Konstantin Andreyevich Somov
Portrait of Alexander Pushkin
Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin is considered by many to be the greatest Russian poet of all time, as well as the founder of modern Russian Literature. As for his style, he has been claimed variously by Romantics, neo-Classicists, and Realists.
His grandfather, Abram Petrovich Gannibal, was an African kidnapped and brought to Russia. He became a major general, military engineer, and nobleman of the Russian Empire. Pushkin wrote an unfinished historical novel about him entitled Peter the Great’s Negro. Abram Gannibal’s son, Ivan Gannibal, also rose to military prominence, garnering victories in the Russo-Turkic war, and founded the city of Kherson.
Pushkin is usually credited with developing Russian literature. Not only is he seen as having originated the highly nuanced level of language which characterizes Russian literature after him, but he is also credited with substantially augmenting the Russian lexicon. Where he found gaps in the Russian vocabulary, he devised calques. His rich vocabulary and highly sensitive style are the foundation for modern Russian literature. His talent set up new records for development of the Russian language and culture. He became the father of Russian literature in the 19th century, marking the highest achievements of 18th century and the beginning of literary process of the 19th century. Alexander Pushkin introduced Russia to all the European literary genres as well as a great number of West European writers. He brought natural speech and foreign influences to create modern poetic Russian. Though his life was brief, he left examples of nearly every literary genre of his day: lyric poetry, narrative poetry, the novel, the short story, the drama, the critical essay, and even the personal letter.