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Russian Literature, Thesis Paper Example

Pages: 101

Words: 27881

Thesis Paper


This dissertation presents the analytical overview of the figure of Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin as seen by two fundamentally different writers and thinkers– Dostoyevsky and Turgenev. The 19th century was characterized by intense ideological tensions regarding the pathway that Russia should follow in its development, tensions which were manifested in the division between Slavophiles and Westernizers. Turgenev was a prominent representative of the Westernizers who believed that Russia should follow the example of the Western states, and become a democratic modern state. Dostoyevsky was a representative of “pochvenniki”, the subgroup of Slavophiles who attributed an important role to Russia’s exploration of authenticity, and believed that the country should follow its own unique prophetic path in Europe, distinguishing itself from the West. Pushkin was widely considered a symbol of the Russian nation, “narod”, and was regarded as the creator of the Russian literary language, typical Russian characters in literature, and the modern literature itself. Hence, Turgenev and Dostoyevsky’s views on Pushkin and on the role of his work for the Russian culture, indeed, for the nation itself, serve as a convincing illustration of their own ideological views and of Pushkin’s contribution. This dissertation aims at comparing and analyzing these views from the perspectives of Dostoyevsky and Turgenev’s speeches at the unveiling of the Pushkin monument in Moscow in 1880.

Pushkin’s Legacy: The Dostoyevsky-Turgenev Debate


The 19th century was marked by the introduction of realism in the Russian literature with the emergence being stimulated by the socio-political liberalization introduced by Alexander II, and the urge towards unity with the Russian folk expressed by the upper-class lords. In the literary and historical understanding, realism can be defined as the literary trend dedicated to the reflection of surrounding reality in its most typical manifestations (Danilov, 2011). Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin is amongst the innovators of Russian realism, as evidenced in his novel in verse Evgeni Onegin, although some other works, such as Boris Godunov, The Bronze Horseman, and The Captain’s Daughter are referred to within the realist trend as well. One can accept that the introduction of realism and its quick, strong, and comprehensive success were heralded by Pushkin’s literary works (Sandler, 2004).  As noted by Persky (2010), though there are many features of Romanticism in Pushkin’s Evgeni Onegin, there are still the evident roots of realism deeply embedded in the depiction of the Russian society from the early 19th century.  As a heralded realist, Pushkin’s writings were regarded as the new literary stream, which was substantiated by the full-scale transfer to realism in the second half of the 19th century.

The literary and socio-ideological change towards realism has been marked by an intensified interest of thinkers, writers, and educators regarding the path Russia had to follow in order to develop and evolve.  This issue stirred many controversies, and marked the fundamental divide in the critical thought of the 19th century, whereas Westernizers were the educated thinkers of the upper-class Russian society who traveled, watched the process of European development, and saw the Russian destiny as analogous to that of Europe.  Contrarily, Slavophiles and ‘pochvenniki’ (meaning ‘men of the soil’) were the conservative, pro-national thinkers who saw the unique role of the Russian nation in the global development as the peace-maker, enlightener, and reformer.  Romantic and deeply in love with their country, Slavophiles were driven by their patriotism, expressed through their desire to protect Russia’s values and uniqueness, particularly where religion and traditions were concerned.  In this manner, these debates informed the social, cultural, literary, and political discourse of the period since it was reflected in the writings of the most prominent figures in this era. Pushkin’s persona and his contribution to the development of Russian literature as well as Russian critical thought were also approached from various angles, meaning that his legacy was subject to varying interpretations and perspectives.  This has resulted in the development of the major controversy in the analysis of Pushkin’s role in the progress of Russian literature.

Before analyzing the views about Pushkin held by Dostoyevsky and Turgenev, one has to consider the history of the Russian struggle to overthrow tyranny and oppression as well as the nature of the Slavophile-Westernizer debate that divided the Russian thinkers, writers, and activists in the middle of the 19th century.  Research has indicated that the debate emerged with the publication of the Philosophical Letter by Peter Chaadaev in 1829, during a time in which Russia was seen as being stuck between Asia and Europe, although nothing was given to any of these parts of the world (Sidorova & Sidorov, 2011).  According to Westernizers, the path of catching up with Europe necessitated the adoption of the constitutional model of government as well as socio-political reforms (Sidorova & Sidorov, 2011).

Slavophiles maintained the position that Russia had a unique historical path of national development, contending that the nation’s modernization process should involve specific socio-political reforms. They were against the formal limitations of monarchial reign, adhering to the belief in the old “zemsky sobor” (meaning “assembly of the land”) meetings for public discussions of political and social events (Sidorova & Sidorov, 2011). Although Slavophiles believed in the God-given power of monarchs, they demanded freedom of speech and of opinion for common people.  Despite public perception of Dostoyevsky as the representative of Slavophiles, it has been noted that he was more of a “pochvennik” than a Slavophile (Frank, 2009).

The “pochvennichestvo” movement as a socio-political thought gained force due to the publications Vremya and Epokha edited by Dostoyevsky and his brother, Mikhail. The key ideas voiced by “pochvenniki” involved the dominance of the morality problem over the political and social tensions in Russia (Sidorova & Sidorov, 2011).  Essentially, the “pochvenniki” criticized the Western lifestyle for their cruel exploitation of the workers, and for the superficiality of their spiritual interests; however, their opinions concerning Russia’s path of development can be seen as more inclined towards the West than that of the Slavophiles. “Pochvenniki” believed that the “Russian soul” can encompass both Western progress, including science, technology, culture, and educational advancements, while retaining the authentic national identity and the best qualities of the Russian folk, such as sincere faith, unity of classes and openness and breadth of the “Russian soul” (Sidorova & Sidorov, 2011, p. 205).

Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky and Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev belonged to rival trends, and their views on the future of the Russian nation differed tremendously. The extreme differences in the philosophical perspectives of these two Russian icons have produced the common regard of the nature of their debate as a fundamental socio-ideological divide between pro-Western and pro-national thought. They were among the brightest representatives of the conflicting parties, specifically “pochvenniki” Slavophiles and Westernizers, so their opinions about Pushkin’s heritage can provide a deeper insight into the real nature of the critical debate of the time, and give an in-depth understanding of Pushkin’s comprehensive contribution to the Russian culture. The present dissertation analyzes the debate concerning the historical reception of the work of Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin analyzed through the conflicting perspective opinions of Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky and Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev.


The fundamental differences in the position of Dostoyevsky and Turgenev on the subject of the Russian nation’s destiny have been manifested in the writers’ lifelong activity, opinions, and works. However, the Dostoyevsky-Turgenev debate entails two unique visions of Pushkin’s enormous legacy, most accurately presented at the Pushkin celebration of 1880, where Turgenev and Dostoyevsky were both keynote speakers. The unveiling of Pushkin’s monument in Moscow on June 6, 1880 was an event arranged on public funds.  The monument was the work of Opekushkin, a talented sculptor of that time who had won the right to create it.  The unveiling of the monument took place with the presence of state authorities and a great number of intelligentsia representatives, including Westernizers and Slavophiles such as Fedor Dostoyevsky, Ivan Turgenev, Alexander Ostrovsky, Ivan Aksakov, Nikolai Strakhov, Mikhail Katkov, among others (Levitt 1989).  It was at this event that Turgenev and Dostoyevsky offered radically different interpretations of Pushkin’s legacy in their addresses, which justifies the focus of the present dissertation on the event as a fundamental source for understanding the positions of the two thinkers.

Dostoyevsky saw Pushkin as a “prophet” emphasizing that Pushkin denoted a profoundly Russian character and genius, one that was consistent with Russia’s Eastern Christian Orthodox heritage.  Thus, for Dostoyevsky, Pushkin was both a particular and a universal historical phenomenon.  Pushkin emerged in the particular context of Russia, being at the same time the representative of the Russian Orthodox tradition, and bearing a universal dimension through his work.  In this context, Dostoyevsky interpreted Orthodoxy as the only possibility for the unity and brotherhood of the entire Russian people, and perceived nationalistic direction as the only one which made sense in the context of the then-current conflicts based upon Christian love and compassion (Persky, 2010). The speech delivered by Fyodor Dostoyevsky is considered to be the apotheosis of Pushkin’s days. Many years later, it is said to influence the attitude to the poet in the Soviet times, and marked the era of the cult of Pushkin (Condee, 1995).

Another notable address was delivered by Ivan Turgenev. Turgenev, in his turn, linked Pushkin to the general flourishing of national consciousness that took place during this era, coupled with the view that Pushkin embodied the ideals of Enlightenment. Consequently, Turgenev’s approach considered that Pushkin was Russia’s first truly European intellectual.  Pushkin’s works bring Russia closer to Europe. This view reflects Turgenev’s aspirations as an artist who initially considered himself a writer, and then an educator. However, Turgenev attacked the system of repression in such works as Fathers and Sons or Smoke, and targeted the depiction of “new men” as soon as the revolutionary thinkers emerged at the heart of the Russian society (Persky, 2010, p. 13).

Problem Statement

The role of Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin can hardly be overestimated since his literary and cultural heritage has stimulated the majority of ground-breaking changes and reforms in the upper echelons of Russian society.  Pushkin was a herald of change, and his attention to ordinary people in works such as Peter the Great’s Negro, Eugene Onegin, The Captain’s Daughter, Boris Godunov, and Ruslan and Ludmila revealed the beginning of the new era of literature being intimately connected with larger socio-cultural and political realities (Merriman, 2006). Additionally, Pushkin’s The Queen of Spades, History of the Pugachev Rebellion, and The Daughter of the Commandant (1836) are historical pieces based on the peasant uprising of 1773-1775 (Merriman, 2006).  While Pushkin is credited with creating the foundations for the beginnings of the Russian realism in literature, Turgenev and Dostoyevsky are considered two of the most outstanding representatives of this trend. Their views, in respect to Pushkin’s legacy, were explicated most sharply during the unveiling of the Pushkin monument in 1880, and the speeches they delivered represent valuable material for the analysis of their critical standpoints.  In view of the above, there is a need to produce an in-depth analysis of Dostoyevsky and Turgenev’s speeches at the Pushkin memorial celebration of 1880.  The texts of their address are crucial in the context of the research problem, namely, the assessment of Pushkin’s literary heritage for the development of Russian realism from the perspective of Dostoyevsky and Turgenev.  Pushkin’s works also need to be considered, insofar as both of these addresses can be viewed as variants of literary criticism and interpretation of Pushkin’s work. Furthermore, Dostoyevsky’s and Turgenev’s views fall within the general distinction between Westernism and Slavophilism. Thus, the researched problem is not only indicative of an academic context, in which the literary merits of an author may be debated, but also evinces a greater political context, in which the two prominent novelists’ respective positions represent two kinds of thought  in the 19th-century Russia.

Much of the relevant academic literature in the English language has emphasized the political aspect of this debate, noting that the two sides represented two opposite political movements. For example, Marcus C. Levitt’s Russian Literary Politics and the Pushkin Celebration of 1880, examines, as the title suggests, the Pushkin memorial in a dual literary-political context. However, the existing scholarship has not taken into account the content of this debate outside of its political implications. Critics most often analysed Turgenev and Dostoyevsky’s words with the goal of understanding the legitimacy of their respective claims. The explanation for such a narrow interpretation can be attributed to problems with the analysts’ interpretations of inconsistencies or lack of accuracy in the methodology as well as the necessary heterogeneity of literary criticism and interpretation.  Often, the authors made an attempt to argue in favour of either Turgenev or Dostoyevsky as offering the correct image of Pushkin, which would be an obvious transgression of some of the fundamental problems of hermeneutics.

Objective of the Study

The primary objective of the study in the present dissertation is to examine the conflicting message conveyed in the addresses made by Turgenev and Dostoyevsky at the Pushkin memorial ceremony, in which they expressed their individual impressions in respect of the role and image of Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin in the Russian realist movement of the 19th century.   Although much has changed regarding public opinion regarding Pushkin’s impact on Russian literature, the differences in the views of these two distinguished representatives of realism, Dostoyevsky and Turgenev, have impacted the pubic interpretations of Pushkin’s overall contribution to the development of Russian literature. Both being realist writers, they represented two conflicting groups of the Russian intellectual society, Dostoyevky being a “pochvennik” and a Slavophile to a certain extent, and Turgenev being a dedicated Westernizer. Therefore, their views reflect not only Pushkin’s multi-faceted role in the evolution of Russian thought, but also the major divide in the ideological thinking regarding the course of Russia’s progress.

In addition, Pushkin’s literary style, and the images he used in his works influenced both Dostoyevsky and Turgenev’s own writings. The nature of this impact also represents the object of the present study. By analyzing character typology in the works of these three authors, this study aims to identify the underlying philosophies that governed the development of Dostoyevsky and Turgenev as writers and as thinkers. The present analysis will provide additional discussion material for the origins of their political and ideological stance and the development of their perspectives regarding Pushkin’s role and his legacy.

Goals of the Study

This dissertation attempts to examine the reasons behind the Dostoyevsky-Turgenev debate, studying the key tenets underlying both writers’ interpretations. Their ideas will be then traced back to their possible original sources in Pushkin’s work. However, since the political context of the 19th century Russia had a profound impact on both Dostoyevsky and Turgenev’s writings, there is a need to provide a brief overview of tensions between the Slavophile and Western-oriented thinkers in Russia, particularly in terms of how they appropriate Pushkin’s work to produce evidence for their respective claims.

Consequently, this analysis will compare and juxtapose Dostoyevsky’s and Turgenev’s views on Pushkin.  Inasmuch, this study also aims to inquire whether such interpretations can be viewed as reducing the artist and his work to a particular ideological or historical framework. Conducting such an assessment the researcher aims to demonstrate that these interpretations can be understood in artistic terms, and not purely in the political context of the age.  In this respect, Turgenev and Dostoyevsky can be interpreted as utilizing Pushkin’s works as a template for the construct of their fictional characters and the depth of Pushkin’s influence is reflected in the contents of their respective addresses.  This entails that the particular interpretations regarding Pushkin advanced by Dostoyevsky and Turgenev can be viewed as extensions of characters from those writers’ own novels.

The hypotheses to be tested involve looking at Dostoyevsky and Turgenev’s interpretations with the intent of unravelling the logic underlying their respective claims. The contribution of this dissertation can be viewed as (1) an evaluation of Pushkin’s reception according to both political/ideological and artistic theories in the respect that the figure of Pushkin can be considered as support for a certain political/ideological stance, (2) an examination of the extent to which Pushkin may be understood as becoming a fictional character himself in the debate between Dostoyevsky  and Turgenev, a character consistent with the literary figures within both authors’ works.

Proposed Methodology

In order to reach the goals set above, the research will follow the three main methodological steps. Firstly, it is necessary to recapitulate the respective positions held by Dostoyevsky and Turgenev. Secondly, the speeches delivered by Dostoyevsky and Turgenev at the 1880 Pushkin celebration will be examined and compared. Thirdly, the reception of these speeches in the scholarly literature will be considered.

In recapitulating Dostoyevsky and Turgenev’s speeches, the researcher will emphasize their beliefs in order to expose the unique personal and political context from which each writer approached their interpretation of Pushkin and his work.  Since the analyses presented by Dostoyevsky and Turgenev approached Pushkin as a writer approaching another writer, it could easily be argued that Pushkin represents not only a political figure, but also a literary character that embodies their respective world-views. Pushkin’s perspective is considered to be shared by the lower echelons of Russian society, as depicted in characters such as Raskolnikov in Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, and Bazarov in Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons.  In essence, through the close analysis of their respective speeches, there is an opportunity to read these texts as if Pushkin were a character in one of their novels.

In order to evaluate the validity of Dostoyevsky and Turgenev’s claims concerning Pushkin, one must refer to Pushkin’s work itself. The paramount methodological problem in this regard will therefore be hermeneutic: Pushkin needs to be interpreted through Dostoyevsky and Turgenev’s eyes, which already presupposes a second hermeneutic tension involving understanding not only Pushkin, but also Dostoyevsky and Turgenev. In this regard, the chosen methodology will concentrate on some key motifs in the speeches delivered by Dostoyevsky and Turgenev during the celebrations at the unveiling of the monument dedicated to Pushkin, and then attempt to find these motifs in the works of Pushkin himself. Of particular importance, in this regard, are the precise textual references to Pushkin that can be identified in their respective speeches, for instance Dostoyevsky’s references to Pushkin’s works The Gypsies, Evgeni Onegin, and The Bear, and Turgenev’s references only to Evgeni Onegin.

Thus, the analysis presented in this study intends to demonstrate the different attitudes to Pushkin that both Russian classic writers make evident.  Based on the analysis of Turgenev’s and Dostoyevsky’s speeches, the researcher will be able to identify the dissimilarity in their approaches, not only in terms of the texts they mention, but also of the particular texts they consider significant.  However, this will limit the range of Pushkin’s works selected for examination by approaching only those that are mentioned by Turgenev and Dostoyevsky.  In this context, this means that the proposed methodology confers profundity to Dostoyevsky and Turgenev’s interpretations and uses them as guiding threads in the exploration of Pushkin’s work.  By framing the problem as described above, the present dissertation will strive to utilize the secondary sources in a rigorous manner. More exactly, the focus will be placed upon texts that directly address Dostoyevsky and Turgenev’s considerations of Pushkin, and discuss the Pushkin celebration in general. This methodology will ensure the relevancy of the literature without compromising the rigour of the scholarly investigation.

Significance of the Study

The present dissertation enriches the existing literature by adding an attempt at interpretation of the Turgenev-Dostoyevsky debate, which is not extensively covered in Anglophone texts.  Moreover, there is an evident gap in the existing academic literature regarding Turgenev and Dostoyevsky’s approaches to the interpretation of Pushkin’s literary characters, and their enrichment and interpretations in these authors’ works.  While other studies on the same topic were already conducted, the present dissertation provides an additional perspective of the close relation that characterizes literary work, ideological propaganda, cultural and political development, and the national context of the 19th-century Russia.  Placing Pushkin as a central object of research, the present dissertation presents an interpretation of his symbolic and human value through the prism of the cultural and socio-political change.  This approach provides an enriched and comprehensive view of the literary activity and political context in Russia during the period of literary realism, and of Pushkin’s legacy, as reflected in further endeavours of Russian thinkers and writers.

Organization of the Study

This introduction has presented the nature of the problem set for the investigation for this dissertation.  It also provided relevant data on the nature of the Dostoyevsky-Turgenev positions as well as the underlying political and ideological currents that fuelled the debate.

Chapter I will present a historical examination of the political nature of oppression in Russia as well as the analysis of the historical and socio-cultural context of late 19th century when the debate took place. The context of unveiling the Pushkin memorial, the events that preceded and followed the event, and the socio-political context in which the event took place are examined in some detail as well. The relevant political context of the development of realism as a literary movement which, was characterized by the rule of Alexander II and Nicholas II, is discussed because of its impact on the formation of the chief ideological and philosophical trends against the background of the political reforms and their curbing by the Imperial authorities in Russia.

Chapter II is dedicated to the analysis of Turgenev’s view on Pushkin In this chapter, the analysis of Turgenev’s speech at the unveiling of the Pushkin memorial in 1880 is provided, and the importance that he attributes to Pushkin in deciding the future destiny of the Russian nation is discussed. Particular attention is given to Turgenev’s references to Pushkin in his works. In this section, Turgenev’s general interpretation of Pushkin and the influence of the latter upon Turgenev’s literary and ideological ideas are analysed.

Chapter III follows the method and approach of Chapter II, as attention is given to Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s commentary on Pushkin and to Dostoyevsky’s socio-political beliefs which were impacted by Pushkin’s legacy. His references to Pushkin’s texts will be examined in this respect.

Chapter IV is dedicated to the examination of the hypothesis that in their respective speeches, Dostoyevsky and Turgenev were inspired by Pushkin writing style as a model for the development of the characters in their own works.  A comparison between the traits Dostoyevsky demonstrates can be attributed to Pushkin, as can the traits of major characters in Turgenv’s works.  Also, a preliminary study of typical characters in Turgenev’s works is followed by a comparison between the traits Turgenev bestows upon Pushkin in his speech.

These three chapters present the analysis that helps the researcher to elucidate the perspective from which Turgenev and Dostoyevsky approach Pushkin as a person and as a symbol, by blending the unique features of his character demonstrated through his work.

The conclusion summarizes the findings that have been made in the course of this study and reconfirm the thesis statement of the work. The goal of the present dissertation was to prove a wider understanding of the role of Pushkin as not only the inspirer, but also a fictional character providing sources for Dostoyevsky’s and Turgenev’s characters. The reference to the discussed literary works and insights gained from the examination of a variety of secondary sources will strengthen the argument of the present research. This section will also present general conclusions concerning the role of Pushkin as a historical figure in addition to the role of his works in the emergence and formation of Russian realism.   Summarily, assessments regarding the development of both Slavophiles and Westernisers’ perceptions of Russian life will be drawn.

Chapter I

Historic Examination of Oppression in Russia

Alexander Pushkin’s works of literature has a central theme that occupied on the central positions of freedom. Throughout his works he various perspectives and sides that show oppress and the victors. In Pushkin’s generation he lived during the Great Patriotic War of 1812 and the revolt of Decembrist of 1824. His generation craved freedom after centuries of occupation and oppression, Pushkin became a voice for his people. The push for the uprising was a long time coming in the history of Russia. The Mongols (Tartars) first entered Russia in 1219, beginning the Mongol invasion of Russia. The Mongolian Batu Khan and over 200,000 soldiers advanced through Russia, claiming its principalities one by one and, like a domino effect, Russian cities fell under Mongolian subjugation, becoming tributaries of the Golden Horde. Mongols would remain in control of Russian lands for over 250 years, forever changing the political geography, religion, art, language, culture, politics, history, and national identity of the entire country (Borrero, 2004).  Mongolian occupation of Russia ended with the recapture of Novgorod in 1478, returning to Russian control through the power of the new Moscow (Moss, 2005).  However, the effects of centuries of Mongolian occupation and subjugation would forever be present in the land, the culture, and the people.

Mongolian conquest had a lasting influence on Russian culture.  Turkish, Arabic, and Persian words were slowly integrated into the Russian language.  Tartars that settled in Russia became influential intellectual leaders (MacKenzie & Curran, 1999).  Many credit the unification of Russia after Mongolian occupation to the influence of Tartan-Mongol rule (Russia, 1996).  The Orthodox Church was able to establish control over many aspects of Russian political and social life due to Mongolian subjugation (Hosseini, 2005).  The depression that followed their invasion encouraged many to turn to the Church and their faith for comfort.   Although many continued to fight subjugation for the entire duration on Tartan-Mongolian occupation, there were also collaborators from the beginning as well.  Many princes formed alliances with outside groups such as the Polovtsians, Poles, and Hungarians (Russia, 1996).  These unorthodox alliances further weakened Russian unity and allowed the Mongolians to further dissolution, causing the Russians to splinter into three nationalities: the Ukrainians in the southeast, the Russians in the north and northeast, and the Belorussians in the northwest (Russia, 1996)

The effects of the Mongolian occupation lasted in the 15th century, and were felt as Russian move towards a Russian Empire with the times of Peter the Great in the 17th and 18th century, that helped to reform the adminstration. During the development of the Russian Empire, Russia was plagued with several revolts that arosed from leadership inconstistencies and the oppresion of the poorer class. Peter the Great introduced european culture to Russia, traditions, and helped to split the culture of the intellectual movement into Westernizers and Slavophils. His moves to modernize Russia included undoing almost the influences made from Mongol occupation. His changes inluded hos court to dhave rheir beards, modernize their clothes, schools, the alphabet, and a better economic ststem that mirrored the west. These changes were often enforeced through brutal tactics that were usually felt by the lower class Russians. (Anisimov,1993, 198)

With the abolishment of slavery, the work to toil the land, and the burdensome dues that were imposed on the communities were left to the townspeople and peasants. Peter the Great transform townspeople into guilders, builders, servants, and peasants in order to build up homes from the ground up into a European style. (Anisimov, 1993, 200) Peter the Great transformed the economy by regulation and limiting the commerce industy, and exploiting the labor force. The laboreres in protest wrote, “ we work in all sorts of factory works, and cut wood in the forests and prepare charcoal, and dig ore, and smelt it, and haul without break.” (Anisimov, 1993, 176) Serfdom was soon becoming new “slavery” of Russia. Many peasants and serfs tried to revolt on Peter the Great, however, they were often squashed before they could successfully take off.

From the modernization of Russia, the dissendent movment arose between the German romantics that opposed westernization and relatively idealized old Russian dictintiveness. The dissent movement carried over to the time of some of the greatest poets and writers including Alexander Pushkin. The role of Alexander I’s was historic, as his troops defeated Napoleon,  and became known as the “savior of Europe”. However, political unrest, and a stall in economic progression had a significant effect on Russia’s becoming a great power. The move to the Industrial Revolution from the West and Europe place emphasis on the poor efficiecies of the Russian government, the isolation of its people, and the economic decline due to the retention fo the serfdom class. They suffered from harsh working conditions, taxes, and lack of resources. (Anismov, 1993, 207) Russia’s history of foreign occupation ended, however, the ruling of leaders that treated their people as servants was continuing. The inconsistenices in political rule for modernizing Russia, and keeping Russia into traditional ways, left Russia vunerable to attacks, and decline of economy that was detrimintal to its people.

In order to understand the role and significance of the unveiling of Pushkin’s monument in 1880, one should examine the historical context and the political climate of the Imperial Russia in the second half of the 19th century. Russia’s was at a fight for identity. After the formation of the Russian Empire by Peter the Great, the empire went through several leaders and changes to help modernize Russia. Often through brutal and excessive force used to conform to Western style, it left the people isolated. The drawback was that many of the townspeople were converted into serfs and peasants. According to research, Peter the Great exhibited the perfect image of Russian intelligentsia’s view on the past and future of Russia, “and the nature of the social and political problems confronting their country.” (Anisimov, 1993, vii) In addition, it is essential to pay attention to Russian intelligentsia of that period. In the second half of 19th century, Russian Empire experienced one of the most significant periods in its history which influenced the Russian culture and intelligentsia to a great extent.

Pushkin’s Importance in Russia’s Pursuit of Freedom

During the time that Pushkin began to write his poetry, was during the oppressive reign of Nicholas I. Unlike his brother Alexander I, he felt that he needed to rule the people by any means necessary. At Nicholas I accession over 3000 demonstrators wanted the Russian government to accept a constitution and a representative form of government. However, Nicholas I squashed the movement known as the Decembrist Revolt. The Decembrist Revolt was brought on by many liberalists, poets, writers, and townspeople that rejected the leadership of Nicholas I.  The Decembrist Movement despite its failure in stopping Tsar, Nicholas to ascend to his position as leader, and force him to abdicated. The Decembrist were liberal conspirators that were a part of the Russian freemasonry and the Russian army. The revolt helped to start a major revolution that would be carried out in later years to change the existing order in the Russian Empire.

Pushkin began his literary career in 1817 writing on the issues of freedom in Volnost, which opposed the monarchy, and expressing that the ideal freedom can only be obtained under a constitutional monarchy. Pushkin continued to express his ideals of freedom through politically motivated poems such as K Chaadaevy, which displayed his love of Russia and the struggle for freedom. As Pushkin began to mature he realized that his poetry was his parallel to freedom, like in Derevnja, but the lack of help for his people to provide the, with the freedom they have been waiting for. Countryman throughout Russia had similar sentiments of a need for a revolutionary change that needed to do away with despotism and implement a constitutional monarchy.

Like most writers in Russia during the reign of Alexander I, they used their literary works to reflect their opposition to the court. Pushkin challenged the Tsar by writing several works that were politically motivated. Pushkin’s works showed support for the social reform that was uprising. The works became so popular that Alexander I brought him in for interrogation. Pushkin continued to write against the monarchy, with the works of Miloradovich Notebook, which amused Miloradovich, but angered the Tsar who exiled Pushkin to South Russia. Even through exile, Pushkin continue to write and publish his works with “Kinzhal,” which was a part of the greater work of literature from several writers, Ode to the Dagger in 1821. With his exile, the revolt died down and was easily suppressed, which upset fellow revolutionaries.

The Decembrist Uprising put a stoppage to the modern movement that Nicholas I tried to implement following Peter the Great. After Nicholas I abandoned the moved towards modernization, he pushed towards the doctrine for Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality. This move was only to assert his authority, by restraining the Russian society. He ran several spies and informers, which exercised censorship, and forms of propaganda that abolished several parts of local autonomy. (Riasanovsky, 1960, 40) December Fourteenth became a day long remembrance of revolutionary movements that would spring up later. Nicholas I censorship suppressed future revolts, that constantly surveillance universities and schools that regulated textbooks and curriculum. Nicholas has hundreds of revolutionaries sent to Siberia or specifically kartorga.

According to Borrero (2004), “the reign of Alexander II brought rapid and intensive change to Russian life” (28). The Emperor maintained a liberal course in politics. Alexander II was fond of Pushkin, and took him out of exile after interrogating him, and his confessed support of his friends that were a part of the Decembrist Movement. Nicholas I ordered Pushkin to no long write works against the government, and submit all his future writings through him. This strict censorship didn’t allow for Pushkin to write or travel freely which affected him tremendously.  Pushkin however still pushed for freedom through his works by appealing to Alexander II asking him to abolish serfdom. K Moryu (1824) and IzPindemonti (1836) were written in his Romantic style of his inner freedom and his realization of not being able to obtain freedom in reality as he struggles with his loneliness.

The leadership of Alexander II was different from Nicholas I. He came to throne during the Crimean War, that was impacted by the weakness of Nicholas I leadership. Alexander II was disappointed with the exhausting Crimean War that added a feeling of humiliation to the great Empire. The defeats in the Crimean War displayed the backwardness of Russia, which encouraged the elite to rally for drastic changes. Alexander II knew a revolt would be brewing soon from serfs, as Nicholas I knew as well. “Serfdom is a powder magazine under the state and the peasantry is an explosive mine.” (Volin, 1943, 48) According to Lazar Volin during 1828 and 1854 there were a total of 547 mutinies from serfs. (Volin, 1943, 50) The mutinies were sometimes considered acts of disobedience and murder, where over 500 serfs were sent to kartoga for murdering their landlords and agents.  The movements led that led to the abolishment included the rumors that spread as the war was starting, that freedom would be granted to those who enlisted. (Volin, 1943, 52) After the war ended new rumors spread that those that lived in the southern provinces would be granted freedom. The result was a mass migration that had to be halted by Russian troops. “These incidents illustrated graphically the deep-seated longing of the peasants for freedom, for which no sacrifice, not even the dangers of the battlefield, were too great.” (Volin, 1943, 52)

Many of the sympathizers of the serfs and peasants were in the Russian intelligentsia, which included the Romantic Movement embodied by Pushkin and other prolific writers. The revolts that sprung up during the Crimean War, confirmed that to own serfs was becoming dangerous. Alexander II knew that a massive peasantry revolt was on the edge of exploding.  His famous dictum was that, “it was better to grant liberty to the serfs from above than to have it seized from below.” (Volin, 1943, 59) In regards to the rumor that serfdom was on its way out, it was quite the opposite, as landowners were seemingly hostile to the abolishment of serfdom until the very end. Both sides were ready for war, if something wasn’t going to be done. In 1861, he successfully carried out an essential reform that resulted in the abolishment of serfdom. During the time before abolishment there were over 20 million serfs in Russia. The Emperor became known as Alexander the Liberator.  Meanwhile, a radical movement developed, calling for peasant revolution and positive changes for the poor in modernizing Russia, in order to catch up to its western counterparts. For this reason, “populism” became an important part of the Russian political life (Borrero, 2004, 28). At the same time, the role of the Russian Empire on the international scene diminished to a great extent. The decline of Russia’s role in Europe was perpetuated by the impressive rise of Germany which put an end to Russia’s domination. In addition, the Russian expansion in the Balkans was limited by Britain and Austria (ibid).

The emancipation of the serfs, other reforms, political situation, populism, and the liberal spirit that began to rise within the people could not but influence the intelligentsia. The middle of the 19th century was marked by intellectual debates between the Slavophiles (represented by such figures as Homjakov, Kireevskij, Aksakov, Gilferding, etc.) and the Westernizers (for example, Chaadaev, Katkov, Goncharov, and Nekrasov). As Borrero (2004) put it, they “sparred over the nature of Russia’s past and the proper course of its future” (28). Undoubtedly, the Slavophiles and Westernizers’ controversy impacted all educated people in the country a social strata in Russia called the intelligentsia whose members were especially engaged in this controversy.

It may be said that the Slavophiles rejected Western models of political, economic, social and cultural life. They were more focused on embracing “a pre-Petrine religious model for future development” (Weeks, 2011, 242). The representatives of Slavophilism believed in Russia’s uniqueness and distinctiveness. According to their views, Russian development had to be based upon the institutions and values derived from its early history. Slavophiles thought that the Russian culture and its traditions should be protected. In addition, they were of the opinion that the peasants required this protection as well. Some of them considered an autocratic Tsar as the symbol of Russian authenticity. They rejected individualism, industrialization, and growth of the working class. The role of the Orthodox Church was more significant for them than that of the state because they believed that Orthodoxy united all Russians. The Slavophiles supported the idea of sobornost’ (conciliarism), which for them constituted the unity of brothers in faith (Weeks 2011, 219). For this reason, they vigorously opposed socialism, and the philosophy professed by the Westernizers accusing them of being influenced by European ideals.

For the Westernizers, Russia needed to go through the same political and economic development as the European countries. Although Westernizers supported the European course for Russia, they preferred Russian mysticism to Western rationalism Kungurtsev & Luchakova 1997, 4). Mysticism (represented by Soloviev, Fyodorov, Berdyaev, and others) rejected rational approaches to life reality, and was based on the individual’s development of spirituality, passionate searching for truth, the importance of Christian dogmas in human life, a tendency of a human being for self-perfection, etc. (ibid.). However, the representatives of this intellectual movement welcomed Westernization as an essential process through which the country could adopt the best Western economic and political models. They respected Peter the Great, since he initiated the gradual Westernization and introduced some valuable ideas from Holland, Germany, and other European countries. In addition, Westernizers were the advocates of the European Enlightenment that would have improved the Russian way of life. Thus, as Berdiev (1960, 19) argued, Westernizers were liberal thinkers who rehashed Western ideas in correspondence with the Russian way of life.

Relevance of Pushkin Memorial 1880 Celebration

It is in this intellectual and political climate that the commemoration of Russia’s greatest poet, Alexander Pushkin, took place in 1880.  In the second half of 19th century, Russian high-culture activists made efforts to mark the Russian literary and cultural Golden Age with a major event (Whintle 2002, 176). The first forty years of the 19th century are prophetically known as the Golden Age. The Golden Age is remarkable for its surge in creativity from Alexander Pushkin that used his literary works and poetry to be used as politically motivated dictums. His works were carried over throughout the push for change in the Russian Empire, and help inspired other great works of Russian literature. The works from writers and poets help push for a political and social revolution that were later felt in the second half of the 19th century. The works of Leo Tolstoy, Ivan Turgenev, Ivan Goncharov, and Fyodor Dostoevsky helped to transition Russian literature into a historical landmark for change.

Taking into consideration the controversy between Slavophiles and Westernizers, and the specific political climate in the 19th century Russia, one may understand why the celebration of 1880 lead to heated arguments. In this context, the speeches made on this occasion by prominent representative of the intelligentsia assumed great importance.  The 1880 celebration was associated with the unveiling of the monument dedicated to Pushkin, in Moscow. Although the unveiling of the monument was planned for May 26, the event was postponed owing to the period of official mourning in the Royal family. In the end, the solemn event took place on June 6 (according to the Julian calendar). The impressive public gathering was accompanied by the speeches of notable figures in the Russian cultural life. Turgenev and Dostoyevsky were the most recognizable participants among those who were invited to speak at the occasion. Their speeches proved to influence the public attitude and stood as a testimony to Pushkin’s significance for the Russian creative legacy (Martin 1988, 505).

In the face of the struggle between Moscow and Petersburg regarding the location of Russian capital, the celebration of 1880 would play an essential role, strengthening the greater role of Moscow for the national development. The Society of Amateurs of Russian Literature (OLRS) sponsored the event, the fact that was acknowledged by Dostoyevsky in the introduction of his speech (Dostoyevsky’s Pushkin Speech 1880, para. 1). Hence, the literary and cultural activists along with OLRS were the principal organizers of memorable Pushkin’s days that gathered Russian literature lovers and prominent artists together to celebrate the unveiling of the national hero’s monument.  (Venok na pamyatnik Pushkiny 1800, 15)

The Obshchestvo liubitelei rossiiskoi slovesnosti (OLRS) welcomed notable and honorable writers to take part in this event. In Russia of that time, both Turgenev and Dostoyevsky had an established moral and literary authority (Dostoyevsky Fyodor Mihailovich 2012, para. 14). The Russian cultural activists believed that these writers were the most influential and popular among the masses and literary circles. Turgenev and Dostoyevsky could extol Pushkin’s virtues; hence, it was sensible to invite them to the event (Whatley n.d., 7). For the invited writers themselves, the 1880 celebration gave them the opportunity to voice their positions in relation to Pushkin’s role in the Russian and universal literature (Knapp 2006, 31). Since Turgenev and Dostoyevsky represented different cultural movements, their speeches and passionate debates transformed them into the central figures of the event.

The importance of the celebration can be explained only in reference to the then-current socio-political environment. Sandler (2004, 10) noted that the occasion received national attention. The unveiling of the monument became a reason of pride for the entire country. Nevertheless, Sandler (2004) further argues, “erecting a monument to a private person in 1880 was actually quite a daring thing to do” (10). Actually, many monuments dedicated to the famous and prominent Russian figures had been already erected by 1880 (Levitt 1989, 35). Nevertheless, Pushkin was a favorite of the public and generally considered the most influential poet in the Russian culture. In this context, the 1880 celebration of the unveiling of a monument dedicated to him was one of those momentous events in the history of the country that agreed with the conditions of the time.

The relevance of Pushkin’s monument was mounting in the political and social fervor that was still brewing on the principles of autocracy, and the role of the intelligentsia. (Levitt, 1989, 149) Even while the campaign for Pushkin’s was going on a parallel campaign was made against the idea of a constitution in Russia. Some felt that the intelligentsia supported the Western style, and wanted to conform to its political system that supported parliamentarianism in Russia. Other issues including the lack of acknowledgement in the death of Pushkin. The Tsar and others made sure that there wasn’t to an uprising in protests from followers of Pushkin that were angry at his death. The army moved the body within the night to a private ceremony that only a few of his closest friends knew about. Years leading up to the celebration, publishing and documents were released to show the extent in which the Russian leaders went to denounce Pushkin. According to Levitt, the release of the documents gave the perception of the public that the celebration was a long time coming. “As a debt to Pushkin that Russian society was at long last ready to repay. (Levitt, 1989, 41) The country and the people of Russia owed this to Pushkin, for his legacy and resonance that he left with the people.

Exposing Pushkin as a symbol of Russia’s cultural boom, the authorities organized an impressive festivity, celebrating not only Pushkin, but everything he stood for. In his book Levitt (1989) describes the celebration in detail. The bronze monument was erected on public funds and initiatives of Pushkin’s admirers. The celebration started on 6 June, and lasted three days (until June 8). This period, called “Pushkin days” (Levitt 1989, 1), included a church service, public banquets, musical and literary presentations, speeches, and the elaborate opening ceremony. The celebration drew a tremendous public response. Among the crowds of people, there were novelists, playwrights, poets, publishers, scholars, artists, actors, and other opinion makers (Levitt 1989, 190), but also common people. Taking into consideration the significance of the occasion, one may argue that the monument’s unveiling can be compared with Pushkin’s rebirth. Some people had seemingly forgotten the importance that Pushkin’s works influenced on the changes in the country. Although he was born of noble blood, he was not raised in the same respect, a man without a title, he more of a man of the people. His censorship and suppression forced him to make decisions that went against what he set out to fulfill. The monument served as way to make posthumous amends to him, his friends, and his family.

Turgenev and Dostoyevsky represented the voices of the two opposite philosophical schools of thought. The analysis of their speeches offers an opportunity to understand Pushkin’s role not only for the giants of the Russian literature, but also for Westernizers and the Slavophiles. At the celebration, Dostoyevsky and Turgenev delivered their notable speeches as a mark of their respect and profound gratitude to Pushkin. (Palievsky 2011, 2)  Both prolific writers and legends in their own right gave two very different speeches that displayed their ideological and excitement for Pushkin’s legend. Turgenev gave a more modest assessment of Pushkin’s legacy while Dostoevsky’s, “exceeded the wildest imagination.” (Levitt, 1989, 122) Both writers were much anticipated, as Turgenev was considered the “champion of the liberal, and Dostoevsky was the “representation of the conservative.” (Lantz, 2004, 341) Political differences aside what the two writers, and the two distinct speeches offered to the Pushkin monument were the central role in literature being a defining aspect in maintaining Russia’s identity. Russia was caught in the middle trying to preserve its culture while adapting to the Western culture in order to compete with other countries that were becoming superpowers.

In the second half of 19th century, Ivan Turgenev was one of the most prominent writers of the golden age in the development of Russian realism. However, as Borrero (2004. 349) maintains, he was “overshadowed in his lifetime by Lev Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevsky” It is believed that Turgenev’s speech at the Pushkin’s memorial was partially inspired by his personal life and the realities of Russian life. Turgenev himself witnessed the inequities of the Russian social system (namely, serfdom). Turgenev actively participated in the debates between the Slavophiles and the Westernizers. Being a supporter of the Westernizers, he became the advocate of broad social and political change in Russia. In addition, he “captured the feelings of an impatient younger generation ready to embrace new ideologies and tactics as nihilism and revolution” (Borrero 2004, 349). Consequently, the speech delivered at the celebration of 1880 was influenced not only by Pushkin’s figure, but also by his views as a proponent of Westernizers’ ideals.

Turgenev showed a level of social awareness, and remorse of the treatment of the people in Russia. He was growing weary of the lack of movements from the intelligentsia, and acted hostile to the reaction he received from Fathers and Sons. He left Russia for Germany and placed himself in exile and he continue to go back and forth with Dostoyevsky.  In his masterpieces he expressed some disappointment in the political vehicles within Russian during his later years. In Smoke (1867) he culminated several satirical themes aimed both sides of the political spectrum of the intelligentsia. In his final years his works were usually infused with points of nostalgia, where he hoped to get into the minds of the youth in order sow the seeds of a revolutionary movement aimed at changing the tides of peasantry. These works included, Virgin Soil (1877), Torrents of Spring (1872), The Song of Triumphant Love (1881), and Klara Milich (1883).

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, too, was a prolific novelist, an important figure of the Russian literature, and an advocate of socialism in his youth. His peasant loving nature was a consideration of him being the voice of Russia. Unlike other prolific writers during his time including Tolstoy and Turgenev, he promoted a more mystical nationalism shrouded in devout Christianity. During his youth he had a feeling of animosity towards his father, while he was at school his father was murdered by his own serfs. He rarely mentioned his father’s death, but throughout his works hinted at oedipal context that revealed a want for his father’s death. Dostoyevsky like Pushkin was also inspired by the works of Gogol, Honore de Balzac, and E. T. A. Hoffmann. Dostoyevsky followed in other prolific writers in his time and wrote important social and political pieces. Bednye Iyudi was a naturalistic story on the social message of poverty and poor people that propelled him into an overnight celebrity.

Dostoyevsky published many more works of literature including Dvoynk, Gospodin Prokharchini, and Khozyaka, before joining another group of intellectuals that were led by Mikhail Petrashecsky. During this time in 1848 the gathering of figures to discuss political and social issues were illegal and the grouped dubbed Patrashevsky Circle were arrested and imprisoned and sentenced to death. However, the Tsar had the sentences commuted and sent the group to Siberia for hard labor. These events would stay with Dostoyevsky throughout his life as evident in his works, notably, Zapiski iz Myortovogo Doma (The House of the Dead) in 1862. His time as a prisoner he experienced the insight into a criminal mind and the hardship of the lower classes in Russia. Dostoyevsky changed spiritually and philosophically as he converted into a devout Christian. He was released from prison only to serve five years in the military, where he married his first wife. After leaving the military he jumped back into his works with periodicals and writings dedicated to expressing his belief in social and political order for the betterment of the Russian people. Soon his brother and his wife died, that left him with massive debt in combination with his addiction to gambling. The events would inspire him to write The Gambler, Zapiski iz Podpolya (Notes from the Underground), and later Crime and Punishment.

Together with the “pochvenniki”, Dostoyevsky thought that Russia needed to bring civilization to Asia. He agreed with the Slavophiles that Russia could avoid Westernization. He was hostile to Western liberalism and rationalism, and believed that the only hope for improvements was in the Russian messianism. Dostoyevsky is considered the advocate of pro-Slavophile views. Partially, these views echoed in his 1880 speech. Although Turgenev and Dostoyevsky belonged to the opposing sides of the debate, their speeches made on this occasion underlined the exceptional role of Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin in literature, but each of them used Pushkin to his own advantage.

Turgenev gave his speech in the evening of the second day of the celebration. He was one of the organizers of Pushkin’s celebration. It was generally known that Turgenev was an active supporter of the “return to Pushkin”. Similarly to Dostoyevsky, Turgenev spoke of Pushkin as if he were an embodiment of the Russian cultural legacy. (Levitt, 1989, 114) underlined that “Turgenev’s speech was recognized as a major statement about Pushkin”.  Nevertheless, although Turgenev was considered Pushkin’s “rightful heir”, the public reaction to his speech was lukewarm (Levitt 1989, 91). The emotional public that did not welcome his liberal position received him coolly despite his eminence.

Turgenev was both a famous Russian writer and a political observer who rejected the oppressive political climate reigning Russia of the 19th century. Turgenev actively worked on turning the celebration into a unified front of Russian literati, and put a great effort into excluding his archenemy, the conservative critic Katkov, from the celebration (Levitt, 1989, 11). While getting ready for his speech, Turgenev was mainly obsessed by dual issues that produced an equally strong and misbalancing effect on the Russian intelligentsia at that time. Firstly, it was the political enfranchisement of the state; secondly, it was the right to speak in the name of the nation that the government secured for itself, and on which Turgenev and Dostoyevsky had absolutely different views (Levitt 1989, 11).

In his speech, this attitude is apparent. For example, towards its end, he declares his hope that, “even the children of our common people, who do not now read our poet, will come to what the name Pushkin means” (Turgenev in Allen 1994, 848).  This statement, and others like it, demonstrate Turgenev’s dream for a liberated and educated Russia.  In his speech, Turgenev gave his explanation to the essence and significance of his love for Pushkin. Being a realist himself, Turgenev considered art to be the reflection of reality, and the embodiment of high ideals that form the basis of the national life, and identify its spiritual and moral aspects. In this sense, for Turgenev Pushkin was the exponent of the Russian national spirit.

However, Turgenev took this opportunity to give Pushkin as an example of how Russia may adopt what is best of the Western world, without losing its authenticity. Pushkin was, Turgenev argued “a poet who serves as the ultimate testimony to a people’s existence unites two fundamental principles: the principle of receptivity and the principle of self-sufficiency” (Turgenev in Allen 840). The principle of receptivity meant openness to change and to influence from the outside world, which should not affect however a nation’s identity.

Turgenev claimed that Pushkin resembles Peter the Great in his essence. By evoking such a comparison, Turgenev wanted to emphasize Pushkin’s dual nature, as a man who had been under foreign influences, but yet remained faithful to his own people (Turgenev in Allen 1994 840-841). For Turgenev, Pushkin was an extremely perceptive and independent poet. Turgenev saw this evidence in Pushkin’s literary legacy. According to Bloom (2003), the genius of Pushkin became free from imitation of European patterns, in spite of the European education he received in the lyceum (215). One may agree with Turgenev that Pushkin’s literary images reflected the characters, desires, morals, and manners of common Russians.

Turgenev accepted, and proclaimed in his speech, that Pushkin was the creator of the poetic and literary Russian language (Turgenev in Allan 1994, 848). For Turgenev, Pushkin was a true Russian “poet –artist” (839) who embodied the entire Russian spirit into the language. However, his speech was an attempt to demonstrate that Pushkin was not “a national poet in the sense of a universal poet” (841), because, he “could not do everything” (ibid.), and had the difficult task to “formulate a language and to establish a literature” (ibid.). Therefore, he did not have the time and resources to become what he could have became, namely, a universal artist. Moreover, Turgenev mentioned that because Pushkin died very young and, he did not reach artistic maturity (841).  History has shown that, at least in his view on Pushkin’s universality, he was right, because Pushkin may not have been as well known outside of Russia, as other Russian authors, such as Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky.  Both Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky wrote on topics of social awareness, universality, and human aspects that were easily translatable which propelled their success to reach international audiences.

Pushkin was able to provide thematic schemas that were socially conscious of the problems that persisted throughout Russia. Pushkin used verses infused with Old Russian language, due to his love for his country, which was not easily translated to other languages. His style of writing hampered his international appeal, however, his comparisons to great writers of his time placed him on a pedestal that only a few Russian literates could claim. In Turgenev’s speech he viewed him through a European perspective but didn’t give him the full recognition as a national poet like Moliere, Goethe, and Shakespeare. (Levitt, 1989, 341) To Turgenev he was notable for bring literature to a generation and time were social movement was needed, however, he felt that he was as great as the bigger writers.

Turgenev included politically loaded fragments into his Pushkin celebration speech, as he had much hope for the Loris-Melikov administration and its ability to establish “healthy elements of society”. However, he was then talked into not speaking about them, as it would sound too subservient to the government, and too inappropriate for the type of speech he was to deliver at the celebration of the unveiling of Pushkin memorial (Schapiro 1982, 309).

The third day of the celebration (June 5) was marked by Dostoyevsky’s speech. The speech eclipsed all other speeches, and gained the real public applause. Dostoyevsky called Pushkin the “purely Russian heart” (Dostoyevsky 1880, para. 2). According to Dostoyevsky, Pushkin was deeply rooted in the native Russian soil, which gave him an opportunity to feel the beauty of the folk embodying the true Russian spirit. In his speech, Dostoyevsky restated the indisputable national power of the poet in Pushkin. Dostoyevsky’s speech underlined the prophetic significance of Pushkin for Russian literature. The speaker agreed with Gogol that Pushkin was an extraordinary and unique manifestation of the Russian spirit. In Pushkin’s legacy, he viewed “something incontestably prophetic” (Dostoyevsky 1880, para. 1). For Dostoyevsky, Pushkin was the exponent of the true Russian self-consciousness. Pushkin presaged a new way for the Russian culture.

Dostoyevsky’s words about Pushkin’s legacy were not critical; he spoke as the Pushkin’s follower and admirer of his art. Analyzing the creative periods in the poet’s life, he noted: “even the very earliest poems of Pushkin were not mere imitations, and in them the extraordinary independence of his genius was expressed” (Dostoyevsky 1880, para. 2).  In Dostoyevsky’s opinion, the main characters in Pushkin’s poems, Evgeni Onegin and The Gypsies, were similar.  Not unlike Evgeni Onegin, Aleko, too, is “the unhappy wanderer in his native land, the Russian sufferer of history, whose appearance in our society, uprooted from among the people, was a historic necessity” (Dostoyevsky 1880, para. 2). Naturally, the type of the hero results from the historical conditions of the Russian land. The speaker underlined, “in the heart of his mother country, Evgeni Onegin is of course an exile in a foreign land” (Dostoyevsky 1880, para. 28). Both in the immortal images of Aleko and Evgeni Onegin, Pushkin expressed the fate of the Russian intelligentsia.

Pushkin displayed sympathy to the Russian people who loved their own land; at the same time, he realized that people did not know what to do with it. The intelligentsia looked at Russia with sorrowful derision. To be a stranger in one’s own motherland is a horrible feeling. Dostoyevsky had no doubt that Pushkin understood this   and embodied the pointless and confused way of life of the intellectuals in Aleko and Onegin. The cultural and literary world of that time, and Dostoyevsky himself were convinced that in the poet’s greatest works, such as Evegeny Onegin, Pushkin is revealed as a great national writer. The poet managed to foresee the bitter fate of the Russian intellectual society (Dostoyevsky 1880, para. 2). In the conclusion of his speech, Dostoyevsky noted that a Russian wanderer is a representative of the intellectual in society who finds his satisfaction and peace only in the happiness of all people. According to Dostoyevsky, the saving road for these wanderers is built of humble communion with common people.

Dostoyevsky noted Pushkin’s optimism that fills his creative works. Although Pushkin described the bitter reality of the Russian people of his time (in Evgeni Onegin, Gypsies), through his creative legacy “sounds a belief in the Russian character, in its spiritual might; and if there is belief, there is hope also, the great hope for the man of Russia” (Dostoyevsky 1880, para. 7). Pushkin fraternally associated himself with his people. His artistic insight is believed to be a national treasury. In Dostoyevsky’s opinion, the Russian poet gave rise to the entire gallery of the Russian gifted writers. Pushkin inspired them with his powerful works.

In contrast to Turgenev, Dostoyevsky referred to Pushkin as to the literary artist of the global scale. For Dostoyevsky, Pushkin’s talent excelled that of Shakespeare, Cervantes or Shiller, because, towards the end of his life, he had become the sort of universal artist, who could reflect the spirit of all nations in his work. Thus, Dostoyevsky believed, “the greatest of European poets could never so powerfully embody in themselves the genius of a foreign, even a neighboring, people, its spirit in all its hidden depth, and all its yearning after its appointed end, as Pushkin could” (Dostoyevsky 1880, para. 9). To him, the combination of national self-identification and universal sympathy was one of Pushkin’s great qualities. As critics (names) maintain, of all Russian writers, Dostoyevsky appreciated Pushkin the most and His attachment to him lasted throughout his entire life.  In his speech, he expressed all his faithful love for the Russian genius in Pushkin that could help the Russians to perform their messianic role.

As the “pochvenniki” and Slavophiles, Dostoyevsky supported the belief in Russian messianicism seen in the autocratic and Orthodox way of life that leads Russian people to the God (Weeks 2011, 187). For Dostoyevsky, Pushkin performed a messianic role. In his creative works, Pushkin expressed universality: the capacity to respond, and the genuine, unquestioned, profound kinship of his genius with all the geniuses of all ages and all people of the world position of Pushkin in literature was significant and decisive (Dostoyevsky1880, para. 12).

The content of Turgenev and Dostoyevsky’s speeches revealed different attitudes concerning Pushkin’s role in the Russian and global literature. In the context of the Russian literature, Pushkin was considered the creator of the Russian literary language and literature. The “father of Russian literature” embodied all beauty, power, and simplicity of the national spirit, and the best qualities of the Russian people in the language (Sekirin, 1997, 238). The great poet gave rise to the new era of the Russian literature; moreover, his creativity inspired the Russian intelligentsia, and changed people’s minds about the human nature. In the context of the world literature, the significance of Pushkin’s legacy is compared by both authors with the contribution of such prominent European figures as Shakespeare and Goethe and, even though the results of this comparison are different (as it will be shown in another chapter of this dissertation), none of the two authors analyzed here denies Pushkin the right to have his name mentioned side by side with them.

The celebration of 1880 was saturated with the sincere public love for Pushkin that made the monument everlasting and timeless. At the same time, with the speeches of Turgenev and Dostoyevsky, the dedication ceremony turned into the battleground for the Westernizers and the Slavophiles. However, even the intense socio-political climate of Russia of the 19th century could not overshadow Pushkin’s significance for Russian and global literature.

Chapter II

Turgenev’s Pushkin

Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev’s life was virtually synchronous with Dostoyevsky’s. Born in 1818, three years before Dostoyevsky, he died only two and a half years after Dostoyevsky, in 1883. Yet, the two writers had completely different ideological and artistic goals. Turgenev’s life and his relationships with other writers and thinkers of this golden age of Russian prose were defined to a great extent by his noble origin. Turgenev came from a wealthy landowning family, was educated in the universities of Moscow and St. Petersburg, traveled and lived in Europe, thus receiving the best education a young man could have in his time (Ivanov, 1998, 19).

During his life in Germany, Turgenev established relationships with many German intellectuals and Russians living abroad. Being in Russia, he was a member of Belinsky’s circle where he absorbed and adopted many ideas of liberalism, Westernism, and romanticism. Hence, many critics consider him a typical ‘new’ man of the 1840s (Lantz 2004, 442).

As Bloom (2003. 5) noted, Turgenev’s early writing effort was conducted in the framework of literary apprenticeship from Pushkin in 1840s, but the history of Turgenev’s fascination with Pushkin began even a decade earlier. Many scholars agree that the studies of 19th century literature should begin with Pushkin, as he was the “artistic example and literary determinant of utmost value” for any artist at the time, Bloom (2003, 5). However, Turgenev had a distinctive style of writing, which was described by Henry James, his friend and a novelist in his own right, who held a lifelong admiration for the Russian author. According to James, Turgenev’s novels incorporated a view of the world which was “more general, more impartial, more unreservedly intelligent, than that of any other novelist I know” (James in Bell, 2002, 241). Yet unlike many of his contemporaries, including Dostoyevsky, Turgenev held a deep affection for the West. He traveled to Germany when he was 19, and continued his education there in the salons of the literati. Furthermore, Turgenev developed a deep appreciation for such non-Russian writers as Goethe and Shakespeare, learning many of their works by heart (Lantz 2004, 442).

His early prose success, Notes of a Hunter (also called From a Hunter’s Notes) was a series of short stories, published in 1852, that depicted hunting experiences with the serfs on his father’s estates. Much credit has been given to these stories in influencing Tsar Alexander II’s determination to free the serfs of Russia. For example, in an article on Turgeev, Mikhail Ivanov (1998, 19) explained that “Notes of a Hunter” “raised havoc with reactionary critics and with the tsar’s government”.  Such profound effect of a literary work, as of literary criticism at that time, was presupposed by the uncertainty and turbulence of the socio-cultural and political situation in Russia, where efforts were being made towards enlightenment, progress, and development (Cronin 2009, 123).

These events, as well as the deep divide in the opinions about the future of Russia, the destiny of the monarchy, and the future of serfdom, produced enormous effect on the creative activity and philosophy of Turgenev, reflected further in his ideology. The wave of revolutionary and nationalistic spirit that swept through Europe in the 1840s and after came just at the time Turgenev was establishing himself as a writer. He focused in his 1850s’ works on male protagonists whose actions do not live up to their verbalized aspirations. This persona of the “superfluous man” was common in Russian writers of the period (Bloom 2003, 7). The “superfluous man” was characterized by Ellen Chances as an “intellectual incapable of action”, a person who recognizes and empathizes with social problems, but finds himself in the impossibility of  acting according to his ideals, both because he is too weak, and because of the social and political realities of his environment (2001, 112).

This topic was one of Turgenev’s major borrowings from Pushkin’s works, as it was on the topic of the ‘superfluous man’ that Pushkin pondered in Evgeni Onegin. Similarly to Pushkin, Turgenev explored the imitative and indigenous elements of the Russian society in his ‘superfluous man’ exploration (Bloom 2003, 7).  However, it was not Pushkin, but Turgenev that used this term for the first time, in his work, “The Diary of a Superfluous Man”, published in 1850. The term was used in relation to Turgenev’s unnamed narrator, who embodies all the characteristics of this character type, which depicts the intellectuals of the Russian society, who did not act upon their ideas, and for whom Turgenev had nothing but despise (Hershkowitz 1932, 44). The concept was then applied to Pushkin’s Evgeni Onegin retrospectively. This type of character, and indeed, of man, who populated the Russian society during the 19th century, was a creation of Romanticism, a cultural movement during which Pushkin wrote and lived. Pushkin had matured in his thought on the concept of Romanticism by the time he wrote Evgeni Onegin, before he has proclaimed that Prisoner of The Caucasus was romantic, however, Evegeni Onegin, understood that the, “the overt narrative structure of Onegin encourages criticism of its hero by the narrator, and the plot includes a sufficient number of Romantic types to formulate some idea of how Romantics relate to Romanticism.” (Siebers, 2003) Pushkin’s emphasis on the narrators self-criticism, while the ensemble of characters, Lensky, Tatyana, and the Onegin each go through an evolutionary scheme that represents the stages in Romantic psychology. The novel is generated in a society that is engrossed with insult, self-criticism, insult, and snobbery. Pushkin however, so himself in Onegin who shared the same “romantic tragedy” as Pushkin. The Golden Age, where Pushkin dwelled in was filled with characters written to infuse society. “The fear of decadence and its accompanying moralizing casts the present in the guise of evil, whereas the past represents the golden age of virtue, self-sacrifice, and honorable suffering.” (Sierbers, 2003) The characters that were written displayed the romantic characteristics of virtuous, perfect, and contradictory characters of Russian society,

Pushkin himself was heavily influenced by Bryon, as it was evident in his early works. The movement to Romanticism is broken down into several categories which include; progressive romanticism, idealistic romanticism, reactionary romanticism, revolutionary romanticism, Decembrist romantics, and true romanticism. (Mersereu Jr, 1963, 24)  Considered by critics as Russia’s greatest poet, laid the foundation for modern literature in Russia, and Pushkin himself referred to himself as a romantic. (ibid) Pushkin however wrote his character’s as “romantic tragedy” like in his view of true Romanticism, Boris Godunov. The movement itself during Pushkin’s time in Russia was self-conscious, and used throughout his literature as the basic characteristics of romanticism. (26) Other critics such as P.V. Annekov, which emphasized that Pushkin had a distinct concept of the term that was illustrated in his works.

“He understood the essence of the matter quite simply, supposing the difference between both kinds of works to be in their form and saying that if one were to distinguish them according to their spirit, then it would be impossible to find one’s way out contradictions and forced interpretations.” (26)

V.V. Sipovsky however focused on the evolution of romantic elements in Pushkin’s works. Pushkin ultimately evolved, true romanticism that Sipovsky equated with realism. In his works he expressed the true essence of romanticism in his characters which were, individualism and individualization of life. (28) Bestuzhev argued on Pushkin, that everyone in literature develops following the laws of nature, from the development of strong feelings, age of creation, mediocrity, and amazement. Pushkin has queried that Romanticism developed in literature from foundations already laid by Shakespeare, Dante, Aristo, Calderon, and others. (31)  Therefore, in “The Diary of a Superfluous Man”, the superfluous man as a type had already emerged in both the literature and the life of Pushkin. Turgenev, a man who embraced the realist current in all its force, was a man of action, not only of words. As Harry Herkhowitz writes, explaining Turgenev’s attitude concerning this topic, “the salvation must come from a man of thought. However, thought is insufficient unless it culminates in action not in words”.

Unlike many of his contemporary Russian writers, Turgenev frequently traveled to Europe and felt great sympathy for the European values and lifestyle. This was also one of the fundamental differences that drew a deep gap between him and Dostoyevsky. The latter also spent a major part of his life gambling in European cities, but never adopted the European life as the ideal towards which Russia should move. Turgenev, on the contrary, saw the only way for Russia’s development and progress in the movement towards Westernization under the careful guidance of the Russian intelligentsia, despising the Russian authenticity and refusing to accept the thought that the Russian ‘narod’ may decide for itself.  Turgenev was associated with the “liberals” in Russia (Schapiro, 1982, 174) and in Europe—those authors who developed their careers in the 1840s—and was often criticized and in conflict with the “radicals of the 1860s.” Much of the criticism had less to do with the literary merit of Turgenev’s work than the political ideals it presented (Lantz 2004, 443).

The heritage of Turgenev in the Russian literature should not be underestimated, and many of his works, including Notes of a Hunter, were praised for the careful, precise analysis of the peasant life, the realistic attention to the life of an ordinary peasant (Lowe 1988, 23, Ivanov, 1998, 19). Turgenev was acclaimed for not idealizing the social and political atmosphere in Russia, and perceived the situation adequately, rendering healthy, objective critique on Russian serfdom. However, his frank liking for life outside of Russia worked against him within Russia, though enlarging his scope of attention and widening his outlook, enriching his liberal philosophy etc.

Many of his novels appeared nearly simultaneously in foreign editions (in France, Germany, England), as they did in Russian editions. Thus, one can see that Turgenev was decided about his liberal Westernizing principles, and pursued the path throughout his literary career (Levitt 1989, 11). His efforts were not only directed at becoming a popular name on the lips of international literature readers, but also at making foreign literature popular in France. For example, as Ivanov (1998) showed, “it was mostly thanks to Turgenev’s efforts and his contacts with European publishing houses that Russian readers of the 19th century became familiar with the best works of French Literature”(Ivanov, 1998, 46).

Turgenev dedicated the next thirty years to composing novels about the changing face of the Russian society in much detail, and at the same time, he managed to convey the deep insights into human condition. Therefore, his works became very popular among the audience and critics (Lantz 2004, 442). However, Turgenev’s reputation in the literary world, more than many other novelists, has been marked by massive swings from positive to negative, mostly due to the political direction Turgenev often took in his plots and through his characters. Two most disputable works that appeared very audacious at the time of publishing and that resulted in the major twists of Turgenev’s popularity were Smoke and Fathers and Sons. Smoke was the reason for a bitter quarrel between Dostoyevsky and Turgenev in 1867, when they met and exchanged harsh criticisms towards the creative activity of each other (Lantz 2004, 443). Fathers and Sons (1862) were negatively accepted by the radical intelligentsia as many of its representatives saw the caricature on themselves in the protagonist of the story, Bazarov (Lantz 2004, 442).

Dostoyevsky, who was an addictive gambler, was deeply in debt, and also owed money to Turgenev (Frank, 2009, p.544). However, the debt and embarrassment about it did not prevent Dostoyevsky from expressing his rage about the criticism of Russia voiced by the protagonist of Smoke, Potugin. The most striking of Potugin’s claims was that Russia’s disappearance would not concern the world at all:

“Well, I walked to and fro among the machines and implements and statues of great men; and all the while I thought, if it were decreed that some nation or another should disappear from the face of earth, and with it everything that nation had invented, should disappear from the Crystal Palace our dear mother, Holy Russia, could go and hide herself in the lower regions, without disarranging a single nail in the place” (Turgenev, 2005, 113).

Potugin’s claim was then that Russia had not left anything significant behind yet, that it had not marked its place in history, in the way that other countries had done. Russia’s contribution to world progress was minimal and it was worthless only for its citizens. His attitude however, was not anti-Russia, as one might think. Rather, his criticism, to which he hints not only in Smoke, in which Potugin is arguably a reflection of Turgenev himself, but also in other works. This attitude is also visible in the 1880 speech, in which Turgenev uses the opportunity to show that Pushkin was not the peak of Russia’s cultural enlightenment  but rather, was its founder and that the complete artist, who would place Russia on the cultural map of the world, was yet to appear.  He argues:

“when fine art achieve its complete expression, it becomes the property of all humanity, even more than science does, precisely because fine art has a vibrant, human, conscious spirit –an immortal spirit , for it can survive the physical existence of its body, its people. What has been left to us of ancient Greece? Its spirit has been left to us! (Turgenev in Allen, 1880, p.840).

Between these two sources, one can  understand Turgenev’s  yearning for ‘universality’ , not as a wish to change the “Russian soul”, to transform it or to alter it to fit Western patterns, but a need to present its quintessence to the world, in its purest form, in order to be preserved and valued.

Apart from his outspoken remarks regarding Russia’s lack of value, Turgenev offended Dostoyevsky in dismissing the movement of Slavophiles, and stated that Russians will have to subdue totally to Germans for the common goal of the humanity, i.e. movement towards the progress and achievement of a higher level of civilization (Lantz 2004, 443). Such neglect towards Russia and Russian authentic culture infuriated Dostoyevsky and was intensified by Turgenev’s confession that he was an atheist (Frank, 2009, 547). Therefore, after their meeting, Dostoyevsky disregarded Turgenev and his Smoke, considering him a shallow person for abandoning homeland for the sake of living in Europe, deflating the Russian pretension to an original culture, and imposing the superficial European values on a nation which had a unique identity of its own (Lantz 2004, 444.) To say Turgenev and Dostoyevsky’s relationship was turbulent is an understatement. They disagreed on so many levels, Dostoevsky had more nationalism in Russia’s possibility of grandeur of moral and cultural superiority of the Slavic people. While Turgenev was more euro centric and mature in his political and aristocratic ideas of Russia.

In 1880, when invited to hold a speech on the occasion of the opening of the Pushkin Memorial, Turgenev was already perceived as one of Russia’s greatest writers, and his works were considered a national treasure. He was a publicly acknowledged leader of Russian liberalism, and was in quite favorable relationships with the authorities in Russia (Levitt 1989, 11). Before proceeding to the discussion of Turgenev’s Pushkin speech, one should note that all of Turgenev’s activities were highly politicized at that time. Moreover, in his writings as well as in his public appearances, one may find evidence of his efforts to turn the audience’s attention to the burning issues that plagued Russian society, and to his calls to look for solutions in Western liberalism.

As Ripp (1978) noted, Turgenev looked at the government as the best agent of reform, thus denouncing the role of ‘narod’, i.e. the ordinary Russian people, in the reformation and advancement of Russia (Ripp 1978, 240). The same distrust in regards to the ‘ordinary people’s capacity to act as an agent of change was visible in Fathers and Sons, in which the attitude of the aristocrats towards the former serfs was one of contempt. While Turgenev’s interest in the social issues is evident in the way he portrayed his character, his interest in solving the problems of the poor draws from his democratic views and not from empathy. Far from identifying with the peasants, or considering that they might embody the spirit and the values of modern Russia, he rather distanced himself from this class. Bazarov, the main character from Fathers and Sons, treats them with contempt.  His attitude is best reflected in his response to Arkady’s dream of a Russia which empowers the former serfs:

I immediately began to detest this peasant whether Philip or Sidor, for whose well-being I should be obliged to trouble myself, and who would not have the slightest liking for me. However what have I to do with his gratitude? When he shall inhabit a good hut, I will do to cultivate nettles. Well, after that? (Turgenev 1867, p. 99).

Bazarov however feels the same contempt for the other classes and rejects any form of reform of the society, proving a nihilistic attitude which is explained by critics as an extreme form of individualism (Hershkowitz, 1932, p. 67).   However, behind this attitude, Harry Hershkowitz identified “a torchbearer of democracy, championing the cause of the people” (67).  He further notes that his individualism is an individualism that encompasses the entire society, or, in his words, “his I is the I of the people” (ibid.). This is because, unlike other characters, Bazarov treats all his fellow countrymen equally and therefore, there is equality in his disagreeable temperament. Bazarov for Turgenev is a special look at Russian politics that is a nihilist who rejects the older way. The growing liberal cultural schism was growing in Russia, and many were wanting the Russians to conform to a Western way that contrasted with the Slavophiles. Within Fathers and Sons, “Bazarov immediately discards the traditional assumptions about social placement in society, treating peasants and aristocrats in the same way; with peasants Bazarov converses comfortably but disdainfully.” (Hocutt, n.d) Bazarov first served as catalyst for the Russian people that treated every one as equal….like frogs. Bazarov sees the peasants in their rightful social order, and doesn’t care for any reforms where serfs could potentially be doing better than him.

The “outright hatred for the deserving individuals-negates both the society’s foundation upon serfdom and attempts at its reform.” (Hocutt, n.d) In later writers with a follow-up essay in “Apropos of Fathers and Sons” that Bazarov, was, “I share almost all of Bazarovs convictions with the exception of those on art” (163). When I state that the narrator seems to speak in the voice of Bazarov, I mean that the author as narrator, from time to time.” (Hocutt, n.d) The contradictory nature of the character is showed when he falls in love, in spite of completely spewing hatred of romanticism. Turgenev’s hero unlike Dostoevsky gives them a sense of hope, where he develops a landscape where there is a possibility of change

Dostoyevsky was so irritated by Turgenev’s novel Fathers and Sons that he parodied Bazarov in the construction of one of his character, namely Dimitri Fydorovich Karamazov, who is a worthless individual, who only pursues shallows goals and has no goal in life. However, he offered also his own ideal of the Russian “new man”, in the persona of Alyosha Karamazov, a religious, sincere and devout man who loved his brothers dearly. These two characters therefore, Bazarov and Alyosha, may be argued to represent the two authors’ visions of the new Russian man, each embodying qualities appreciated by their creators, but also qualities they perceived in Pushkin himself, as it will be discussed later in this dissertation. Bazarov was a stable idealist that was at the end not some much a nihilist but instead called for a negation from the grand inquisitor.

One should also note that the major rivalry of his life was to be resolved during the 1880 Celebration, though Turgenev still did not know that Dostoyevsky’s speech would overshadow his own. Turgenev and Dostoyevsky have been in very tough relationships during their whole lives and literary careers. Besides, Turgenev knew that Dostoyevsky had also been invited to speak at the unveiling of the Pushkin memorial. Dostoyevsky used to be fond of Turgenev and his writing at the early stages of his creative activity, and during the early days of their acquaintance. However, Turgenev teased him and even wrote a satirical poem which only circulated in manuscript,  The Knight of the Rueful Countenance, in which he ridiculed Dostoyevsky’s habits, lack of elegance, and even called Dostoyevsky “a new pimple on the nose of literature” (Lantz 2004, 442).

Dostoyevsky replied in a literary way as well, and his character Karmazinov in The Devils represented the caricature on Turgenev (Orwin, 2007, 105). He was a vain, pretentious Russian writer who preferred to live in Europe and despised all Russian ideals and values. Returning to Russia, he was shocked about the violence unveiled by revolutionary groups, though he had actually been their accomplice, assistant, and inspirer. A more detailed analysis of Karmazinov will be undertaken in the next chapter, which focuses upon Dostoyevsky.

Generally, the two writers left a memorable trace and enormous heritage in the Russian literature, and in spite of personal disagreements they were in fact striving for a similar goal, and considered the same social, philosophical, and moral issues in their works. As Lantz (2004) noted, both Turgenev and Dostoyevsky were interested in the beauty, harmony, and order, fate and unique characters in society that offered little scope for individual aspirations, and the quest for an ideal among others. (Lantz 2004, 444).

Therefore, the 1880 celebration was mainly marked by the expected speeches both from Dostoyevsky and Turgenev in which they were to appraise the legacy of Pushkin for the Russian nation. Turgenev perceived the event as something more than the unveiling of the Pushkin memorial. He accepted it as an opportunity to express his views on Westernism and liberalism, to tie Pushkin to the values propagated by him, and to express his hopes and expectations for the near future of Russia in terms of socio-cultural, national, and ideological development. Therefore, the attitude of Turgenev to Pushkin can be seen as accumulated, processed, and reflected in the 1880 speech of Turgenev delivered on June 7(19).

Turgenev’s interpretation of Pushkin

The first thing to consider about Turgenev’s relation to Pushkin is the model of writing Pushkin generated and Turgenev followed. As Bloom (2003) noted, there was a moral dilemma at the root of both Russian society and all human relationships. This relationship resulted in a formula to be followed by many outstanding authors of the 19th century including Turgenev. The relationships began with the hero finding himself in a milieu unfamiliar to him; therefore, the hero appeared in it as a relative stranger. It was that strangeness and newness that represented a source of fascination to the heroine of the story. The contrast was built on both social and psychological issues, resulting in the idealized characters of Pushkin. Turgenev’s works are known to follow the pattern of Evgeni Onegin, hence the impact of Pushkin’s writing style on Turgenev’s perception of literature is evident (Bloom 2003, 8-9).

This is seen as pointed out earlier in Fathers and Sons, with the character of Bazarov, his attraction of romanticism, and his decisions that lead him on his own path of destruction. Klara Milich (1883) also follows a similar pattern to Evgeni Onegin the women are both display a sadness for their unrequited love, and love that isn’t given back to them. While On the Eve (1860) revolves around the love story of middle class family, whose daughter falls in love with a free thinking and someone of lover who her parents find is not suitable, and runs away for him to take ill and later die. The drama and heartbreak is all influenced by the romantic and tragic styles that the famous Evgeni Onegin, embodied.

For Turgenev, the Pushkin celebration marked a general “return to Pushkin” on the part of intelligentsia, and at the same time, it symbolized the departure from the nihilist ‘aberration’ (Levitt 1989, 11). Turgenev was confident that the Russian intelligentsia was ready to assume a responsible political role, and the figure of Pushkin was able to initiate the socio-cultural and political change in case his significance was revived. Therefore, Turgenev’s speech at the opening of the Pushkin Memorial contained the fulsome praise for Pushkin’s literary achievements. He pointed out that literature was a uniquely human endeavor, as no animal was capable of creation and artwork:

But only when the creative powers of a few select individuals enable a people to achieve recognizably complete, unique expression if its fine art, of its poetry, only then can that people assert its definitive right to its own place in history, only then does it enter into brotherhood with the other peoples who acknowledge it (Turgenev 1994, 839).

Turgenev also stressed the innate Russianness of Pushkin’s poetry, language, and themes as he sought to become a “self-sufficient genius […] freed from both the imitation of European images and the seductions of a falsely popular tone” (Turgenev & Allen 1994, 841). Turgenev was assertive in the announcement of Pushkin as “the first Russian poet-artist” (Turgenev & Allen 1994, 839), and the arguments he gave for the support of Pushkin’s Russianness was that he was born  in a noble family, educated in reputable establishments (thus torn from the ordinary people), but when in exile in the uttermost parts of Russia, he immersed in the popular culture, got closely acquainted with the ‘narod’, and became an avid learner of Russian customs, traditions, and lifestyle (Turgenev in Allen 1994, 840). This is where the dual quality of the “Russian soul” (its receptivity and self-expression) found its way out in Pushkin’s life – being familiar with the Russian folk, he had an artistic talent of expression, so he spoke on behalf of the ‘narod’ to bridge the gaps between what it was and what it was supposed  to be.

However, in Turgenev’s opinion expressed in several publications after the speech was given in, Pushkin’s works are intended and directed only at the cultured members of society. He pointed out that the ruling class and the Russian people, had been traditionally separated from each other; especially taking into account his pro-government views, one can suppose that Turgenev saw the people only as the subject of the intelligentsia’s compassion and social struggle, and not the active audience of great writers.

Turgenev acknowledges that Russia’s literary direction and thus, his own had been established by Pushkin: “there is no doubt that he [Pushkin] formulated our poetic, literary language, and that it merely remains for us and our descendants to follow along the path forged by his genius” (Turgenev in Allen 1994, 842). Turgenev, quoting the French writer Mérimée, also acknowledged the manner in which Pushkin’s poetry revealed the common truths originally, “which is the very essence of poetry” (Turgenev in Allen 1994, 843). He summed this assessment up by saying: “Pushkin was a pivotal artist, someone who was able to approach the very core of Russian life”, which could be the clear assumption of Pushkin being a national writer. Turgenev also claimed that “Pushkin left us a multitude of images and character types…, character types that were subsequently perfected in our literature” (Turgenev in Allen 1994, 844).  It was from the seed of realism he planted in his Evgeni Onegin that the inspiration for real realist novels came. It is from his characters, Evgeni and Tatiana that the two archetypes of the realist Russian literature, the ‘superfluous man’ and the ideal Russian woman emerged.

These characters were later reinterpreted by Turgenev in all his major novels, Evgeni being the inspiration for Turgenev’s own ‘superfluous man’, and Tatiana- the model for the kind, loving, intelligent and devoted Russian woman (Johanson 1984; Turton 1992, 66). Tatiana, it may be argued, embodied all the attributed associated by Romantic writers with perfect Russian femininity and therefore, Pushkin did not ‘invent’ a Tatiana, but rather, placed in her everything that he thought was good  in Russian women. Therefore, Tatiana, as a character, was strong, and meant to last and to be reproduced, as an archetype that continued to be relevant, whereas other characters were not. Equally, a prototype of a superfluous man, created by Pushkin in Evgeni Onegin embodied the qualities of Romantic hero, but had no need or the capability for action. While his typology failed to reflect the new realities, being merely the product of an age, it was used nevertheless by Turgenev so as to argue against his weakness, by forcing him to act in situations in which his weakness became apparent and transformed him into a failure.

For example, in Rudin, Turgenev’s first novel, the eponymous character is a ‘superfluous man’ who loses his love because of his inability to act. He does not respond to Natalya’s call for action and runs in the other direction. As a consequence, he is ‘punished’ by the author with a life of wonder and restlessness. Being his first novel, after having attempted to write poetry (as Pushkin), it is not a surprise that Pushkin’s Rudin resembles to a great extent Pushkin’s most renowned male character. One can easily notice a resemblance between Evgeni, indeed, Pushkin himself, and Rudin, both in their attitude towards life, and in their construction. For example, as Evgeni, Rudin does not answer Natalya’s call for action and runs, arguing that they must submit in front of the fate. In a similar manner Evgeni rejects Tatiana and runs also, returning only years after to find her married to another man. Tatiana also rejects Evgeni, but in his case, the author did not try to punish him, but rather, to transform him into a tragic hero. Evgeni recognized his mistake and repented for it. However, it was too late; he could not repent for his mistake, hence the tragic ending.

Bazarov, in contrast, represents a mature Turgenev, one who already had his own ideology and literary style. In Fathers and Sons, the main character is not a ‘superfluous man’ any longer, but rather, he is a “new man”, a nihilist who has modern concepts about social classes and even love. In this novel, the man character does not reject, but instead, is rejected himself. Bazarov also has some similarities with Evgeni, as he is also forced to run after a duel, and his impossible situation is also solved in death.  Though opposing the old world represented by romanticism, traces of a romantic hero are identified in Bazarov also in the very fact that he w too finds himself at odds with society.

In his speech, Turgenev focused greatly not only on Pushkin, but on the necessity to admit that Pushkin was not Russia’s national poet since he lacked the quality of universality. He believed that Pushkin served a special purpose in bring literature to the forefront of the Russian struggle. People’s forgetfulness of Pushkin could have been attributed to his works. By looking at Pushkin it was hard to consider him a thinker. In his speech, Turgenev referred to people’s views of Pushkin as, “a kind of mellifluous singer, a nightingale.” (Nelson Jr, 1985, 309) Turgenev didn’t say these words as an insult to Pushkin however as view of Pushkin only being perceived as a national poet among the educated classes, while Pushkin should have been known more through Europe as means of appreciating fine arts. Also, Turgenev could not help touching upon the reasons of the decline in Pushkin’s popularity, claiming that the reasons for that decline should be sought in the political changes in the country and in changes in opinions, outlooks, and ideologies, clearly reflecting on his own liberal and Western views: Those causes lay deeper (than the “judgment of fools” or the “laughter of the cold crowd” as Pushkin himself had predicted)….They lay in the very fate of [Russian] society, in the course of its historical development, in the conditions under which it was newly born, shifting from a literary epoch to a political one. (Turgenev in Allen 1994, 845–846)

Thus, in Turgenev’s view, Pushkin’s decline was caused by a shift in the society towards a more tensed socio-political environment, in which Pushkin’s romanticism was an anachronism. One cannot help but notice how the same view on Pushkin, and on romanticism, is expressed in Fathers and Sons by whom, in which Bazarov transforms into a “new man”, dismisses Pushkin’s poems as irrelevant into the then-current political context:

“The other day I noticed that he was reading Pushkin” pursued Bazarov. Make him understand, I beg you, how absurd that is. He is no longer a calf, and ought to throw to the dogs that nonsense. Who in our days is interested in romanticism, in poetry? Give him some good book to read” (Turgenev, 1867, 53).  

This shows that Turgenev’s attitude towards Pushkin was long-established and reflected his complex attitude concerning Russia’s cultural and socio-political progress. His speech in 1880, professed a wholehearted declaration of Russia’s future due to the liberating force of prose and poetry implemented from the movement of Pushkin.  As a romantic writer, Pushkin was obsolete, because the context demanded for realist readings that would help readers understand and form an opinion on what ought to be done for Russia.

There is no doubt then that according to the author of what, Pushkin had no relevance for the new generation. Even taking into consideration only the fragment of Turgenev’s speech, it is clear that the writer connected Pushkin’s decline with the coming changes in Russia, both through the newly-established government administration, and through the impact that the active participation of intelligentsia in the country’s advancement and development would bring about. Turgenev was a Westernizer, and the neglect towards Pushkin, despite his obvious awe and tribute to his legacy, was seen by Turgenev as a natural tendency of the Russian people to leave past behind and embrace the new Russian spirit, that welcomed European values. The worldview that characterized Pushkin and his times was cherished by the nationalists, the Slavophiles, while Turgenev as a Westernizer could appreciate only the literary contribution in the form of literary forms, language, and images – purely in terms of art and not in connection with the folk.

The support for this opinion can be found in some other fragments of Turgenev’s speech, for example when he stated that “Pushkin’s worldview seemed narrow; his burning sympathy for our occasional moments of official glory seemed old-fashioned; his classical feeling for measure and harmony seemed coldly anachronistic” (Turgenev in Allen 1994, 846). Turgenev’s progressive, sometimes even radical views on the cultural life, politics, and the Russian nation were reflected in that position – Turgenev , who thus considered Pushkin atavistic, was eager to include the burning social, political, and cultural issues in the literature that was too idealized, too polished in Pushkin’s times, though only a couple of decades had passed from his death.

The changes were tremendous, in Turgenev’s opinion, and the Golden Age of Russian literature prospering and developing under Alexander II. It was the right time to introduce European culture to Russia thereby dismissing the ideal of a Russian culture and society free from foreign influences, which seemed unnecessary and old. Actually, Turgenev alluded to the issue of Russianness, implying that the Russian spirit is outdated and old-fashioned, openly revealing his pro-Western attitudes. The implications of the generation gap so artistically rendered by Turgenev in Fathers and Sons – the old values seemed questionable for the younger generation, and they were ready to despise, refuse, and scorn their fathers’ values for the sake of creating a new Russia, new ideals, new lives, and a new culture. Arkadii’s role is resulted in him taking the conventional role that lays in the life of nihilism. Arkadii, unlike the rest view nihilism as one “who regards everything from a critical view point.” (Turgenev, 8, 215-6) Arkadii is one of the few perspectives of reasoning, which can identify the pride fullness of his mentor’s pride, and the egos of other. More importantly one of the few knowing how to relate and communicate with Bazarov, as he is not in the same position of Bazarov who “knows everything.”  Throughout the story Arkadii’s attitude towards Bazarov has changed because of condescending nature, and increasing sense of pride and entitlement. Turgenev changes his views of Bazarov, and his need for people like Sitnikovm who is blunt, arrogant. His duel draws resemblance to the duel of Pushkin where he was wounded mortality, however, Bazaraov escapes death in the duel, but it does find him when he is on his own path to self-destruction.

Turgenev made a connection between Pushkin’s decline as a Romantic author and the rise of a new realist generation. The goals of the Westernizer youth were expressed in the form of actions, of real, palpable achievements, whereas the goals of Pushkin’s generation, best represented by the superfluous man, were set theoretically, idealistically and could not represent the “new man”.  Yet, Turgenev acknowledged the rightness of the memorial to the man who served as a model for his own writing, and who could also serve as a teacher for the next generation. Additionally, he emphasized the liberating aspect of poetry, the importance of it in expressing and even defining the entire Russian ethos by saying: “For there is a liberating, ever-lasting moral force in poetry” (Turgenev in Allen 1994, 848). Hence, one can see that Turgenev also ascribed the political importance to the literature alone, and Pushkin was thus seen, in Turgenev’s speech, as the man who defined Russia, both its language and its cultural ethos. Russia would not – could not – be Russia without Pushkin’s influence and genius.

Turgenev’s position on Pushkin reflected in his ideological views

The key elements of Turgenev’s speech about Pushkin are firstly, recognition of the genius it took to create the literary Russian language – a language he insists that is acknowledged “even by foreign philologists to be second only to Greek in its richness, power, logic, and beauty of form” (Turgenev in Allen 1994, 848). Secondly, he insisted that Pushkin’s work provided models of literary characters and images that would inspire generations of Russian writers to come (Allen 1994, 66). In other words, Turgenev recognized Pushkin’s role as a founder, or a father of the modern Russian literature. As shown above, in Pushkin’s work, particularly in Evgeni Onegin, the direction for the modern literature was established.

That said, Turgenev did not describe Pushkin with the spiritual intonation that Dostoyevsky used. Instead of naming him the spiritual leader of the Russian people, and a pan-humanist who exceeded national and regional bounds, Turgenev suggested a far more ideological, politicized role for Pushkin. He claimed that Pushkin offered a model for the development of Russian character tropes, and, while recognizing the man’s genius, pointed out the unfinished mission of Pushkin that the intelligentsia of his time was entitled to pursue.

The speeches of both writers produced different effects on the public. Dostoyevsky’s speech was accompanied by enthusiastic applause. However, Turgenev’s speech did not produce the same effect. On the one hand, Turgenev paid tribute to Pushkin’s genius, and characterized him as a valuable and essential figure in the Russian literature. On the other hand, “he viewed him within the European tradition, and declined to give him the title of a national poet in the same sense as Goethe, Moliére, or Shakespeare” held in their respective countries (Lantz 2009, 341). Dostoyevsky’s speech was marked with other shades. For Dostoyevsky, Pushkin was the personification of the Russian messianism and universal reconciliation. He claimed that Pushkin’s creative legacy reflected the national authenticity, and the true Russian spirit. In Dostoyevsky’s opinion, through his works, Pushkin became the brother of all humanity with a strong sense of self-identification.

Turgenev saw Pushkin twice in his adolescence, in 1837, and being inspired by that experience, he followed the path delineated by Pushkin only in terms of artistic perfection of the literary Russian language. Therefore, one should examine the acclaim that Turgenev admired Pushkin due to the latter’s profound research in the field of ordinary folk’s life, customs, traditions, beauty, and authenticity. Turgenev delivered his speech mostly on the value of art and its place in the life of all civilized human beings, and not on the Russian folk in particular. Turgenev assumed that it did not matter much whether the ‘narod’ could read Pushkin or not, as the privilege of literary enlightenment, progress, and advancement was the task of the upper, literate class of the Russian society.  For Turgenev, what mattered most was Russia’s progress, as a country, but did not care much about the progress of the lower classes, being certain that Russia’s future was not based on their enlightenment.

Although this attitude cannot be called discrimination, Turgenev was a radical supporter of Westernism, a current which did not support the empowering of the ordinary folk, and establishment of a “narod”-based form of government. This position differed sharply from what Slavophile supporters sought for the Russian folk, and surely it contradicted the deep fascination of Pushkin with the folk that Turgenev disregarded even in the commemorative speech.

In contrast to Dostoyevsky who believed in the people’s power to move Russia forward, Turgenev looked towards the West and disregarded the sources of enlightenment that Slavophiles found hidden within the soul of the country- the folk’s deep spirituality, sensitivity and artistic inclination. Turgenev believed in the necessity to look ‘over the fence’ and take what was beneficial for the Russian people from the European neighbors. Turgenev was eager to break Russia’s isolation and to integrate it into the European family.  Pushkin’s characters were often idealized, and the great poet represented Russia according to the Romantic ideals; however, the hint of realism in his work established him as a different ‘kind’ of Romantic artist and allowed him to distance himself from the other Romantic authors of his time. It may be argued that this realistic view of the world was a result of his years of sufferings in exile, during which he got closer to the folk and was able not only to acknowledge, but also to share their misery. This misery had been easily ignored by the Romantic authors, who were educated abroad and never came in contact with the poor. Turgenev reduced Pushkin’s value to founding of realism, recalling the linguistic and artistic mastery of Pushkin’s art, but denied him the statute of universality which supposes the depiction of attitudes, traits of characters, and ideas which go beyond time and space and are never old-fashioned.

The analysis of the texts of the two respective speeches demonstrates that both Turgenev and Dostoyevsky allowed a degree of exaggerations shifting the emphasis to their own ideological aspirations. It can be seen that Turgenev’s speech was too polished and too ideologically loaded to gain the entire audience’s support, his clear references to Europe for example, and his denial of Pushkin’s status as a national poet could not entirely resonate with the audience in the particular occasion of Pushkin’s celebration, though his discourse was successful, reflecting the views of at least part of the audience, who shared his ideas.

It is true that both writers did much for the exploration of burning social, political, and cultural issues of Russian life in the second half of the 19th century. In conclusion, one has to note that Turgenev’s position on Pushkin has changed during his lifetime, and the opinion that he voiced in his “Speech about Pushkin” differed greatly from his early appraisal of Pushkin’s place in the Russian literary and spiritual heritage, visible in his first literary successes, namely, his poetry and his first novel Rudin, which, as already shown, illustrate a closer identification with Pushkin’s romanticism and his archetypes, than the works produced later in his life.

Pushkin transformed into a truly “Russian poet-artist” only after having experienced the sufferance of the ‘narod’ in exile. This shaped his literary vision, made him different than any other Russian author, and allowed his talent to flourish, thus being able to inspire the new generations of Russian intellectuals who identified with his vision. Turgenev’s, position was at times undecided, mainly due to the fundamental socio-political changes in Russia of the late 19th century. However, Turgenev has managed to grasp the blend of Pushkin’s national authenticity and the realistic nature of his creative activity, as Kedrova (1983) noted. Therefore, Pushkin regained his deserved position in the opinion of Turgenev, and acquired importance in the spiritual, ideological, literary, cultural, and social development of the Russian intelligentsia at the end of the 19th century.

Chapter III

Dostoyevsky’s Pushkin

Dostoyevsky’s connection with Pushkin is greater than that of any other of his contemporaries, lasting throughout his life (Leatherbarrow, 1979, 368). This is despite the fact the two are associated within different literary epochs and by their literary styles, Pushkin being a true Romantic, whereas Dostoyevsky was clearly writing from a realistic perspective. There are several differences and similarities that can be made between Dostoyevsky and Pushkin, which can be supported in Dostoyevsky’s work and his speech at the unveiling of the monument. However, these differences only demonstrate that Pushkin’s influence upon Dostoyevsky was not one of appearance, it was a continual influence in later works of literature where his life was translated in characters in works such as Crime and Punishment and other great works.

Dostoyevsky was born into an impoverished family of noble origins. His father was a doctor and who has been granted a small estate for his services. Dostoyevsky grew up into a very religious and educated family and for this reason religion and education were the most important aspects of his childhood. In what religion is concerned, his younger brother Andrei recalls, “our parents were very religious people, especially our mother” (Andrei Dostoyevsky in Sekirin 1997, 46). He father was very strict, and considered a tyrant throughout his household, who forced him to follow in his footsteps to become an engineer. Dostoyevsky was therefore raised in a very spiritual environment, in which religion dominated all aspects of life. According to Frank, his parents’ first response to both happy and tragic circumstance was first of all, a prayer.

Education was also an important aspect for the Dostoyevsky family, and the young Dostoyevsky became acquainted with universal literature even before being able to read. In touching this subject, Frank argues that, “this was the unforgettable fashion in which he became acquainted with the novelistic mode that transformed the art of narrative at the end of the eighteenth century” (Frank 1976, 55). However, what is important to notice, Dostoyevsky’s education differed from that most Russian intellectuals, who came from noble families.

According to Frank (1976), Dostoyevsky received a strong cultural education in the native literature, which, “for a child off the time, it was by no means the rule” (p.59).  In fact, children of noble families were though in French and English from early childhood, and became acquainted with Russian authors very late in their childhood. This is of particular importance because most Russian intellectuals had noble origins.

Dostoyevsky’s background, as the child of an educated yet poor family, explained his particular attachment for the Russian language and culture, in opposition to Turgenev, who learnt to read and write in Russian from his father’s serf, whereas his formal education was from the very beginning based on English and French (p.59).  Therefore, Dostoyevsky was from his childhood educated in the purest Russian spirit. As Frank (1976) explains, “Dostoyevsky was taught from a much earlier age, to identify himself emotionally with Russia and its past and to take pride in the attainments of the new Russian culture” (59).  It is then safe to argue that Dostoyevsky’s maturity was influenced, to a large extent, by these strong roots in Russian literature and spirituality.

Dostoyevsky then saw in Pushkin the embodiment of this new age in the Russian culture he so much loved.  Dostoyevsky wrote his first works under the poet’s influence, though other writers such as Gogol, Shakespeare, E.T.A Hoffman, and others offered a source of inspiration for the young Dostoyevsky. In his first novel, Poor Folk, Dostoyevsky examines the life of poor people with deep humanitarian feelings and, as Donald Fanger explains, he establishes his literary direction in doing so. According to Fanger, Dostoyevsky analyzes the life of poor people “as a special spiritual state” (1965, 156). Poverty, the ideal state from religious perspectives, allows one to return to God with humility and lack of pride. Dostoyevsky, a deeply religious man, probably looked at poor people as to real saints, because of the simple, traditional Orthodox lives they had. For him, it was from these people that a new nation could raise, and a new socio-political order could develop. After leaving prison and the military he wrote, Zapiski iz podpolya (1864; Notes from the Underground) which proved to be a sophisticated view of all things social, political, and religious feelings of the author. His ideals of loneliness, freedom, human relations and human conflict arise in this book. From his experiences his writing style dramatically changed and reflected much of ideals and periods that he was going experiencing.

After Poor Folk, Dostoyevsky began to define his style and became characterized by the attention given to the ‘self’ (Orwin 2007, 100). In his novels, Dostoyevsky rendered images of men and women who were forged by the circumstances of their upbringing, much as those of Turgenev (ibid.). His characters experience complex inner conflicts and cannot act against their impulses, though they sometimes regret their deeds after accomplishing them (ibid.). Beginning with Poor Folk, Dostoyevsky illustrates his “preference for a poetics of subjectivity in which his characters directly express their innermost thoughts and feelings” (Frank 2002, 6). Even if he is a realist writer, his characters are deeply romantic, in their subjectivity and their construction. All very well, but you should be able to formulate your own ideas too, not to rely exclusively on scholarship. I pointed it on several earlier occasions that you should avoid having a reference at the end of each sentence.

Dostoyevsky’s interpretation of Pushkin

Dostoyevsky’s fascination with Pushkin was described by many critics and represents one of the points that differentiate him not only from Turgenev, but from all the other writers of his generation, whose style had been shaped by Pushkin, but who did not embrace him as Dostoyevsky did, as a messianic figure who can represent the symbol of the new Russia, as Dostoyevsky imagined it. Dostoyevsky’s exile in Siberia, in 1849, had a deep influence on him. He was forced to survive in extreme conditions for 5 years, during which he was constantly handcuffed and he was forbidden from reading anything but the Bible. However, he did study Pushkin, as he confessed to his wife in a letter: “so far I have been reading only Pushkin and I am intoxicated with enthusiasm. Every day I find something new” (Dostoyevsky in Leatherbarrow 1979, 368). It is then in these circumstances that Dostoyevsky began to think of Pushkin as of a figure which could become the symbol of Russia’s progress, though he had admired his works much earlier.

While it is clear that Dostoyevsky was inspired in many works by his predecessor, the nature of this relation is a mystery since, Leatherbarrow (1979, 368) argues, they were men of completely different origins and upbringings, had different characters, styles, and even destinies. According to the author, Pushkin was an aristocrat, a true man of letters, whose style was defined by elegance, precision and confidence. Pushkin, the author also showed, lived in an age in which noble men were sure of their position in the society, and in a stable political environment which allowed him to create works that reflects this calmness and certainty, such as Evgeni Onegin (369).  In contrast, Dostoyevsky was a man born into a time of great tension. He was a temperamental artist whose works reflect his passionate and volcanic answer to great problems from his life. For example, His time in exile was translated in The House of the Dead, whereas his drama at losing his young son Alyosha gave birth to the eponymous character from Brother Karamazov.

However, both writers experienced a form of exile, which was transcribed into an imposed existence far from leadership in Russia. The circumstances of both vary, and the conditions differ also, it is clear that one can draw similarities from their outcomes in feeling of loneliness and despair. However, it may be argued, for both, the result was the immersion into two opposite styles, Pushkin was a true Romantic, while Dostoyevsky utilized a translatable realism that translated with the reader in an unequivocal way. , which is able to describe their dramatic experiences.

Pushkin’s interpretation of Dostoyevsky was based on the latter’s conviction that the former was the embodiment of everything that was Russian, and pure, and that his works, which convey a typically romantic view of nature, and of the topic of homeland, which also comprised the folk, represented the basis of Russian culture itself.  Dostoyevsky’s Pushkin was thus synonymous with national identity for the author, and for the people of Russia. According to Levitt (1989), “for the Russians, it was Pushkin who came to serve as their Dante, as the validator of their national self-worth” (p.4). Therefore, Dostoyevsky interpreted Pushkin as a Slavophile himself, or rather, “the first Slavophile” although Pushkin was much Europeanized, he considered him a true aristocrat of the time. (Leatherbarrow, 1979, 370)

Therefore, the question which must be asked, is what about Pushkin made Dostoyevsky so enthusiastic as to identify him with the nationalistic movement itself? According to Leatherbarrow, most critics assume that Dostoyevsky simply misinterpreted Pushkin and attributed to him meanings he did not intend to convey: “there can be no doubt that much of Dostoyevsky’s admiration for Pushkin was based upon a profound understanding of that poet’s significance” (p.371). This misunderstanding refers to Dostoyevsky’s subjectivity in his criticism of Pushkin. Pushkin devoted his life to the Russian language and literature, and therefore, it was easy or Dostoyevsky to see him as a man who is deeply involved in the progress of his country from within. Pushkin had also been deeply influenced by Western figures, such as Byron, and was the product of westernized Russian culture.

Dostoyevsky did not only interpret Pushkin as a Slavophile. He also interpreted him as a realist, and this interpretation is reflected in Dostoyevsky’s novels. Again lack of any specific detail Pushkin’s legacy can be seen in the writer’s specific artistic style, romantic realism, which blended elements of both movements. One of the most important elements of the style of Pushkin in Dostoyevsky’s works is a focus upon tragic characters. Tragic characters, such as that of Evgeni Onegin, are typically romantic and therefore, clearly allude to Pushkin, when they are employed by Dostoyevsky. In The Brothers Karamazov, or Crime and Punishment, the tragic destinies of the main characters not only reflect Dostoyevsky’s own understanding of the condition of the intellectual who is unable to come to an agreement with himself (Raskolnikov), but also criticizes the adepts of nihilism who rejected poetry, and particularly Pushkin, as the most important poet of the Russians (Dimitri Karamazov).

Raskolnikov is a tragic hero in Pushkin’s tradition, who has to deal with the consequences of his own mistakes.  John Bayley (1971) connects Crime and Punishment with another one of Pushkin’s works, The Queen of Spades (p.324). In both, the main character becomes the murderer of what he considers a worthless woman who in their opinion does not deserve to live. However, Dostoyevsky’s interpretation of this theme is much more complex. Thus, whereas in The Queen of Spades, the problem is a social one, in Crime and Punishment, the problem becomes metaphysical (p. 324).  Pushkin’s story leads the reader into his reality, in which ghosts, such as that of Hamlet, makes justice for themselves. However, Dostoyevsky’s character is deeply rooted in the real world and represent types of people from the streets.

In The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoyevsky undertook the task of criticizing the nihilist movement, which had been one of the themes of Turgenev’s Fathers and Son.  In his novel, Dostoyevsky criticizes the nihilist movement which, in its turn, criticizes Pushkin. Therefore, the novel does not only criticize the nihilists, but is meant to defend poetry, in general, and Pushkin, in particular, against what he interpreted as Turgenev’s aggressive attack. Throughout the novel, Pushkin is referenced several times, the similarities in the character of Bazavro can be linked down to the death of the character from his own actions of self-destruction.

For example, Ratkin, character in the novel, believed that he could write better than Pushkin, for him “had managed to advocate enlightenment even in that” (Dostoyevsky 1963, 566). He was referring to the poem he had written for Madame Holakov”. Ratkin believed that, in doing so, he had soiled his hands; however, he ironically claimed that, “it’s for a good cause. If I can get my hands on that woman’s fortune, I can be of great social utility” (566). While Dostoyevsky’s purpose may seem ambiguous, the author’s purpose was that satirizing Ratkin, who was a man with no moral values and no value, therefore showed, that those who criticize people are not people who should be taken seriously.

Dostoyevsky’s position on Pushkin reflected in his ideological views

As shown above, Dostoyevsky placed Pushkin at the core of his Slavophile beliefs, considering him “the first Slavophile”.  Dostoyevsky’s beliefs were based on the fact that much of Pushkin’s poems are of historic, folkloric or patriot inspiration. For example, in The Land of Moscow (Dostoyevsky or Pushkin 1999, n.p.), Pushkin’s patriotic inspiration is apparent:

The land of Moscow – the land that is my native,

Where in the dawn of my best years,

I spared the hours of carelessness, attractive,

Free of unhappiness and fears. Reference list does not have any relevant data

These verses, and many others similar to it, were used by Slavophiles to justify their claims concerning Pushkin.

At the 1880 celebration, Pushkin’s speech was directed not only towards praising Pushkin’s literary genius, but also at glorifying him as a universal poet, as showed elsewhere in this dissertation. For Dostoyevsky, Pushkin was a symbol and also a proof. A symbol of Russia’s new beginnings as a society based on Orthodox and nationalistic discourses and a proof that Russia did have the resources in order to develop from within, in lack of any foreign influences.  This view however, ignored the fact that Pushkin himself had been under the influence of French and English ideas all his life. (Levitt, 1989, 44)

Having idealized Pushkin, Dostoyevsky sees in him an image of his own ideas, rather than a human being who had been driven by his own goals and purposes. Thus, according to Cassidy (2005), “to Dostoyevsky, Pushkin is about nothing if not his (Pushkin’s) own favorite ideas. If you’ll ever read any of Pushkin’s works, you’ll have trouble recognizing him in what Dostoyevsky says” (p. 80). Cassidy’s statements, though radical, express the same ideas as Leatherbarrow (1979), who believes that Dostoyevsky analyzed Pushkin’s work “with the blind eye of a fanatic” (p.370), and thus, had a narrow understanding of his persona, an understanding which was filtered to match his own beliefs.

One can notice that both Turgenev and Dostoyevsky mentioned Europe in their speeches, a clear indication of their real purposes. Turgenev explained that, “among us, Russians, who have entered into the circle of the European family later than others, both these elements [the principle of receptivity and of self-sufficiency] take on a special coloration” (Turgenev in Allen 1940, 840).  In mentioning this dual principle, Turgenev tries to reach a consensus between the two parties, and to explain how a people can both be part of the European family, and retain their unique character.

Dostoyevsky also mentioned Europe in his speech, and claimed that, “to a true Russian, Europe and the destiny of all the mighty Aryan family is as dear as Russia herself, as the destiny of his own native country, because our destiny is universality, won not by the sword, but by the strength of brotherhood and our fraternal aspiration to reunite mankind” (Dostoyevsky, 1880, par.10).  This may also seem as an attempt to reconciliation. However, it is not quite so. The reconciliation is actually within the “Russian soul”, that is, a reconciliation of the Russian people with its “European yearnings”.

In Dostoyevsky interpretation of Pushkin, he reveals that it is not Russia who needs Europe, but rather, it is Europe who needs Russia, but a Slavophile Russia, because it is from its folklore, from its spirituality and from its culture that Russia draws strength and value.  Cassidy, in analyzing the same paragraph, argues that Dostoyevsky expresses his “confidence in the possibility of reconciliation with the West, or to put it more precisely, a reconciliation within the West to be shown to the West by Russia” (80). According to him then, the reconciliation is between the Russian Westernized intelligentsia and their homeland.

Maybe as a first step in this regard, Dostoyevsky showed his favor unto wording Turgenev, whom he lauded for his construction of Liza (A Nest of Gentlefolk), who was, in Dostoyevsky’s view, closer to the model of the Russian woman than any other character created since Pushkin. This recognition is more important than it may seem, because, the In Russian culture, an archetypal female quality consists of purity, goodness, devotion and love. In Pushkin’s work, such qualities are represented by Tatiana, who became the model of almost all the Russian female protagonists subsequently depicted in Russian literature. Therefore, by giving a Westerner credit for recreating the ideal Russian woman par excellence, Dostoyevsky attempts not only to reconcile personally with Turgenev, but also, to show that even Westerners are filled with the love, admiration and devotion for Russia’s culture.

As recounted by witnesses, Dostoyevsky’s speech was so impressive that one person even fainted with excitement (G.I. Uspensky, in Sekirin, 250). According to the witness, “in a very simple and clear manner, he told the public what he thought of Pushkin and what all the people present at the meeting, should expect from him. He managed, so to speak, to bring Pushkin into the hall” (p. 250). This shows not only that Dostoyevsky’s speech was met with an overwhelming reaction from the audience but also, he had managed to impose his own interpretation of Pushkin, and his own ideology, upon the crowd. Dostoyevsky’s Pushkin was, at least during those moments, everybody’s Pushkin, converting the audience into Slavophiles.

Chapter IV

Pushkin as a fictional character in the works of Turgenev and Dostoyevsky

Both Dostoyevsky and Turgenev acknowledged the significance of Pushkin’s legacy. They both regarded Pushkin as their inspiration and guide due to his most significant contribution to the development of the Russian literary language. Not only was he praised for establishing the Russian language and literature, but also, like Shakespeare who is praised for his contribution to the English language, Pushkin was given credit for significantly expanding the Russian lexicon by inventing his own terms whenever he identified gaps in the Russian vocabulary.

In order to determine how the two writers integrated, Pushkin’s figure into their works, it is necessary to understand Pushkin through the lenses of his socio-political context. The key contribution of Pushkin into the development and formation of the Russian language and literature was the consensus he found between the two conflicting trends in the Russian literary traditions; the Archaists were the followers of admiral Shishkov, and represented the proponents of the Old Church Slavonic language, while the Karamzinists, the representatives of the Arzamas group, were the followers of Nikolai Karamzin, and advocated the European influences on the Russian language (Tynianov, 1969, 29-30). Pushkin, from the beginning of  his literary activity as the member of the Arzamas group, further unified the vernacular Russian language, the Church Slavonic lexicon, and the European influences (mainly the use of French in his works, borrowed words, the French-type word-combinations, and syntax) in the unique and vibrant form of the his literary language (Vinogradov, 1941, 7). The delicate combination of rich vocabulary and sensitive nuanced style is characterized throughout his work. Pushkin was able to be influenced from his knowledge of different foreign languages (French, German). Pushkin utilized the Russian language as literary devices in order to romanticize and modernize the language for a more fluid and unique style of linguistic features for the reader.

Pushkin also wrote in nearly every literary genre. Though often referred to as a “poet,” in fact, he wrote both lyric and narrative poetry, novels, short stories, plays, critical essays, and even epistolary works. Many of his stories and poems have formed the basis for works by other authors.  Politically, Pushkin was a literary radical, which caused many problems with the state authorities.  From the early stages of his life, Pushkin was able to right in numerous styles and proses to reach to the Russian people. It was during the time of Alexander I, that he became more radical with his writing. Gathered with other literary minds, he wrote on several politically charged pieces.

However, the Tsar was not a big fan of his worked, and wanted him to be exiled out of the country, however, convinced otherwise, he was exiled to South Russia. After the Decembrist Uprisings, the new Tsar, Nicholas I, brought him in for interrogation, and after Pushkin’s admittance to knowing them, he made a promise to the Tsar. Pushkin would no longer write against the government, and all work would have to be approve by him, and he would no longer be in exile. Although as harsh as the accounts were, this showed the interest in literature that other Tsar didn’t share in their leadership.

Conflict between Dostoyevsky and Turgenev

Both Turgenev and Dostoyevsky viewed the independent genius in the poet. Moreover, they emphasized that Pushkin’s works express his impetuosity and creative force that embody profound and purely Russian ideas in immortal literary images. Even despite such scornful attitudes between Turgenev and Dostoyevsky, both experienced periods of warming in their relationships, and read each other’s works, even being able to praise them (Orwin 2007, 106). It was the ideological differences that divided them. In addition, Turgenev publicly claimed his atheism, and the non-religiosity was evident through his works, while for Dostoyevsky, religion was the gist of his life and the main guiding force in creation and in advancement of the Russian nation, ‘narod’ (Lantz 2004, 444). Therefore, the two writers, both being realists, both traveling to Europe and having very sympathetic views on the ordinary people, could not find the touching points and were all-time enemies and rivals in their writing, in social life, in criticism, and ideological views.

The greatest conflict between Dostoyevsky and Turgenev in their perception of Pushkin arises in their different philosophical approaches. Dostoyevsky, as has been shown, perceived Pushkin as a prophet, a spiritual leader of the Russian people, and, in fact, of all people, i.e. the humankind. He perceived Pushkin as being a giant far beyond the limits of the Russian culture, and instead as a genius of the human race. Pushkin, in this perspective, was a pan-humanistic representative of the Russian literature; his mission was to unite people, to show the true value of harmony, and to bridge the gaps that revealed themselves so dramatically in the 19th century in Russia.

Yet, that pan-humanism was not in any way contradictory with Dostoyevsky’s strong Russian Orthodox faith. If anything, Pushkin, in this appraisal, approached Christ-like capabilities (though without the implication of divinity). Pushkin, according to Dostoyevsky, was a man of all people, all nations, and all cultures. He did not belong to Russia alone, but to everyone everywhere, and his literary legacy was in universal ownership.

In Turgenev’s view, however, Pushkin was very much a man of Russia and a man of his times. He embodied the spirit of Russia, and his flaws and limitations were very human. Particularly, Turgenev did not perceive Pushkin and his works as being spiritual in religious terms. Instead, he attributed Pushkin’s archetypes to a superior understanding of human nature from the socio-political viewpoint. It is thus evident that both Dostoyevsky and Turgenev projected their own views on the society, state, Russia in its essence, on their interpretation of Pushkin’s works and philosophy underlying their plot and characters.

Turgenev also correlated Pushkin with the national prosperity that accompanied the spirit of revolution evident in Europe in the middle of the nineteenth century. He associated Pushkin’s accomplishments with the creation of the truly Russian literary works, just as Dostoyevsky did. However, he did not regard that prosperity beyond the Russian borders. Turgenev’s limitations in the perception of Pushkin might be connected with his cosmopolitan lifestyle and more positive attitude to Europe than Russia. Dostoyevsky also was a frequent visitor of Europe, mostly for gambling purposes; nonetheless, Dostoyevsky was very skeptical about European values and lifestyle, which became the key difference between the two writers.

Another difference between them arose from the philosophies and ideologies they professed regarding the place of Russia in the world, and the place of ‘narod’ in the state. Dostoyevsky was regarded a precursor of existentialism which has been defined as “a post-Hegelian rejection, if not a revolt, against the reductionism of the modern world view’s reading of reality through the eyes of mathematical physics, interpreting man in terms of a mechanistic model of physical reality” (Bourgeois, 1996, 84). Dostoyevsky’s agreement with existentialist thought is traceable in Crime and Punishment, in which the main protagonist, Raskolnikov:

…emerges, not as a Utopian Socialist favoring peaceful propaganda, “conversion to the cause of reason and persuasion,” but rather, as a true Nihilist, with the conviction “that the superior individual has the right and the obligation to strike a decisive blow by himself”. (Bourgeois 1996, 86)

For Dostoyevsky, these existential beliefs were thoroughly tied to the Russian Orthodox Church. His characters were frequently torn between their innate feelings and conscious, rational ideas (Bourgeois 1996, 86). Most importantly, while Turgenev wanted Russia to move into the Western European mainstream, Dostoyevsky was deeply opposed to that concept. These philosophical differences between Turgenev and Dostoyevsky characters throughout his literatures, can show variances in degrees of interpreting the notions and attitudes of Pushkin, which not only reverberated in the speeches they presented at the unveiling of Pushkin Memorial, but also characterizes the influence of Pushkin that is evident in their literary works.

The speeches of both writers produced different effects on the public. Dostoyevsky’s speech was accompanied by enthusiastic applause. Repetition However, Turgenev’s speech did not produce the same effect. On the one hand, Turgenev paid tribute to Pushkin’s genius, and characterized him as a valuable and essential figure in the Russian literature. On the other hand, “he viewed him within the European tradition, and declined to give him the title of a national poet in the same sense as Goethe, Moliére, or Shakespeare” held in their respective countries (Lantz 2009, 341). Dostoyevsky’s speech was marked with other shades. For Dostoyevsky, Pushkin was the personification of the Russian messianism and universal reconciliation. He claimed that Pushkin’s creative legacy reflected the national authenticity, and the true Russian spirit. In Dostoyevsky’s opinion, through his works, Pushkin became the brother of all humanity with a strong sense of self-identification.

Comparative analysis of Dostoyevsky and Turgenev’s attitude to Pushkin

If there was one issue that both Turgenev and Dostoyevsky could agree on, it must have been on the critical importance of Pushkin to the Russian literary tradition. Both authors emphasized the monumental importance of Pushkin’s development of a new literary language for Russia in their speeches at the opening of the Pushkin Memorial. That language, as Turgenev pointed out, was “second only to Greek in its richness, power, logic, and beauty of form” (Turgenev in Allen 1994, 848). He spent Both Turgenev and Dostoyevsky thus recognized Pushkin’s great achievements in the development of the Russian language, but they differed substantially in how they perceived Pushkin with respect to the Russian nation and Russian culture. Turgenev clearly perceived Pushkin as the ultimate in Russian patriot, a man who worked to bring about social reform. Pushkin was also was peripherally supportive of the failed Decembrist Revolt in 1825. Luckily, Pushkin was in exile in Mikhailovskoe when the revolt took place. The revolutionary mood dominated in Russia in late autumn and winter of 1825, as the Tsar Alexander died in November, and there was much incongruence and awkwardness about the heir to the Russian throne. Finally, Alexander’s younger brother Nicolas became the Tsar and the plotters who pushed for constitutional democracy gathered at the Senate Square. They met canister shot, leaders lost the courage and decisiveness, and the unorganized upheaval quickly collapsed. However, after the failure the Tsarist commission interviewed the participants, many of whom reported having been inspired by the ‘liberal’ verses of Pushkin, which diluted his reputation (Martin 2008, 5). When interrogated, Pushkin didn’t deny his friends in the movement, and didn’t deny the ideals of what the Decembrist stood for. Turgenev and Dostoyevsky both agreed that Pushkin served as a visionary in using literature to mobilize the Russians, particularly the youth. (Levitt, 1989, 70)

In contrast to Turgenev’s perspective, Dostoyevsky perceived Pushkin more as a spiritual leader. While acknowledging Pushkin’s political interests, Dostoyevsky associated Pushkin as the proponent of global humanitarian aims – the ones that placed Russia at the forefront of human development, without ever jeopardizing the innate Russian culture and ethos of her people. Through much of his early works on the rights and needs of freedom for his people Russia, to the politically charged scribes to the Tsar, on need for a new system that helped push the Decembrist Uprising. Pushkin’s romantic style of writing was able to translate with the Russian people, which possessed the same thoughts on the problems of Russia. According to Dostoevsky, “Pushkin’s works in particular, could express the essence of a nation and convey its particular contribution to the general advancement of humanity.” (Lantz, 341, 2004)

The differences in how these two realist authors viewed Pushkin resulted in somewhat different incarnations of Pushkin within their respective works. Pushkin provided inspiration and models to follow for both writers, so Pushkin (or what can be called images of Pushkin) appears in both authors’ works. In Dostoyevsky, the incarnations reveal themselves in highly spiritual characters that yet may mandate for higher human salvation, such as Underground Man in Notes from Underground, or the dichotomy of Raskolnikov and Sonya in Crimes and Punishment. Probably the clearest incarnation of Pushkin in Dostoyevsky is the anti-Pushkin Ivan Karamazov contrasted with the monkish Alyosha Karamazov in The Brothers Karamazov. In both novels, Pushkin has been split apart and, as Frank noticed, (2009, 36), multiple facets of his character and personality appear in multiple characters.

Pushkin’s persona can be identified in the construction of the “underground man” because Dostoyevsky raised the discussion away from egoism and self-interest and tried to address the spiritual nature of humanity. Like Pushkin, the “underground man” is trying to raise human consciousness away from petty egoistic and materialistic concerns and into more pan-humanist issues. Yet, one real difference between the character and the poet who inspired this character is the essential pessimism of the “underground man” (Chances 2001, 118). As the unnamed narrator insists:

And yet I think man will never renounce real suffering, that is, destruction and chaos. Why, suffering is the sole origin of consciousness…Consciousness, for instance, is infinitely superior to two, twice two makes four… While if you stick to consciousness, even though the same result is attained, you can at least flog yourself at times, and that will, at any rate, liven you up. Reactionary as it is, corporal punishment is better than nothing (Dostoyevsky 1992, 24).

Pushkin’s life and his persona became the inspiration for Dostoyevsky’s works through his transformation into a symbol. Pushkin, became atypical hero throughout Russian literature. He has become a representative figure used as a catalyst through his works to provoke change. Dostoyevsky thought of him in constructing his characters. Pushkin also appears as a character in Crime and Punishment in two separate guises, both as the protagonist Raskolnikov, and as the humble, self-effacing Sonya. Throughout the story Raskolnikov goes through several changes that stem from transform him into a nihilist, which Turgenev defines as the person who doesn’t conform or accept authority, different religions regardless of respect surrounding it. Pushkin’s early life is marred in his ability to learn language through his maids which grew to love. Sent to learn the European culture with others, he read on the works of Gogol who helped to inspire to write on the social issues, and the need for freedom under the monarchic rule. After a near-monastic life in the Tsarskoe Selo Lyceum, an exclusive school set up by Tsar Alexander I for the best and brightest young men in Russia, after graduation Pushkin devoted himself to the traditional delights of wine, women, and song (Martin 2008, 3). Some if the characters draw similar similarities with Pushkin’s background, and philosophical change after abandoning the adopted counterculture that was pushed on him through schooling.

This young-rebel Pushkin, with his emphasis on witty, if not near-treasonous, political epigrams, reflects the student Raskolnikov, proud, aggressively convinced of his own superiority, and equally convinced of his inability to suffer the consequences of any action he takes, moral or not. In Raskolnikov’s case, the action he chooses to take is a murder. In Pushkin’s case, no such extreme action was performed, but his debauched lifestyle certainly put him to extremes that caused disapproval from the state authorities. Yet, Raskolnikov’s redemption at the end of the novel clearly traces Pushkin’s own journey from a debaucher to a spiritual leader of the Russian people.

The second presence of Pushkin in Crime and Punishment is Sonya, the loving daughter forced into prostitution by her drunken father so she can support the family. With her mother dying, Raskolnikov taunts Sonya with her inevitable doom, yet her response is a desperate, “God would not allow anything so awful!” (Dostoyevsky 2008, 311). For Sonya, the spiritual reality is greater than the physical degradation that permeates her life. Just as Pushkin perceives the benison of pan-humanistic reality, Sonya’s reality encompasses much more than the simple day-to-day struggle to survive. Pushkin can thus be seen as an amalgam of both Raskolnikov and Sonya, a blending of the two.

In Dostoyevsky’s masterpiece, The Brothers Karamazov, Pushkin’s universal humanitarianism is placed in sharp contrast with the spiritual crisis faced by Ivan Fyodorovich, the Karamazov brother who mostly reflects the intellectual or rationalist perspective on life. Ivan himself claims, “One cannot live by rebellion, and I want to live”. However, that complaint reflected the lack of an inner spiritual relationship with God, giving a link to Pushkin. It is possible to see that Ivan is the “anti-Pushkin” because, as Kantor points out:

No matter how much one reads into Ivan’s words, and no matter how much one tries to read out of them, what is it, really, that he wishes to present to society in the sense of a higher truth? It’s not revolution, of course, with its concrete social tasks for the reconstruction of the world. Dostoyevsky [sic] found the exact word, bunt, rebellion, to which Pushkin in his time attached the epithets ‘senseless’ and ‘merciless’ (Kantor 2001, 208).

Furthermore, Ivan’s true rebellion is not a rebellion against authority; it is more of a rebellion of a person “severed from his ‘native or national truth” (Kantor 2001, 210). In other words, by separating himself from his national ethos, and from his pan-humanitarian ethos, Ivan Fyodorovich is separating himself from all of humanity. Thus, Ivan serves as an opposite to Pushkin, an anti-Pushkin character, and Ivan’s self-destruction and eventual downfall reflects the inevitable fall of those who oppose Pushkin’s ideas about the universal humanitarianism.

Yet, if Ivan’s super-rationalist perspective is a depiction of an anti-Pushkin character, the more spiritual Alyosha acts in a far more Pushkin-like role, as he mediates the family disputes. His crisis of faith reflects various arguments presented by those of more nationalist and egocentric rationalism, yet in the end, Alyosha overcomes them and gets reassurance by his confidence in God. In the book’s epilogue, his message to his remaining family is not to forget the events surrounding the family crises, but instead to recognize that only love and community—Pushkin’s pan-humanitarian approach—got them through the dark days of the events illustrated in the novel (Dostoyevsky 1881, Epilogue).

In the case of Turgenev’s works, Pushkin again appears across multiple characters in Fathers and Sons. Bazarov is, like Ivan Karamazov, an anti-Pushkin character, the one who represents the exact opposite of Pushkin rather than exemplifying Pushkin directly. Yet over the course of the novel, the psychological development of wanting gain freedom is directed towards coming a more Pushkin Romance literature displayed throughout the forcefulness of depending on logic and reasoning, falling in love with something passionately, and because of others having to drop something that he love.  His transformation into another counterculture, is evident of Pushkin’s dive into the European culture while in school. Bazarov brings together the themes that dominated Pushkin’s life, be more specific, in what elements of the plot is this seen those of unifying the Russian language, folklore, and literature into a single, unified whole – being a political activist rather than a literary person, Bazarov still touched upon the need for Russia to get determined in its future direction, though from a different perspective than Pushkin did.

The intergenerational conflict of this novel well reflects Pushkin’s generational conflicts with his idolaters and his detractors. Pushkin is embodied in this novel in a combination of two characters. First of these is the character of the radical young Bazarov, a youth willing to condemn the older generation’s cherished traditions and beliefs to the fire. Bazarov actually embodies an anti-Pushkin approach because this arrogant young man rejects all aspects of Russian culture and society. He condemns the very concept of aristocracy, and insists that the only way to correct society is to reduce it to nil or nothing.  Even poetry is no longer relevant because, in Bazarov’s opinion, only science, materialism, and realism can provide a worthwhile perspective on life. Thus, Bazarov adopts the title of “nihilist,” a word invented by Turgenev (though the concept of nihilism was not his invention). Whereas Pushkin, in Turgenev’s view embodied the soul of Russian nationalism, Bazarov wants to wipe out those traditions and culture and start afresh with a completely new way of looking at the world.

Yet it is not true that Bazarov holds no principle, as a true nihilist would. Instead, his principles are simply different from those of the fathers’ generation. He and Pavel are at odds over their visions of society. Furthermore, these two opposing viewpoints are not nearly as different as they appear on the surface. While there are many ideological variances between the two, upon closer reading the similarities between the two can be seen in their rejection of the existent structure of the society, and of the corruption that characterizes it. Bazarov’s nihilism is, after all, a creation of the society, of everything that goes wrong in it, and it is his rebellious answer to all the wrongs he sees around him. The two characters have a different answer to these wrongs, but they both reject them.

Furthermore, Pushkin’s influence as an artist further appears more definitively in the form of many of Turgenev’s strong Russian female figures. These women exemplify, as shown elsewhere in this dissertation, strength, purity in moral terms, and self-sacrifice, virtues that while not quite exact matches with Pushkin personally; they certainly reflect his understanding of the ethos of Russian women, most clearly represented by his Tatiana. Furthermore, in his devotion to the cause of freeing Greece and his dedication to developing and forging a new literary path in the Russian language, Pushkin himself demonstrated many of these virtues.

One of the examples to illustrate this point is the embodiment of Pushkin’s spirit in the character of the young woman, Anna Odintsova, the woman Bazarov yearns for, though he decries such normal feelings as love. She provides a gentle, understanding and purely Russian character, a woman who is beautiful both inside and out, a woman who embodies the spirit of Russia, filled with liberal ideas and proud of their determination to “shake up” society (Allen 1994, xxvii). What is most interesting about this character is her ability to force even the radical nihilist of Bazarov to re-think his opinions. While he does not completely yield to the gentle Russianness of Anna, he does soften his position toward her, and toward Mother Russia as a result of his encounters with her.

Turgenev’s heroines are strong and willing to flout convention if sufficiently motivated to do so, but they do not exemplify the “modern” woman of the 1860s. Instead, they represent the best and greatest ideals of the Russian women. Hence, it is in that guise that they embody Pushkin’s artistic spirit. In the traditional Russian society, law explicitly forbade marriage without parental consent. Yet, these restrictions began to break down in the middle of the nineteenth century as women began to develop other mechanisms to achieve their personal goals, whether it is for a career or love, or other reason. For example, a technique of a “fictitious marriage” was popular – a man married a woman with parental consent, but with the understanding that after the wedding she would be free to live where and how she liked. However, Turgenev does not reflect these trends in is work, nor does he give any suggestion of modern femininity throughout his works.

In Turgenev’s interpretation, Pushkin embodies the ultimate best of Russia, in terms of literary and cultural genius. The strong women of Turgenev’s novels, including the rebellious daughters such as Natalia in Rudin (1857), Liza in Dvorianskoe gnezdo (A Nest of Gentry, 1859), and Elena in Nakanune (On the Eve, 1860) equally reflect that sense of being the best that Russia has to offer.

While not “feminist” in the current-day definition of the word, Turgenev’s heroines reflect the ideal, the perfection, as well as the strength that comes from being that ideal. This approach to character creation reflects Pushkin’s role in Russian literature as a founder, a creator. Pushkin not only reflected the Russian tradition; he virtually created it in a very real sense. He equally created the feminine archetype in Russian literature and therefore, he bestowed upon them his own understanding of the feminine principle, a feminine principle that lived within him, because, as cultural mythologist Carol Winters explained, “A fully integrated individual is a unique and balanced expression of both feminine and masculine traits” (2006, p.206).  The Russian ideal women from Turgenev’s works thus embodied the same feminine principle, the principle that lived within him.

While Dostoyevsky and Turgenev clearly have somewhat different interpretations of the fundamental character of Alexander Pushkin, they each found ways to embody him in the characters of their major works. Some of the most frequently used approaches were to show the essence of their fictional characters through their attitude to Pushkin: for Dostoyevsky, negative characters despised or disrespected Pushkin, while positive characters always made hints or clearly stated about their awe and love of Pushkin’s works. Turgenev, in his turn, challenged the role of Pushkin in the particular period of his life and work, as well as his place in the eternal cultural heritage of Russia in particular, and world in general. Therefore, the main issue that Pushkin-like characters tried to solve in Turgenev’s storylines was to create something extraordinary, to overcome the forces preventing them from achieving their goals, and to become greater people through their self-sacrifice, effort, and introspection.


The contribution of Pushkin to the Russian literature and the global cultural heritage may be appraised very highly, thus putting Pushkin in line with such outstanding artists as William Shakespeare, George Gordon Byron, Dante, and Servantes. All these grand writers contributed enormously to the creation of their respective national languages and cultures, on the revelation of their national authenticity in literature, and on reflecting the national uniqueness of their own country. In a similar vein, Pushkin may be called a pioneer in the sphere of Russian literature as he was the first to discover beauty of Russian language, as well as gentility and nobility in the ordinary human souls of Russian folk.

Turgenev saw Pushkin as a linguistic genius who established a nuanced, flexible, and rich and strong language for literature equaling Greek in its grandeur and beauty. Turgenev also presented the famous Russian poet as a political humanist, fighting for human rights and raising the consciousness of the need for improved conditions for all Russians. Turgenev also pointed out that because Pushkin died at a tragically young age, his work was incomplete. However, Pushkin was the initiator of realism that Turgenev adopted. As the founder of the literary language, and the initiator of the realist trend in the Russian language, Pushkin represented an inspiration for Turgenev, in what his character types, his writing style, indeed, his literary thought are concerned. However, as he matured, his style distanced itself from that of Pushkin, and came to reflect the socio-cultural realities of his time.

Turgenev felt his belonging to Russia, but he longed to become the part of Europe and disregarded many of the culturally unique traits and phenomena in Russia. Turgenev could not see Pushkin as the bridge between Europe and Russia. Rather, he saw Pushkin as a founding father of Russian literature and the initiator of a cultural tradition that was yet to give born to Russia’s true national poet.

Dostoyevsky, on the contrary, perceived Pushkin not only as a literary genius, but as the one who transcended national boundaries and who belonged not only to the Russian people but to the entire humanity. Dostoyevsky stressed Pushkin’s role in realizing the unifying mission by the Russian people. In this perspective, Pushkin exemplified the hopes and aspirations of the Russian folk for the better future, for recognition, and for dignity and equality on a par with Europe. Dostoyevsky’s exclamation of Pushkin was greeted by both Slavophiles and Westernizers that claimed that Pushkin was the embodiment of artist that express the true spirit of Russia. Pushkin’s greatness, was in his ability to emphasize Russia’s beauty of the soul through a vivid palette of unmistakable Russian characters. Pushkin’s appeal of the essence of Russian from is acute receptiveness of the idealist spirit of humanity was trait that was characterized in the Russian people. Dostoyevsky’s appeal was to remember Pushkin as a pan-humanist, not as “only” a Russian patriot and national poet. Rather than succumbing to the nationalistic and regional forces that threatened to rip apart nations and cultures, Dostoyevsky felt that Pushkin could unite and unify all European countries into a cohesive whole. In particular, Dostoyevsky believed Russia must not adapt to the Western literary tradition, but instead should use Pushkin’s genius as a guide to retain their authenticity and uniqueness. His arguments in this respect were heartfelt and strong.

It has been claimed that Dostoyevsky, particularly in his Notes from Underground, set out to create a character that exemplified true goodness and truth. Dostoyevsky strove in all his works to present characters that were both new and yet recognizably true. He also strove to create an Orthodox Russian Christian figure, using Pushkin as a guide. In their efforts to follow Pushkin’s model within the characters of their various works, both Dostoyevsky and Turgenev emphasized different aspects of Pushkin as a human being. In Dostoyevsky’s case, the aspects of spirituality and moral leadership, along with the humanitarian thrust were stressed as he portrayed Pushkin in characters such as the Karamazov brothers Ivan and Alyosha. Here the rationalist, intellectual Ivan portrays the anti-Pushkin aspect, and his destruction comes as a direct result of that rationality.

Turgenev’s incarnation of Pushkin as the Russian patriot in all his works reflects his perception of Pushkin as having lived an incomplete life, one cut short before his promise and genius could be fulfilled.  Dostoyevsky’s incarnation of Pushkin as a different kind of Russian patriot, more of a Russian Christ, destined to lead not only Russia but all of Europe—possibly the whole world—to national pride, to development, and progress in all aspects of human life. As one can see, there are many points on which the disagreement between Turgenev and Dostoyevsky about Pushkin was based; however, the main incongruence rose from the deep differences in their ideological views and their respective vision for Russia’s future.

Pushkin has been identified so strongly with Russia itself in the discourse of the generations of intellectuals that followed him, that the attitude to him shows attitude of a speaker towards Russia. Since Pushkin has managed to embody all Russia has ever cherished, one can see that Pushkin’s literary heritage is much more than the contribution to the literary and cultural development. Pushkin has done much more than inventing the literary language and shaping literary genres widely utilized afterwards. Pushkin has become the first to show the true beauty of ordinary Russian people. Pushkin was among the first to paint a vivid gallery of Russia’s positive beauty found among the Russian people. His works imposed such beauty unlike any writer before him that stoke a chord with the Russian people. In works such as Onegin, he was revered as great national writer, which was able to convey the extreme exactness and insightfulness that in most essence of the Russian society above the level of the people.

Perhaps, Turgenev interpreted Pushkin through the lenses of his own experience, which was radically different than that of Pushkin’s. Pushkin was sent in exile, and this affected his view of Russia and of the Russian folk. Turgenev, however, traveled through Europe and met the most prominent literary figures of Paris. He had little connection with Pushkin, whose works and persona influenced his early literally career.  Dostoyevsky, however, had a different as much higher, wider, and much more positive view as compared to Turgenev. His world view was shaped by his youth in Siberia, which can be compared with Pushkin’s own experience of exile.

Turgenev and Dostoyevsky saw Russia through their own political lenses, and envision a free Russia for the future of the people. Although they had disagreements among themselves they each believed that Pushkin helped to create an identity for Russia through his literary work, and political motivation that helped to spark a change in the social order and the old system. The truth about Pushkin was, he was a pioneer, a daring inspirer, a guiding light for many generations of Russian writers. Hence, both Turgenev and Dostoyevsky were right in their comments about Pushkin, and the difference in their attitudes showed once more that a grand person cannot be perceived in an isolated way.  Turgenev’s view of Pushkin was evident in his speech as he referred to him as, “мой идол, мой учитель, мой недосягаемый образец ‟, (my idol, my teacher, my hard act to follow). He implored those in his speech to read Pushkin’s works, as Turgenev has faith in the immortality of prose and poetry for future generations.  Through his select contributions he provided romantic novellas, poems, and other literary works that romanticized the land of Russia, the people, and their want for freedom for all.


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