Dr. Yuri Druzhnikov is Professor of Russian literature at the University of California, Davis. He is a Slavic scholar, a historian of Russian Literature, and the author of Contemporary Russian Myths: A Skeptical View of the Literary Past; Informer 001, or the Myth of Pavlik Morozov; and Prisoner of Russia: Alexander Pushkin and the Political Uses of Nationalism, among other scholarly books. He is also Vice-President of the International PEN Club (the Writers in Exile branch) and a member of the Russian Academy of Humanities. A former dissident, for fifteen years Dr. Druzhnikov was blacklisted in Russia and East European countries, where his books, previously known only in the West, have now been widely published and have been translated into several languages. Dr. Druzhnikov’s name has been included in the “Ten Best Russian Authors of the XX Century” by the University of Warsaw.1999 0-7734-8161-3
This book is an expedition through Russian Literature and history of the 19th and 20th centuries in search of the myths that all Russians take for granted from childhood. The author's iconoclastic, irreverent approach to common sense combined with his wry paradoxical wit make this work an important contribution for American scholars and students to understand Russian culture.2006 0-7734-5824-7
“That I was born in Russia with feeling and talent is the devil’s curse!” Alexander Pushkin wrote in the last letter to his wife. Eight months later he died. This new scholarly book on Russia’s greatest poet is an electrifying reinterpretation of the official Imperial, Soviet, and Post-Soviet Pushkin studies. While investigating the last and unhappy period of Pushkin’s biography (1830-1837), e.g. ‘the end of Pushkin’s life,’ the author restores paradoxical circumstances that eventually led to the poet’s death. In this book the author constructs a new scholarly version of Pushkin as an artist profoundly at odds not only with his society but also with himself.
The author is by no means the first to expose the weak points of Russian traditional myths, Pushkin’s enrollment into historic and social studies of Russian tyranny, a comparative analysis of Pushkin’s recognition in France, as well as some untouchable aspects of the biography of the poet, paradoxes of a Russian umber – one classic who considered himself in his diary a Russian Dangeau.
Genius constitutes the domain of freedom, whereas any political body (such as the totalitarian state) is an area of constraint. Conflict between genius and authorities is treated as metaphysically inevitable. Pushkin’s final drama and his mental problems were a network of intrigues that inextricably and tragically entangled his personality. Finally in the book, this recognized Pushkin scholar offers a new documented evidence for his paradoxical version of Pushkin’s duel as suicide.
The idolization of the poet in his own country and even abroad raises some troubling issues. What lies behind the need to create national heroes and falsify their biographies, and to what lengths must a country go to discover its national identity and goals? Being an original and provocative analysis of the unknown Pushkin, this monograph will be in many respects an eye-opener to both Slavic scholars, students, and the well-educated general readers.