Donald Rayfield

Prince of Poets

Brief Lives: Alexander Pushkin

By

Hesperus Press 152pp £8.99 order from our bookshop

This life of Pushkin is brief indeed, from the publisher’s as well as the subject’s point of view. But the book has all the essential facts and the sober yet affectionate objectivity of T J Binyon’s biography of 2002 (which was six times longer). Robert Chandler also has the advantage over Binyon in persuading a non-Russian of Pushkin’s genius by quoting new translations, in particular Stanley Mitchell’s Eugene Onegin, undoubtedly the first major work in verse by Pushkin to have found an English translator of comparable ability. The bicentenary of Pushkin’s birth ten years ago failed to overcome Western readers’ dismay, to put it in Flaubert’s words, ‘qu’il est plat, votre poète national!’ Gradually, Mitchell, Antony Wood and Chandler himself are building up a critical mass of translation which will leave the reader in no doubt that Pushkin is a poet with the intellect of Voltaire and the lyrical vision of Keats.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'One of the reasons for its longevity is that it has virtually nothing to say about science and technology at all,… ,
    • 'The characters in many of these stories are trapped in the obsessive present tense of their own thoughts; in the m… ,
    • 'Libraries, for much of their existence, have embodied in microcosm many of the characteristics of the totalitarian… ,
    • 'Moss and Cynthia buy several properties through which to launder their ill-gotten gains, take lots of drugs, have… ,
    • 'Never mind the imperial cult. This is the cult of Boris. What happened to Rome?' From the LR archive:… ,
    • Thirty-two years ago this month, we published Muriel Spark's short story, 'A Playhouse Called Remarkable' Read it… ,
    • Time travel, bicycles and white horses populate @WomackPhilip's roundup of children's books by @marcussedgwick,… ,