Abstract

Abstract:

The image of Pushkin's shining white teeth occupies an important place in the Russian cultural imagination (Veresaev, Tynianov, Tsvetaeva, Mandelstam, etc.). In his recollections about Pushkin, one of his acquaintances noted that the poet took special care of his teeth. This was an attempt to look like Lord Byron, whom he adored and meticulously imitated at that time. This article demonstrates that in European culture of the nineteenth century, Byron's teeth served as a synecdoche of the ideal Romantic body. Teeth were a telling feature of his iconic image, along with his Greek handsomeness, curly hair, long neck, small arms, proverbial lameness, asymmetrical eyes and the three wrinkles crossing his high forehead. In this cultural context, Byron's physical appearance manifested for Pushkin the Romantic conflict between light and darkness, body and soul—a conflict that was literally embodied in the English poet's controversial figure. The article argues that it is in this spiritual-odontological sense that Pushkin brushed his teeth à la Lord Byron. In other words, to become the Pushkin whom we know, the young poet tried to become Byron in flesh and spirit.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2165-0683
Print ISSN
1526-1476
Pages
pp. 85-105
Launched on MUSE
2020-01-09
Open Access
No
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