The University of Wisconsin Press

Slavic Studies / Literature & Criticism

Taboo Pushkin
Topics, Texts, Interpretations
Edited by Alyssa Dinega Gillespie

Publications of the Wisconsin Center for Pushkin Studies
David M. Bethea and Alexander Dolinin, Series Editors

“There is truly a need for an ‘other Pushkiniana,’ a volume that seeks to push Pushkin studies to the borders of subjects that have been off-limits for many Pushkinists.”
—Angela Brintlinger, author of Writing a Usable Past: Russian Literary Culture, 1917–1937

Since his death in 1837, Alexander Pushkin—often called the “father of Russian literature”—has become a timeless embodiment of Russian national identity, adopted for diverse ideological purposes and reinvented anew as a cultural icon in each historical era (tsarist, Soviet, and post-Soviet). His elevation to mythic status, however, has led to the celebration of some of his writings and the shunning of others. Throughout the history of Pushkin studies, certain topics, texts, and interpretations have remained officially off-limits in Russia—taboos as prevalent in today’s Russia as ever before.

The essays in this bold and authoritative volume use new approaches, overlooked archival materials, and fresh interpretations to investigate aspects of Pushkin’s biography and artistic legacy that have previously been suppressed or neglected. Taken together, the contributors strive to create a more fully realized Pushkin and demonstrate how potent a challenge the unofficial, taboo, alternative Pushkin has proven to be across the centuries for the Russian literary and political establishments.

Portrait of author Alyssa Dinega GillespieAlyssa Dinega Gillespie is associate professor of Russian at the University of Notre Dame. She is the author of A Russian Psyche: The Poetic Mind of Marina Tsvetaeva, also published by the University of Wisconsin Press, and editor of Russian Literature in the Age of Realism.


“This book impressively unites essays on diverse topics by authors with various methodologies for the singular purpose of unveiling and challenging ‘ the Pushkin myth.’ ”

“An important contribution to our understanding of Pushkin’s life, personality, and work, as well as to the ongoing uses and abuses of these topics in contemporary Russia. . . . [An] almost gargantuan feast.”
Slavonic and East European Review

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Of Related Interest:
Cover of Dunning is a sepia illustration of Pushkin.The Uncensored Boris Godunov
The Case for Pushkin's Original Comedy, with Annotated Text and Translation
Chester Dunning with Caryl Emerson, Sergei Fomichev, Lidiia Lotman, and Antony Wood
Persuasively argues for including the original, 1825 version of the play Boris Godunov (later eclipsed by the "politically correct" edition) in the canon of Pushkin's works


Cover of Taboo Pushkin

July 2012
LC: 2011042002 PG
490 pp.   6 x 9   8 b/w illus.

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Paper $34.95 s
ISBN 978-0-299-28704-7
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"Taboo Pushkin draws on Pushkin’s more canonical texts to interpret those once seen as questionable, and vice versa; and it looks at past interpretations of Pushkin’s work that ran afoul of official approval at one time or another, consistently asking hard questions about religious strictures, obscenity, aesthetic tastes, and institutions that seek to control reader access. It is sure to attract readers, both specialists in Pushkin and those interested in questions of sexual transgression, political edginess, and blasphemy."
—Stephanie Sandler, author of Commemorating Pushkin: Russia’s Myth of a National Poet

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Updated February 15, 2012

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