A Reading of Alexander Pushkin's Boris Godunov
Publication Year: 2004
Published by: Northwestern University Press
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Notes to the Reader
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This book grew out of a research project into Pushkinâs poetic language that examined the recurrence and function of certain lexical items in the text of Boris Godunov as examples of âpoetic etymology.â The research was based on the hypothesis, which is more fully exposed in chapters 6 and 7, that the very shape of Pushkinâs language, the combinations of lexical roots...
Chapter One: The Genesis and Reception of Boris Godunov
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SUCH WAS THE COMMENT of Pushkinâs first biographer, P. V. Annenkov, about Boris Godunov. The contradiction between Pushkinâs (and Annenkovâs) perception of the importance of the work and its complex and often lukewarm reception is a central issue in understanding the role of the play in the history of Pushkin studies. That history reflects in many ways the intellectual...
Chapter Two: Boris Godunov and the Theater
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IT HAS BEEN A COMMONPLACE in Pushkin studies to see in his work a simple evolution from poetry to prose. Pushkin himself seemed to offer confirmation of this: âThe years incline me to stern prose,â he writes in Eugene Onegin. As we have seen in discussing Soviet Pushkiniana, the simplicity of this view parallels...
Chapter Three: Pushkin, Russia, Revolution
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THERE WERE TWO EVENTS IN Russian history that took place during Pushkinâs lifetime and became shaping influences in his political philosophy. First, the Napoleonic wars had offered to Russians for the first time a glimpse of national unity, a unity of all the classes around the defense of the motherland.1 Since that time the chimera of national unity...
Chapter Four: Boris Godunov as Metahistory and Metapoetry
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IN THE DRAFT PREFACE OF 1830, written in the form of a letter to N. N. Raevsky, Pushkin insisted that before reading it, he must read âthe last tomeâ (i.e., books X and XI) of Karamzinâs History of the Russian State (Wolff, 1999, p. 245). How are we to understand this request? In making it Pushkin invokes the entire question of the relation between history...
Chapter Five: The Montage of Genres
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THE QUESTION OF GENRE is central both to Pushkinâs conception of his work and to its reception by his contemporaries. It is striking that one of the first critical comments on Pushkinâs Boris Godunovâ from none other than Nicholasâshould concern the genre of the work: âI consider that Mr Pushkinâs goal would be achieved if he purged his work of its excesses and reworked his comedy as a historical tale...
Chapter Six: Horse and Rider: The Semantics of Power
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THANKS TO THE ambiguous nature of its genre, Boris Godunov, like a number of Pushkinâs works, can be viewed in a variety of ways. It stands at the juncture of three elements in Pushkinâs workâpoetry, prose narrative, and dramatic dialogueâthat interact and overlap to give the work much of its complexity. At first sight, the fact that the work is composed...
Chapter Seven: The Codes of Speaking and Seeing
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IN THE DRAFT OF his letter to Raevsky of July 1825 Pushkin writes: âYou will ask: is your tragedy a tragedy of character or of custom? I have chosen the easier genre, but I have tried to combine them bothâ (Wolff, 1999, p. 156; my translation from the French). Pushkin was replying to a letter from Raevsky, in which the latter had stressed the need for intensive research...
Chapter Eight: Poet and Tsar
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WRITING ABOUT THE Napoleonic myth in Pushkin and Stendhal, Lidiia Volpert notes the presence in Oneginâs study of a âlittle column with a cast-iron dollââreferring, of course, to the figurine of Napoleon, a common decoration in the studies of fashionably romantic intellectuals. Volâpert (1990) writes: âThe image of âthe cast-iron dollâ can be viewed in the light...
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Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2004
Series Title: Studies in Russian Literature and Theory
Series Editor Byline: Saul Morson