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Pushkin by T. J. Binyon


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Winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2003.

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).

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Pushkin by T. J. Binyon

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).


‘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

About the Author

T.J. Binyon lectures in Russian literature at Wadham College, Oxford.

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Book Info

Publication date

27th June 2003


T. J. Binyon

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HarperCollins Publishers Ltd




Biography / Autobiography
All Shortlists and Winners
eBook Favourites



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