The University of Wisconsin Press

Slavic Studies / Literature & Criticism

A Commentary to Pushkin's Lyric Poetry, 1826–1836
Michael Wachtel

Wisconsin Center for Pushkin Studies

David M. Bethea and Alexander Dolinin, General Editors

"This concise commentary to Pushkin’s poetry—the first in the English language—is an indispensable tool for any student of Russian letters and a veritable trove for a comparativist."
—Sergei Davydov, Middlebury College

Alexander Pushkin’s lyric poetry—much of it known to Russians by heart—is the cornerstone of the Russian literary tradition, yet until now there has been no detailed commentary of it in any language. Michael Wachtel’s book, designed for those who can read Russian comfortably but not natively, provides the historical, biographical, and cultural context needed to appreciate the work of Russia’s greatest poet. Each entry begins with a concise summary highlighting the key information about the poem’s origin, subtexts, and poetic form (meter, stanzaic structure, and rhyme scheme). In line-by-line fashion, Wachtel then elucidates aspects most likely to challenge non-native readers: archaic language, colloquialisms, and unusual diction or syntax. Where relevant, he addresses political, religious, and folkloric issues.

Pushkin’s verse has attracted generations of brilliant interpreters. The purpose of this commentary is not to offer a new interpretation, but to give sufficient linguistic and cultural contextualization to make informed interpretation possible.

Michael Wachtel is professor of Slavic languages and literature at Princeton University. He is the author of Russian Symbolism and Literary Tradition: Goethe, Novalis, and the Poetics of Vyacheslav Ivanov (University of Wisconsin Press); The Development of Russian Verse: Meter and Its Meaning; and The Cambridge Introduction to Russian Poetry.



“Extremely useful. . . . My only major complaint about this volume is that it did not appear several decades ago, when I first began to read Pushkin’s poetry!”
Russian Review

“A superb work that will make the life of everyone reading and studying Pushkin far easier. This commentary is a considerable scholarly achievement and public service.”
—Irina Reyfman, Columbia University

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Sketches of Russian characters adorn the cover

January 2012
LC: 2011011570 PG
320 pp.   6 x 9

Book icon Paper $29.95 s
ISBN 978-0-299-28544-9
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