P is for Pushkin

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This tiny lacquer box from Mstera (2″ wide) illustrates The Tale of the Dead Princess, or The Princess and the Seven Bogatyrs. Unlike Pushkin’s other tales, it was not previously a Russian classic, but rather the Grimm’s Snow White retold by a consummate writer. Now, Russians claim it as their own!




Like Browning or Spenser, Longfellow or Poe, Russian poet Alexander Pushkin created a body of narrative poetry. He drew from the Russian Wonder Tales, setting them in the more “academically respectable” form of poetry and paving the way for the high art of opera by Rimsky-Korsakov and others. Look for Tsar Saltan, The Golden Cockerel, Ruslan and Ludmilla, Tale of the Dead Princess, Fisherman and the Golden Fish . . .

I often introduce Russian folktales with imagery from Pushkin’s evocative Prologue to Ruslan and Ludmilla, spoken in prose: “By the shores of a bay, there is a green oak tree . . .

Not to be pushy, but here are some Pushkin books you might like:

Lowenfeld, Julian Henry, author and translator, My Talisman: The Poetry and Life of Alexander Pushkin (English and Russian Edition). Green Lamp Press, 2010.

Pushkin, A.  S., Pushkin’s Fairy Tales. P-2, 2007.

Pushkin, Alexander Sergeyevitch Pushkin, Collected Narrative and Lyrical Poetry, translated by Walter Arndt. Overlook TP, 2009

4 responses

  1. My sophomores struggled with Pushkin. Stopping by from A-Z. Interesting and insightful post.

  2. My sophomores found it hard to understand Pushkin’s “The Bridegroom” but found it quite clear after listening to Dan Keding’s “Mr. Fox” on CD. The background of stories is vital to appreciating literature’s many metaphors.