Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Poll Analyses
Share on Facebook 3 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
Life Arts   

How Pushkin Responded to Critics and Insults

By       (Page 1 of 1 pages) (View How Many People Read This)   2 comments
Author 518706
Message Russia Beyond
Become a Fan
  (1 fan)

This piece was reprinted by OpEdNews with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

By YULIA AFANASYENKO

Alexander Pushkin statue St Petersburg Russia.
Alexander Pushkin statue St Petersburg Russia.
(Image by Wikipedia (commons.wikimedia.org), Author: Prof-Declercq)
  Details   Source   DMCA

Pushkin received many biting remarks from his contemporaries, but he answered them with a lot of wit.

Critics and enviers never had mercy on writers. Today, we consider Alexander Pushkin to be one of the main Russian poets, yet some of the reviews of his contemporaries during his time were scathing and even insulting. In 1830, Pushkin wrote some notes to answer the reviews, where he admitted that he always respected the true critics and tried to enter their way of thinking, though usually he would fail.

The insults in the magazines, as Pushkin admitted, made him angry for a while, so their authors could be happy for achieving their goal. But in an article titled 'Experience of repelling some nonliterary accusations', Pushkin wrote that he felt ashamed to explain fundamental truths to disprove the unfair critics, however, the main reason he didn't respond to them was his laziness. The poet admitted he never got angry enough with the name-callers to make himself start disputing and trying to prove they were wrong. He even considered it to be a stupid pastime. Pushkin did, however, try to disprove some insults and critics.

Polemics with Nadezhdin

One of the critics who Puskin had conflicts with was Nikolay Nadezhdin, an ethnographer and publicist. In 1829, he published an article in the magazine 'Vestnik Evropy' ("Messenger of Europe") where he gave quite a rude review to Pushkin's poem 'Graf Nulin' ("Count Nulin"): "'Graf Nulin' is null!" Also, Nadezhdin described this work as "a soap bubble that shines charmingly with all the rainbow colors". Moreover, that year, the publicist criticized the poem titled 'Poltava' in the same magazine. The article was formed as a conversation of Nadezhdin with two other people. One of them said: "As I think, 'Poltava' had become a real Poltava for Pushkin! He was destined to experience the fate of Charles XII!" At the end of the article, Nadezhdin agreed with this character, saying: "Surely, the absolute praises have bored Alexander Sergeevich. Maybe, the voice of truth will be pleasant for him - just for variety!"

Pushkin couldn't bear that and answered with several epigrams. In one of them named 'Na Nadezhdina' ("To Nadezhdin"), he calls the publicist a "magazine clown" and "wily bondman" and addresses him: "Footman, stay in the servant's hall!" In another epigram called 'Malchishka Febu gimn podnes' ("Boy brought a hymn to Phoebus"), Nadezhdin is shown as a seminarian (the publicist really was a seminary graduate) who brings a "notebook of footman's dissertations" to Phoebus, the Greek god of sunlight and poetry. Phoebus dislikes the works of the seminarian and orders to have him beaten with sticks. Finally, the third epigram titled 'Sapozhnik (Pritcha)' ("Shoemaker (Paroemia)") tells about a shoemaker who tries to judge a painting, but the artist tells him not to criticize the painting's parts that are above the high boots. The paroemia's moral is addressed to Nadezhdin: Pushkin says the publicist tries to form an opinion on the whole world, but he should better simply judge the high boots. Despite these crude responses, Nadezhdin's attitude towards Pushkin became positive through time.

The conflict with Bulgarin

Many promonarchial critics hated Pushkin mainly for his political views. One of them was Faddey Bulgarin, a journalist and writer. In 1830, Bulgarin wrote a historical novel titled 'Dimitry Samozvanets' ("False Dmitry") about the Russian Time of Troubles. Soon, 'Literaturnaya Gazeta' ("Literature Newspaper") published an anonymous article that criticized the "empty characters" and "historical mistakes" in the novel. The article was actually written by Anton Delvig, a close friend of Pushkin, but Bulgarin suspected that Pushkin himself had written the article. Delvig noticed that the book's author was on the Polish side while he was describing the novel's events and supposed the reason was that Bulgarin was Polish himself (which was true). Bulgarin found this part of the article to be the most offensive.

Bulgarin decided to take revenge and published a feuilleton titled 'Anekdot' ("Anecdote") in his newspaper 'Severnaya Pchela' ("Northern bee"). There, Pushkin was allegorically shown as a French poet who "served eagerly to Bachus and Plutus" (Greek gods of winemaking and wealth) instead of the muses and whose heart was "a cold and mute being, like an oyster". Bulgarin was shown there as E. T. A. Hoffmann. And that totally dull poet blamed the great Hoffmann for not being a true Frenchman. Pushkin remembered this episode in his article 'Experience of repelling some nonliterary accusations', together with other cases that already couldn't be called literature critics and were just personal insults.

Pushkin wrote that getting angry once, he couldn't stop until he drained all his supplies of different insults and barbed remarks. In 1831, he hid his face with a mask of Feofilakt Kosichkin and published some articles signed in this name. One of them was 'Some words about a little finger of Mr. Bulgarin and others'. The thought put in the work's name refers to a phrase by Nikolay Grech, a co-editor and ally of Bulgarin: "In his (Bulgarin's) little finger there is much more wit and talent than in the heads of many of his critics." 'Kosichkin' wondered who Grech was trying to threaten with the mischievous little finger of Bulgarin. Pushkin named people one after another, until he understood that the finger was pointing at 'Kosichkin'. He blankly said none of the fingers in the world could frighten him, as any of his own could repay a thousandfold.

Pushkin had gone through many other insults and collisions with other critics, but it doesn't prevent us from appreciating all of his works, despite all the polemics of the past.

 

Interesting 1  
Rate It | View Ratings

Russia Beyond Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Russia Beyond is an international multimedia project operated by autonomous nonprofit organization “TV-Novosti”.

Since launching in 2007, our mission has always been to help the world better understand Russia. We are your (more...)
 

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

STAY IN THE KNOW
If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
Name
Email
   (Opens new browser window)
 

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

5 of Stalin's closest comrades - and what happened to them

How Russians have responded to new Covid-19 restrictions

How Pushkin Responded to Critics and Insults

How Leo Tolstoy spent his last days

Comments Image Post Article Comment and Rate This Article

These discussions are not moderated. We rely on users to police themselves, and flag inappropriate comments and behavior. In accordance with our Guidelines and Policies, we reserve the right to remove any post at any time for any reason, and will restrict access of registered users who repeatedly violate our terms.

  • OpEdNews welcomes lively, CIVIL discourse. Personal attacks and/or hate speech are not tolerated and may result in banning.
  • Comments should relate to the content above. Irrelevant, off-topic comments are a distraction, and will be removed.
  • By submitting this comment, you agree to all OpEdNews rules, guidelines and policies.
          

Comment Here:   


You can enter 2000 characters. To remove limit, please click here.

Please login or register. Afterwards, your comment will be published.
 

Username
Password

Forgot your password? Click here and we will send an email to the address you used when you registered.
First Name
Last Name

I am at least 16 years of age
(make sure username & password are filled in. Note that username must be an email address.)

2 people are discussing this page, with 2 comments  Post Comment


j dial

Become a Fan Follow Me on Twitter
(Member since Nov 9, 2009), 27 fans, 31 articles, 56 quicklinks, 456 comments (How many times has this commenter been recommended?)

"Politics is the entertainment arm of the military-industrial complex."
       -- Frank Zappa

Facebook Page Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

  New Content

Being a person of 'thin skin' myself, it's truly hard to imagine someone who after being criticized "always respected the true critics and tried to enter their way of thinking". Bravo!

Submitted on Friday, Nov 20, 2020 at 3:15:24 AM

Author 0
Add New Comment
  Recommend  (0+)
Flag This
Share Comment More Sharing          
Commenter Blocking?
Indent

Tom Curtis

Become a Fan
Author 62191
Follow Me on Twitter
(Member since Mar 29, 2011), 3 fans, 1 articles, 82 comments (How many times has this commenter been recommended?)

"Ignorance is the greatest evil."
       -- Tom Curtis

Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Reply to j dial:   New Content

I never knew that about you.

Submitted on Friday, Nov 20, 2020 at 8:33:33 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
  Recommend  (0+)
Flag This
Share Comment More Sharing          
Commenter Blocking?

 
Want to post your own comment on this Article? Post Comment