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A Short Life of Pushkin

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http://www.russianartandculture.com/short-life-pushkin-robert-chandler/

Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin (1799-1837) has long been considered to be the founder of Russian literature and one of Russia’s greatest writers. In A Short Life of Pushkin, Pushkin’s life and works are explored within the historical and political context of early nineteenth-century Russia. It begins with a brief introduction of Pushkin’s ancestors before examining Pushkin’s life as a writer, lover and public figure. Pushkin’s life itself was certainly a fascinating tale. Those unfamiliar to it may enjoy learning about his time in exile and how his friends and patrons saved him from troubles, his various exploits like eating cherries during a duel, and his relationship with his wife, Natalia Pushkina. A Short Life also draws brief connections between his oeuvre and life and adds a slight depth to our understanding of the meaning of his works.

Robert Chandler, an award-winning translator of Russian literature, brings this biography together. (Chandler’s previous translations include three anthologies for Penguin Classics and works by Teffi, Vasily Grossman, and Andrey Platonov.) This succinct guide is information-packed and far from superficial or full of platitudes. It is well researched, being grounded in the primary material of letters from Pushkin and his contemporaries and quotes secondary material from historians. Chandler also helpfully highlights contentious areas and the unknown gaps within Pushkin studies. This guide is also up-to-date with the latest thinking, such as the theory that Abram Gannibal, Pushkin’s maternal great-grandfather, came from Chad and not Ethopia as previously believed. Importantly, this biography is also self-contained and self-explanatory, providing brief introductions to the individuals and events in Pushkin’s life.

Some readers may find Chandler’s guide disjointed because it moves from key periods in his life, often without a smooth transition between chapters. However, the books raison d’être is brevity, so those expecting a year-by-year account of Pushkin’s life should look elsewhere. This is also not an in-depth analysis of his oeuvre; instead it offers a brief summary of his main works and draws brief connections to the influence of his life to lines within his work. The main strength of this book is its simplicity whilst also providing a strong guiding-hand through Pushkin’s life.

The book was met with critical acclaim. The TLS mentioned it as “an engaging and enjoyable read”, while Russian Life Magazine praised it as “superb” and was more generous with enthusiasm and superlatives for the recently published work characterising it as “a masterwork…a digestible, readable biography”.

At a mere 160 pages, A Short Life of Pushkin makes for an engaging short read. It also provides a good starting point for those inspired to learn more about Pushkin because its succinct nature leaves the reader with plenty of details to investigate further.

 

A Short Life of Pushkin is published by Pushkin Press.
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Very interesting, concise and easy to read. I enjoyed the quotes from Pushkin's work too.
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Unable to review as the kindle version unreadable, chunks of wording is replaced by symbols throughout the book..
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Please be aware that the publisher has given me this book in exchange for an honest review

An informative book about an interesting writer, exploring: his life and the how his life effected his work. I recommend this book to anyone wishing to gain an understanding of the life of this very important writer.
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I could not have wished for more detail about Pushkin than we have here.  Having crossed paths with the author and poet in Odessa and other places, I may only have a minor interest, but all the same - I'd ignore any more clunky book in favour of this 'short life' any day.  The length and erudition are ideal.
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Exactly what it says it is – a short life of Pushkin. Concise, eminently readable and an excellent introduction to Russia’s favourite poet.
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This looked like it would be incredibly good, but I must say that I didn't get on at all well with Chandler's very matter-of-fact prose style.  Elements of Pushkin's life felt disjointed and were largely glossed over.  The Kindle version which I got from Netgalley also had a lot of problems with the text, so no dates appeared.  Very frustrating, particularly after I had such high hopes.
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A Short Life of Pushkin by Robert Chandler is a short biography of Pushkin. Chandler is a British poet and translator. He is the editor of Russian Short Stories from Pushkin to Buida and the author of Alexander Pushkin.

Pushkin is perhaps Russia's greatest writer. In his short life, he managed to leave a mark on all areas Rissian literature producing poetry, plays, novels, and short stories. Pushkin was a rebel with ties to the Decemberists, yet no matter how much trouble he caused he always managed to find a way out. He saved his life many times but was not able to to get out of financial debt. He wrote Russia's most famous love poem about a woman who rejected him. He was exiled and returned to become a member of the court not only for his fame but also his flirtatious wife had an effect on the court. It was rumors about his wife that lead Pushkin to the fatal duel ending his life at the age of 37.

What makes this biography particularly interesting is its size.  At just over one hundred pages, it serves the reader better than most short introduction at the beginnings of books.  It also condenses Pushkin's life to the most important parts of his life and his literature for those not wanting a several page account of the details of the man's life. The writing is straightforward and easy to follow as well as informative.  A Short Life of Pushkin captures the excitement of the poet's extraordinary life without sensationalizing events.  The reader will experience the high and low points of Russia's greatest writer. An excellent short biography.
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Accessible, interesting, and informative--this book has inspired me to read more Pushkin!
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A truly fascinating account of one of our greatest writers.
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Chandler, an accomplished translator of Russian literature, gives us a life of Pushkin with insights from the language--Czar Nicholas I's "now he's mine!" remark comes off far more familial and kind in the mother tongue than in English. Although "short," this offers extensive context to Pushkin's major works, his relationship with the Decemberists, his patrons and lovers, his descent from Peter the Great's African aide, time in exile in Odessa and the family estates in the north and of course, the duel (one of many, this particular one fatal).
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