Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
ISBN: 9781681375991
Pages: 208
Publication Date: March 29, 2022

Peter the Great's AfricanExperiments in Prose

by Alexander Pushkin, translated from the Russian by Robert Chandler, Elizabeth Chandler, and Boris Dralyuk, edited and with an afterword by Robert Chandler

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An NYRB Classics Original

This volume presents Alexander Pushkin at his most questioning and experimental. “Peter the Great’s African” is his first attempt at representing the man he saw as the most important of all Russian tsars. Here Pushkin presents him from the perspective of Pushkin’s maternal great-grandfather, a former African slave whom Peter the Great educated and made into one of his closest confidants. Pushkin’s central concern in this story is the success or failure of Peter’s attempt to refashion his vast, archaic empire and turn it into an integral part of Europe. “The History of the Village of Goriukhino”—one of Pushkin’s wittiest works—shows him grappling, through parody and self-parody, with the question of what it means to write history. It points the way toward the serious, archivally based historical works to which Pushkin dedicated several of his last years. “Dubrovsky” is both a gripping adventure story and a vivid picture of provincial Russia in the late eighteenth century, with its simmering class conflicts ready to explode in violence. And “The Egyptian Nights” is an examination, in both prose and poetry, of questions of the deepest importance to Pushkin: from the nature of artistic inspiration to the problem of the poet’s place in a rapidly changing and ever more commercialized society. These unfinished works are as remarkable as Pushkin’s one completed novel, The Captain’s Daughter—of interest both in their own right and for the insight they allow us into the poet’s creative laboratory.