Historical conflict in A.S. Pushkin’s Early Lyrics. (A.S. Pushkin: K voprosu istoricheskogo konflikta')

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Depiction of historical conflict by A. S. Pushkin (1799-1837) is not confined to Boris Godunov (1825) and The Bronze Horseman (1833) but also plays a significant role in his pre-1820 lyrical works where he also assumes a critical approach towards autocracy. In ‘Derevnya’ (1819) he refers to the immorality of serfdom, calling for its replacement by enlightened government. In ‘K Litsiniyu (s latinskogo)’ (1815) he cherishes liberty - for which the Romans had once stood – but views the growth of power as a prime cause of slavery. In parallel, the Decembrists – like Nikolai Karamzin (1766-1826) in some respects - idealized ancient Russia, ignoring its contradictions. In ‘Zametki po russkoi istorii XVIII veka’ (1822) Peter the Great (1672-1725) is seen as a despot, akin to Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821). Pushkin’s attitude to the notion of freedom is complex, for he idealizes neither anarchism, nor violent political revolt as providing a justifiable solution to the dilemma of power. In ‘Vol’nost’’ (1817) he recognizes a ruler’s authority, but emphasizes the moral code of the Law. In ‘André Chénier’ (1825) he laments the death of this French poet (1762-94) who, cherishing the ideal of freedom, had welcomed the French Revolution of 1789 - only to fall victim of Maximilien Robespierre (1758-94) and his Reign of Terror (1793-94). Pushkin’s conception of Napoleon is not dissimilar to his treatment of Peter the Great whom he likens to Robespierre. In ‘Napoleon’ (1821) he depicts Bonaparte as not only a great leader, but also as a tyrant and the murderer of freedom, with a dictatorship which drew its strength from the usurpation of power. Indeed, Napoleon is described as a false symbol of freedom in ‘K Moryu’ (1824). For Pushkin, should the natural or moral laws be transgressed, only calamity can result.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-7
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009

Bibliographical note

This article is written in Russian and its titles on the repository are an English translation and transliteration of the Russian original.


  • A. S. Pushkin
  • historical conflict
  • Boris Godunov
  • The Bronze Horseman
  • early lyrics
  • nineteenth-century Russian literature
  • Napoleon Bonaparte
  • 'Napoleon'
  • 'Freedom'
  • Byron
  • French Revolution
  • Robespierre
  • 'Andre Chenier'
  • Karamzin
  • eighteenth-century Russian literature
  • Catherine the Great
  • Peter the Great
  • 'Notes on Eighteenth-Century Russian History'
  • 'Derevnya
  • 'K Litsiniyu'
  • Russian literature
  • the Decembrists
  • ancient Russia
  • ancient Rome
  • the Romans
  • 'Zametki po russkoi istorii XVIII veka'
  • 'Volnost'
  • moral code
  • the Law
  • French poetry
  • Reign of Terror
  • 'K Moryu'
  • 'To the Sea'
  • freedom
  • trangression of natural and moral laws.


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