“Pushkin died romantically, famously in a duel in 1837. He’s often thought of as the founding father of modern Russian literature, which makes him sound rather dusty and old-fashioned, but in fact he’s a great innovator and experimenter…”
“His career is very important in the history of Russian letters because he is perhaps the first writer who tries to make his career as a professional man of letters… Unfortunately for him he was an inveterate gambler who dug himself into a financial hole.”
My guest on Podularity this week is Andrew Kahn of St Edmund Hall, Oxford. I met him last autumn to talk about Russia’s national poet, Alexander Pushkin.
For his latest book, Pushkin’s Lyric Intelligence, Andrew set himself the task of reading as much of Pushkin’s library of some 4,000 volumes as possible, the better to trace the development of his ideas and influences, and in particular how they found expression in his lyric poetry. In the interview, we also talk about Pushkin’s amatory career and capacity for self-mythologizing.
If the interview whets your appetite to find out more about Pushkin, you may be interested in the Cambridge Companion to Pushkin, which Andrew edited and also the new translation of Eugene Onegin by Stanley Mitchell, which Andrew recommends in the podcast. My own personal recommendation would be Semyon Bychkov’s recording of Tchaikovsky’s opera based on Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin with Dmitri Hvorostovsky in the title role.