Pushkin’s Journey to Erzurum
- Reuel K. Wilson
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Some months after a trip to the Caucasus during which he participated in Paskevich’s summer campaign against Turkey (1829), Pushkin wrote a letter, excusing his abrupt departure from Moscow the previous year, to his future mother-in-law. He writes on April 5, 1830: “Lorsque je la1 vis pour la première fois, sa beauté venait d’être à peine aperçue dans le monde; je l’aimai, la tête me tourna, et je la demandai, votre réponse toute vague qu’elle était, me donna un moment de délire; je partis la même nuit pour l’armée; demandez-moi ce que j’allais y faire, je vous jure que je n’en sais rien, mais une angoisse involontaire me chassait de Moscou; je n’aurais pu soutenir ni votre présence ni la sienne.”2
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- He is referring to Natalie Goncharova, then a girl of sixteen.
- A. S. Pushkin, Sobranie Sočinenij (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe Izdatel’stvo Xudožest-vennoj Literatury, 1959), IX, 316. All subsequent references will be to this edition.
- David Magarshack, Pushkin: A Biography (London: Chapman & Hall, 1967), p. 219. According to the testimony of one contemporary, A. Ivanovsky (who worked in the Third Section), it was he who suggested to the poet the possibility of going to Paskevich’s Caucasian army. Another contemporary, N. Putyata, relates that, after the tsar’s first refusal, Benken-dorf proposed to the poet that he participate in the campaign as a member of his (Benken-dorf’s) Third Section! See V. Veresaev, Puškin v žizni (6th ed., Moscow: Sovetskij Pisatel’, 1936), pp. 391–393.
- Magarshack, p. 222.
- Pushkin, IX, 296–297.
- This last somewhat dubious thesis is advanced by one Soviet scholar on the basis of several ambiguous passages in the correspondences of the poet’s friends. I. N. Enikolopov, Puškin na Kavkaze (Tiflis: Zarja Vostoka, 1938), p. 71.
- Leonid Grossman, Puškin (Moscow: “Molodaja Gvardija,” 1960), pp. 332, 346.
- This work, Putešestvie v Arzrum, will henceforth be referred to as Arzrum.
- Enikolopov, p. 34.
- Alexander S. Griboedov (1795–1829). The author of the immortal comedy Woe from Wit (Gore ot uma) had just been assassinated by a mob that stormed the Russian embassy in Tehran. Griboedov’s body was preceded by a high-level delegation sent by the Persian government to apologize for the incident. On the same trip Pushkin had also run into the delegation, as we shall see.
- Pushkin, V, 434–435.
- Ibid., p. 436.
- Enikolopov, pp. 30–31. Also see Y. Tynyanov, “O Putešestvii v Arzrum,” in Vremennik puškinskoj komissii, (Moscow-Leningrad: Akademija Nauk SSSR, 1936), Vol. 2, pp. 66–67.
- Sometimes he refers to the works of other travelers — describing the Darial Gorge: “Here it is so narrow, so narrow, writes one traveler, that you not only see, but feel, the narrowness.” Pushkin, V, 432.
- Pushkin, V, 569–576. The article (original in French) is listed under the heading “Priloženija k Putešestviju v Arzrum.”
- This passage is expanded into a considerably more outspoken attack on the clergy in an unpublished variant. Pushkin, V, 567.
- D. S. Mirsky, Pushkin (London: George Routledge & Sons, Ltd., 1926), p. 186.
- Sipovsky, p. 539.
- Victor Fontanier (1796–1857). French diplomat and author whose Voyage en Orient spans the years 1821–1829.
- Significantly, on returning to Russia, at the end of Arzrum, the first publication that the author-narrator encounters contains a review violently attacking his works.
- Pushkin, V, 414.
- This occurred in 1834, and again in 1835 — the year Pushkin was working on the final version of Arzrum.
- The author of this popular travelogue written in Karamzinian prose was a Classical scholar and lover of Classical antiquity. His book, full of historical and archaeological information (and misinformation) was read with enthusiasm by Pushkin and Mickiewicz (whose own Crimean Sonnets deal with the same terrain and legends). For an enlightening comparison between Baxčisarajskij Fontan and Sonety krymskie see S. Karlinsky, “Two Pushkin Studies,” II, “The Amber Beads of Crimea,” California Slavic Studies, Vol. II (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1962), pp. 108–120.
- Pushkin, VII, 280.
- Ibid., p. 282.
- V. L. Komarovich, “K voprosu o žanre Putešestvija v Arzrum,” in Vremennik puškinskoj komissii (Izdaterstvo Akademi Nauk SSSR, Moscow-Leningrad, 1937), vol. 3, pp. 326–338. Karlinsky has also documented Chateaubriand’s influence — directly, and through Byron — on Pushkin. See “Two Pushkin Studies,” I, “Pushkin, Chateaubriand, and the Romantic Pose,” op. cit., pp. 96–107.
- Karlinsky on the other hand takes this eulogy of the missionary spirit seriously, p. 102.
- Pushkin, V, 430.
- Ibid., 430.
- Pushkin, V, 418.
- A non-commissioned drill leader in the Imperial Russian Army.
- Pushkin, V, 424.
- Grossman, p. 339.
- Pushkin, V, 445–446.
- Ibid., p. 448.
- “Quaerebamus sit ne exsectus? — Deus, respondit, castravit me.”
- Pushkin, V, 569. Once a not uncommon situation in Russian villages, for which there is a special term snoxačestvo.
- Pushkin, V, 446.
- Ibid., p. 449.
- Ibid., p. 448.
- Ibid., p. 451.
- Ibid., p. 450.
- Ibid., p. 453.
- James J. Morier (1780–1849) English novelist and author of travels, who had served as a diplomat in the Near East.
- Paskevich, whom the author here calls a “shining hero” has been treated with irony throughout. We see him in the seraskir’s apartments “giving away pashaliks and conversing about new novels” (p. 457). Arzrum has, moreover, begun with an account of the author’s metting with Ermolov whom he describes con amove. (Pushkin excluded this from the published version, but subsequent editors have restored it.) During their conversation Ermolov speaks “venomously” about his successor Paskevich, remarking on the easiness of his victories, something Pushkin was to see for himself. Ermolov was retired by Nicholas I on account of his liberal ideas. Pushkin at one time intended to write Ermolov’s biography. See E. Simmons, Pushkin (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1937), pp. 301–302. For more on Pushkin’s ironic stance towards the “Graf Erivanskij” see. Tynyanov, “O Putešestvii v Arzrum” in Vremennik Puškinskoj Komissii (Moscow-Leningrad: Akademija Nauk SSSR, 1936), Vol. 2, pp. 66–67.
- The poet has been identified as Dimitry Tumanishvili (died 1821).
- Pushkin, V, 456. The mystification — Amin-Olgu is a made-up name (see note on p. 650) — as well as the phrase “satirical poem” indicating the self-effacing and satirical approach of the author to the entire work.
- Ibid., p. 456.
- Ibid., p. 459.
- The poem was written October 17, 1830.
- Jan Potocki (1761–1815), the Polish novelist and scholar (who wrote in French). The reference concerns his Voyage dans les steps d’Astrakhan et du Caucase (title abbreviated), Paris, 1829, See Tynyanov, p. 70.
- He also brings irony to bear on travel motifs in the fragmentary Onegin’s Travels which he had originally planned as Part VIII of his “novel in verse.” See Appendix D.
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- Pushkin’s Journey to Erzurum
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- The Literary Travelogue
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- A Comparative Study with Special Relevance to Russian Literature from Fonvizin to Pushkin
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- Part II
- pp 98-121
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