Visions of History: Chance and Certainty in A. S. Pushkin’s The Bronze Horseman and Boris Godunov

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBNpeer-review


    This paper advances the findings of Alexander Dolinin and Svetlana Evdokhimova relating to A. S. Pushkin’s view of history by advocating the significance of a combination of irrational with rational elements in charting history. In both Boris Godunov (1825) and The Bronze Horseman (1833), Pushkin (1799-1837) provides visions of history in which the forces of chance and certainty are key factors in determining the course of Russia’s rise to great power status. Influenced by Shakespearian tragedy and by N. M. Karamzin’s History of the Russian State (1816-26), in Boris Godunov he develops a concept of history as a dynamic, non-linear process, without a simple repetition of events. Using historicisms to link the past with the present, he recognizes the importance of narrative and the chronicler, on the one hand, and chance occurrences and historical coincidence, on the other. In The Bronze Horseman dialogue with the eighteenth-century odic tradition contributes to dual interpretations of the 1703 founding of St Petersburg. Socio-political and moral themes are reflected in the linguistic contrast of church slavonicisms with colloquial terminology. Arising from the clash between the determinedly hard elements of St Petersburg and the more anarchic, soft ones of the River Neva, the Bronze Horseman may also be perceived as, in part, a natural emblem as it bears traits of the tree of life, bringing to mind the myth of Perun, the Slavic storm-god. For Pushkin, neither the guilt-ridden Boris Godunov, nor the visionary Peter the Great, a figure of Napoleonic volition, is able to impose the certainty of reason on chance occurrences without releasing a natural backlash arising from Russia’s mythical past and the haphazard pattern inherent in historical unpredictability.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the ICCEES IX World Congress 2015
    Place of PublicationMakuhari, Japan
    PublisherKanda University of International Studies
    Number of pages1
    Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2015
    EventProceedings of the ICCEES IX World Congress 2015 - Kanda University of International Studies, Makuhari, Japan, 3-8 Aug 2015
    Duration: 4 Aug 2015 → …


    ConferenceProceedings of the ICCEES IX World Congress 2015
    Period4/08/15 → …


    Dive into the research topics of 'Visions of History: Chance and Certainty in A. S. Pushkin’s The Bronze Horseman and Boris Godunov'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this