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Golden Age of Russian Poetry
October 22, 2008 15:59

The sparkling term Golden Age is referred to the first half, or to be more exact, the first forty years of the 19th century. This period is remarkable for an unprecedented upsurge of creativity illuminated by the genius of Alexander Pushkin. It was the poetry of the early 19th century that turned to be the impetus, which still goes on driving Russian literature forth.

The creations by genius poets of that epoch till date remain peerless masterpieces of classic literature, the paragons of highest poetic skill and splendid examples of the greatness of the Russian language.

Later, in the second part of the 19th century, Russian novel literature thrived on political and social ferment and the brewing changes on a great scale. Once and forever it granted us with the perennial lines by the great pillars of the Russian novel, such as Ivan Turgenev and Ivan Goncharov, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Leo Tolstoy. Thus the 19th century came to be clearly and indisputably perceived as the Golden Age of Russian literature, which later in quite a natural way engendered the no less notable and no less gifted Silver Age.

Going back to the Golden Age poetry, one should note that parallel to Pushkin the wealth of Russian poetry was supplemented by the so-called “second part” poets, almost all of them friends and mates of Alexander Pushkin, many of them studying with him in the famous Imperial Lyceum in Tsarskoe Selo near Saint Petersburg. Though their names are rather well-known, Pushkin had no match, regarding the power of his works, their emotional content and meaning. Probably this is why literary critics and following them ordinary readers put those bright young poets together as a galaxy, the so-called “Pushkin’s pleiad”. Later that circle of like-minded allies was separated and fractured by different ideas and that future, which every one of those talented people pictured as the best for their beloved Russia.

Yet, the Golden Age of Russian poetry stands not only for the poets of “Pushkin’s pleiad”. Among Pushkin’s contemporaries there were a few truly great poets.

 Alexander Griboyedov

Poet, playwright, composer and diplomat Alexander Sergeyevich Griboyedov (1795-1829) was one of them. Ironically, his only fully extant poetic work Woe from Wit (origonal Russian title: "Gore ot uma") outshone all the other creations by the poet. The witty verse comedy was at once caught up by thousands of people’s tongues and torn apart into quotations, sayings, phrases and winged words. The fact, however, did not mar its splendour but on the contrary provided its immortality.

 Afanasy Fet

Another genius poet was Afanasy Afanasievich Fet (Shenshin) (1820-1892). Throughout all his life he was into writing poetry. His poems introduce us to a peculiar realm of a lyricist with a subtle soul enveloped into the tragedy of existence. His poems were highly estimated by the well-known literary critic Belinsky, who ranked him on a par with the splendid “Russian Byron”, i.e. Mikhail Lermontov. Fet’s lyrical poetry is extremely piercing and melancholy, imbued with tints of sadness and tragedy. Most beautiful pieces of Fet’s poetry are touched with some wistful haze. The author comprehends the beauty of the world from two sides, the outer one, which is inspired by charms of native nature, and the inner one, love being its major incentive.

Fyodor Tyutchev

Fyodor Ivanovich Tyutchev (1803-1873). In the course of his long life the poet wrote only about 300 verses, yet his genius fully manifested itself in them. A disciple and follower of Pushkin and himself a teacher for the following generation of poets, Tyutchev created wonderful paragons of philosophical lyrical poetry. His verses are full of sublime beauty and penetrated with reflections on the essence of being. It is interesting to note that Fyodor Ivanovich, who hardly ever used the Russian language in his everyday life and wrote his essays only in French, composed poems exclusively in Russian. His verse Silentium about the impossibility to express thought with a human language, including the Russian one, seems to disprove his thesis. In spite of his critical and even somewhat negligent attitude to his own creations Tyutchev’s lyrical poetry still represents a grand example of the Golden Age of Russian poetry.

 Mikhail Lermontov

Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov (1814-1841). Just like Griboyedov and Pushkin he left this world too early. Yet, within his short span of life Lermontov managed to create such characters and images that became the cornerstones in development of Russian literature. Lermontov’s demonic and rebellious spirit striving for truth and freedom rushes, after his characters, to the far away realms and looks into the future. When reading Lermontov’s poetry one cannot merely enjoy it, because his poems make one think and suffer, search and find.

Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin is, undoubtedly, "our everything", so to say! Pushkin is harmony itself, perfection itself. The extremely talented descendant of Peter the Great’s blackamoor and Russian in his heart, the wideness of his soul, in his blood and education, Alexander Sergeyevich became an incontestable authority for his contemporaries already. He is so different, so unalterably beautiful, and so sincere in every moment of his existence! Even in his political verses he contrived to use his lyrical gift and uplift the courageous ideas to unusual heights with the power of his talent. He, who set up his own monument, who celebrated love and beauty, was a true leader, teacher and an ambassador between the centuries.

 Alexander Pushkin

Alexander Pushkin is unanimously acknowledged as the greatest Russian poet, his works considered the foremost paragons of Russian literature, their status similar to that of writings by Dante in Italy or by Goethe in Germany. He can be called the founder of the Russian literature, and even the modern Russian language originates from his works.

Already in Pushkin’s lifetime he was publicly titled a genius. From the late 1820s he came to be called “the first Russian poet”, a real cult created by readers around his personality.

His most famous works include the verse novel Eugene Onegin, the novel The Captain's daughter, the short stories The Tales of the Late Ivan Petrovich Belkin and The Queen of Spades, and dramas The Little Tragedies, Boris Godunov, and Mozart and Salieri, to name but a few. He is also the author of numerous poems and tales in verse.

In various cities of the former Russian Empire and the Soviet Union there are lots of Pushkin monuments and streets. Minor planet 2208 is named after Alexander Pushkin.


Tags: Russian Literature Russian Poets Golden Age of Russian Poetry Russian Classics  

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