Dynamic Conflict in Alexander Pushkin’s Boris Godunov and The Bronze Horseman

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Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837) deals with crucial turning-points in the rise of Russia in Boris Godunov (1825) and The Bronze Horseman (1833). In the former he is influenced not only by Shakespearian drama, but also by N. M. Karamzin’s History of the Russian State (1816-26). Without simply recreating Russia’s past, he challenges the ideas of the Enlightenment and the Romantic Movement, identifying rational and irrational forces at work and linking the present with the past through the use of historicisms. In The Bronze Horseman he combines two different interpretations of the founding of St Petersburg in 1703, launching a dialogue with the eighteenth-century odic tradition from which he liberates modern Russian literature. As in Boris Godunov, a measured blend of church slavonicisms and colloquialisms provides a parallel linguistic contrast, mirroring socio-political and moral themes. Dynamic conflict between the rational and the irrational is considered inherent in historical events and the forces of nature. In The Bronze Horseman it is symbolized by a clash between the hard elements of St Petersburg and the soft ones of the River Neva. The guilt-ridden Boris Godunov and the visionary Peter the Great, a man of Napoleonic volition, are unable to impose reason on a world of disorder without unleashing the unpredictable, irrational, elemental forces which they seek to quell. In the ensuing struggle for survival either one loses one’s way and goes mad, like Evgeny in The Bronze Horseman, or one conquers, like the paranoid Boris Godunov, the imaginative Peter the Great, and, indeed, the resourceful Pushkin himself.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNew UK Research in C19 Russian Literature Symposium
Place of PublicationCambridge
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2014
EventNew UK Research in C19 Russian Literature Symposium - Darwin College, Cambridge, 1 February 2014
Duration: 1 Feb 2014 → …


ConferenceNew UK Research in C19 Russian Literature Symposium
Period1/02/14 → …

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