A major biography of one of literature’s most romantic and enigmatic figures, published in hardback to great acclaim: ‘one of the great biographies of recent times’ (Sunday Telegraph).
Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin is indisputably Russia’s greatest poet – the nearest Russian equivalent to Shakespeare – and his brief life was as turbulent and dramatic as anything in his work. T.J Binyon’s biography of this brilliant and rebellious figure is ‘a remarkable achievement’ and its publication ‘a real event’ (Catriona Kelly, Guardian).
‘No other work on Pushkin on the same scale, and with the same grasp of atmosphere and detail, exists in English… And Pushkin is well worth writing about… he was a remarkable man, a man of action as well as a poet, and he lived a remarkable life, dying in a duel at the age of thirty-seven.’ (John Bayley, Literary Review)
Among the delights of this beautifully illustrated and lavishly produced book are the ‘caricatures of venal old men with popping eyes and side-whiskers, society beauties with long necks and empire curls and, most touchingly, images of his “cross-eyed madonna” Natalya’ (Rachel Polonsky, Evening Standard).
Binyon ‘knows almost everything there is to know about Pushkin. He scrupulously chronicles his life in all its disorder, from his years at the Lycee through exile in the Crimea, Bessarabia and Odessa, for writing liberal verses, and on to the publication of Eugene Onegin and, eventually, after much wrangling with the censor, Boris Godunov’ (Julian Evans, New Statesman) and in this, ‘Binyon is unbeatable’(Clive James, TLS).
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For the English-speaking reader, it's hard to comprehend the massive esteem in which Pushkin is held in his native Russia. While lip service is paid to his literary greatness on these shores, he is probably better known as the source of opera libretti (such as Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin) than for his actual writings, which is a great shame. TJ Binyon's remarkable Pushkin: A Biography should, hopefully, do something to redress the balance.
This is a model of its kind: a biography that carefully and assiduously marshals the facts about its fascinating protagonist, but refuses to push the reader into easy judgments. It is a celebration of a remarkable man. From Pushkin's early days as a combative anti-establishment rebel to the heights of his fame and success, Binyon relates (in elegant and balanced prose) the crucial events that formed the writer's genius. The colourful era of Russia in the 19th century is, of course, brought to life with evocative detail (Binyon is a Russian specialist, and his authority in this field knows few peers).
But the book is as much a biography of an era as it is of its charismatic subject. Pushkin's violent death was enshrouded in controversy (rather like that of Tchaikovsky, who famously set Pushkin's texts to music), and the cocktail of sex, jealousy and madness that precipitated his death from a bullet wound to the genitals is handled with trenchant skill. The final effect of all great biographies of writers should be to send the reader back to the work, and within the first few chapters of Binyon's sweeping and fastidious study, that is exactly the effect created here. --Barry ForshawReview:
‘Only a biographer of the first rank could show how the poet’s brilliant spirit was extinguished, not just by a regime, but by elements in that regime that to some extent reflected his own personality. That is true tragedy, and that is Russia.’ George Walden, Sunday Telegraph
‘A weighty biography in every sense, Binyon’s book is poignant, brisk and at times downright funny: the best possible tribute to the changeable and elusively fascinating character of its subject.’ Catriona Kelly, Guardian
’A grippingly entertaining and magnificently authoritative account of the poet’s life, which is, almost unbelievably, the first to appear in any language since 1937.’ Alan Marshall, Daily Telegraph
‘In T.J Binyon [Pushkin] has finally found the biographer he deserves. Here in all its splendour is his rebellious, flamboyant personality and his world of tenuous finance, imperial balls and sexual adventure… Pushkin remains immortal and he certainly lives again in this book.’ Simon Sebag Montefiore, Mail on Sunday
‘Binyon’s Life gives a marvellously clear sense of the man Pushkin might have been to meet: alternately belligerent and sweet, physically small. On the matter of Pushkin’s politics, Binyon is excellent.’ Ian Thomson, Independent on Sunday
‘Scrupulously researched, lucidly and ojectively written, with an admirable lightness of touch and a good dose of dry humour’. (Economist)
‘Readable, perceptive and witty… a valuable achievement.’ Jonathan Sumption, Spectator
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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0006373380
Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0006373380
Book Description HARPER COLLINS, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: NEW. 9780006373384 This listing is a new book, a title currently in-print which we order directly and immediately from the publisher. Bookseller Inventory # HTANDREE0982320
Book Description HarperCollins. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # zk0006373380
Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110006373380