offense at anything. Whatever [Vitaliy Milonov] would have said would have been taken as an insult.”


On July 26, 2014, during the Gay Pride on Mars Field, activist Yevgeny Pirozhkov pulled out a sign stating, “Sodomy is sweeter than honey.” A few minutes later police officers approached him and demanded that he remove the sign because the inscription on it was promoting non-traditional sexual relations. When Priozhkov refused to remove the sign, the police officers appealed to the activists responsible for safety of participants with the request to prevent provocation. Pirozhkov still did not remove the sign. The police detained Pirozhkov and took him to police department number 78, where a report accusing him of the administrative misconduct was made. According to the report, Pirozhkov had “committed an administrative offense under part 1 article 6.21 of the CoAO RF”, specifically by “propagating non-traditional sexual orientation among minors, expressed through the dissemination of information, intended to form non-traditional sexual attitudes and to generate interest in such relationships in minors.” In the police report, there was no information about the full name of the victims or their place of residence; the place of the offense was recorded incorrectly. There was no explanation as to how the presence of a poster could form an interest to non-traditional sexual relations in a minor. A. Kim, who was near the action with his daughter, has filed a complaint against Pirozhkov. Kim has testified that, shortly before writing the complaint, he had met a person named “Aleksey,” who had asked that Kim file such a complaint. As can be seen from other photographs from the action, “Aleksey” shook hands with a representative of the Committee on Law, Security, and Order. At the same time, the documents confirming the kinship between Kim and a child were missing in the case file; police have also failed to collect appropriate proof while writing up the protocol on administrative offense. No proof was given in court during proceedings. Therefore, Pirozhkov’s defenders have suggested that this is a case of police provocation set up together with representatives of the executive authorities. The case was discontinued due to formal reasons.


In 2014 in Russia and, in particular, in St. Petersburg there was a rise in activity of organized homophobic groups that collect information on social media sites, and forums on LGBTIQ people or their supporters, information related to private life or social position was collected into files with commentaries, which were then posted to homophobic groups and were sent to the employers of those whose information has been collected. Especially serious harassment was directed at teachers; the homophobic activists sent their files to administrations of educational institutions where they worked with demands to fire teachers who “advocate perversion.”

One of such activists, who uses the name “Timur Isaev” (real name Timur Bulatov) and lives in St. Petersburg, has made claims that he was responsible for firing of 29 LGBT education workers throughout Russia. [18] [URL ... eto-amorat no (text in Russian) (date: 10/01.2015)] Human Rights Watch has documented seven cases (some of them in St. Petersburg), where LGBTIQ communities members or those who supports LGBTIQ were threatened with firing or were fired from their job in higher learning institutions, schools, or children’s educational centers. [19] [Report “License to Harm,” URL: https// (date: 19.01.2015)]

The situation is complicated by the lack of effective and efficient mechanisms for the protection of personal data, including information about sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Unfortunately, administrations of the social networks, where files containing data of the victims were stored, did not react on the requests from the victims or from their supporters.

Persecutions and dismissals of educational workers

In 2014 our monitoring program registered several cases of persecution of LG-BTIQ educational workers by Timur Isaev (Bulatov). In some cases, educational workers who were persecuted managed to defend their right to work in school, sometimes with support from their colleagues.



Another problem faced by LGBTIQ people and LGBTIQ activists in St. Petersburg is the denial of access to services, when individuals refuse, on their own initiative or due to pressure from authorities, to provide service to people on grounds on homophobia or transphobia. In the absence of anti-discrimination norms and effective mechanisms for the legal protection from violation of rights in the legislation on circulation of goods and services, defending the rights of violated individuals becomes virtually impossible.



In the fall of 2014, the same transsexual woman, Irina, faced discrimination when attempting to arrange a bank card of Sberbank. Previously she has faced difficulties in banks due to the fact that her documents show a different appearance and gender. Irina has requested a card from Sberbank with an individual design (the card had a six-colored rainbow). The card was created, but Irina was denied the right to receive it. Bank employees motivated the refusal by saying that the document do not reflect her appearance, and that the passport must not be hers. At the same time, Irina provided additional documents to the bank, together with a military card and a certificate stating that she is observed by a psychiatrist and is on her way to undergo gender reassignment surgery. While talking to the employees of the bank, Irina was also told that “it is not clear why such a card was allowed” and that “this is a wrong rainbow.” Irina wrote a complaint to the bank, but there was no answer. The problem remains unresolved.


Several cases recorded by our monitoring program are related to civil rights violations on the grounds of the victim’s gender identity.

From the perspective of the situation in Russia, the rights of transgender people in St. Petersburg are provided effectively. For example, a procedure exists that allows to change documents in an administrative way without going through the court system, the marriage license authority does not demand that applicants go through gender reassignment surgery, experienced doctors of different specialties are present in the city, who may provide services related to gender reassignment. [22] [See for details, for example: Kirichenko, K.A. Transgender people’s conditions in regions of Russia: document change and access to specialized medical help. Russian LGBT-Network, SPB 2011.]

However, transgender people still face violations of their rights in St. Petersburg, both in regard to going through special procedures to change their civil gender or interaction with medical professionals, as well as with the disclosure of personal information without consent.

Marriage as an obstacle to being diagnosed

The current Russian legislation does not establish a requirement of divorce for a diagnosis of “transsexualism” or for changing documents of transgender persons. Moreover, such a marriage is based on the provisions of the Family Code of the Russian Federation, and must be legally valid even after the civil gender reassignment of one of the partners, since divorce is a prerogative of married individuals themselves, and the list of grounds of invalidation of marriage is specific and does not include gender reassignment.

However, in practice, there are situations, where transgender patients are denied diagnosis and thus the issuing of medical certificates (without which official documents cannot be legally changed) on the sole grounds of a registered marriage.


Irina, a transwoman, was examined by a psychiatrist to get a diagnosis and referral to surgery for sex reassignment. Prior to that, the doctor had observed Irina for about six months. The observation went well, and Irina had no reason to suspect that the final medical commission would deny her a medical certificate. The commission was planned for November 17, 2014. Shortly before it, on November 7, Irina entered into a form marriage with her female partner Alyona. Legally, the women had the right to form a marriage, since although Irina has had a feminine appearance for a long time and presents as female, the documents were still unchanged (they list her male name and a male gender marker). Journalists and group of LGBT activists were present at her wedding. The de-facto same-sex marriage was covered in the media and caused an aggressive response from anti-gay public figures, including deputy Vitaly Milonov. Irina came to her medical commission on November 17 with her new wife. People who were to be examined were called in turn, and Irina ended up going last. She was asked to enter alone, without Alyona. Doctors told Irina that they have no doubt that Irina is indeed transsexual and needs to undergo gender reassignment surgery, but refused to document the diagnosis, citing that Irina is married. When Irina tried to challenge the decision of the doctors, they started asking inappropriate questions (“Why do you need it?”). When Irina said that she was not going to divorce and sees no legal grounds for them to refuse her medical certiion on the grounds of marital status, the members of the commission replied that they do not want problems. As a result, a serious conflict took place between the woman and the doctors, and Irina left the commission without the certificate. The following day Irina contacted the psychiatrist and asked for at least an official confirmation that she was invited to the commission, but her request was refused. The doctor ignored subsequent attempts by Irina to contact him. Before the wedding, doctors treated her with understanding. Irina has decided to go to Moscow to a commission in another institution, where doctors are comfortable with marriages.




1. To promote the effective investigation, prosecution, and punishment of all violent acts motivated by sexual orientation and/or gender identity of the victim, and actions intended to incite hatred of enmity, or intended to humiliate a person or group of people due to their belonging to LGBTIQ, while taking into account the motive of such acts.

2. To continue to promote a dialogue between the representatives of the LGBTIQ communities of the region and the city authorities (including law enforcement agencies), for example, through joining round tables or trilateral meetings.

3. To continue to include data on discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and/or gender identity as well as other civil rights violations of members of LGBTIQ communities, supporters of LGBTIQ, in the Ombdusman’s annual report, as well as to consider the inclusion of “Rights of specific groups” as a section of the report.


1. To ensure the investigation, prosecution, and punishment of all acts of violence motivated by sexual orientation and/or gender identity of the victim, as well as actions aimed at inciting hatred or enmity, as well as humiliation of a person or group of people on the grounds of belonging to the LGBTIQ community.

2. To use, in classification and determination of punishment for such acts, provisions of the Criminal Code of Russia on the motive of hatred or hostility toward a social group.

3. To ensure the right to peaceful assembly in regards to public activities that relate to issues of sexual orientation and/or gender identity, including festivals, rallies and pickets, and ensure the security of such events.


To consider in reviewing and resolving specific cases:

1. The decision of the Constitutional Court of Russia on September 23, 2014 Number 24-p (in particular “sexual orientation as such cannot be a valid criterion for establishing differences in the legal status of a person and a citizen”).

2. Recommendations made on the rights of LGBT (hate crimes and hate speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, application of the law on “propaganda”, etc.) made by UN treaty bodies established in accordance with the international treaties ratified by the Russian Federation, including recommendations of UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the UN Human Rights Committee (in particular, the need for recognition of LGBT as a social group, against which hatred and hostility is recognized as an aggravating circumstance).


1. To provide measures to protect the labor rights of educational workers that are members of LGBTIQ communities or speak out for LGBTIQ equality.

2. To disallow persecution, harassment, and dismissal of educational worker that are members of LGBTIQ communities or speak out for LGBTIQ equality.


To disallow refusals to diagnose “Transsexualism” and issuance of medical certifications on gender reassignment, when such refusals are made due to the person having a undissolved marriage, since this requirement is not based on the law and violates the right to respect for private and family life of a transgender person.
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Re: Act & Punishment: The Pussy Riot Trials

Postby admin » Tue Aug 14, 2018 10:17 pm

Georges-Charles de Heeckeren d'Anthès
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 8/14/18



Georges-Charles d'Anthès

Baron Georges-Charles de Heeckeren d'Anthès (5 February 1812 – 2 November 1895) was a French military officer and politician. Despite his later career as a senator under the Second French Empire, D'Anthès is mostly known for fatally wounding the eminent Russian poet Alexander Pushkin in a duel in 1837.


Born in Colmar to aristocratic Alsatian parents, the first boy among six children, he was destined for a military career. He was therefore sent to Saint-Cyr, the premier French military academy, and, in 1830, as cavalry officer, he supported Charles X's party during the July Revolution. After the exile of Charles X, d'Anthès refused to serve under the July Monarchy, resigned from the army and withdrew to his father's home in Alsace.

As he was authorized by the French government to serve abroad without losing his nationality, he set off first for Prussia, then for Russia. In St. Petersburg, he succeeded in entering the Knights Guards of the Empress as cornet. Two years later, in 1836, he became lieutenant.

His family ties and good looks gave him access to St. Petersburg high society. It was there that he met the Dutch plenipotentiary to the court, Baron Heeckeren, who, after a lengthy correspondence and a journey to Alsace, proposed to d'Anthès's father that he adopt his son as his own heir. After the agreement of the King of the Netherlands, Georges-Charles d'Anthès took the name of Georges-Charles de Heeckeren d'Anthès.

From booklet by Prince A. Trubetskoy: "...d'Anthès was known for his antics, quite inoffensive and appropriate to youths except the one, of which we learnt much later. I don't know what to say: whether he took Heeckeren or Heeckeren took him... All in all, ... in the intercourse with Heeckeren he was ever a passive partner".

D'Anthès met Pushkin and his wife, Natalia, a beautiful and flirtatious young woman who had many admirers. D'Anthès courted her in a compromising way. Soon after he was refused by Natalia Pushkina, a number of Pushkin's closest friends, as well as to Pushkin himself received copies of an anonymous lampoon on Pushkin. The lampoon was a mock letter awarding Pushkin the title of Deputy Grand Master and Historiographer of the Order of Cuckolds. Pushkin accused Heeckeren to be the lampoon's author, though the true author has never been established. Expert research ruled out Heeckeren authorship as the lampoon (written in French) contained errors extremely unlikely for a native speaker, and such authorship would have been too risky for a diplomat. In the complicated affair that ensued, D'Anthès married Natalia's sister, Yekaterina Goncharova, on 10 January 1837. It has been suggested that d'Anthès's engagement and marriage to Natalia's sister was devised to contradict society gossip that he was in pursuit of Natalia. In any event, this was not enough to settle the conflict between the two new brothers-in-law. After marrying Yekaterina, D'Anthès continued to behave provocatively with Natalie, instigating a new duel challenge.

On the evening of 27 January 1837, d'Anthès fired first, mortally wounding Pushkin in the stomach. Pushkin, who had fought several duels, managed to rise and shoot at d'Anthès, but only wounded him lightly in the right arm. As he lay on his deathbed, Pushkin sent a message to d'Anthès pardoning him of any wrongdoing. Pushkin died two days later, after which d'Anthès was imprisoned at Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg. Dueling was illegal in Russia, and d'Anthès was called to court, but he was pardoned by the Emperor. Stripped of his rank, he was escorted back to the frontier and ordered to leave Russia permanently. In Berlin, he was joined by his wife, and the couple returned to France, in his father's region. There he began a successful political career: as first president of the local assembly, then member of the National Constituent Assembly from 1848 to 1852, and, at last, irremovable senator from 1852 to 1870.

His wife died on 15 October 1843 while giving birth to their fourth child. He died on 2 November 1895 at his family house of Soultz-Haut-Rhin (Sulz/Oberelsaß), then part of the German Empire.


Biography: Baron Georges Charles d'Anthès de Heeckeren
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Re: Act & Punishment: The Pussy Riot Trials

Postby admin » Tue Aug 14, 2018 10:34 pm

Nikolai Martynov
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 8/14/18



Nikolai Martynov, watercolor by Thomas Wright

Nikolai Solomonovich Martynov (Russian: Николай Соломонович Мартынов) (1815–1875) was the Russian army officer who fatally shot the poet Mikhail Lermontov in a cliff-edge duel on July 27, 1841,[1] despite Lermontov's supposedly having made it known that he was going to shoot into the air.


Wikisource Ralston, William Ralston Shedden (1911). "Lermontov, Mikhail Yurevich". In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica. 16 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 484–485.

External links

S. K. Kravchenko (1981). "МАРТЫ́НОВ Николай Соломонович (1815–75)" [Nikolai Solomonovich Martynov (1815–75)]. Lermontov Encyclopedia. Great Soviet Encyclopedia. Retrieved March 20, 2018. (in Russian)
L. M. Arinstein, V. A. Manuilov (1981). "ДУЭЛИ Лермонтова" [Duels of Lermontov]. Lermontov Encyclopedia. Great Soviet Encyclopedia. Retrieved March 21, 2011. (in Russian)
Brief Biography of Lermontov at with mention of the duel (in English)


Mikhail Yurievich Lermontov (1814-41)
by University of Virginia
Accessed: 8/14/18


Mikhail Lermontov was descended on his father's side from a Scottish soldier named Learmont who had entered the Russian service in the 17th century. His mother was a member of the Stolypin family. She died when he was three, and he was raised by his maternal grandmother. Lermontov became interested in Byron at an early age, and the poetry he wrote in his youth reflects this interest: "No, I am not Byron, I am another / As yet unknown chosen one, / A wanderer, persecuted by the world as he was, / But only with a Russian soul...."

In 1830 Lermontov entered Moscow University and spent two years there. He became a Cavalry Cadet in 1832, and received a commission in the Hussar Life Guards, where he avidly pursued the image of the carefree, hedonistic, daring Guards officer. Due to his modest income and appearance, however, he made less of an impression in high society than he wished, and he would acutely recall the slights to his pride in later years. When Alexander Pushkin was killed in a duel in 1837, Lermontov wrote a biting and bitter poem blaming the court aristocracy for letting Pushkin be killed. The poem circulated in manuscript form, and it caused a sensation. Lermontov was court martialled and transferred to a regiment of the line in the Caucasus. He was soon pardoned however, and he was restored to the Guards. Now he returned to Petersburg, a kind of triumphal hero with the reputation of a persecuted poet. He could contrast this sudden fame and adulation with the disregard he had received from the same social set just a few years earlier.
His short novel, A Hero of Our Time, was written during the years 1838-39, and the imprint of Lermontov's personal experience is evident in the text. The novel appeared in print in 1840.

Lermontov's troubles with the authorities were not over, however. In 1840 he managed to insult the Tsar's daughter at a masquerade ball, and he fought a duel with the son of the French ambassador. For this, he was again sent to the Caucasus, where he distinguished himself in military action. Then, in 1841, while taking a rest in the spa town of Pyatigorsk, he became involved in a dispute with an old schoolmate named Martynov over the affections of a woman. Martynov had adopted native dress in an attempt to impress the woman, and Lermontov teased him mercilessly. Martynov challenged Lermontov to a duel, and on July 15, the young writer was shot to death on a hillside outside the town.
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Re: Act & Punishment: The Pussy Riot Trials

Postby admin » Wed Aug 15, 2018 4:52 am

Part 1 of 2

Nikolay Nekrasov
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 8/14/18



Not to be confused with Nikolai Vissarionovich Nekrasov.

And you, stubborn heirs
Of fathers renowned for meanness,
Who with servile heel trod underfoot the shards Of families by Fortune frowned upon!
You, greedy crowd standing near the throne,
Of Freedom, Genius and Glory the hangman!
You hide behind the protection of law,
Before you, the court and truth—all is silent!
But there is also divine judgment, you cronies of corruption!
There is a terrible judge: he waits;
He is not swayed by tinkling gold,
And knows your thoughts and affairs beforehand.
Then in vain will you resort to slander:
It will not help you again,
And with all your black blood you shall not wash away
The righteous blood of the poet!

-- The Promise of Mikhail Lermontov, by Denise M. Henderson

Necro may refer to:

• necro-, the Greek prefix meaning death
• Necromancy, a type of magic
• Necrophilia, the sexual attraction to corpses
• Necropolis, a large ancient cemetery

-- Necro, by Wikipedia

Nikolay Nekrasov
Nekrasov in 1870
Born Nikolay Alexeyevich Nekrasov
10 December [O.S. 28 November] 1821
Nemyriv, Russian Empire
Died 8 January 1878 [O.S. 28 December 1877] (aged 56)
Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire
Occupation Poet, publisher
Language Russian
Nationality Russian
Spouse Fyokla Viktorova

Nikolay Alexeyevich Nekrasov (Russian: Никола́й Алексе́евич Некра́сов, IPA: [nʲɪkɐˈlaj ɐlʲɪkˈsʲejɪvʲɪtɕ nʲɪˈkrasəf] (About this sound listen), 10 December [O.S. 28 November] 1821 – 8 January 1878 [O.S. 28 December 1877]) was a Russian poet, writer, critic and publisher, whose deeply compassionate poems about peasant Russia made him the hero of liberal and radical circles of Russian intelligentsia, as represented by Vissarion Belinsky, Nikolay Chernyshevsky and Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

On who must be reckoned
The greatest of sinners:
"The publican," one says,
And one, "The Pomyéshchick,"
Another, "The peasant."
This last was a carter,
A man of good standing
And sound reputation,
No ignorant babbler.
He'd seen many things
In his life, his own province
Had traversed entirely.
He should have been heard.

The peasants, however,
Were all so indignant
They would not allow him
To speak. As for Klímka,
His wrath is unbounded,
"You fool!" he is shouting.
"But let me explain."

"I see you are all fools,"
A voice remarks roughly:
The voice of a trader
Who squeezes the peasants
For laputs or berries
Or any spare trifles.
But chiefly he's noted
For seizing occasions
When taxes are gathered,
And peasants' possessions
Are bartered at auction.
"You start a discussion
And miss the chief point.
Why, who's the worst sinner?
Consider a moment."
"Well, who then? You tell us."

"The robber, of course."

"You've not been a serf, man,"
Says Klímka in answer;
"The burden was heavy,
But not on your shoulders.
Your pockets are full,
So the robber alarms you;
The robber with this case
Has nothing to do."
"The case of the robber
Defending the robber,"
The other retorts.
"Now, pray!" bellows Klímka,
And leaping upon him,
He punches his jaw.
The trader repays him
With buffets as hearty,
"Take leave of your carcase!"
He roars.
"Here's a tussle!"
The peasants are clearing
A space for the battle;
They do not prevent it
Nor do they applaud it.
The blows fall like hail.
"I'll kill you, I'll kill you!
Write home to your parents!"
"I'll kill you, I'll kill you!
Heh, send for the pope!"
The trader, bent double
By Klímka, who, clutching
His hair, drags his head down,
Repeating, "He's bowing!"
Cries, "Stop, that's enough!"
When Klímka has freed him
He sits on a log,
And says, wiping his face
With a broadly-checked muffler,
"No wonder he conquered:
He ploughs not, he reaps not,
Does nothing but doctor
The pigs and the horses;
Of course he gets strong!"
The peasants are laughing,
And Klímka says, mocking,
"Here, try a bit more!"
"Come on, then! I'm ready,"
The trader says stoutly,
And rolling his sleeves up,
He spits on his palms.
"The hour has now sounded
For me, though a sinner,
To speak and unite you,"

Ióna pronounces.
The whole of the evening
That diffident pilgrim
Has sat without speaking,
And crossed himself, sighing.
The trader's delighted,
And Klímka replies not.
The rest, without speaking,
Sit down on the ground.


My brothers, how grievous
The sins of the nobles!"
"And yet not as great
As the sin of the peasant,"
The carter cannot here
Refrain from remarking.

-- Who Can Be Happy and Free in Russia?, by Nicholas Nekrasov

He is credited with introducing into Russian poetry ternary meters and the technique of dramatic monologue (On the Road, 1845).[1] As the editor of several literary journals, notably Sovremennik, Nekrasov was also singularly successful and influential.[2]


Early years

Nikolay Alexeyevich Nekrasov was born in Nemyriv (now in Vinnytsia Oblast, Ukraine), Podolia Governorate. His father Alexey Sergeyevich Nekrasov (1788-1862) was a descendant from Russian landed gentry, and an officer in the Imperial Russian Army.[3] There is some uncertainty as to his mother's origins. According to Brokhaus & Efron (and this corresponds with Nekrasov's 1887 autobiographical notes), Alexandra Zakrzewska was a Polish noblewoman, daughter of a wealthy landlord who belonged to szlachta. The church metrics tell a different story, and modern Russian scholars have her name as Yelena Andreyevna. "Up until recently the poet's biographers had it that his mother belonged to the Polish family. In fact she was a daughter of an Ukrainian state official Alexander Semyonovich Zakrevsky, the owner of Yuzvino, a small village in the Podolia Governorate," Korney Chukovsky asserted in 1967.[4] Pyotr Yakubovich argued that the metrics might have been tempered with so as to conceal the fact that the girl had been indeed taken from Poland without her parents' consent (Nekrasov in his autobiography states as much).[5][note 1] D.S.Mirsky came up with another way of explaining this discrepancy by suggesting that Nekrasov "created the cult of his mother, imparted her with improbable qualities and started worshipping her after her death."[6]

In January 1823 Alexey Nekrasov, ranked army major, retired and moved the family to his estate in Greshnevo, Yaroslavl province, near the Volga River, where young Nikolai spent his childhood years with his five siblings, brothers Andrey (b. 1820), Konstantin (b. 1824) and Fyodor (b. 1827), sisters Elizaveta (b. 1821) and Anna (b. 1823).[2][3] This early retirement from the army, as well as his job as a provincial inspector, caused Aleksey Sergeyevich much frustration resulting in drunken rages against both his peasants and his wife. Such experiences traumatized Nikolai and later determined the subject matter of his major poems that portrayed the plight of the Russian peasants and women. Nekrasov's mother loved literature and imparted this passion to her son; it was her love and support that helped the young poet to survive the traumatic experiences of his childhood which were aggravated by images of social injustice, similar to Fyodor Dostoyevsky's childhood recollections.[5][7][8] "His was a wounded heart, and this wound that never healed served as a source for his passionate, suffering verse for the rest of his life," the latter wrote.[3]

Education and literary debut

Every summer Nekrasov would go hunting to his brother's estate of Karabikha near Yaroslavl (now a memorial museum).

In September 1832 Nekrasov joined the Yaroslavl Gymnasium but quit it prematurely. The reasons for this might have been the alleged trouble with tutors whom he wrote satires on (no archive documents confirm this)[9] as well as Alexey Sergeyevich's insistence that his son should join the military academy. The biographer Vladimir Zhdanov also mentions the father's unwillingness to pay for his children's education; he certainly was engaged at some point in a long-drawn correspondence with the gymnasium authorities on this matter. Finally, in July 1837 he took two of his elder sons back home, citing health problems as a reason, and Nikolai had to spend a year in Greshnevo, doing nothing besides accompanying his father in his expeditions. The quality of education in the gymnasium was poor, but it was there that Nekrasov's interest in poetry grew: he admired Byron and Pushkin, notably the latter's "Ode to Freedom".[2]

According to some sources he has been then 'sent' to Saint Petersburg by his father, but Nekrasov in his autobiography maintained that it was his own decision to go, and that his brother Andrey assisted him in trying to persuade their father to procure all the recommendations required.[4] "By the age of fifteen the whole notebook [of verses] has taken shape, which was the reason why I was itching to flee to the capital," he remembered.[7] Outraged by his son's refusal to join the Cadet Corps, the father stopped supporting him financially. The three-year period of his "Petersburg tribulations" followed when the young man had to live in extreme conditions and once even found himself in a homeless shelter.[2] Things turned for the better when he started to give private lessons and contribute to the Literary Supplement to Russky Invalid, all the while compiling ABC-books and versified fairytales for children and vaudevilles, under the pseudonym Perepelsky.[5] In October 1838 Nekrasov debuted as a published poet: his "Thought" (Дума) appeared in Syn Otechestva.[10] In 1839 he took exams at the Saint Petersburg University's Eastern languages faculty, failed and joined the philosophy faculty as a part-time student where he studied, irregularly, until July 1841.[8] Years later detractors accused Nekrasov of mercantilism ("A million was his demon," wrote Dostoyevsky). But, "for eight years (1838-1846) this man lived on the verge of starvation... should he have backstepped, made peace with his father, he'd found himself again in total comfort," Yakubovish noted. "He might have easily become brilliant general, outstanding scientist, rich merchant, should he have put his heart to it," argued Nikolai Mikhaylovsky, praising Nekrasov's stubbornness in pursuing his own way.[5]

In February 1840 Nekrasov published his first collection of poetry Dreams and Sounds, using initials "N. N." following the advise of his patron Vasily Zhukovsky who suggested the author might feel ashamed of his childish exercises in several years' time.[10] The book, reviewed favourably by Pyotr Pletnyov and Ksenofont Polevoy, was dismissed by Alexey Galakhov and Vissarion Belinsky. Several months later Nekrasov retrieved and destroyed the unsold bulk of his first collection; some copies that survived have become a rarity since.[8] Dreams and Sounds was indeed a patchy collection, but not such a disaster as it was purported to be and featured, albeit in embryonic state, all the major motifs of the later Nekrasov's poetry.[2][5]

Nekrasov and Panayev visiting sick Belinsky. By A.Naumov

Nekrasov's first literary mentor Fyodor Koni who edited theatre magazines (Repertoire of Russian Theatre, then Pantheon, owned by Nikolai Polevoy), helped him debut as literary critic. Soon he became a prolific author and started to produce satires ("The Talker", "The States Official") and vaudevilles ("The Actor", "The Petersburg Money-lender"), for this publication and Literaturnaya Gazeta. Nekrasov's fondness for theater prevailed through the years, and his best poems (Russian Women, The Railway, The Contemporaries, Who Is Happy in Russia?) all had a distinct element of drama to them.[3]

In October 1841 Nekrasov started contributing to Andrey Krayevsky's Otechestvennye Zapiski (which he did until 1846), writing anonymously.[10] The barrage of prose he published in the early 1840s was, admittedly, worthless, but several of his plays (notably, No Hiding a Needle in a Sack) were produced at the Alexandrinsky Theatre to some commercial success.[3] In 1842 (a year after his mother's death) Nekrasov returned to Greshnevo and made peace with his father who was now quite proud of his son's achievements.[5]

In 1843 Nekrasov met Vissarion Belinsky and entered his circle of friends which included Ivan Turgenev, Ivan Panayev and Pavel Annenkov. Belinsky, obsessed with the ideas of the French Socialists, found a great sympathizer in Nekrasov for whom horrors of serfdom in his father's estate were still a fresh memory.[3] "On the Road" (1845) and "Motherland" (1846), two of Nekrasov's early realistic poems, delighted Belinsky.[11] The poet claimed later that those early conversations with Belinsky changed his life and commemorated the critic in several poems ("In the Memory of Belinsky", 1853; "V.G.Belinsky", 1855; "Scenes from The Bear Hunt", 1867). Before his death in 1848, Belinsky granted Nekrasov rights to publish various articles and other material originally planned for an almanac, to be called the "Leviathan".[3]

In the mid-1840s Nekrasov compiled, edited and published two influential almanacs, The Physiology of Saint Petersburg (1845)[note 2] and Saint Petersburg Collection (1846), the latter featuring Fyodor Dostoyevsky's first novel, Poor Folk. Gathering the works of several up and coming authors (Ivan Turgenev, Dmitry Grigorovich, Vladimir Dal, Ivan Panayev, Alexander Hertzen, Fyodor Dostoyevsky among them), both books were instrumental in promoting the new wave of realism in Russian literature. Several Nekrasov's poems found their way into the First of April compilation of humour he published in April 1846. Among the curiosities featured there was the novel The Danger of Enjoying Vain Dreams, co-authored by Nekrasov, Grigorovich and Dostoyevsky.[10] Among the work of fiction written by Nekrasov in those years was his unfinished autobiographical novel The Life and Adventures of Tikhon Trostnikov (1843-1848); some of its motifs would be found later in his poetry ("The Unhappy Ones", 1856; On the Street, 1850, "The Cabman", 1855). Part of it, the "St. Petersburg Corners", featured in the Physiology of St. Petersburg, was treated later as an independent novelette, an exponent of the "natural school" genre.[3][12]

Sovremennik and Otechestvennye Zapiski


In November 1846 Panayev and Nekrasov acquired[note 3] a popular magazine Sovremennik which had been founded by Alexander Pushkin but lost momentum under Pyotr Pletnyov.

hold em up
it's a street arrest
and we're dealin with identity theft
you need a publication
i don't see why i got to
you need a press release
as to assimilate
journo-fascist profiteers
pornotastic pioneers
bonbonbastic puppeteers
get away from me
how can you write what we read
that ain't my reality
you disabuse humanity
and fealty

-- Identity Theft, by Nellie McKay

Much of the staff of the old Otechestvennye Zapiski, including Belinsky, abandoned Andrey Krayevsky's magazine, and joined Sovremennik to work with Nekrasov, Panayev and Alexander Nikitenko, a nominal editor-in-chief. In the course of just several months Nekrasov managed to draw to the invigorated magazine the best literary forces of Russia. Among the works published in it in the course of the next several years were Ivan Turgenev's A Sportsman's Sketches, Dmitry Grigorovich's Anton Goremyka, Ivan Goncharov's A Common Story, Alexander Hertzen’s Magpie the Thief and Doctor Krupov. One of the young authors discovered by Nekrasov was Leo Tolstoy who debuted in Sovremennik with his trilogy Childhood, Boyhood and Youth.[3]

Nekrasov managed to save the magazine during the 'Seven years of darkness' period (1848-1855) when it was balancing on the verge of closure and he himself was under the secret police' surveillance.[10] In order to fill up the gaps caused by censorial interference he started to produce lengthy picturesque novels (Three Countries of the World, 1848-1849, The Dead Lake, 1851), co-authored by Avdotya Panayeva, his common-law wife.[3][13] His way of befriending censors by inviting them to his weekly literary dinners proved to be another useful ploy. Gambling (a habit shared by male ancestors on his father's side; his grandfather lost most of the family estate through it) was put to the service too, and as a member of the English Club Nekrasov made a lot of useful acquaintances.[3]

In 1854 Nekrasov invited Nikolai Chernyshevsky to join Sovremennik, in 1858 Nikolai Dobrolyubov became one of its major contributors. This led to the inevitable radicalisation of the magazine and the rift with its liberal flank. In 1859 Dobrolyubov's negative review outraged Turgenev and led to his departure from Sovremennik.[10] But the influx of young radical authors continued: Nikolai Uspensky, Fyodor Reshetnikov, Nikolai Pomyalovsky, Vasily Sleptsov, Pyotr Yakubovich, Pavel Yakushkin, Gleb Uspensky soon entered the Russian literary scene.[3] In 1858 Nekrasov and Dobrolyubov founded Svistok (Whistle), a satirical supplement to Sovremennik. The first two issues (in 1859) were compiled by Dobrolyubov, from the third (October 1858) onwards Nekrasov became this publication's editor and regular contributor.[14]

In June 1862, after the series of arsons in Petersburg for which radical students were blamed, Sovremennik was closed, and a month later Chernyshevsky was arrested. In December Nekrasov managed to get Sovremennik re-opened, and in 1863 published What Is to Be Done? by the incarcerated author.[3]

Nekrasov in the 1860s.

In 1855 Nekrasov started working upon his first poetry collection and on October 15, 1856, The Poems by N. Nekrasov came out to great public and critical acclaim.[3] "The rapture is universal. Hardly Pushkin's first poems, or Revizor, or Dead Souls could be said to have enjoyed such success as your book," wrote Chernyshevsky on November 5 to Nekrasov who was abroad at the time, receiving medical treatment.[15] "Nekrasov's poems… brandish like fire," wrote Turgenev.[16] "Nekrasov is an idol of our times, a worshipped poet, he is now bigger than Pushkin," wrote memoirist Elena Stakensneider.[3][10] Upon his return in August 1857, Nekrasov moved into the new flat in the Krayevsky's house on Liteiny Lane in Saint Petersburg where he resided since then for the rest of his life.[10]

The 1861 Manifest left Nekrasov unimpressed. "Is that freedom? More like a fake, a jibe at peasants," he said, reportedly, to Chernyshevsky on March the 5th, the day of the Manifest's publication. His first poetic responses to the reform were "Freedom" ("I know, instead of the old nets they'd invented some new ones...")[17]


"A mane grey and bushy
Which covered his shoulders,
A huge grizzled beard
Which had not seen the scissors
For twenty odd years,
Made Savyéli resemble
A shaggy old bear,
Especially when he
Came out of the forest,
So broad and bent double.
The grandfather's shoulders
Were bowed very low,
And at first I was frightened
Whenever he entered
The tiny low cottage:
I thought that were he
To stand straight of a sudden
He'd knock a great hole
With his head in the ceiling.
But Grandfather could not
Stand straight, and they told me
That he was a hundred.
He lived all alone
In his own little cottage,
And never permitted
The others to enter;
He couldn't abide them.
Of course they were angry
And often abused him.
His own son would shout at him,
'Branded one! Convict!'
But this did not anger
Savyéli, he only
Would go to his cottage
Without making answer,
And, crossing himself,
Begin reading the scriptures;
Then suddenly cry
In a voice loud and joyful,
'Though branded—no slave!'...

"Savyéli would gather
The berries and mushrooms
From spring till late autumn,
And snare the wild rabbits;
Throughout the long winter
He lay on the oven
And talked to himself.
He had favourite sayings:
He used to lie thinking
For whole hours together,
And once in an hour
You would hear him exclaiming:
"'Destroyed … and subjected!'
Or, 'Ai, you toy heroes!
You're fit but for battles
With old men and women!'
"'Be patient … and perish,
Impatient … and perish!'
"'Eh, you Russian peasant,
You giant, you strong man,
The whole of your lifetime
You're flogged, yet you dare not
Take refuge in death,
For Hell's torments await you!'...

[H]e told me the story.
"'The peasants in old days
Were serfs as they now are,
But our race had, somehow,
Not seen its Pomyéshchick;
No manager knew we,
No pert German agent.
And barschin we gave not,
And taxes we paid not
Except when it pleased us,—
Perhaps once in three years
Our taxes we'd pay.'...

"'The times were so blessed,—
And folk had a saying
That our little village
Was sought by the devil
For more than three years,
But he never could find it.
Great forests a thousand
Years old lay about us;
And treacherous marshes
And bogs spread around us;
No horseman and few men
On foot ever reached us....

They were good times!
In these days the Barin
Lives under your window;
The roadways go spreading
Around, like white napkins—
The devil destroy them!
We only were troubled
By bears, and the bears too
Were easily managed.
Why, I was a worse foe
By far than old Mishka,
When armed with a dagger
And bear-spear. I wandered
In wild, secret woodpaths,
And shouted, ''My forest!''...

"'At last our Pomyéshchick
Invented a new game:
He sent us an order,
''Appear!'' We appeared not.
Instead, we lay low
In our dens, hardly breathing.
A terrible drought
Had descended that summer,
The bogs were all dry;
So he sent a policeman,
Who managed to reach us,
To gather our taxes,
In honey and fish;
A second time came he,
We gave him some bear-skins;
And when for the third time
He came, we gave nothing,—
We said we had nothing.
We put on our laputs,
We put our old caps on,
Our oldest old coats,
And we went to Korójin
(For there was our master now,
Stationed with soldiers).
''Your taxes!'' ''We have none,
We cannot pay taxes,
The corn has not grown,
And the fish have escaped us.''
''Your taxes!'' ''We have none.''
He waited no longer;
''Hey! Give them the first round!''
He said, and they flogged us.
"'Our pockets were not
Very easily opened;
Shaláshnikov, though, was
A master at flogging.
Our tongues became parched,
And our brains were set whirling,
And still he continued.
He flogged not with birch-rods,
With whips or with sticks,
But with knouts made for giants.
At last we could stand it
No longer; we shouted,
''Enough! Let us breathe!''
We unwound our foot-rags
And took out our money,...

And so by the ikons
We swore all together
That next time we rather
Would die of the beating
Than feebly give way.
It seems the Pomyéshchick
Had taken a fancy
At once to our roubles,
Because after that
Every year we were summoned
To go to Korójin,
We went, and were flogged.
"'Shaláshnikov flogged like
A prince, but be certain
The treasures he thrashed from
The doughty Korójins
Were not of much weight.
The weak yielded soon,
But the strong stood like iron
For the commune. I also
Bore up, and I thought:
''Though never so stoutly
You flog us, you dog's son,
You won't drag the whole soul
From out of the peasant;
Some trace will be left.'...

He sent us a German.[48]
Through vast, savage forests,
Through sly sucking bogs
And on foot came the German,
As bare as a finger.
"'As melting as butter
At first was the German:
''Just give what you can, then,''
He'd say to the peasants.

"'''We've nothing to give!''...

''Well, if you can't pay
You should work, little peasants.''

"'''What work should we do?''

"'''You should dig some deep ditches
To drain off the bog-lands.''

We dug some deep ditches.

"'''And now trim the forest.''

"'''Well, well, trim the forest….''
We hacked and we hewed
As the German directed,
And when we look round
There's a road through the forest!...

And now he's established
A village ispravnik,
They live like two brothers.
His courtyard at all times
Is teeming with strangers,
And woe to the peasants—
The fallen Korójins!
He sucked us all dry
To the very last farthing;
And flog!—like the soul
Of Shaláshnikov flogged he!...

"'But how could you bear it?'

"'Ah, how could we bear it?
Because we were giants—
Because by their patience
The people of Russia
Are great, little Grandchild.
You think, then, Matróna,
That we Russian peasants
No warriors are?
Why, truly the peasant
Does not live in armour,
Does not die in warfare,
But nevertheless
He's a warrior, child.
His hands are bound tight,
And his feet hung with fetters;
His back—mighty forests
Have broken across it;
His breast—I will tell you,
The Prophet Elijah
In chariot fiery
Is thundering within it;
And these things the peasant
Can suffer in patience.
He bends—but he breaks not;
He reels—but he falls not


And Vlass, the old Elder,
Has placed his great palm
On the head of his godson.
"Is serfdom revived?
Will they drive you to barschin
Or pilfer your hayfields?"
Says Grísha in jest.
"The hay-fields? You're joking!"

"Well, what has gone wrong, then?
And why were you singing
'The Hungry One,' brothers?
To summon the famine?"
"Yes, what's all the pother?"
Here Klímka bursts out
Like a cannon exploding.
The others are scratching
Their necks, and reflecting:
"It's true! What's amiss?"
"Come, drink, little 'Earthworms,'
Come, drink and be merry!
All's well—as we'd have it,
Aye, just as we wished it.
Come, hold up your noddles!

-- Who Can Be Happy and Free in Russia?, by Nicholas Nekrasov

... and Korobeiniki (1861). The latter was originally published in the Red Books series started by Nekrasov specifically for the peasant readership. These books were distributed by 'ophens', vagrant traders, not unlike the korobeinikis Tikhonych and Ivan, the two heroes of the poem.[3] After the second issue the series were banned by censors.[10]

In 1861 Nekrasov started campaigning for the release of his arrested colleague, Mikhail Mikhaylov, but failed: the latter was deported to Siberia. More successful was his plea for the release of Afanasy Shchapov: the decree ordering the Petersburg historian's demotion to a monastery was retrieved by Alexander II.[10] After his father's death Nekrasov in May 1862 bought the Karabikha estate and since then has visited it on the yearly basis.[3]

In April 1866, after Dmitry Karakozov's attempt on the life of the Tsar, Nekrasov, so as to save Sovremennik from closure,[10] wrote the "Ode to Osip Komissarov" (the man who saved the monarch's life by pushing Karakozov aside) to read it publicly in the English Club. His another poetic address greeted Muravyov the Hangman, a man responsible for the brutal suppression of the 1863 Polish Uprising, who was now in charge of the Karakozov case. Both gestures proved to be futile and in May 1866 Sovremennik was closed for good.[10]

In the end of 1866 Nekrasov purchased Otechestvennye Zapiski to become this publication's editor with Grigory Yeliseyev as his deputy (soon joined by Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin) and previous owner Krayevsky as an administrator.[10] Among the authors attracted to the new OZ were Alexander Ostrovsky and Gleb Uspensky. Dmitry Pisarev, put in charge of the literary criticism section, was later succeeded by Alexander Skabichevsky and Nikolai Mikhaylovsky.[3]

In 1869 OZ started publishing what turned out to be Nekrasov's most famous poem, Who Is Happy in Russia? (1863–1876). In 1873 a group of narodniks in Geneva printed the misleadingly titled, unauthorized Collection of New Poems and Songs by Nekrasov, featuring all the protest poems banned in Russia, a clear sign of what an inspiration now the poet has become for the revolutionary underground.[10]
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Re: Act & Punishment: The Pussy Riot Trials

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Part 2 of 2

Illness and death

Nekrasov in late 1877. Portrait by Ivan Kramskoy

For many years Nikolai Nekrasov suffered from a chronic throat condition.[8] In April 1876 severe pains brought about insomnia that lasted for months. In June Saltykov-Shchedrin arrived from abroad to succeed him as an editor-in-chief of OZ. Still unsure as to the nature of the illness, doctor Sergey Botkin advised Nekrasov to go to the Crimea. In September 1876 he arrived at Yalta where he continued working on Who Is Happy in Russia's final part, "The Feast for All the World". Banned by censors, it soon started spreading in hand-written copies all over Russia.[10] In December the high-profile concilium led by Nikolay Sklifosovsky diagnosed the intestinal cancer.

In February 1877 groups of radical students started to arrive to Yalta from all over the country to provide moral support for the dying man. Painter Ivan Kramskoy came to stay and work upon the poet's portrait. One of the last people Nekrasov met was Ivan Turgenev who came to make peace after years of bitter feud.[10] The surgery performed on 12 April 1877 by Theodor Billroth who was invited from Vienna by Anna Alexeyevna Nekrasova brought some relief, but not for long.[10] "I saw him for the last time just one month before his death. He looked like a corpse... Not only did he speak well, but retained the clarity of mind, seemingly refusing to believe the end was near," remembered Dostoyevsky.[18]

Nikolai Alekseyevich Nekrasov died on 8 January 1878. Four thousand people came to the funeral and the procession leading to the Novodevichy Cemetery turned into a political rally.[10] Fyodor Dostoyevsky delivered a keynote eulogy, calling Nekrasov the greatest Russian poet since Alexander Pushkin and Mikhail Lermontov. One section of the crowd, the followers of Chernyshevsky (with Georgy Plekhanov as one of their leaders), chanted "No, he was greater!"[19] Members of Zemlya i Volya alongside other radical groups (with wreaths "From the Socialists") were also present. "His funeral was one of the most striking demonstration of popularity ever accorded to a Russian writer," according to Mirsky.[20]

Private life

Avdotya Panayeva

Nikolai Nekrasov met Avdotya Panayeva in 1842 when she was already a promising writer and a popular hostess of a literary salon. The 26-year-old Nekrasov fell in love but had to wait several years for her emotional response and at least on one occasion was on the verge of suicide, if one of his Panayeva Cycle poems, "Some time ago, rejected by you... " is to be believed. For several years she was "struggling with her feelings" (according to Chernyshevsky), then in 1847 succumbed. "This was the lucky day I count as my whole life's beginning," wrote Nekrasov later.[2]

The way Nekrasov moved into Panayev's house to complete a much-ridiculed love triangle seen by many as a take on the French-imported idea of the 'unfettered love' which young Russian radicals associated with the Socialist moral values. In reality the picture was more complicated. Ivan Panayev, a gifted writer and journalist, proved to be 'a family man of bachelor habits', and by the time of Nekrasov's arrival their marriage has been in tatters. Avdotya who saw gender inequality as grave social injustice, considered herself free from marital obligations but was still unwilling to sever ties with a good friend. A bizarre romantic/professional team which united colleagues and lovers (she continued 'dating' her husband, sending her jealous lodger into fits of fury) was difficult for both men, doubly so for a woman in a society foreign to such experiments.[2]

Panayev and Nekrasov, by Nikolai Stepanov

The Panayevs' home soon became the unofficial Sovremennik' headquarters. In tandem with Panayeva (who used the pseudonym N.N.Stanitsky) Nekrasov wrote two huge novels, Three Countries of the World (1848-1849) and The Dead Lake (1851). Dismissed by many critics as little more than a ploy serving to fill the gaps in Sovremennik left by censorial cuts and criticised by some of the colleagues (Vasily Botkin regarded such a manufacture as 'humiliating for literature'), in retrospect they are seen as uneven but curious literary experiments not without their artistic merits.[2]

Nekrasov's poems dedicated to and inspired by Avdotya formed the Panayeva Cycle which amounted "in its entirety... to a long poem telling the passionate, often painful and morbid love story," according to a biographer.[21][22] It is only these poems that the nature of their tempestuous relationship could be judged by. There was a correspondence between them, but in a fit of rage Panayeva destroyed all letters ("Now, cry! Cry bitterly, you won’t be able to re-write them," - Nekrasov reproached her in a poem called "The Letters"). Several verses of this cycle became musical romances, one of them, "Forgive! Forget the days of the fall..." (Прости! Не помни дней паденья...) has been set to music by no less than forty Russian composers, starting with Cesar Cui in 1859, and including Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky.[23]

Zinaida Nekrasova

In 1849 Panayeva gave birth to a son, but the boy soon died. Another death, of Ivan Panayev in 1862, drove the couple still further apart.[24] The main reason for Panayeva's final departure, though, was Nekrasov's 'difficult' character. He was prone to fits of depression, anger, hypochondria and could spend days "sprawling on a couch in his cabinet, greatly irritated, telling people how he hated everybody but mostly himself," according to Zhdanov.[2] "Your laughter, your merry talking could not dispel my morbid thoughts/They only served to drive my heavy, sick and irritated mind insane," he confessed in a poem.[25]

In 1863, while still with Panayeva, Nekrasov met the French actress Celine Lefresne, who was at the time performing at the Mikhaylovsky Theatre with her troupe. She became his lover; Nekrasov, when in France, stayed in her Paris flat several times; she made a visit to Karabikha in 1867. Celine was a kindred spirit and made his journeys abroad a joy, although her attitude towards him has been described as 'dry'. Nekrasov helped Celine financially and bequeathed her a considerable sum of money (10,5 thousand rubles).[26]

In 1870 Nekrasov met and fell in love with 19-year-old Fyokla Anisimovna Viktorova [he is 49 years old], a country girl for whom he invented another name, Zinaida Nikolayevna (the original one was deemed too 'simple').[2] Educated personally by her lover, she soon learned many of his poems by heart and became in effect his literary secretary. Zina was treated respectfully by the poet's literary friends, but not by Anna Alexeyevna, Nekrasov's sister who found such mésalliance unacceptable. The two women made peace in the mid-1870s, as they were bedsitting in turns for the dying poet. On April 7, 1877, in a symbolic gesture of gratitude and respect, Nekrasov wed Zinaida Nikolayevna at his home.[27]


Nekrasov's first collection of poetry, Dreams and Sounds (Мечты и звуки), received some favourable reviews but was promptly dismissed as 'bland and mediocre'[5] by Vissarion Belinsky, the most respected Russian literary critic of the 19th century. It was Belinsky, though, who first recognized in Nekrasov the talent of harsh, witty realist. "Do you know that you are indeed a poet, and the true one?" he exclaimed upon having read his poem, "On the Road" (В дороге, 1845), as Ivan Panayev reminisced. The autobiographical "Motherland" (Родина, 1846), banned by censors and published ten years later "drove Belinsky totally crazy, he learnt it by heart and sent it to his Moscow friends," according to the same source.[11][28]

"When from the darkness of delusion..." (Когда из мрака заблужденья..., 1845), arguably the first poem in Russia about the plight of a woman driven to prostitution by poverty, brought Chernyshevsky to tears. Of "Whether I ride the dark street though the night..." (Еду ли ночью по улице темной..., 1847), another harrowing story of a broken family, dead baby and a wife having to sell her body to procure money for a tiny coffin, Ivan Turgenev wrote in a letter to Belinsky (November 14): "Please tell Nekrasov that... [it] drove me totally mad, I repeat it day and night and have learnt it by heart."[29] "Among his earlier verses there is the one truly timeless, that's been recognized by many (including Grigoryev and Rozanov) as something so much more important than just a verse - the tragic tale of a doomed love balancing on the verge of starvation and moral fall, - the one that starts with the words 'Whether I ride the dark street through the night...'," wrote Mirsky.[6]

Nekrasov in 1856

The Poems by N. Nekrasov, published in October 1856, made their author famous. Divided into four parts and opening with the manifest-like "The Poet and the Citizen" (Поэт и гражданин), it was organized into an elaborate tapestry, parts of it interweaved to form vast poetic narratives (like On the Street cycle). Part one was dealing with the real people's life, part two satirised 'the enemies of the people', part three revealed the 'friends of the people, real and false', and part four was a collection of lyric verses on love and friendship. The Part 3's centerpiece was Sasha (Саша, 1855), an ode to the new generation of politically-minded Russians, which critics see as closely linked to Turgenev's Rudin.[3] In 1861 the second edition of The Poems came out (now in 2 volumes). In Nekrasov's lifetime this ever-growing collection has been re-issued several times.[3] The academic version of the Complete N.A. Nekrasov, ready by the late 1930s, had to be shelved due to the break out of the World War II; it was published in 12 volumes by the Soviet Goslitizdat in 1948-1953.[30]

1855-1862 were the years of Nekrasov's greatest literary activity.[31] One important poem, "Musings By the Front Door" (Размышления у парадного подъезда, 1858), was banned in Russia and appeared in Hertzen's Kolokol in January 1860.[10] Among others were "The Unhappy Ones" (Несчастные, 1856), "Silence" (Тишина, 1857) and "The Song for Yeryomushka" (Песня Еремушке, 1859), the latter turned into a revolutionary hymn by the radical youth.[3]

Nekrasov responded to the 1861 land reform with Korobeiniki (Коробейники, 1861), the tragicomic story of the two 'basket-men', Tikhonych and Ivan, who travel across Russia selling goods and gathering news. The fragment of the poem's first part evolved into a popular folk song.[3] "The most melodious of Nekrasov's poems is Korobeiniki, the story which, although tragic, is told in the life-affirming, optimistic tone, and yet features another, strong and powerful even if bizarre motif, that of 'The Wanderer's Song'," wrote Mirsky.[6]

Among Nekrasov's best known poems of the early 1860 were "Peasant Children" (Крестьянские дети, 1861), highlighting moral values of the Russian peasantry, and "A Knight for an Hour" (Рыцарь на час, 1862), written after the author's visit to his mother's grave.[32] "Orina, the Soldier's Mother" (Орина, мать солдатская, 1863) glorified the motherly love that defies death itself, while The Railway (Железная дорога, 1964), condemning the Russian capitalism "built upon peasant's bones," continued the line of protest hymns started in the mid-1840s.[3]

"Grandfather Frost the Red Nose" (Мороз, Красный нос, 1864), a paean to the Russian national character, went rather against the grain with the general mood of the Russian intelligentsia of the time, steeped in soul-searching after the brutal suppression of the Polish Uprising of 1863 by the Imperial forces.[3] "Life, this enigma you've been thrown into, each day draws you nearer to demolition, frightens you and seems maddeningly unfair. But then you notice that somebody needs you, and all of a sudden your whole existence gets filled with the meaning; the feeling that you're an orphan needed by nobody, is gone", wrote Nekrasov to Lev Tolstoy, explaining this poem's idea.[33]

In the late 1860s Nekrasov published several important satires. The Contemporaries (Современники, 1865), a swipe at the rising Russian capitalism and its immoral promoters,[3] is considered by Vladimir Zhdanov as being on par with the best of Saltykov-Shchedrin's work. The latter too praised the poem for its power and realism.[34] In 1865 the law was passed abolishing preliminary censorship but toughening punitive sanctions. Nekrasov lambasted this move in his satirical cycle Songs of the Free Word (Песни свободного слова), the publication of which caused more trouble for Sovremennik.[10]

Nekrasov's Дедушка Мазай и зайцы ("Grandfather Mazay and the Hares") remains among the most popular children's poems in Russia. Illustration by Boris Kustodiev

In 1867 Nekrasov started his Poems for Russian Children cycle, concluded in 1873. Full of humour and great sympathy for the peasant youth, "Grandfather Mazay and the Hares" (Дедушка Мазай и зайцы) and "General Stomping-Bear" (Генерал Топтыгин) up to this day remain the children's favourites in his country.[3]

The rise of the Narodniks in the early 1870s coincided with the renewal of interest in the Decembrist revolt in Russia. It was reflected in first Grandfather (Дедушка, 1870), then in a dilogy called Russian Women ("Princess Trubetskaya", 1872; "Princess M.N. Volkonskaya, 1873), the latter based upon the real life stories of Ekaterina Trubetskaya and Maria Volkonskaya, who followed their Decembrist husbands to their exile in Siberia.[3][10]

In the 1870s the general tone of Nekrasov's poetry changed: it became more declarative, over-dramatized and featured the recurring image of poet as a priest, serving "the throne of truth, love and beauty." Nekrasov's later poetry is the traditionalist one, quoting and praising giants of the past, like Pushkin and Schiller, trading political satire and personal drama for elegiac musings.[35] In poems like "The Morning" (Утро, 1873) and "The Frightful Year" (Страшный год, 1874) Nekrasov sounds like a precursor to Alexander Blok, according to biographer Yuri Lebedev. The need to rise above the mundane in search for universal truths forms the leitmotif of the lyric cycle Last Songs (Последние песни, 1877).[3]

Among Nekrasov's most important works is his last, unfinished epic Who Is Happy in Russia? (Кому на Руси жить хорошо?, 1863-1876), telling the story of seven peasants who set out to ask various elements of the rural population if they are happy, to which the answer is never satisfactory. The poem, noted for its rhyme scheme ("several unrhymed iambic tetrameters ending in a Pyrrhic are succeeded by a clausule in iambic trimeter". - Terras, 319) resembling a traditional Russian folk song, is regarded Nekrasov's masterpiece.[3][8]

Recognition and legacy

Nikolai Nekrasov is considered one of the greatest Russian poets of the 19th century, alongside Alexander Pushkin and Mikhail Lermontov.[3] In 1850s-1860s Nekrasov (backed by two of his younger friends and allies, Chernyshevsky and Dobrolyubov) became the leader of a politicized, social-oriented trend in the Russian poetry (evolved from the Gogol-founded natural school in prose) and exerted the strong influence upon the young radical intelligentsia. "What's prompted the Russian student's trend of 'merging with the people' was not the Western Socialism, but the Narodnik-related poetry of Nekrasov, which was immensely popular among the young people," argued the revolutionary poet Nikolai Morozov.[36]

Nekrasov in the 1860s. Photographed by Sergey Levitsky. Nekrasov, as a real innovator in the Russian literature, was closely linked to the tradition set by his great predecessors, first and foremost, Pushkin. - Korney Chukovsky, 1952[37] Nekrasov was totally devoid of memory, unaware of any tradition and foreign to the notion of historical gratitude. He came from nowhere and drew his own line, starting with himself, never much caring for anybody else. - Vasily Rozanov, 1916[38]

In 1860 the so-called 'Nekrasov school' in the Russian poetry started to take shape, uniting realist poets like Dmitry Minayev, Nikolai Dobrolyubov, Ivan Nikitin and Vasily Kurochkin, among others. Chernyshevsky praised Nekrasov for having started "the new period in the history of Russian poetry."[3]

Nekrasov was credited for being the first editor of Fyodor Dostoyevsky whose debut novel Poor Folk made its way into the St. Petersburg Collection which (along with its predecessor, 1845's The Physiology of Saint Petersburg) played the crucial role in promoting the realism in Russian literature. A long-standing editor and publisher of Sovremennik, he turned it into the leading Russian literary publication of his time, thus continuing the legacy of Pushkin, its originator. During its 20 years of steady and careful literary policy, Sovremennik served as a cultural forum for all the major Russian writers, including Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Ivan Turgenev, and Leo Tolstoy, as well as Nekrasov's own poetry and prose. His years at the helm of Sovremennik, though, were marred by controversy. "Nekrasov was a genius editor, and his gift of procuring the best literature and the best authors at the height of their relevancy, bordered on miracle," acknowledged Mirsky, but as such he was "a ruthless manipulator, first and foremost, for whom any means justified the end" and who "shamelessly exploited the enthusiasm of his underpaid authors."[6]

The conservatives among his contemporaries regarded him a dangerous political provocateur. "Nekrasov is an outright communist... He's openly crying out for the revolution," reported Faddey Bulgarin in his letter to the Russian secret police chief in 1846.[39] Liberal detractors (Vasily Botkin, Alexander Druzhinin, Ivan Turgenev among them) were horrified by the way "ugly, anti-social things creep into his verse," as Boris Almazov has put it,[40] and the 'antipoetic' style of his verse (Grigoryev, Rozanov).[41] "The way he pushes such prosaic subject matter down into poetic form, is just unthinkable," Almazov wrote in 1852.[42] "Nekrasov most definitely is not an artist," insisted Stepan Dudyshkin in 1861.[43]

Attacks from the right and the center-right caused Nekrasov's reputation no harm and "only strengthened [his] position as a spiritual leader of the radical youth," as Korney Chukovsky maintained. More damage has been done (according to the same author) by those of his radical followers who, while eulogizing 'Nekrasov the tribune,' failed to appreciate his 'genius of an innovator'.[44] "His talent was remarkable if not for its greatness, then for the fine way it reflected the state of Russia of his time," wrote soon after Nekrasov's death one of his colleagues and allies Grigory Yeliseyev.[45] "Nekrasov was for the most part a didactic poet and as such... prone to stiltedness, mannerisms and occasional insincerity," opined Maxim Antonovich.[46] Georgy Plekhanov who in his 1902 article glorified 'Nekrasov the Revolutionary' insisted that "one is obliged to read him... in spite of occasional faults of the form" and his "inadequacy in terms of the demands of esthetic taste."[47]

According to one school of thought (formulated among others by Vasily Rosanov in his 1916 essay), Nekrasov in the context of the Russian history of literature was an "alien... who came from nowhere" and grew into a destructive 'anti-Pushkin' force to crash with his powerful, yet artless verse the tradition of "shining harmonies" set by the classic.[38] Decades earlier Afanasy Fet described Nekrasov's verse as a 'tin-plate prose' next to Pushkin's 'golden poetry'. Korney Chukovsky passionately opposed such views and devoted the whole book, Nekrasov the Master, to highlight the poet's stylistic innovations and trace the "ideological genealogy", as he put it, from Pushkin through Gogol and Belinsky to Nekrasov.[31][48] Mirsky, while giving credit to Chukovsky's effort, still saw Nekrasov as a great innovator who came first to destroy, only then to create: "He was essentially a rebel against all the stock in trade of 'poetic poetry' and the essence of his best work is precisely the bold creation of a new poetry unfettered by traditional standards of taste," Mirsky wrote in 1925.[6]

Modern Russian scholars consider Nekrasov a trailblazer in the Russian 19th-century poetry who "explored new ways of its development in such a daring way that before him was plain unthinkable," according to biographer Yuri Lebedev. Mixing social awareness and political rhetoric with such conservative subgenres as elegy, traditional romance and romantic ballad, he opened new ways, particularly for the Russian Modernists some of whom (Zinaida Gippius, Valery Bryusov, Andrey Bely and Alexander Blok) professed admiration for the poet, citing him as an influence.[3] Vladimir Mayakovsky did as much in the early 1920s, suggesting that Nekrasov, as 'a brilliant jack-of-all-trades' would have fitted perfectly into the new Soviet poetry scene.[49]

Nekrasov enriched the traditional palette of the Russian poetry language by adding to it elements of satire, fuellieton, realistic sketch and, most importantly, folklore and song-like structures. "Of all the 19th century poets he was the only one so close to the spirit of a Russian folk song, which he never imitated - his soul was that of a folk singer," argued Mirsky. "What distinguishes his verse is its song-like quality," wrote Zinaida Gippius in 1939.[50] "The greatest achievement in the genre of the folk Russian song," according to Misky is the poem Who Is Happy in Russia?, its style "totally original, very characteristic and monolith. Never does the poet indulges himself with his usual moaning and conducts the narrative in the tone of sharp but good-natured satire very much in the vein of a common peasant talk... Full of extraordinary verbal expressiveness, energy and many discoveries, it's one of the most original Russian poems of the 19th century."[6]

Nekrasov is recognized as an innovator satirist. Before him the social satire in Russia was "didactic and punishing": the poet satirist was supposed to "rise high above his targets to bombard them easily with the barrage of scorching words" (Lebedev). Nekrasov's dramatic method implied the narrator's total closeness to his hero whom he 'played out' as an actor, revealing motives, employing sarcasm rather than wrath, either ironically eulogizing villains ("Musings by the Front Door"), or providing the objects of his satires a tribune for long, self-exposing monologues ("A Moral Man", "Fragments of the Travel Sketches by Count Garansky", "The Railroad").[3]

Tomb of Nikolay Nekrasov at the Novodevichy Cemetery (Saint Petersburg).

What interested Nekrasov himself so much more than the stylistic experiments, though, was the question of "whether poetry could change the world" and in a way he provided an answer, having become by far the most politically influential figure in the Russian 19th-century literature. Vladimir Lenin considered him "the great Russian Socialist"[51] and habitually treated his legacy as a quotation book which he used to flay enemies, left and right.[37] In the Soviet times scholars tended to promote the same idea, glorifying Nekrasov as a 'social democrat poet' who was 'fighting for the oppressed' and 'hated the rich'.[52]

Unlike many of his radical allies, though, Nekrasov held the Orthodox Christianity and 'traditional Russian national values' in high esteem. "He had an unusual power of idealization and the need to create gods was the most profound of his needs. The Russian people was the principal of these gods; next to it stood equally idealized and subjectively conditioned myths of his mother and Belinsky," noted Mirsky. Nekrasov's poetry was admired and profusely quoted by liberals, monarchists, and nationalists, as well as Socialists.[52] Several of his lines (like "Seyat razumnoye, dobroye, vetchnoye..." - "To saw the seeds of all things sensible, kind, eternal..." or "Suzhdeny vam blagiye poryvi/ No svershit nichevo ne dano". - "You're endowed with the best of intentions / Yet unable to change anything") became the commonplace aphorisms in Russia, overused in all kinds of polemics.[53]

With verdicts upon Nekrasov's legacy invariably depending upon the political views of reviewers, the objective evaluation of Nekrasov's poetry became difficult. As D.S. Mirsky noted in 1925, "Despite his enormous popularity among the radicals and of a tribute given to him as a poet by enemies like Grigoryiev and Dostoyevsky, Nekrasov can hardly be said to have had his due during his lifetime. Even his admirers admired the matter of his poetry rather than its manner, and many of them believed that Nekrasov was a great poet only because matter mattered more than form and in spite of his having written inartistically. After Nekrasov's death his poetry continued to be judged along the party lines, rejected en bloc by the right wing and praised in spite of its inadequate form by the left. Only in relatively recent times has he come into his own, and his great originality and newness being fully appreciated."[6]


Nekrasov's estate in Karabikha, his St. Petersburg home, as well as the office of Sovremennik magazine on Liteyny Prospekt, are now national cultural landmarks and public museums of Russian literature. Many Libraries are named in his honor. One of them is the Central Universe Science Nekrasov Library in Moscow.

Selected bibliography


• "The Money-lender" (Rostovshchik, 1844)
• "On the Road" (V doroge, 1845)
• "Motherland" (1846)
• "The Doghunt" (Psovaya okhota, 1846)
• On the Street (Na Ulitse, 1850), 4 poems cycle
• "The Fine Match" (Prekrasnaya partia, 1852)
• "Unmowed Line" (Neszhataya polosa, 1854)
• "Vlas" (1855)
• "V.G. Belinsky" (1855)
• Sasha (1855)
• "The Forgotten Village" (Zabytaya derevnya, 1855)
• "Musings at the Front Door" (Razmyshlenya u paradnovo pod’ezda, 1858)
• "The Unhappy Ones (Neschastnye, 1856)
• "The Poet and the Citizen" (Poet i grazhdanin, 1856)
• "Silence" (Tishina, 1857)
• "The Song for Yeryomushka" (Pesnya Yeryomushke, 1859)
• Korobeiniki (1861)
• "The Funeral" (Pokhorony, 1861)
• "Peasant Children" (Krestyanskiye deti, 1861)
• "A Knight for An Hour" (Rytsar na thas, 1862)
• "Green Roar" (Zelyony shum, 1862) • "Orina, the Soldier's Mother" (Orina, mat soldatskaya, 1863)
• The Railway (Zheleznaya doroga, 1864)
• "Grandfather Frost the Red Nose" (Moroz, Krasny nos, 1864)
• Contemporaries (Sovremenniki, 1865)
• Songs of the Free Word (Pesni svobodnovo slova, 1865-1866)
• Poems for Russian Children (Stikhotvorenya, posvyashchyonnye russkim detyam, 1867-1873)
• "The Bear Hunt. Scenes from the lyrical comedy" (Medvezhya okhota, 1867)
• Grandfather (Dedushka, 1870)
• "The Recent Times" (Nedavneye vremya, 1871)
• Russian Women (Russkiye zhenshchiny: 1872-1873), a dilogy
• "The Morning" (Utro, 1873)
• "The Horrible Year" (Strashny god, 1874)
• The Last Songs (Poslednye pesni, 1877), a cycle
• Who Is Happy in Russia? (Komu na Rusi zhit khorosho, 1863-1876)


• There is No Hiding a Needle in a Sack (Shila v meshke ne utayich, 1841)


• The Life and Adventures of Tikhon Trostnikov(Zhizn i pokhozhdenya Tikhona Trostnikova, 1843-1848) - autobiographical novel, unfinished


1. Yakubovich dismissed the once popular notion of a Polish girl having been kidnapped by a visiting Russian officer against her will, pointing to "Mother", Nekrasov's autobiographical verse describing an episode when he discovered in his family archives his mother's letter written hectically (and apparently in a fit of passion, in French and Polish) which suggested she was at least for a while deeply in love with the army captain.
2. The term "physiology" was applied in those times to a short literary real life sketch, describing in detail the life of a certain social strata, group of professionals, etc.
3. Panayev donated 35 thousand rubles. The Kazan Governorate landlord Grigory Tolstoy was not among the sponsors, contrary to what some Russian sources maintain. Tolstoy, who ingratiated himself with the mid-19th-century Russian revolutionary circles in France (and was even mentioned in the Marx-Engelscorrespondence, as a 'fiery Russian revolutionary' who, after having had the long conversation with Marx, declared his intention to sell his whole estate and give the moneys to the revolutionary cause, but seemed to forget about the promise upon his return home) indeed promised Nekrasov to provide the necessary sum, but failed to produce a single kopeck, according to Korney Chukovsky's essay Nekrasov and Grigory Tolstoy.


1. History of Nineteenth-Century Russian Literature, by Dmitrij Cizevskij et al. Vanderbilt University Press, 1974. Page 104.
2. Vladimir Zhdanov (1971). "Nekrasov". Molodaya Gvardiya Publishers. ЖЗЛ (The Lives of Distinguished People) series. Retrieved 2014-01-13.
3. Lebedev, Yu, V. (1990). "Nekrasov, Nikolai Alekseyevich". Russian Writers. Biobibliographical Dictionary. Vol. 2. Ed. P.A.Nikolayev. Moscow. Prosveshchenye Publishers. Retrieved 2014-05-01.
4. Chukovsky, K.I.. Commentaries to N.A.Nekrasov's Autobiography. The Works by N.A.Nekrasov in 8 vols. Khudozhestvennaya Literatura, Moscow. 1967. Vol. VIII. Pp. 463-475.
5. Pyotr Yakubovich (1907). "Nikolai Nekrasov. His Life and Works". Florenty Pavlenkov’s Library of Biographies. Retrieved 2014-01-13.
6. Mirsky, D.S. (1926). "Nekrasov, N.A. The History of the Russian Literature from the Ancient Times to 1925. (Russian translation by R.Zernova)". London: Overseas Publications Interchange Ltd, 1992. Pp. 362-370. Retrieved 2014-05-01.
7. Nekrasov N.A. Materials for Biography. 1872. The Works by N.A.Nekrasov in 8 vol. Khudozhestvennaya Literatura, Moscow. 1967. Vol. VIII. Pp. 413-416.
8. "Nekrasov, Nikolai Alexeyevich". Russian Biographical Dictionary. 1911.
9. The Works by A.Skabichevsky, Vol. II, Saint Petersburg, 1895, p.245
10. Garkavi, A.M. N.A.Nekrasov's biography. Timeline. The Works by N.A.Nekrasov in 8 vol. Khudozhestvennaya Literatura, Moscow. 1967. Vol. VIII. Pp. 430-475
11. Panayev, Ivan. Literary Memoirs. Leningrad, 1950. P.249.
12. Zhdanov, p. 335.
13. An Encyclopedia of Continental Women Writers, Volume 1, Taylor & Francis, 1991.
14. Maksimovich, A.Y. Nekrasov in The Whistle. Literary Heritage. The USSR Academy of Science. 1946. Vol. 49/50. Book I. Pp. 298—348
15. The Complete N.Chernyshevsky, Vol. XIV. P. 321.
16. The Complete Works by I.Turgenev in 28 volumes. Letters. Vol. III. P. 58.
17. Zhdanov, p.364
18. Dostoyevsky, F.M., The Diary of a Writer. Russian Classics. Moscow, 2006. P.601
19. Dostoyevsky, F.M., The Diary of a Writer. Russian Classics. Moscow, 2006. P.604
20. Mirsky, D.S. (1926). Nekrasov, N.A. The History of the Russian Literature from the Ancient Times to 1925. (curtailed version) London: Overseas Publications Interchange Ltd, 1992. - Pp. 362-370. Retrieved 2014-01-13.
21. Yevgenyev-Maximov, V. The Life and Works of N.A. Nekrasov, Vol. 2. 1950, р. 272.
22. Kuzmenko, Pavel. The Most Scandalous Triangles of the Russian History. Moscow, Astrel Publishers2012
23. Ivanov, G.K. Russian Poetry in Music. Moscow, 1966, Pp. 245-246.
24. Chukovsky, Korney. N.A. Nekrasov and A.Y.Panayeva. 1926
25. Ni smekh, no govor tvoi vesyoly / Ne progonyali tyomnykh dum: / Oni besili moi tyazholy, / Bolnoi i razdrazhonny um.
26. Stepina, Maria. Nekrasov and Celine Lefresne-Potcher[permanent dead link]. Commentaries to one episode of the biography. Nekrasov Almanac. Nauka Publishers, Saint Petersburg, Vol XIV. Pp 175—177
27. Skatov, Nikolai. Fyokla Anisimovna Viktorova, alias Zinaida Nikolayevna Nekrasova. Molodaya Gvardiya. The Lives of Distinguished People series. 1994. ISBN 5-235-02217-3
28. Chukovsky, K.I., Garkavi, A.M. The Works by N.A.Nekrasov in 8 vol. Khudozhestvennaya Literatura, Moscow. 1967. Commentaries. Vol. I. Pp. 365-415
29. Turgenev, Ivan. Letters in 13 volumes. Vol.I, Moscow-Leningrad, 1961, p. 264.
30. Notes to the Works by N.A.Nekrasov in 8 vol. Khudozhestvennaya Literatura, Moscow. 1967. Vol. I. P. 365.
31. Korney Chukovsky. Teachers and Precursors. Gogol. IV. 77-141
32. Kovalevsky, P.M. Poems and Memoirs. Petrograd, 1912. P. 279.
33. The Complete N.A.Nekrasov. Moscow, 1952. Vol. X. Pp. 344--345.
34. Zhdanov, 376.
35. Skatov, N.N. Nekrasov. Contemporaries and Followers// Современники и продолжатели. P.258
36. Morozov, N.A. Stories of My Life // Повести моей жизни. Moscow, 1955.Vol I. P. 352).
37. Chukovsky, Vol.V, p.470
38. Rozanov, Vasily. Novoye Vremya, 1916, No.4308. January 8
39. Shchyogolev, Pavel. One Episode in the Life of V.G. Belinsky. Days of the Past. 1906. No.10, p. 283
40. Boris Almazov, Moskvityanin, No.17. Section VII. P.19
41. Apollon Grigoryev. Moskvityanin. 1855, Nos. 15-16, p.178
42. Moskvityanin, 1852. No.13. Section V, p. 30.
43. Otechestvennye Zapiski, 1861, No.12, Pp. 87, 194
44. Korney Chukovsky. Nekrasov the Master. The Works by Korney Chukovsky. Khudozhestvennaya Literatura Publishers. Moscow. 1966. Vol.4, Pp.186-187
45. Otechestvennye Zapiski. 1878. No.3, p.139.
46. Slovo. 1878. No.2, Pp. 116-117.
47. Plekhanov, G.V. Iskusstvo i Literatura //Art and Literature. Moscow, 1848. P.624
48. Korney Chukovsky. Nekrasov and Pushkin. The Works by Korney Chukovsky. Khudozhestvennaya Literatura Publishers. Moscow. 1966. Vol.4
49. Chukovsky, Vol.IV, p.371
50. Zinaida Gippius (1939). "Nekrasov's Enigma (The Arithmetics of Love collection)". Rostok, 2003, Saint Petersburg. Retrieved 2014-05-01.
51. Chukovsky, Vol.V, p.492
52. Chukovsky, Vol.V, p.472
53. Chukovsky, Vol.V, p.484


• "Nikolai Alekseevich Nekrasov" in the Russian Biographical Dictionary (online)
• Terras, Victor. A History of Russian Literature. ISBN 0-300-04971-4

External links

• Several poems by Nekrasov translated into English
• Works by Nikolai Alekseevich Nekrasov at Project Gutenberg
• Works by or about Nikolay Nekrasov at Internet Archive
• Works by Nikolay Nekrasov at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
• English translations of 3 poems by Babette Deutsch and Avrahm Yarmolinsky, 1921
• English translations of 4 poems
• Some texts by Nikolai Nekrasov in the original Russian
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Poems by Nikolay Nekrasov

• Korobeiniki (1861)
• The Railway (1864)
• Grandfather (1870)
• Russian Women (1872-1873)
• Who Is Happy in Russia? (1863-1876)
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Alexander Pushkin
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Accessed: 8/16/18



Alexander Pushkin by Orest Kiprensky
Born Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin
26 May 1799
Moscow, Russian Empire
Died 29 January 1837 (aged 37)
Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire
Occupation Poet, novelist, playwright
Language Russian, French
Nationality Russian
Alma mater Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum
Period Golden Age of Russian Poetry
Genre Novel, novel in verse, poem, drama, short story, fairytale
Literary movement Romanticism
Notable works Eugene Onegin, The Captain's Daughter, Boris Godunov, Ruslan and Ludmila
Spouse Natalia Pushkina (m. 1831)
Children Maria, Alexander Fremke, Grigory, Natalia
Relatives Sergei Lvovich Pushkin, Nadezhda Ossipovna Gannibal

Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin (English: /ˈpʊʃkɪn/[1]; Russian: Александр Сергеевич Пушкин[note 1], tr. Aleksándr Sergéyevich Púshkin, IPA: [ɐlʲɪˈksandr sʲɪˈrɡʲejɪvʲɪtɕ ˈpuʂkʲɪn] (About this sound listen); 6 June [O.S. 26 May] 1799 – 10 February [O.S. 29 January] 1837) was a Russian poet, playwright, and novelist of the Romantic era[2] who is considered by many to be the greatest Russian poet[3][4][5][6] and the founder of modern Russian literature.[7][8]

Pushkin was born into Russian nobility in Moscow. His father, Sergey Lvovich Pushkin, belonged to Pushkin noble families. His matrilineal great-grandfather was Abram Petrovich Gannibal. He published his first poem at the age of 15, and was widely recognized by the literary establishment by the time of his graduation from the Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum. Upon graduation from the Lycee, Pushkin recited his controversial poem "Ode to Liberty", one of several that led to his being exiled by Tsar Alexander the First.

Ode to Liberty
By Alexander Pushkin
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Listless Cytherean princess1, sing
No more. Begone out of my view!
But you, great scourge of tsar and king,
Proud Muse of Freedom, where are you?
Come rip my laurels off. Bring stones
And crush this coddled lyre. Let me
Sing to the world of Liberty
And shame that scum upon the thrones.

Reveal to me the noble path
Where that exalted Gaul2 once strode,
When you in storied Days of Wrath
Inspired in him a dauntless Ode.
Now, flighty Fortune's favored knaves,
Tremble, O Tyrants of the Earth!
But ye: take heed now, know your worth
And rise as men, ye fallen slaves!

I cannot cast my gaze but see
A body flayed, an ankle chained,
The useless tears of Slavery,
The Law perverted and profaned.
Yea, everywhere iniquitous
Power in the fog of superstition
Ascends: Vainglory's fateful passion,
And Slavery's gruesome genius.

Heavy on every sovereign head
There lies a People's misery,
Save where the mighty Law is wed
Firmly with holy Liberty,
Where their hard shield is spread for all,
Where in a Nation's faithful hand
Among mere equals in the land
The sword can equitably fall3

The Mosaic account of the creation, whether taken as divine authority or merely historical, is full to this point, the unity or equality of man. The expression admits of no controversy. "And God said, Let us make man in our own image. In the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." The distinction of sexes is pointed out, but no other distinction is even implied. If this be not divine authority, it is at least historical authority, and shows that the equality of man, so far from being a modern doctrine, is the oldest upon record.

-- Rights of Man, by Thomas Paine

To smite transgression from on high
With one blow, righteously severe
In fingers uncorrupted by
Ravenous avarice or fear.
O Monarchs, ye are crowned by will
And law of Man, not Nature's hand.
Though ye above the people stand,
Eternal Law stands higher still.

The error of those who reason by precedents drawn from antiquity, respecting the rights of man, is that they do not go far enough into antiquity. They do not go the whole way. They stop in some of the intermediate stages of an hundred or a thousand years, and produce what was then done, as a rule for the present day. This is no authority at all. If we travel still farther into antiquity, we shall find a direct contrary opinion and practice prevailing; and if antiquity is to be authority, a thousand such authorities may be produced, successively contradicting each other; but if we proceed on, we shall at last come out right; we shall come to the time when man came from the hand of his Maker. What was he then? Man. Man was his high and only title, and a higher cannot be given him.

-- Rights of Man, by Thomas Paine

But woe betide the commonweal
Where it is blithely slumbering,
Where Law itself is forced to kneel
Before the Masses, or the King.
Here is the Man: witness he bears
To his forebears’ infamous error
And in the storm of recent Terror
Laid down royal neck for theirs.

King Louis to his death ascends4
In sight of hushed posterity,
His crownless, beaten head he bends:
Blood for the block of perfidy.
The Law stands mute, the People too.
And down the criminal axe-blade flies
And lo! A ghastly purple5 lies
Upon a Gaul enslaved anew.

You autocratic psychopath,6
You and your throne do I despise!
I watch your doom, your children's death
With hateful, jubilating eyes.
Upon your forehead they descry
The People’s mark of true damnation.
Stain of the world, shame of creation,
Reproach on earth to God on high!

And I hope that you die
And your death will come soon
I will follow your casket
By the pale afternoon
And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I’ll stand over your grave
'Til I’m sure that you’re dead

-- Masters of War, by Bob Dylan

When on the dark Neva the star
Of midnight makes the water gleam,
When carefree eyelids near and far
Are overwhelmed with peaceful dream,
The poet, roused with intellect,
Sees the lone tyrant's statue loom
Grimly asleep amid the gloom,
The palace now a derelict,7

And Clio's8 awesome call he hears
Behind those awesome walls of power.
Vivid before his sight appears
The foul Caligula's last hour.
In stars and ribbons he espies
Assassins drunk with wine and spite
Approaching, furtive in the night
With wolfish hearts and brazen eyes.

And silent stands the faithless guard,
The drawbridge downed without alarm,
The gate in dark of night unbarred
By treason’s mercenary arm.
O shame! O terror of our time!
Those Janissary beasts burst in9
And slash, the Criminal Sovereign
Is slaughtered by unholy crime.

Henceforward, Monarchs, learn ye well:
No punishment, no accolade,
No altar and no dungeon cell
Can be your steadfast barricade.
The first bowed head must be your own
Beneath Law's trusty canopy
Then Peoples' life and liberty
Forevermore shall guard your throne.



1 I.e. Venus Aphrodite, associated in antiquity with the Ionian island of Cythera.

2The identity of this "exalted Gaul" is one of the many quarrels with which scholars of Pushkinian minutiae have busied themselves. Possibilities range from Nabokov's suggestion of the minor poet Ponce Denis Ecouchard Le Brun, to the sadly underrated (by modern critics) poet André Chénier who died on the guillotine at the age of 31, to Jacques de Molay- last grand master of the Knights Templar. For a variety of reasons Chénier seems the most likely, or rather, the only likely choice. But obviously this is a question of interest to historians and the appreciator of poetry doesn't, or at least shouldn't, care.

3 C.f. Guillaume Thomas Raynal's Histoire philosophique et politique des établissements et du commerce des Européens dans les deux Indes where he writes:

La loi n'est rien, si ce n'est pas un glaive qui se promène indistinctement sur toutes les têtes, et qui abat ce qui s'élève au-dessus du plan horizontal sur lequel il se meut. La loi ne commande à personne ou commande à tous. Devant la loi, ainsi que devant Dieu, tous sont égaux.

The law is nothing, unless it be a sword passing indiscriminately over all heads, and smiting all that rise above the horizontal plane in which it moves. The law governs none, or governs all. Before the Law as before God, all are equal

4King Louis XVI, guillotined in 1793 during the reign of Terror.

5i.e. Napoleonic purple.

6 i.e. Napoleon. Yeah, I know, "psychopath" wasn't a word in the early 19th century.

7 The Tyrant here referred to is Tsar Paul I, father of the then-current Tsar Alexander I. The poem was written in the Turgenevs' apartment which looked out across the canal at the Mikhailovsky Castle, the scene of Paul's assassination in 1801- an event envisioned in the subsequent two stanzas. In Pushkin's time, Paul was considered and depicted as a royal psychopath who ignored the will of his subjects.

8- Clio: the muse of History.

9 Janissaries: i.e. assassins fierce and ruthless as Turkish troops.

While under the strict surveillance of the Tsar's political police and unable to publish, Pushkin wrote his most famous play, the drama Boris Godunov. His novel in verse, Eugene Onegin, was serialized between 1825 and 1832.

Pushkin was fatally wounded in a duel with his brother-in-law, Georges-Charles de Heeckeren d'Anthès, also known as Dantes-Gekkern, a French officer serving with the Chevalier Guard Regiment, who attempted to seduce the poet's wife, Natalia Pushkina.


Pushkin's father, Sergei Lvovich Pushkin (1767–1848), was descended from a distinguished family of the Russian nobility that traced its ancestry back to the 12th century.[9][10]

Pushkin's mother, Nadezhda (Nadya) Ossipovna Gannibal (1775–1836), was descended through her paternal grandmother from German and Scandinavian nobility.[11][12] She was the daughter of Ossip Abramovich Gannibal (1744–1807) and his wife, Maria Alekseyevna Pushkina (1745–1818).

Major S. L. Pushkin – father of the poet

Ossip Abramovich Gannibal's father, Pushkin's great-grandfather, was Abram Petrovich Gannibal (1696–1781), an African page kidnapped to Constantinople as a gift to the Ottoman Sultan and later transferred to Russia as a gift for Peter the Great. Abram wrote in a letter to Empress Elizabeth, Peter the Great's daughter, that Gannibal was from the town of "Lagon". Largely on the basis of a mythical biography by Gannibal's son-in-law Rotkirkh, some historians concluded from this that Gannibal was born in a part of what was then the Abyssinian Empire.[13] Vladimir Nabokov, when researching Eugene Onegin, cast serious doubt on this origin theory. Later research by the scholars Dieudonné Gnammankou and Hugh Barnes eventually conclusively established that Gannibal was instead born in Central Africa, in an area bordering Lake Chad in modern-day Cameroon.[13][14] After education in France as a military engineer, Gannibal became governor of Reval and eventually Général en Chef (the third most senior army rank) in charge of the building of sea forts and canals in Russia.

Nadezhda Gannibalova – mother of the poet

Pushkin exam at lyceum

Early life

Born in Moscow, Pushkin published his first poem at 15. When he finished school, as part of the first graduating class of the prestigious Imperial Lyceum in Tsarskoye Selo, near Saint Petersburg, his talent was already widely recognized within the Russian literary scene. After school, Pushkin plunged into the vibrant and raucous intellectual youth culture of the capital, Saint Petersburg. In 1820, he published his first long poem, Ruslan and Ludmila, with much controversy about its subject and style.

Social activism

While at the Lyceum, Pushkin was heavily influenced by the Kantian liberal individualist teachings of Alexander Petrovich Kunitsyn, who Pushkin would later commemorate in his poem 19 October.[15] Pushkin also immersed himself in the thought of the French Enlightenment, to which he would remain permanently indebted throughout his life, particularly Diderot and Voltaire, whom he described as "the first to follow the new road, and to bring the lamp of philosophy into the dark archives of history."[16][17]

Pushkin gradually became committed to social reform and emerged as a spokesman for literary radicals. That angered the government and led to his transfer from the capital in May 1820.[18] He went to the Caucasus and to Crimea and then to Kamianka and Chișinău, where he became a Freemason.

Pushkin's married lover, Anna Petrovna Kern, for whom he probably wrote the most famous love poem in Russian.

He joined the Filiki Eteria, a secret organization whose purpose was to overthrow Ottoman rule in Greece and establish an independent Greek state. He was inspired by the Greek Revolution and when the war against the Ottoman Turks broke out, he kept a diary recording the events of the national uprising.


He stayed in Chișinău until 1823 and wrote two Romantic poems, which brought him acclaim: The Captive of the Caucasus and The Fountain of Bakhchisaray. In 1823, Pushkin moved to Odessa, where he again clashed with the government, which sent him into exile on his mother's rural estate of Mikhailovskoye (near Pskov) from 1824 to 1826.[19]

In Mikhaylovskoye, Pushkin wrote nostalgic love poems which he dedicated to Elizaveta Vorontsova, wife of Malorossia's General-Governor.[20] Then Pushkin continued work on his verse-novel Eugene Onegin.

In Mikhaylovskoye, in 1825, Pushkin wrote the poem To***. It is generally believed that he dedicated this poem to Anna Kern, but there are other opinions. Poet Mikhail Dudin believed that the poem was dedicated to the serf Olga Kalashnikova.[21] Pushkinist Kira Victorova believed that the poem was dedicated to the Empress Elizaveta Alekseyevna.[22] Vadim Nikolayev argued that the idea about the Empress was marginal and refused to discuss it, while trying to prove that poem had been dedicated to Tatyana Larina, the heroine of Eugene Onegin.[21]

Authorities summoned Pushkin to Moscow after his poem "Ode to Liberty" was found among the belongings of the rebels from the Decembrist Uprising (1825). Being exiled in 1820, Pushkin's friends and family continually petitioned for his release, sending letters and meeting with Tsar Alexander I and then Tsar Nicholas I on the heels of the Decembrist Uprising. Upon meeting with Tsar Nicholas I Pushkin obtained his release from exile and began to work as the tsar's Titular Counsel of the National Archives. However, because insurgents in the Decembrist Uprising (1825) in Saint Petersburg had kept some of Pushkin's earlier political poems the tsar retained strict control of everything Pushkin published and he was unable to travel at will.

During that same year (1825), Pushkin also wrote what would become his most famous play, the drama Boris Godunov, while at his mother's estate. He could not however, gain permission to publish it until five years later. The original and uncensored version of the drama was not staged until 2007.

Around 1825–1829 he met and befriended the Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz, during exile in central Russia.[23] In 1829 he travelled through the Caucasus to Erzurum to visit friends fighting in the Russian army during the Russo-Turkish War.[24] In the end of 1829 Pushkin wanted to set off on a journey abroad, the desire reflected in his poem Poedem, ia gotov; kuda by vy, druz’ia...[25] He applied for permission for the journey, but received negative response from Nicholas I on 17 January 1830.[26]

Around 1828, Pushkin met Natalia Goncharova, then 16 years old and one of the most talked-about beauties of Moscow. After much hesitation, Natalia accepted a proposal of marriage from Pushkin in April 1830, but not before she received assurances that the Tsarist government had no intentions to persecute the libertarian poet. Later, Pushkin and his wife became regulars of court society. They officially became engaged on 6 May 1830, and sent out wedding invitations. Due to an outbreak of cholera and other circumstances, the wedding was delayed for a year. The ceremony took place on 18 February 1831 (Old Style) in the Great Ascension Church on Bolshaya Nikitskaya Street in Moscow. When the Tsar gave Pushkin the lowest court title; Gentlemen of the Chamber, the poet became enraged, feeling that the Tsar intended to humiliate him by implying that Pushkin was being admitted to court not on his own merits but solely so that his wife, who had many admirers including the Tsar himself, could properly attend court balls.[18]

Georges d'Anthès

In the year 1831, during the period of Pushkin's growing literary influence, he met one of Russia's other great early writers, Nikolai Gogol. After reading Gogol's 1831–1832 volume of short stories Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka, Pushkin supported him and would feature some of Gogol's most famous short stories in the magazine The Contemporary, which he founded in 1836.


By the autumn of 1836, Pushkin was falling into greater and greater debt and faced scandalous rumours that his wife had a love affair. On 4 November he sent a challenge to a duel for Georges d'Anthès (Dantes-Gekkern). Jacob van Heeckeren, d'Anthès' adoptive father, asked the duel be delayed by two weeks. With efforts by the poet's friends, the duel was cancelled. On 17 November Georges d'Anthès made a proposal to Natalia Goncharova's (Pushkina's) sister – Ekaterina Goncharova. The same day Pushkin sent the letter to refuse the duel. The marriage didn't resolve the conflict. Georges d'Anthès continued to pursue Natalia Goncharova in public. Rumours that Georges married Natalia's sister just to save her reputation started to spread. On 26 January (7 February) of 1837 Pushkin sent a "highly insulting letter" to Heeckeren. The only answer for that letter could be a challenge to a duel, and Pushkin knew it. Pushkin received the formal challenge to a duel through his sister-in-law, Ekaterina Gekkerna, approved by d'Anthès, on the same day through the attaché of the French Embassy Viscount d'Archiac. Since Dantes-Gekkern was the ambassador of a foreign country, he could not fight a duel – it would mean the immediate collapse of his career. The duel with d'Anthès took place on 27 January at the Black River. Pushkin was wounded in a hip and the bullet penetrated into the abdomen. At that time that kind of wound was fatal. Pushkin learned about it from the medic Arendt, who did not conceal the true state of affairs. Two days later, on 29 January (10 February) at 14:45 Pushkin died of peritonitis.

By Pushkin's wife's request he was put in the coffin in an evening dress – not in chamber-cadet uniform, the uniform provided by the tsar. The funeral service was assigned to the St. Isaac's Cathedral, but it was moved to Konyushennaya church. The ceremony took place at a large gathering of people. After the funeral, the coffin was lowered into the basement, where it stayed until 3 February, before the departure to Pskov. Alexander Pushkin was buried on the territory of the monastery Svyatogorsk Pskov province beside his mother. His last home is now a museum.

Natalia Goncharova, Pushkin's wife. Painted by Ivan Makarov (1849).


Pushkin had four children from his marriage to Natalia: Maria (b. 1832), Alexander (b. 1833), Grigory (b. 1835) and Natalia (b. 1836) the last of whom married morganatically into the royal house of Nassau to Nikolaus Wilhelm of Nassau and became the Countess of Merenberg.

Only the lines of Alexander and Natalia still remain. Natalia's granddaughter, Nadejda, married into the British royal family (her husband was the uncle of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh).[27] Descendants of the poet now live around the globe in the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium and the United States.



Critics consider many of his works masterpieces, such as the poem The Bronze Horseman and the drama The Stone Guest, a tale of the fall of Don Juan. His poetic short drama Mozart and Salieri (like The Stone Guest, one of the so-called four Little Tragedies, a collective characterization by Pushkin himself in 1830 letter to Pyotr Pletnyov[28]) was the inspiration for Peter Shaffer's Amadeus as well as providing the libretto (almost verbatim) to Rimsky-Korsakov's opera Mozart and Salieri. Pushkin is also known for his short stories. In particular his cycle The Tales of the Late Ivan Petrovich Belkin, including "The Shot", were well received. Pushkin himself preferred his verse novel Eugene Onegin, which he wrote over the course of his life and which, starting a tradition of great Russian novels, follows a few central characters but varies widely in tone and focus.

Onegin is a work of such complexity that, while only about a hundred pages long, translator Vladimir Nabokov needed two full volumes of material to fully render its meaning in English. Because of this difficulty in translation, Pushkin's verse remains largely unknown to English readers. Even so, Pushkin has profoundly influenced western writers like Henry James.[29] Pushkin wrote The Queen of Spades, which is included in Black Water, a collection of short stories of a fantastic nature by major writers, compiled by Alberto Manguel.


Pushkin's works also provided fertile ground for Russian composers. Glinka's Ruslan and Lyudmila is the earliest important Pushkin-inspired opera, and a landmark in the tradition of Russian music. Tchaikovsky's operas Eugene Onegin (1879) and The Queen of Spades (La Dame de Pique, 1890) became perhaps better known outside of Russia than Pushkin's own works of the same name.

Mussorgsky's monumental Boris Godunov (two versions, 1868–9 and 1871–2) ranks as one of the very finest and most original of Russian operas. Other Russian operas based on Pushkin include Dargomyzhsky's Rusalka and The Stone Guest; Rimsky-Korsakov's Mozart and Salieri, Tale of Tsar Saltan, and The Golden Cockerel; Cui's Prisoner of the Caucasus, Feast in Time of Plague, and The Captain's Daughter; Tchaikovsky's Mazeppa; Rachmaninoff's one-act operas Aleko (based on The Gypsies) and The Miserly Knight; Stravinsky's Mavra, and Nápravník's Dubrovsky.

Additionally, ballets and cantatas, as well as innumerable songs, have been set to Pushkin's verse (including even his French-language poems, in Isabelle Aboulker's song cycle "Caprice étrange"). Suppé, Leoncavallo and Malipiero have also based operas on his works.[30]

The Desire of Glory, which has been dedicated to Elizaveta Vorontsova, was set to music by David Tukhmanov (Vitold Petrovsky – The Desire of Glory on YouTube), as well as Keep Me, Mine Talisman – by Alexander Barykin (Alexander Barykin – Keep Me, Mine Talisman on YouTube) and later by Tukhmanov.


Pushkin is considered by many to be the central representative of Romanticism in Russian literature although he was not unequivocally known as a Romantic. Russian critics have traditionally argued that his works represent a path from Neoclassicism through Romanticism to Realism. An alternative assessment suggests that "he had an ability to entertain contrarities [sic] which may seem Romantic in origin, but are ultimately subversive of all fixed points of view, all single outlooks, including the Romantic" and that "he is simultaneously Romantic and not Romantic".[2]

Russian language

According to Vladimir Nabokov,

Pushkin's idiom combined all the contemporaneous elements of Russian with all he had learned from Derzhavin, Zhukovsky, Batyushkov, Karamzin and Krylov:

1. The poetical and metaphysical strain that still lived in Church Slavonic forms and locutions

2. Abundant and natural gallicisms

3. Everyday colloquialisms of his set

4. Stylized popular speech by making a salad of the famous three styles (low, medium elevation, high) dear to the pseudoclassical archaists and adding the ingredients of Russian romanticists with a pinch of parody.[31]

Pushkin is usually credited with developing Russian literature. He is seen as having originated the highly-nuanced level of language which characterizes Russian literature after him, and he is also credited with substantially augmenting the Russian lexicon. Whenever he found gaps in the Russian vocabulary, he devised calques. His rich vocabulary and highly-sensitive style are the foundation for modern Russian literature. His accomplishments set new records for development of the Russian language and culture. He became the father of Russian literature in the 19th century, marking the highest achievements of the 18th century and the beginning of literary process of the 19th century. He introduced Russia to all the European literary genres as well as a great number of West European writers. He brought natural speech and foreign influences to create modern poetic Russian. Though his life was brief, he left examples of nearly every literary genre of his day: lyric poetry, narrative poetry, the novel, the short story, the drama, the critical essay and even the personal letter.
His work as a critic and as a journalist marked the birth of Russian magazine culture which included him devising and contributing heavily to one of the most influential literary magazines of the 19th century, the Sovremennik (The Contemporary, or Современник). Pushkin inspired the folk tales and genre pieces of other authors: Leskov, Yesenin and Gorky. His use of Russian language formed the basis of the style of novelists Ivan Turgenev, Ivan Goncharov and Leo Tolstoy, as well as that of subsequent lyric poets such as Mikhail Lermontov. Pushkin was analysed by Nikolai Gogol, his successor and pupil, and the great Russian critic Vissarion Belinsky. The last mentioned also produced the fullest and deepest critical study of Pushkin's work, which still retains much of its relevance.


• In 1929, Soviet writer, Leonid Grossman, published a novel, The d'Archiac Papers, telling the story of Pushkin's death from the perspective of a French diplomat, being a participant and a witness of the fatal duel. The book describes him as a liberal and a victim of the Tsarist regime. In Poland the book was published under the title Death of the Poet.
• In 1937, the town of Tsarskoye Selo was renamed Pushkin in his honour.
• There are several museums in Russia dedicated to Pushkin, including two in Moscow, one in Saint Petersburg, and a large complex in Mikhaylovskoye.
• Pushkin's death was portrayed in the 2006 biographical film Pushkin: The Last Duel. The film was directed by Natalya Bondarchuk. Pushkin was portrayed on screen by Sergei Bezrukov.
• The Pushkin Trust was established in 1987 by the Duchess of Abercorn to commemorate the creative legacy and spirit of her ancestor and to release the creativity and imagination of the children of Ireland by providing them with opportunities to communicate their thoughts, feelings and experiences.
• A minor planet, 2208 Pushkin, discovered in 1977 by Soviet astronomer Nikolai Chernykh, is named after him.[32] A crater on Mercury is also named in his honour.
• MS Aleksandr Pushkin, second ship of the Russian Ivan Franko class (also referred to as "poet" or "writer" class).
• A station of Tashkent metro was named in his honour.
• The Pushkin Hills[33] and Pushkin Lake[34] were named in his honour in Ben Nevis Township, Cochrane District, in Ontario, Canada.
• UN Russian Language Day, established by the United Nations in 2010 and celebrated each year on 6 June, was scheduled to coincide with Pushkin's birthday.[35]
• A statue of Pushkin was unveiled inside the Mehan Garden in Manila, Philippines to commemorate the Philippines–Russia relations in 2010.[36]
• The Alexander Pushkin diamond, the second largest found in Russia and the former territory of the USSR, was named after him.
• On 28 November 2009, a Pushkin Monument was erected in Asmara, capital of Eritrea.[37]
• In 2005 a monument to Pushkin and his grandmother Maria Hannibal was commissioned by an enthusiast of Russian culture Just Rugel in Zakharovo, Russia. Sculptor V. Kozinin


• Portrait of Pushkin 1800–1802 by Xavier de Maistre
• Self-portrait, 1820s
• Portrait of A. Pushkin by Pyotr Sokolov (1831)
• Portrait of A. Pushkin by Pyotr Sokolov (1836)
• Portrait of A. Pushkin by Carl Mazer (1839)
• "Pushkin's Farewell to the Sea" by Ivan Aivazovsky and Ilya Repin (1877)
• Portrait of A. Pushkin by Konstantin Somov (1899)
• Portrait of Pushkin by Vasily Mate (1899)
• Pushkin's room while he was a student at the Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum
• Pushkin's writing table
• Duel of Alexander Pushkin and Georges d'Anthès
• The vest Pushkin wore during his fatal duel in 1837
• Monument to Alexander Pushkin in Bakhchysarai, Crimea
• Alexander Pushkin statue, St. Petersburg, Russia.


Narrative poems

• 1820 – Ruslan i Ludmila (Руслан и Людмила); English translation: Ruslan and Ludmila
• 1820–21 – Cawcazskiy plennik (Кавказский пленник); English translation: The Prisoner of the Caucasus
• 1821 – Gavriiliada (Гавриилиада) ; English translation: The Gabrieliad
• 1821–22 – Bratia razboyniki (Братья разбойники); English translation: The Robber Brothers
• 1823 – Bahchisarayskiy fontan (Бахчисарайский фонтан); English translation: The Fountain of Bakhchisaray
• 1824 – Tsygany (Цыганы); English translation: The Gypsies
• 1825 – Graf Nulin (Граф Нулин); English translation: Count Nulin
• 1829 – Poltava (Полтава)
• 1830 – Domik v Kolomne (Домик в Коломне); English translation: The Little House in Kolomna
• 1833 – Anjelo (Анджело); English translation: Angelo
• 1833 – Medny vsadnik (Медный всадник); English translation: The Bronze Horseman
• 1825–1832 (1833) – Evgeniy Onegin (Евгений Онегин); English translation: Eugene Onegin


• 1825 – Boris Godunov (Борис Годунов); English translation by Alfred Hayes: Boris Godunov
• 1830 – Malenkie tragedii (Маленькие трагедии); English translation: The Little Tragedies
• Kamenny gost (Каменный гость); English translation: The Stone Guest
• Motsart i Salieri (Моцарт и Сальери); English translation: Mozart and Salieri
• Skupoy rytsar (Скупой рыцарь); English translations: The Miserly Knight, The Covetous Knight
• Pir vo vremya chumy (Пир во время чумы); English translation: A Feast in Time of Plague


• 1828 – Arap Petra Velikogo (Арап Петра Великого); English translation: The Moor of Peter the Great, unfinished novel
• 1831 – Povesti pokoynogo Ivana Petrovicha Belkina (Повести покойного Ивана Петровича Белкина); English translation: The Tales of the Late Ivan Petrovich Belkin
• Vystrel (Выстрел); English translation: The Shot, short story
• Metel (Метель); English translation: The Blizzard, short story
• Grobovschik (Гробовщик); English translation: The Undertaker, short story
• Stantsionny smotritel (Станционный смотритель); English translation: The Stationmaster, short story
• Baryshnya-krestianka (Барышня-крестьянка); English translation: The Squire's Daughter, short story
• 1834 – Pikovaa dama (Пиковая дама); English translation: The Queen of Spades, short story
• 1834 – Kirjali (Кирджали); English translation: Kirdzhali, short story
• 1834 – Istoria Pugachyova (История Пугачева); English translation: A History of Pugachev, study of the Pugachev's Rebellion
• 1836 – Capitanskaa dochka (Капитанская дочка); English translation: The Captain's Daughter, novel
• 1836 – Puteshestvie v Arzrum (Путешествие в Арзрум); English translation: A Journey to Arzrum, travel sketches
• 1836 – Roslavlyov (Рославлев); English translation: Roslavlev, unfinished novel
• 1837 – Istoria sela Goryuhina (История села Горюхина); English translation: The Story of the Village of Goryukhino, unfinished short story
• 1837 – Egypetskie nochi (Египетские ночи); English translation: Egyptian Nights, unfinished short story
• 1841 – Dubrovsky (Дубровский); English translation: Dubrovsky, unfinished novel

Fairy tales in verse

• 1825 – Жених; English translation: The Bridegroom
• 1830 – Сказка о попе и о работнике его Балде; English translation: The Tale of the Priest and of His Workman Balda
• 1830 – Сказка о медведихе; English translation: The Tale of the Female Bear (was not finished)
• 1831 – Сказка о царе Салтане; English translation: The Tale of Tsar Saltan
• 1833 – Сказка о рыбаке и рыбке; English translation: The Tale of the Fisherman and the Fish
• 1833 – Сказка о мертвой царевне; English translation: The Tale of the Dead Princess
• 1834 – Сказка о золотом петушке; English translation: The Tale of the Golden Cockerel


1. In Pushkin's day, his name was written Александръ Сергѣевичъ Пушкинъ.


1. "Pushkin". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
2. Basker, Michael. Pushkin and Romanticism. In Ferber, Michael, ed., A Companion to European Romanticism. Oxford: Blackwell, 2005.
3. Short biography from University of Virginia. Retrieved 24 November 2006.
4. Allan Reid, "Russia's Greatest Poet/Scoundrel". Retrieved 2 September 2006.
5. "Pushkin fever sweeps Russia". BBC News, 5 June 1999. Retrieved 1 September 2006.
6. "Biographer wins rich book price". BBC News, 10 June 2003. Retrieved 1 September 2006.
7. Biography of Pushkin at the Russian Literary Institute "Pushkin House". Retrieved 1 September 2006.
8. Maxim Gorky, "Pushkin, An Appraisal". Retrieved 1 September 2006.
9. "Aleksander Sergeevich Pushkin's descendants at". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 2 March 2010.
10. Н. К. Телетова [N. K. Teletova] (2007).
11. Лихауг [Lihaug], Э. Г. [E. G.] (November 2006). "Предки А. С. Пушкина в Германии и Скандинавии: происхождение Христины Регины Шёберг (Ганнибал) от Клауса фон Грабо из Грабо [Ancestors of A. S. Pushkin in Germany and Scandinavia: Descent of Christina Regina Siöberg (Hannibal) from Claus von Grabow zu Grabow]". Генеалогический вестник [Genealogical Herald].–Санкт-Петербург [Saint Petersburg]. 27: 31–38.
12. Lihaug, Elin Galtung (2007). "Aus Brandenburg nach Skandinavien, dem Baltikum und Rußland. Eine Abstammungslinie von Claus von Grabow bis Alexander Sergejewitsch Puschkin 1581–1837". Archiv für Familiengeschichtsforschung. 11: 32–46.
13. New Statesman. New Statesman Limited. 2005. p. 36. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
14. Catharine Theimer Nepomnyashchy, Nicole Svobodny, Ludmilla A. Trigos (eds.) (2006). Under the Sky of My Africa: Alexander Pushkin and Blackness. Northwestern University Press. p. 31. ISBN 0810119714. Retrieved 7 January2015.
15. Schapiro, Leonard (1967). Rationalism and Nationalism in Russian Nineteenth Century Political Thought. Yale University Press. p. 48–50. Schapiro writes that Kunitsyn’s influence on Pushkin’s political views was 'important above all.' Schapiro describes Kunitsyn's philosophy as conveying 'the most enlightened principles of past thought on the relations of the individual and the state,' namely, that the ruler’s power is 'limited by the natural rights of his subjects, and these subjects can never be treated as a means to an end but only as an end in themselves.'
16. Kahn, Andrew (2008). Pushkin's Lyric Intelligence. OUP Oxford. p. 283.
17. Pushkin, Alexander (1967). The Letters of Alexander Pushkin. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 164.
18. "Aleksandr Pushkin – Russiapedia Literature Prominent Russians". Russia: RT.
19. Images of Pushkin in the works of the black "pilgrims". Ahern, Kathleen M. The Mississippi Quarterly p. 75(11) Vol. 55 No. 1 ISSN 0026-637X. 22 December 2001.
20. (in Russian) P. K. Guber. Don Juan List of A. S. Pushkin. Petrograd, 1923 (reprinted in Kharkiv, 1993). pp. 78, 90–99.
21. (in Russian) Vadim Nikolayev. To whom «Magic Moment» has been dedicated? Archived 2 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
22. (in Russian) In an interview with Kira Victorova Archived 7 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
23. Kazimierz Wyka, Mickiewicz Adam Bernard, Polski Słownik Biograficzny, Tome XX, 1975, p. 696
24. Wilson, Reuel K. (1974). Pushkin's Journey to Erzurum. Springer. ISBN 978-90-247-1558-9.
25. Poedem, ia gotov; kuda by vy, druz’ia...(in Russian)
26. Pushkin, A.S. (1974). Sobranie sochinenii. Vol. 2. Moscow: Khudozhestvennaya Literatura. p. 581.
27. Pushkin Genealogy. PBS.
28. Anderson, Nancy K. (trans. & ed.) (2000). The Little Tragedies by Alexander Pushkin. New Haven: Yale University Press. pp. 1 & 213 n.1. ISBN 0300080255..
29. Joseph S. O'Leary, Pushkin in 'The Aspern Papers', the Henry James E-Journal Number 2, March 2000. Retrieved 24 November 2006.
30. Taruskin R. Pushkin in The New Grove Dictionary of Opera. London & New York, Macmillan, 1997.
31. Vladimir Nabokov, Verses and Versions, page 72.
32. Schmadel, Lutz D. (2003). Dictionary of Minor Planet Names (5th ed.). New York: Springer Verlag. p. 179. ISBN 3-540-00238-3.
33. "Pushkin Hills". Geographical Names Data Base. Natural Resources Canada. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
34. "Pushkin Lake". Geographical Names Data Base. Natural Resources Canada. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
35. Wagner, Ashley (6 June 2013). "Celebrating Russian Language Day". Oxford Dictionaries. Retrieved 30 December2013.
36. Alexander Pushkin (1799–1837). Plaque on the pedestal of Pushkin's statue at the Mehan Garden, Manila. Archived from the original on 27 September 2015.
37. (in Russian) "В Эритрее появится памятник Пушкину". Vesti. 26 November 2009. Retrieved 23 April 2017.

Further reading

• Binyon, T. J. (2002) Pushkin: A Biography. London: HarperCollins ISBN 0-00-215084-0; US edition: New York: Knopf, 2003 ISBN 1-4000-4110-4
• Yuri Druzhnikov (2008) Prisoner of Russia: Alexander Pushkin and the Political Uses of Nationalism, Transaction Publishers ISBN 1-56000-390-1
• Dunning, Chester, Emerson, Caryl, Fomichev, Sergei, Lotman, Lidiia, Wood, Antony (Translator) (2006) The Uncensored Boris Godunov: The Case for Pushkin's Original Comedy University of Wisconsin Press ISBN 0-299-20760-9
• Feinstein, Elaine (ed.) (1999) After Pushkin: versions of the poems of Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin by contemporary poets. Manchester: Carcanet Press; London: Folio Society ISBN 1-85754-444-7
• Pogadaev, Victor (2003) Penyair Agung Rusia Pushkin dan Dunia Timur (The Great Russian Poet Pushkin and the Oriental World). Monograph Series. Centre For Civilisational Dialogue. University Malaya. 2003, ISBN 983-3070-06-X
• Vitale, Serena (1998) Pushkin's button; transl. from the Italian by Ann Goldstein. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux ISBN 1-85702-937-2
• DuVernet, M. A. (2014) Pushkin's Ode to Liberty. US edition: Xlibris ISBN 978-1-4990-5294-7
• Телетова, Н. К. (Teletova, N. K.) (2007) Забытые родственные связи А.С. Пушкина (The forgotten family connections of A. S. Pushkin). Saint Petersburg: Dorn OCLC 214284063
• Wolfe, Markus (1998) Freemasonry in life and literature. Munich: Otto Sagner ltd. ISBN 3-87690-692-X
• Wachtel, Michael. "Pushkin and the Wikipedia" Pushkin Review 12–13: 163–66, 2009–2010
• Jakowlew, Valentin. "Pushkin's Farewell Dinner in Paris" (Text in Russian) Koblenz (Germany): Fölbach, 2006, ISBN 3-934795-38-2.
• Galgano Andrea (2014). The affective dynamics in the work and thought of Alexandr Pushkin, Conference Proceedings, 17th World Congress of the World Association for Dynamic Psychiatry. Multidisciplinary Approach to and Treatment of Mental Disorders: Myth or Reality?, St. Petersburg, 14–17 May 2014, In Dynamische Psychiatrie. Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychotherapie, Psychoanalyse und Psychiatrie – International Journal for Psychoanalysis, Psychotherapy, and Psychiatry, Berlin: Pinel Verlag GmbH, 1–3, Nr. 266-268, 2015, pp. 176–191.

External links

• Alexander Pushkin at Encyclopædia Britannica
• Works by Aleksandr Pushkin at Project Gutenberg
• Works by or about Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin at Internet Archive
• Works by Alexander Pushkin at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
• Biographical essay on Pushkin. By Mike Phillips, British Library(Pdf).
• The Pushkin Review, annual journal of North American Pushkin Society. Retrieved 2010-10-19
• English translations of Pushkin's poems. Retrieved 2013-04-26
• English translation of "The Tale of the Female Bear"
• List of English translations of Eugene Onegin with extracts
• List of English translations of The Bronze Horseman with extracts
• Alexander Pushkin. Mozart and Saliery in English
• Alexander Pushkin. Boris Godunov in English
• Alexander Pushkin. The Bronze Horseman in English
• Alexander Pushkin poetry(rus)
• Pushkin's poetry translated to English by Margaret Wettlin

Alexander Pushkin

Narrative poems

• Ruslan and Ludmila (1820)
• The Prisoner of the Caucasus (1820–1822)
• The Gabrieliad (1821)
• The Fountain of Bakhchisaray (1823)
• The Gypsies(1827)
• Poltava (1829)
• The Bronze Horseman (1833)

Short poems

• "I Loved You" (1830)
• "To the Slanderers of Russia" (1831)

Verse fairy tales

• The Tale of the Priest and of His Workman Balda (1830)
• The Tale of Tsar Saltan(1831)
• The Tale of the Fisherman and the Fish (1833)
• The Tale of the Dead Princess and the Seven Knights (1833)
• The Tale of the Golden Cockerel (1834)

Verse novel

• Eugene Onegin (1833)


• The Tales of the Late Ivan Petrovich Belkin (1830)
• "The Shot"
• "The Blizzard"
• The Moor of Peter the Great (1827)
• Dubrovsky (1833)
• The Queen of Spades(1834)
• A Journey to Arzrum (1835–1836)
• The Captain's Daughter (1836)


• Boris Godunov (1825)
• The Little Tragedies
• A Feast in Time of Plague (1830)
• Mozart and Salieri (1830)
• The Stone Guest (1830)


• Anton Delvig
• Abram Petrovich Gannibal (great-grandfather)
• Georges-Charles de Heeckeren d'Anthès
• Anna Petrovna Kern
• Pyotr Pletnyov
• Vasily Pushkin (uncle)
• Natalia Pushkina (wife)
• Pyotr Vyazemsky

Related articles

• Dostoyevsky Speech
• Literaturnaya Gazeta
• Mikhaylovskoye Museum Reserve
• Pushkin House
• Pushkin is Our Everything
• Pushkin Museum
• Pushkin Prize
• Pushkin studies
• Pushkinskaya Square
• Sovremennik
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Re: Act & Punishment: The Pussy Riot Trials

Postby admin » Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:35 am

Part 1 of 3

Mikhail Lermontov
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 8/16/18



Will you, poet, who is mocked, reawake!
Or, will you never avenge against those who spurn—
From the golden scabbard unsheathe your blade,
Covered with the rust of scorn?

-- from ‘The Poet,’ 1838

E’er since the judge eterne
The prophet’s omniscience gave me,
In people’s eyes do I discern
The pages of malice and enmity.

To proclaim love I came
And the pure truths of learning:
All my neighbors, enraged,
At me stones were hurling

With embers I strewed my head,
From the cities did I flee
And thus I live in the desert;
Like the birds, on food divine and free.

-- The Prophet, 1841

Mikhail Lermontov
Mikhail Lermontov in 1837
Born Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov
October 15 [O.S. October 3] 1814
Moscow, Russian Empire
Died July 27 [O.S. July 15] 1841 (aged 26)
Pyatigorsk, Caucasus Oblast, Russian Empire
Occupation Poet, novelist, artist
Nationality Russian
Period Golden Age of Russian Poetry
Genre Novel, poem, drama
Literary movement Romanticism, pre-realism

Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov (/ˈlɛərmənˌtɔːf, -ˌtɒf/;[1] Russian: Михаи́л Ю́рьевич Ле́рмонтов, IPA: [mʲɪxɐˈil ˈjurʲjɪvʲɪtɕ ˈlʲɛrməntəf]; October 15 [O.S. October 3] 1814 – July 27 [O.S. July 15] 1841) was a Russian Romantic writer, poet and painter, sometimes called "the poet of the Caucasus", the most important Russian poet after Alexander Pushkin's death in 1837 and the greatest figure in Russian Romanticism. His influence on later Russian literature is still felt in modern times, not only through his poetry, but also through his prose, which founded the tradition of the Russian psychological novel.


Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov was born in Moscow into the respectable noble family of Lermontov, and he grew up in the village of Tarkhany (now Lermontovo in Penza Oblast).[2] His paternal family descended from the Scottish family of Learmonth, and can be traced to Yuri (George) Learmonth, a Scottish officer in the Polish-Lithuanian service who settled in Russia in the middle of the 17th century.[3][4][5] He had been captured by the Russian troops in Poland in the early 17th century, during the reign (1613–1645) of Mikhail Fyodorovich Romanov.[2] Family legend asserted that George Learmonth descended from the famed 13th-century Scottish poet Thomas the Rhymer (also known as Thomas Learmonth).[2] Lermontov's father, Yuri Petrovich Lermontov, like his father before him, followed a military career. Having moved up the ranks to captain, he married the sixteen-year-old Maria Mikhaylovna Arsenyeva, a wealthy young heiress of a prominent aristocratic Stolypin family. Lermontov's maternal grandmother, Elizaveta Arsenyeva (née Stolypina), regarded their marriage as a mismatch and deeply disliked her son-in-law.[6] On October 15, 1814, in Moscow where the family temporarily moved to, Maria gave birth to her son Mikhail.[7]

Early life

Maria Mikhaylovna Lermontova (1795–1817), the mother of the poet

The marriage proved ill-suited and the couple soon grew apart. "There is no strong evidence as to what had precipitated the quarrels they've had. There are reasons to believe Yuri has got tired of his wife's nervousness and frail health, and his mother-in-law's despotic ways," according to literary historian and Lermontov scholar Alexander Skabichevsky. An earlier biographer, Pavel Viskovatov, suggested the discord might have been caused by Yuri's affair with a young woman named Yulia, a lodger who worked in the house.[8][9] Apparently it was her husband's violent, erratic behavior and the resulting stresses that accounted for Maria Mikhaylovna's early demise. Her health quickly deteriorated, she developed tuberculosis and died on 27 February 1817, aged only 21.[7][2]

Nine days after Maria's death a final row broke out in Tarkhany and Yuri rushed away to his Kropotovo estate in Tula Governorate where his five sisters resided. Yelizaveta Arsenyeva launched a formidable battle for her beloved grandson, promising to disinherit him if his father took the boy away. Eventually the two sides agreed that the boy should stay with his grandmother until the age of 16. Father and son separated and, at the age of three, Lermontov began a spoilt and luxurious life with his doting grandmother and numerous relatives. This bitter family feud formed a plot of Lermontov's early drama Menschen und Leidenschaften (1830), its protagonist Yuri bearing strong resemblance to the young Mikhail.[4][6][10]

The Poet
by Mikhail Lermontov (1830, age 16)
translated by Denise M. Henderson

And when Raphael, so inspired,
The pure Virgin’s image, blessed,
Completed with his brush afire,
By his art enraptured
He before his painting fell!
But soon was this wonderment
In his youthful breast tamed
And, wearied and mute,
He forgot the celestial flame.

Thus the poet: a thought flashing,
As he, heart and soul, his pen dashing,
With the sound of his famed lyre
Charms the world; in quiet deep
It sings, forgetting in heavenly sleep
Thou, thou! The idol of his soul!
Suddenly, his fiery cheeks grow cold,
All his tend’rest passions
Are quiet, and flees the apparition!
But how long, how long the mind holds
The very first impression.

Yuri Petrovich Lermontov (1787–1831), the poet's father

In June 1817 Yelizaveta Alekseyevna moved her grandson to Penza. In 1821 they returned to Tarkhany and spent the next six years there.[7] The doting grandmother spared no expense to provide the young Lermontov with the best schooling and lifestyle that money could buy. He received an extensive home education, became fluent in French and German, learned to play several musical instruments and proved a gifted painter.[5][9] While living with the grandmother, Mikhail hardly met with his father.

But the boy's health was fragile, he suffered from scrofula and rickets (the latter accounted for his bow-leggedness) and was kept under close surveillance of a French doctor, Anselm Levis. Colonel Capet, a Napoleon army prisoner-of-war who settled in Russia after 1812, was the boy's first, and best-loved governor.[11] A German pedagogue, Levy, who succeeded Capet, introduced Mikhail to Goethe and Schiller. He didn't stay for long and soon another Frenchman, Gendrot, replaced him, soon joined by Mr. Windson, a respectable English teacher recommended by the Uvarov family. Later Alexander Zinoviev, a teacher of Russian literature, arrived. The intellectual atmosphere in which Lermontov grew up resembled that experienced by Aleksandr Pushkin, though the domination of French had begun to give way to a preference for English, and Lamartine shared popularity with Byron.[5][9][12]

Looking for a better climate and treatment at the mineral springs for the boy, Arsenyeva twice, in 1819 and 1820, took him to the Caucasus where they stayed at her sister E.A. Khasatova's. In summer 1825, as the nine-year-old's health started to deteriorate, the extensive family traveled south for the third time.[7] The Caucasus greatly impressed the boy, inspiring a passion for its mountains and stirring beauty. "Caucasian mountains for me are sacred", he wrote later. It was there that Lermontov experienced his first romantic passion, falling for a nine-year-old girl.[5][13]

Yelizaveta Arsenyeva, Lermontov's grandmother

Fearing that Lermontov's father would eventually claim his right to bring up his son, Arsenyeva strictly limited contact between the two, causing young Lermontov much pain and remorse. Despite all the pampering lavished upon him, and torn by the family feud, he grew up lonely and withdrawn. In another early autobiographical piece, "Povest" (The Tale), Lermontov described himself (under the guise of Sasha Arbenin) as an impressionable boy, passionately in love with all things heroic, but otherwise emotionally cold and occasionally sadistic. Having developed a fearful and arrogant temper, he took it out on his grandmother's garden as well as on insects and small animals ("with great delight he would squash a hapless fly and bristled with joy when a stone he'd thrown would kick a chicken off its feet").[14] Positive influence came from Lermontov's German governess Christina Rhemer, a religious woman who introduced the boy to the idea of every man, even if that man was a serf, deserving respect. In fact, Lermontov's poor health served in a way as a saving grace, Skabichevsky argued, for it prevented the boy from further exploring the darker sides of his character and, more importantly, "taught him to think of things... seek pleasures that he couldn't find in the outer world, deep inside himself."[15]

Returning from his third trip to the Caucasus in August 1825, Lermontov begun his regular studies with tutors in French and Greek, starting to read German, French and English authors' original texts.[5] In summer 1827 the 12-year-old for the first time travelled to his father's estate in Tula Governorate. In autumn of that year he and Yelizaveta Arsenyeva moved to Moscow.[4][16]

School years

Lermontov as a child

After having received a year of private tutoring, in February 1829 the thirteen-year old Lermontov took exams and joined the 5th form of the Moscow University's boarding-school for the nobility's children.[17] Here his personal tutor was poet Alexey Merzlyakov, alongside Zinoviev, who taught Russian and Latin.[7] Under their influence the boy started to read a lot, making the best of his vast home library, which included books by Mikhail Lomonosov, Gavrila Derzhavin, Ivan Dmitriev, Vladislav Ozerov, Konstantin Batyushkov, Ivan Krylov, Ivan Kozlov, Vasily Zhukovsky, and Alexander Pushkin.[15] Soon he started editing an amateur student journal. One of his friends, his cousin Yekaterina Sushkova (Khvostova, in marriage) described the young man as "married to a hefty volume of Byron". Yekaterina had at one time been the object of Lermontov's affections and to her he dedicated some of his late 1820s poems, including "Nishchy" (The Beggar).[18] By 1829 Lermontov had written several of his well-known early poems. While "Kavkazsky Plennik" (Caucasian Prisoner), betraying strong Pushkin influence and borrowing from the latter, "The Corsair", "Prestupnik" (The Culprit), "Oleg", "Dva Brata" (Two Brothers), as well as the original version of "The Demon" were impressive exercises in Romanticism. Lord Byron remained the major source of inspiration for Lermontov, despite the attempts of his literary tutors, including Semyon Rayich, the head of the school's literature class, to divert him from that particular influence. The short poem "Vesna" (The Spring), published in 1830 by the amateur Ateneum magazine, marked his informal publishing debut.[5][16][16]

Along with his poetic skills, Lermontov developed an inclination towards poisonous wit and cruel, sardonic humor. His ability to draw caricatures was matched only by his ability to pin someone down with a well aimed epigram. In the boarding school Lermontov proved an exceptional student. He excelled at the 1828 examinations; he recited a Zhukovsky poem, performed a violin étude and won the first prize for his literary essay.[5] In April 1830 the University's boarding school was transformed into an ordinary gymnasium and Lermontov, like many of his fellow-students, promptly quit.[7][15]

Moscow University

In August 1830 Lermontov enrolled in Moscow University's philological faculty.[7] "Petty arrogance" (as Skabichevsky puts it) prevented him from joining any of the three radical students' circles (those led respectively by Vissarion Belinsky, Nikolai Stankevich and Alexander Hertzen). Instead he drifted towards an aristocracic clique, but even this cream of the Moscow's "golden youth" detested the young man for being too aloof, while still giving him credit for having charisma. "Everyone could see that Lermontov was obnoxious, rough and daring, and yet there was something alluring in his firm moroseness," fellow-student Wistengof admitted.[19]

Lermontov's handwritten request to Moscow University for leave

Attending lectures faithfully, Lermontov would often read a book in the corner of the auditorium, and never took part in student life, making exceptions only for incidents involving grand-scale trouble-making. He took an active part in the notorious 1831 Malov scandal (when a jeering mob drove the unpopular professor out of the auditorium), but wasn't formally reprimanded (unlike Hertzen, who found himself incarcerated).[5][7] A year into his university studies, the final, tragic act of the family discord played itself out. Deeply affected by his son's alienation, Yuri Lermontov left Arsenieva's house for good, only to die a short time later of consumption.[20] His father's death under such circumstances was a terrible loss for Mikhail and is reflected in his poems "Forgive Me, Will We Meet Again?" and "The Terrible Fate of Father and Son". For some time he seriously considered suicide; tellingly, each of his early dramas Menschen und Leidenschaften (1830) and A Strange Man (1831) ends with a protagonist killing himself.[21] All the while, judging by his diaries, Lermontov, maintained a keen interest in European politics. Some of his University poems like "Predskazaniye" (The Prophecy) were highly politicised; the unfinished "Povest Bez Nazvaniya" (The Untitled Novel)'s theme was the outbreak of popular uprising in Russia. Several other verses written at the time – "Parus" (The Sail), "Angel Smerti" (Angel of Death) and "Ismail-Bei" – later came to be regarded among his best.[5]

The Prophecy
by Mikhail Lermontov
translated by Yevgeny Bonver

A year will come, the year of Russia, last,
When the monarchs' crown will be cast;
Mob will forget its former love and faith,
And food of many will be blood and death;
When the cast off law will not guard
A guiltless woman and a feeble child;
When the plague on bodies, sick or dead,
Among the gloomy villages will spread,
To call from huts with pieces of a rag,
And dearth will maim this poor earth as plague;
And on the lakes will fateful glow lay:
A mighty man will come in this black day.
You'll recognize this man and understand,
Why he will have the shining knife in hand:
And woe for you! -- Your moans and appeals
He will consider just as funny things;
And all his image will be awful now,
As his black mantle and his lofty brow.

The Sail
by Mikhail Lermontov (1832, 18 years old)
by Denise M. Henderson

Gleams white a solitary sail
In the haze of the light blue sea.—
What seeks it in countries far away?
What in its native land did leave?

The mast creaks and presses,
The wind whistles, the waves are playing;
Alas! It does not seek happiness,
Nor from happiness is fleeing!

Beneath, the azure current flows,
Above, the golden sunlight streaks:—
But restless, into the storm it goes,
As if in storms there is peace!

The Angel
by Mikhail Lermontov (1834)
translated by Denise M. Henderson

An angel flew in the midnight sky,
And sang a lullaby;
And all around, the stars and the moon,
Heeded that holy song.

He sang of the blessedness of the innocent,
’Neath Eden’s tents,
About the great God he sang,
And his praise was unfeigned.

A young soul he held in his hands,
For the world of tears and sadness,
And the sound of his song in the young soul
Remained—without words, but whole.

And for a long time on earth that soul stayed,
But never could he trade
Heaven’s music, soaring,
For the songs of earth so boring.

In Lermontov's first year as a student no exams were held: the University closed for several months due to the outbreak of cholera in Moscow. In his second year Lermontov started to have serious altercations with several of his professors. Thinking little of his chances of passing the exams, he opted to leave, and on June 18, 1832, received the two-year-graduate certificate.[5][7]


In mid-1832 Lermontov, accompanied by grandmother, traveled to Saint Petersburg, with a view of joining the Saint Petersburg University's second-year course. This proved impossible and, unwilling to repeat the first year, he enrolled into the prestigious School of Cavalry Junkers and Ensign of the Guard, under pressure from his male relatives but much to Arsenyeva's distress. Having passed the exams, on November 14, 1832, Lermontov joined the Life-Guard Hussar regiment as a junior officer.[20][22] One of his fellow cadet-school students, Nikolai Martynov, the one whose fatal shot would kill the poet several years later, in his biographical "Notes" decades later described him as "the young man who was so far ahead of everybody else, as to be beyond comparison," a "real grown-up who'd read and thought and understood a lot about the human nature."[16]

Lermontov in 1834. Portrait by Pyotr Zakharov-Chechenets

The sort of glittering army career which tempted young noblemen of the time proved a challenge for Lermontov. Books there were a rarity and reading was frowned upon. Lermontov had to indulge mostly in physical competitions, one of which resulted in a horse-riding accident which left him with a broken knee that produced a limp.[20] Learning to enjoy the heady mix of drills and discipline, wenching and drinking sprees, Lermontov continued to sharpen the poisonous wit and cruel humour which would often earn him enemies.[9][22] "The time of my dreams has passed; the time for believing is long gone; now I want material pleasures, happiness that I can touch, happiness that can be bought with gold, that one can carry it in one's pocket as a snuff-box; happiness that beguiles only my senses while leaving my soul in peace and quiet," he wrote in a letter to Maria Lopukhina dated August 4, 1833.[20]

Concealing his literary aspirations from friends (relatives Alexey Stolypin and Nikolai Yuriev among them), Lermontov became an expert in producing scabrous verses (like "Holiday in Peterhof" "Ulansha", and "The Hospital") which were published in a school's amateur magazine Shkolnaya Zarya (School-Years' Dawn) under monikers "Count Diarbekir" and "Stepanov". These pieces earned him much notoriety and, with a hindsight, caused harm, for when in July 1835 for the first time ever his poem "Khadji-Abrek" was published (in Biblioteka Dlya Chteniya, without its author's consent: Nikolai Yuriev took the copy to Osip Senkovsky and he furthered it to print), many refused to take the young author seriously.[5][22]

Upon his graduation in November 1834, Lermontov joined the Life-Guard Hussar regiment stationed near St. Petersburg in Tsarskoye Selo, where his flatmate was his friend Svyatoslav Rayevsky. Grandmother's lavish financial support (he had his personal chefs and coachmen) enabled Lermontov to plunge into a heady high-society mix of drawing-room gossip and ballroom glitter.[9] "Sardonic, caustic and smart, brilliantly intelligent, rich and independent, he became the soul of the high society and the leading spirit in pleasure trips and sprees," Yevdokiya Rostopchina remembered.[23] "Extraordinary, how much youthful energy and precious time had Lermontov managed to spare upon wanton orgies and base love-making, without seriously damaging his physical and moral strength", biographer Skabichevsky marvelled.[23]

By now Lermontov had learnt to lead a double life. Still keeping his passions secret, he took a keen interest in Russian history and medieval epics, which would be reflected in The Song of the Merchant Kalashnikov ...

The Lay of Tsar Ivan Vassilyevich, His Young Oprichnik and the Stouthearted Merchant Kalashnikov
by Mikail Lermontov

Hail to thee, all hail, Tsar Ivan Vassilyevich!
Tis of thee our lay we did make, O Tsar!
Aye, of thee, and thy well-liked oprichnik,
And the stouthearted merchant Kalashnikov.
In the ancient manner we made the lay,
To the strains of the psaltery sing it we did,
We intoned it loud and we chanted it,
And all good Christian folk took delight in it.
As for boyar Matvei Romodanovsky,
He to each gave a goblet of foaming mead,
And his lady fair did to us present,
On a silver tray laid out prettily,
A right handsome towel sewn with silken thread.
For three days and three nights in the feast we joined
Sing we did 'thout end, but they clamoured for more


Nay, 'tis not the sun shining bright in the sky,
With the clouds at its beauty marvelling;
Tis the Tsar at his board seated, proud of mien,
Tsar Ivan Vassilyevich in his crown of gold.
And behind him there stand his serving men,
And before him the boyars and princes sit,
His oprichniks they sit to each side of him.
To the glory of God does the good Tsar feast,
Merry makes the Tsar to his heart's content.

With a smile does he now bid his serving men
Fill his own gold cup full of rich, sweet wine,
Full of rich, sweet wine from beyond the seas,
And to pass it round to his henchmen bold -
The oprichniks drink and the Tsar they praise.

One amongst them all, he, a fine, brave youth,
But a wilful one, of unruly heart,
In the golden cup did not wet his lips;
Dark of face he sat, with his head bowed low
And his eyes cast down to the very ground,
Plunged in gloom sat he and in trying thought.

And the mighty Tsar sorely vexed was he,
Knit his brows he did, and with piercing gaze,
Like the hawk that, grim, from the heights above
Eyes the grey-blue dove, so the youth he eyed.
But the youth sat on, with his head bowed low....
In his wrath the Tsar brought his thick staff down;
With a deafening crash did its iron point
Full it sink and deep in the oaken floor -
Still the youth sat on, not a start gave he.
Then in thunderous tones did the Tsar speak up -
And the youth was roused from his revery.

"Hark and list, Kiribeyevich, brave my lad,
Is it treacherous thought thou dost harbour, say?
Dost thou envy the Tsar his glory and fame?
Of thy faithful service art weary grown?...
When the moon appears, the bright stars rejoice
That the paths of heaven wax luminous.
But should one amongst them hide its face,
To the shadowed earth it will, flashing, fall....
'Tis not meet for thee, Kiribeyevich,
Thus to scorn thy Tsar and his revelry;
Art thou not a Skuratov man by birth,
In Malyuta's own house and home brought up?..."

To his Tsar the oprichnik answer made,
'Fore him low, to the very ground, he bowed:

"Hear me out, my Tsar, hear me out, I pray!
Be not wroth with me, thy unworthy slave!
Wine won't quench the flames of a burning heart,
Gloomy thoughts and dark it will not drive off.
If I vex thee, sire, let thy will be done,
Bid them seize thy slave and his head chop off -
Heavy weighs it, Tsar, on my shoulders broad,
Of itself it bows to the grass-grown earth..."

Said to him the Tsar, with a laugh said he:
"What is there that grieves one so brave and young?
Is thy silken coat frayed and worn with age?
Is thy sable cap, once so fine, now torn?
Is thy purse, once full, free of jingling coin?
Has thy sword, once sharp, tarnished grown and blunt?
Has thy steed gone lame? Was he poorly shod?
Did a merchant's son knock thee off thy feet
In a fist fight fought on the river bank?"

Kiribeyevich of the curly locks
Proudly tossed his head as reply he made:

"Not a merchant's son, nor a boyar's son,
Nay, no man is there that can knock me down;
Fast my good steed runs, never falters he;
Bright as polished glass gleams my sabre sharp;
By thy favour, sire, on a festive day
Boast I do of dress rich as any man's;

When my steed I mount and go riding him
By the Moskva Stream and beyond as well,
With my silken sash round my waist wound tight
And my velvet cap trimmed with sable fur
On my curly head sitting rakishly,
At their gates appear fair young maids and wives,
By their gates they stand and they gaze at me,
And in whispers soft to each other speak.
Only one of them turns away from me,
With a striped silk veil her dear face she clothes...

"Search the whole of Russ, this our holy land,
And you'll never find one as fair, O Tsar:
Moves she gracefully as a white-winged swan,
Gentle is her gaze as a sweet young dove's,
Tender is her voice as a nightingale's,
Pink as dawn's first ray in the heavens high,
Bloom the roses two on her fresh young cheeks;
Twined with ribbons gay is her golden hair,
Tightly bound is it into silken plaits.
Down her shoulders, sire, run they playfully
And her bosom white touch caressingly.
Born was she in a merchant's house and home
And is named Alyona Dmitrevna.

"When I look at her I am not myself:
Strengthless grow my arms, limp they grow and weak,
And my eyes so keen, turn they dark and dim;
Sorrow fills my heart at the fearful thought
That the world alone I must roam, O Tsar.
In my charger swift I delight no more,
Nor in costly garb and in finery,
Little do I care for a well-stuffed purse....
Who is there the gold that is mine to share?
Before whom shall I of my prowess boast?
Tore whose gaze shall I my rich garb display?

"Give me leave to go to the Volga steppe,
Let me lead the life of a Cossack free.
My hot head will I there in battle lose,
By a Tatar hand 'twill be smitten off,
And the infidels for themselves will they
Take my sabre sharp and my goodly steed
And my saddle rich of Circassian make.
At my eyes the ravens will tear and peck,
On my lonely bones dreary rains will fall,
Without burial will my poor dust be
Blown across the steppe by a gusty wind... ."

To these words the Tsar with a laugh replied:
"Faithful servant mine, I will soothe thy pain,
To thy aid thy Tsar in thy grief will come.
Take my ruby ring and this necklace take -
Made of pearls is it full a Joy to see;
Find a clever wife for a matchmaker,
And these precious gifts have her bear in haste
To thy lady fair Alyona Dmitrevna:
If she'll have thee, lad, hold a wedding feast;
If she'll have thee not, be not sore of heart."

Hail to thee, all hail, Tsar Ivan Vassilyevich!
By thy cunning slave thou'rt deceived this day!
Aye, the truth has he from his Tsar withheld.
He has told thee not that his lady fair
Is another's wife, is a merchant's spouse
That in church was she to her husband wed
By our holy rites, by the Christian law.

* * *

Drink deep, my lads! Sing out in glee!
Come, lads, tune up the psaltery!
With your ringing music drive away care,
Bring cheer to our host and his lady fair!


In the market place the young merchant sat,
Tall and handsome Stepan Paramonovich
Of the honest house of Kalashnikov.
His gay silken wares laid he smartly out,
And his moneys he counted carefully,
In soft tones he called to the passers-by.
But 'twas little luck that the merchant had:
By his shop the rich folk they tarried not,
No one glanced within, no one bought his wares.

In the churches the vesper bells have rung,
O'er the Kremlin domes glow the sun's last rays;
Driven on by a singing, moaning wind,
Grey clouds scurry near and the heavens veil....
The great market place it has emptied fast,
And the merchant Stepan Paramonovich
Shuts behind him the massive oaken door,
Turns the figured key in the foreign lock,
And beside the shop, on an iron chain
His old watchdog, a snarling beast, he leaves.
Then, in thought immersed, off the merchant goes
To his home and wife across Moskva Stream.

Comes he soon enough to his fine, tall house,
And amazed he looks to all sides of him:
For his fair young wife does not welcome him,
Bare the table stands, with no cloth on it,
Tore the icon a single candle gleams.
Calls he then the aged servant woman:
"Come, speak up and say, Yeremeyevna,
Where's thy mistress gone that I see her not?
Where's my wedded wife, Alyona Dmitrevna?
And my children dear, did they weary grow
Of their noisy games, of their play and sport?
Were they put abed at an early hour?"

"O my master dear, Stepan Paramonovich,
Tis a full strange thing I will say to thee:
To the vespers went Alyona Dmitrevna;
But the priest and his wife are back from church,
They have lit a candle and at supper sit,
Yet thy lady fair she has not returned....
And the little ones they are not at play,
Nor are they abed and asleep, the dears;
It is wailing they are and sobbing loud,
For their mother crying and calling her."

By a fearful thought was he visited,
Was the youthful merchant Kalashnikov.
By the window he stood with troubled heart,
At the snow-clad street gazed he fretfully.
It was dark without, and the snow swept down.
And it covered the tracks of the passers-by.

Of a sudden he hears a door slam shut,
And a hurried step to his ear it comes....
Spins he round, and there - Heaven help us all! -
Stands his fair young wife, white of face she stands,
With her headpiece gone and her plaits untwined
And with hoarfrost powdered and melting snow,
And a look in her eye as of one insane,
And her ashen lips forming soundless words....

"Where hast thou been a'wandering, wife, my wife?
To what courtyard or square didst thou stray, come,
That thy head is bare and thy plaits undone
And thy clothing torn and in disarray?
From a wanton feast dost thou come this day?
With the boyars' sons hast thou, wife, caroused?
It was not for this we did plight our troth,
It was not for this 'fore the holy shrine
On our wedding morn we exchanged our rings.
Behind oaken doors will I put thee, wife,
With an iron lock I will lock thee fast.
Ne'er the light of day shalt thou see again,
Nay, nor cast a slur on my honest name."
When the poor young wife heard these scathing
Like an aspen leaf she began to shake;
She began to shake and to sob and weep;
Down her cheeks the bitter tears they rolled,
To her knees she sank at her husband's feet.
"O my lord, my own, O my radiant sun!
Hear me out or else slay me here and now.
Every word thou sayest to thy hapless wife
Is a knife of steel that doth pierce her heart.
Tis not death I fear be it e'er so cruel,
'Tis not idle rumour that frightens me,
'Tis my lord's displeasure I fear to risk.
"On my way I was from the church this night,
All alone I was when I thought I heard -
Just behind me, someone's footsteps come.
Glanced I round, and, oh, how my knees they shook! -
'Twas a man, my lord, running after me....
O'er my face my veil pulled I close in haste.
But the brazen one caught my hands in his,
In a whisper soft spoke he thus to me:
'Wherefore fearest thou me, my lovely one?
Not a robber am I, not a highwayman
But the Tsar's oprichnik Kiribeyevich,
Of Malyuta's own house and family....'
By these words was I frighted all the more,
My poor head it spun and my sight grew dim....
He embraced me then and he kissed me too,
Hold me close he did, and he whispered thus:
'Speak and tell me, love, what thou wishest for,
Speak and answer me, and it shall be thine!
Is it pearls or gold that thy heart doth crave,
Is't brocade or silk thou wouldst have from me?
I will dress thee, love, like a princess true,
Of our Moscow wives thou'lt the envy be!...
Do not let me die a poor sinner's death,
Do not let my love unrequited stay,
Love me, kiss me, do, ere we part this night!"

"And he kissed me then, kissed me many times,
Even now, my lord, when I'm safely back
In my husband's house, like a living flame
His cursed kisses burn on my cheeks and brow.
At their gates, I saw, stood the neighbours' wives,
And they gaped at us, and they laughed in scorn....

"From his grasp at last I did tear myself,
And for home I made at a run, my lord....
In the villain's hands did thy gifts remain,
Both my silken veil and my coverchief.
Me, the blameless one, hath he sorely wronged,
On my honest self hath he brought disgrace....
What wild tales of me will the neighbours spin?
To whose eyes shall I dare to show myself?...

"Pray, protect me, do, from the spiteful-tongued,
At thy faithful wife do not let them jeer!
Whom have I to trust but thy own sweet self
And to whom but thee can I turn for help?
But for thee am I in the world alone,
For my parents dear in the grave they lie,
In the cold, dark grave lie they do, alas!
Of my brothers two, one, the elder, left
For a distant shore and was seen no more,
And the younger, thou knowest, is a child in years,
Aye, a child in years and in wisdom too..."

It was thus spoke Alyona Dmitrevna,
Bitter tears she wept and her lot bemoaned.

Then the merchant Stepan Paramonovich
For his younger brothers in haste he sent,
And his brothers they came and they bowed to him,
In this wise they did speak, the two of them:
"At thy bidding we come, elder brother ours;
What misfortune is thine, tell us truthfully,
That we're summoned by thee at an hour so late
Of a frosty night in the wintertime?..."

"Hear me, brothers mine, and I'll tell you all.
Great mischance this day hath befallen me,
For the Tsar's oprichnik Kiribeyevich
On our honest name hath brought disgrace,
And a true man's heart cannot bear such wrong,
Such offence as this it cannot endure.
On the morrow the first fight is to be,
In the Tsar's own presence, on Moskva Stream....
With the Tsar's oprichnik I'll come to grips,
To the death the rascally knave I'll fight!
And should I be slain, then, my brothers dear,
Come you out in my stead and fight for truth,
Fight for honour and truth and be not afeared!
You are younger than I and of fresher strength,
You have sinned the less, and your souls are pure,
And perchance the Lord will be kind to you."

And the brothers two in reply they said:
"Where the wind it blows in the heavens high,
There the clouds, obedient, rush in haste.
When the blue-winged eagle with raucous cry
Calls his young to the field where lie the slain,
When he summons them to a gory feast,
At his call they come without dallying.
Thou'rt a father true, brother dear, to us,
'Tis for thee to say and for us to do;
That by thee we'll stand thou canst rest assured."

Drink deep, my lads! Sing out in glee!
Come, lads, tune up the psaltery!
With your ringing music drive away care,
Bring cheer to our host and his lady fair!


Over Moscow the great and golden-domed,
O'er the Kremlin walls, o'er its white stone walls,
Rises early morn in its crimson robes.
From beyond the hills comes the early morn,
And it steals o'er the housetops playfully,
And it drives off the clouds relentlessly.
Its gold tresses the morn o'er the blue skies spreads,
And its face it bathes in the snows so white,
Like a proud young beauty in a looking glass
It beholds itself in the heavens clear.
Why art thou awake, crimson morn so bright?
Why dost thou rejoice, early morn so fresh?

From the whole of ancient Moscow-town
Came the fighters bold, came the fighters brave,
For the fisticuffs on the holiday
Gathered they by the frozen Moskva Stream.
And the Tsar himself with his retinue,
His oprichniks all and his boyars came,
And he bade them stretch a long silver chain,
A long silver chain soldered fast with gold,
And to measure off on the river ice
A large open place for the sporting match.
Then the mighty Tsar Ivan Vassilyevich
Bade his heralds call out in ringing tones:
"Come ye forth, brave lads, come ye forth and fight
For to please the good Tsar, our father own!
Come ye forward, do, to the boxing ring;
Him who wins the match the Tsar will reward,
Him who loses it the Lord will forgive!"

'Thout a word Kiribeyevich now stepped forth,
Bowed he low to the Tsar and silently,
From his shoulders his velvet coat he flung,
His right hand on his hip he proudly placed,
With his hand his crimson hat set straight,
Stood he waiting so for a challenger....
Once, and twice, and thrice rang the heralds' cry,
But the fighting men, doughty fellows all,
Only nudged each other and never stirred.

Round the ring the oprichnik audacious walks,
To his rivals he calls disdainfully:
"Why so timid, ye men, why so thoughtful, say?
With your lives, ne'er you fear, I will let you off,
Give you time I will to repent your sins,
Only let us fight and amuse the Tsar."

Of a sudden the crowd it silent parts,
And the merchant Stepan Paramonovich
Of the name and house of Kalashnikov
Steps he boldly forth for all eyes to see.
First Stepan Paramonovich bows to the Tsar,
To the Kremlin then and its churches all,
To the Russian folk bows he afterward.
Like a falcon's eyes so his eyes they burn,
On the young oprichnik he rivets them,
And before him his stand takes loftily.
Now, he pulls on his gauntlets, his fighting gloves,
And his mighty shoulders he proudly squares,
And his curly beard strokes he languidly.

The oprichnik then spoke, and this he said:
"Tell me, valiant youth, of what house thou art
And what name is thine, speak and tell me plain,
For how otherwise will I know, my lad,
Over whom the priests are to chant their prayers,
And how I'm to boast of my victory."

And Stepan Paramonovich answered thus:
"By the name of Kalashnikov am I known,
Twas an honest man that did father me,
By the Lord's commands have I ever lived:
Never brought disgrace on another's wife,
Never stalked, a thief, in the dark of night,
Never hid myself from the light of day....
Thou hast said a truthful word and just:
Over one of us will the priests they chant,
On the morrow, at noon, and no later, mind,
At a merry feast with his comrades bold,
One of us will boast of his victory.
Not in jest or sport, for the folk to watch,
Do I challenge thee, thou infidel's son,
But to wage a fight to the bitter end!"

At the merchant's speech, Kiribeyevich
Turned he nigh as grey as the snow of spring,
And his sparkling eye darkened all at once,
Down his mighty back ran a sudden chill,
On his parted lips froze his words, unsaid....

Now the rivals two, silent, moved apart,
Thout another sound did the fight commence.

Kiribeyevich was the first to strike;
His gloved hand he waved and a crushing blow
Struck the merchant brave on his mighty chest.
And Stepan Paramonovich staggered and reeled;
On his breast there dangled a copper cross
With a relic from holy Kiev-town,
And this cross bit deep into his firm flesh,
And like dew the blood from beneath it dripped.
And he said to himself, said the merchant brave:
"What is fated to be is bound to be;
For the truth will I stand to the very end!"
And he steadied himself as he made to strike,
And he gathered his strength and with all his force
Fetched his hated rival a round-arm blow,
Hit him full he did on the side of the head.

And the young oprichnik he softly moaned,
And he swayed and dropped to the icy ground,
To the icy ground like a pine he fell,
Like a slender pine in a wintry grove
By an axe cut down at the very roots....
To the ground he fell, and he lay there, dead.
At this fearful sight was the Christian Tsar
Overcome by a blinding rage and fierce,
And he knit his brows, and he stamped his foot,
And he bade his men seize the merchant bold,
And to bring the knave 'fore his face at once.

Said the mighty Tsar Ivan Vassilyevich:
"Answer honestly, for I want the truth:
Was't with full intent or against thy will
Thou hast coldly slain my most trusted man,
My oprichnik, my Kiribeyevich?"

"I will tell thee true, o most righteous Tsar:
With intent have I slain thy trusted man;
But I'll tell thee not wherefore did I this,
To the Lord alone will I this disclose....
Have me put to death; bid me place my head
On the butcher's block for the axe to smite;
But I pray thee, Tsar, to my widowed wife
And my children dear show thou clemency,
To my brothers two be thou merciful."

'"Tis a right good thing, my brave lad and true,
And is well for thee, honest merchantman,
That so truthfully thou hast answered me.
To thy orphans young and thy widowed wife
From my treasury I'll allot a share.
And throughout the length and the breadth, my lad,
Of the Russian realm shall thy brothers two
From this day and on trade 'thout tithe or tax.
As for thee, brave heart, on the block shalt thou
Thy wild head lay down by the Tsar's command;
I will have the blade made keen and sharp,
I will have the headsman wear fine, rich dress,
The great bell for thee will I bid them ring
That all Moscow-town, all the folk might know
That thy Tsar to thee of his goodwill gave..."

To the market square the good townsfolk stream,
The bell's mournful knell o'er it, booming, floats,
Throughout Moscow-town evil tidings spreads.
On high ground the wooden scaffold rears;
In his scarlet blouse with its jeweled links
Does the headsman strut in front of the crowd
And await his victim right merrily.
His axe is well honed and made keen and sharp,
And he rubs his hands in open glee....
And the stouthearted merchant Kalashnikov
Bids his brothers farewell and embraces them.

"O my brothers own, dear are you to me!
Let me hold you close, let us now embrace,
For 'tis soon you and I will forever part....
Bow you low to my wife Alyona Dmitrevna,
Bow you low 'fore the house of our parents dear,
Bow you low to our friends and kinsmen all,
And then pray for me in the holy church,
For your brother pray and his sinful soul!"

And the merchant brave he was put to death,
'Twas a cruel death and a shameful one:
O'er him high the headsman raised his axe,
And his head rolled down from the bloody block.

Beyond Moskva Stream they buried him,
In the wide, open field where three roads meet:
To Tula, Ryazan and Vladimir towns;
O'er his grave a mound of damp earth they heaped,
And on that they set a maplewood cross,
And the boisterous winds cannot be stilled,
O'er his nameless grave they sing and play.
By the grave the good folk pass they do:
When an old man goes by, he crosses himself;
When a young man goes by, his shoulders he squares;
When a young maid goes by, she heaves a sigh;
When a minstrel goes by, he sings a song.

* * *

Ho, ye brave lads and true,
The makers of song,
Ye whose voices ring merry and loud and strong!
You began right well, and so end you must;
Sing in praise of the worthy, the honest and just!
To the freehanded boyar, glory and fame!
To his lovely lady, glory and fame!
And to all Christian folk, fame and glory!

and Borodino ...

by Mikhail Lermontov

Now tell me, Uncle, how'd it chance that
Our Moscow could be burnt to ashes
And captured by the French?
For up until the bitter end there
Were battles fierce and great in number,
And all of Russia still remembers
Borodino’s great clash!

-- You see, the chaps that I once chummed with
Were not like these saps now among us:
Real men, unlike you lads!
They battled, but their luck turned ill, and
So many brave young men were killed then.
But Moscow, if God had not willed it,
Would never have changed hands!

We stood there long in silence, waiting,
With hearts aflutter, wildly beating;
The old guard carped and fussed:
"Should we forget this whole affair, then?
Do our commanders not yet dare to
Impale French uniforms and tear them
With Russian bayonets?"

And then we found a wide, wide meadow,
Where we could see for miles ahead, so
We built there a redoubt.
Let’s keep our ears and eyes wide open!
No sooner had the dawn’s light shone on
The treetops and the Russian cannons –
The French were all about!

I packed the cannon full to bursting
And thought, well, let’s impress our guests, then!
Just wait, our dear Messieurs!
Why shrink from danger? Play along, now,
And like a wall we’ll fall upon you!
We’ll risk our lives and stand up strong now,
For this here land is ours!

We shot at them, they shot back at us
For two whole days – what utter madness!
We waited for the third.
“Go get the buckshot!” someone shouted.
And then upon the fateful meadow,
So filled with lawlessness, the shadow
Of nighttime dimmed the earth.

I lay me down to catch some shut-eye,
And I could hear throughout the night how
The Frenchmen laughed and played.
But we were silent, no one chattered;
One cleaned a cap that was all battered,
Another bit his lip and muttered
While sharpening his blade.

No sooner did the heavens brighten
Than everyone began to rise, and
The soldiers moved in rows.
Our colonel was so bold, determined:
The soldiers’ sire, the Tsar’s true servant!
We all shed tears when we interred him;
In peace he’s resting now.

He said to us, his eyes like candles,
“Men! Isn’t Moscow there behind us?
Let's die for Moscow now,
Just as our brothers died before us!”
We gave our oath in one great chorus
And then we did just as we promised
Throughout Borodino.

Well, what a day! Through the confusion
The Frenchmen moved, like strange illusions,
All straight towards our redoubt!
The lancers with their brilliant colors,
Dragoons in caps with tails of horses,
And all these figures flashed before us,
Not one of them stayed out.

You'll never see such ruthless battles!
The banners floated by like shadows
And flames glared through the smog;
The sabers rang and buckshot howled as
The fighters wore their strong arms out, and
The slain were stacked up in a mountain
So wide it stopped the balls.

The Frenchmen learned a fair amount that
They didn’t know of Russian combat,
For we fought tooth and nail!
The earth, just like our chests, was quaking;
The horses howled, their manes were shaking;
A thousand shouts and shots were making
One neverending wail …

Then dusk came. Everyone was ready
To start again when morning reddened
And fight until the end …
But suddenly the drumroll sounded,
The French fiends stopped and turned around, and
We then began to count the wounded –
We counted our dead friends.

Yes, there were folks in that brave era
Who had the hearts and souls of heroes:
Real men, unlike you lads!
They battled, but their luck turned ill, and
So many brave young men were killed then.
But Moscow, if God had not willed it,
Would never have changed hands!

... as well as a series of popular ballads. During what he later referred to as "four wasted years" he finished "Demon", wrote Boyarin Orsha, The Tambov Treasurer's Wife and Masquerade, his best-known drama. Through Rayevsky he became acquainted with Andrey Krayevsky, then the editor of Russky Invalid's literary supplement, in a couple of years' time to become the editor of the influential journal Otechestvennye Zapiski.[5]

Death of the Poet

Self-portrait, 1837

The death of Pushkin, who, as it was generally suspected, had fallen victim to an intrigue, ignited Russian high society. Lermontov, who himself never belonged to the Pushkin circle (there is conflicting evidence as to whether he'd met the famous poet at all), became especially vexed with Saint Petersburg dames' sympathizing with Georges-Charles de Heeckeren D'Anthès, a culprit whom he even considered challenging to a duel.[5]

Outraged and agitated, the young man found himself on the verge of nervous breakdown. Arsenyeva sent for Arendt, and the famous doctor who had spent with Pushkin his last hours related to Lermontov the exact circumstances of what had happened. The poem Death of the Poet, its final part written impromptu, in the course of several minutes, was spread around by Rayevsky and caused uproar.

Death of A Poet
by Mikhail Lermontov
translated by Denise M. Henderson

The poet’s murd’red!—slave of honor,
He fell, by rumor defamed,
With lead in the breast, and his proud head bowed
By a thirst for vengeance!
The poet’s soul had not withstood
The disgrace of petty-minded insults.
He rose against the opinion of the world
Alone, as formerly . . . and he’s murdered!
Murdered! . . . Now to what purpose is sobbing,
A useless chorus of empty praises,
And the pitiful prattle of excuses?
Fate’s sentence has been imposed!
Was it not you who first thus persecuted
So cruelly his free, bold gift,
And for amusement fanned
The fire that had somewhat abated?
So? Be happy. . . . He could not
Bear the final torments.
Extinguished, like a lamp, is the
Marvellous genius,
Withered the ceremonial crown.

His murderer, coldblooded,
Took aim . . . There was no salvation:
That empty heart beat steadily,
In the hand the pistol did not tremble
And how is that strange? From afar,
Like a thousand fugitives,
He, hunting for fortune and rank,
Thrown among us by the will of fate
Laughing, impudently despised
The language and customs of this alien land;
He could not spare our glory,
He could not understand in that bloody instant,
Against what he raised his hand!
And he is slain—and taken to the grave,
Like that bard, unknown but dear,
The prey of dull envy,
Whom he praised with such wonderful force,
Struck down, like him, by a pitiless hand.*
Why from peaceful delights and open-hearted friendship
Did he enter into this envious world—stifling
For a free heart and fiery passions?
Why did he extend a hand to petty slanderers,
Why did he believe the false words and caresses,
He, who from his youthful years understood people?

They removed the former garland, and a crown of thorns
Entwined with laurel put they on him:
But the secret spines harshly
Wounded the famous brow;
His last moments were poisoned
By the insidious whispers of derisive fools,
And he died—thirsting in vain for vengeance,
Secretly besieged by false hopes.
The sounds of his wonderful songs fell silent,
They will not ring out again:
The bard’s refuge is cramped and sullen,
And his lips are sealed.

Postscript to ‘Death of A Poet’

And you, stubborn heirs
Of fathers renowned for meanness,
Who with servile heel trod underfoot the shards Of families by Fortune frowned upon!
You, greedy crowd standing near the throne,
Of Freedom, Genius and Glory the hangman!
You hide behind the protection of law,
Before you, the court and truth—all is silent!
But there is also divine judgment, you cronies of corruption!
There is a terrible judge: he waits;
He is not swayed by tinkling gold,
And knows your thoughts and affairs beforehand.
Then in vain will you resort to slander:
It will not help you again,
And with all your black blood you shall not wash away
The righteous blood of the poet!

The last 16 lines of it, explicitly addressed to the inner circles at the court, all but accused the powerful "pillars" of Russian high-society of complicity in Pushkin's death. The poem portrayed that society as a cabal of self-interested venomous wretches "huddling about the throne in a greedy throng", "the hangmen who kill liberty, genius, and glory" about to suffer the apocalyptic judgment of God.[24]

The poem propelled Lermontov to an unprecedented level of fame. Zhukovsky hailed the "new powerful talent"; popular opinion greeted him as "Pushkin's heir". D'Anthes, still under arrest, felt so piqued he was now himself prepared to challenge the upstart to a duel. Alexander von Benckendorff, Arsenyeva's distant relative,[20] was willing to help her grandson out, but still had no choice but to report the incident to Nicholas I, who, as it turned out, had already received a copy of the poem (subtitled "The Call for the Revolution", from an anonymous sender). The authorities arrested Lermontov, on January 21 he found himself in the Petropavlovskaya fortress and on February 25 got banished as a cornet to the Nizhegorodsky dragoons regiment to the Caucasus.[7][25] During the investigation, in an act he considered cowardice, Lermontov faulted his friend, Svyatoslav Rayevsky, and as a result the latter suffered a more severe punishment than Lermontov did: was deported to the Olonets Governorate for two years to serve in a lowly clerk's position.[5][20][24]

First exile

An 1837 landscape by Lermontov. Tiflis, 1837

In the Caucasus Lermontov found himself quite at home. The stern and gritty virtues of the mountain tribesmen against whom he had to fight, no less than the scenery of the rocks and of the mountains themselves, were close to his heart. The place of his exile was also the land he had loved as a child. Attracted to the nature of the Caucasus and excited by its folklore, he studied the local languages, wrote some of his most splendid poems and painted extensively.[9] "Good people are here aplenty. In Tiflis, especially, people are very honest... The mountain air acts like balsam for me, all spleen has gone to hell, the heart starts beating, the chest heaves," Lermontov wrote to Rayevsky. By the end of the year he had travelled all along the Caucasian line, from Kizlyar Bay to Taman Peninsula, and visited central Georgia.[5]

Lermontov's first Caucasian exile was short: due to Benkendorff's intercession the poet was transferred to the Grodno cavalry regiment based at Nizhny Novgorod. His voyage back was a prolonged one, he made a point of staying wherever he was welcome. In Shelkozavodskaya Lermontov met A. A. Khastatov (his grandmother's sister's son), a man famous for his bravery, whose stories were later incorporated into A Hero of Our Times. In Pyatigorsk he had talks with poet and translator Nikolai Satin (a member of Hertzen and Ogaryov circle) and with some of the Decembrists, notably with the poet Alexander Odoyevsky (with whom, judging by "In Memoriam", 1839, he became quite close); in Stavropol became friends with Dr. Mayer who served as a prototype for Doctor Werner (a man Pechorin meets in "town S."). In Tiflis he drifted towards a group of Georgian intellectuals led by Alexander Chavchavadze, Nina Griboyedova's father.[5]

Lermontov took delight in painting mountain landscapes

The young officer's demeanor did not enchant everybody, though, and at least two of the Decembrists, Nikolai Lorer and Mikhail Nazimov, later spoke of him quite dismissively. Nazimov wrote years later:

"Lermontov often visited us and talked of all sort of things, personal, social and political. I have to say, we hardly understood each other... We were unpleasantly surprised by the chaotic nature of his views, which were rather vague. He appeared to be a low-brow realist, unwilling to let his imagination fly, which was strange, considering how high his poetry soared on its mighty wings. He mocked some of the government's reforms – the ones we couldn’t even dream of in our poor youth. Certain essays, promoting the most progressive European ideas which we were so enthusiastic about, – for who could have ever thought it possible for such things to be published in Russia? – left him cold. When approached with a straightforward question, he either kept silent or tried to get away with some sarcastic remark. The more we knew him, the more difficult it was for us to take him seriously. There was a spark of original thought in him, but he was still very young."[26]

Lermontov's journey to Nizhny took four months. He visited Yelizavetgrad, then stayed in Moscow and Saint Petersburg to enjoy himself at dancing parties and to revel in his immense popularity. "Lermontov's deportation to the Caucasus has made a lot of fuss and turned him into a victim, which did a lot to whip up his fame as a poet. People consumed his Caucasian poems greedily... On return he was met with enormous warmth in the capital and hailed as heir to Pushkin," wrote poet Andrey Muravyov.[5]

The little house in Pyatigorsk where Lermontov spent the two last months of his life
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