The Influence of N. M. Karamzin upon A. S. Pushkin's Conception of History

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This is a study of A. S. Pushkin’s conception of history and historical conflict in his tragedy, Boris Godunov (1825) and in his Oleg lyrics in conjunction with his adaptation and synthesis of the eighteenth-century Russian linguistic and literary tradition. It investigates the measure of the poet’s adherence to historical sources, such as N. M. Karamzin’s monolithic Istoriya gosudarstva Rossiiskogo (1816-26), Shakespearian tragedy, and the eighteenth-century Lomonosovian ode. This analysis of historico-philosophical and moral conflict in Boris Godunov – also considered in relationship to Pushkin’s lyrical poem, Mednyi vsadnik (1833) - demonstrates a parallel linguistic conflict, derived from the eighteenth-century Russian literary tradition. Paradoxically, this precipitates a major structural adaptation and synthesis of inherently dissimilar linguistic strands. Pushkin’s use of odic and Church Slavonic elements, historically stylized terminology, and colloquialisms is discussed as a means of illustrating his increasing success at achieving a synthesis of differing linguistic elements in accord with thematic and semantic dictates. Pushkin exposes the contradictory, insoluble nature of power conflict – with its ideological, historical, linguistic, and literary dimensions – perceived in both secular and spiritual planes, in terms of a polarization between the forces of order and disorder, the rational and the irrational. These dynamic clashes are seen as a feature of historical events and the forces of nature.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIV World Congress for Soviet and East European Studies
Place of PublicationHarrogate
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 1990
EventIV World Congress for Soviet and East European Studies - Harrogate, England
Duration: 21 Jul 1990 → …


ConferenceIV World Congress for Soviet and East European Studies
Period21/07/90 → …


  • A. S. Pushkin
  • historical conflict
  • Boris Godunov
  • Oleg lyrics
  • Madnyi vsadnik
  • The Bronze Horseman
  • Istoriya gosudarstva rossiiskogo
  • History of the Russian State
  • N. M. Karamzin
  • William Shakespeare
  • Lomonosov
  • ode
  • Church Slavonic
  • Russian literature
  • Russian history
  • and Russian historical linguistics
  • rational and irrational
  • order and disorder.


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