Read by Richard Mitchley, Elliot Fitzpatrick & Tom McLean (Unabridged: 3hrs 1min)
Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin was born on 26th May 1799 in Moscow into a family of Russian nobility.
Raised by nursemaids and French tutors in French he learnt Russian only via the household staff.
He graduated from the prestigious Imperial Lyceum, near St Petersburg and plunged into the vibrant and raucous intellectual youth culture of what was then the capital of the Russian Empire.
In 1820, he published his first long poem, ‘Ruslan and Ludmila’, with much controversy about both subject and style. Pushkin was heavily influenced by the French Enlightenment and gravitated, with other literary radicals, towards social reform angering the Government.
His early literary work and reputation was poetic and written as he travelled around the Empire or engaged himself in various rebellions against the Ottoman Empire. A clash with his own government after his poem, ‘Ode to Liberty’, was found among the belongings of the Decembrist Uprising rebels meant two years of internal exile at his mother's rural estate. His friends and family continually petitioned for his release, sending letters and meeting with Tsar Alexander I and then Tsar Nicholas I.
In 1825, whilst at his Mother’s estate, Pushkin wrote his most famous play, the drama ‘Boris Godunov’.
Upon meeting with Tsar Nicholas I, Pushkin obtained his release and began work as the Tsar's Titular Counsel of the National Archives. However, because of the earlier problems the tsar retained control of everything Pushkin published, and he was banned from travelling at will.
Around 1828, Pushkin met the 16-year-old Natalia Goncharova, one of the most talked-about beauties of Moscow. After much hesitation, Natalia accepted his marriage proposal after she received assurances that the government had no intentions to persecute the libertarian poet. When the Tsar gave Pushkin the lowest court title, Gentleman of the Chamber, he became enraged, feeling that the Tsar intended to humiliate him.
In the year 1831, during Pushkin's growing literary influence, he met Nikolai Gogol. Recognising his gifts Pushkin supported him and published his short stories in his own magazine ‘The Contemporary’.
By the autumn of 1836, Pushkin was falling into greater and greater debt and facing scandalous rumours that his wife was having an affair.
In January 1837, Pushkin sent a ‘highly insulting letter’ to his wife’s pursuer, Georges-Charles de Heeckeren d'Anthès. The only answer could be a challenge to a duel.
It took place on 27th January. D'Anthès fired first, critically wounding Pushkin; the bullet entered at his hip and penetrated his abdomen. Two days later Alexander Pushkin died of peritonitis. He was 37.
In this compilation -
1 - Alexander Pushkin - A Short Story Collection - An Introduction
2 - The Queen of Spades by Alexander Pushkin
3 - The Blizzard by Alexander Pushkin
4 - The Stationmaster by Alexander Pushkin
5 - The Shot by Alexander Pushkin
6 - The Coffin Maker by Alexander Pushkin