UN Russian Language Day

UN Russian Language Day is observed annually on June 6. The event was established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2010. in order to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity and to promote equal use of all six of the UN’s official working languages throughout the organization. The event also coincides with the birthday of Aleksandr Pushkin, a Russian poet who is considered the father of modern Russian literature. Alessandro Pushkin was Born in Moscow, on 6 June [O.S. 26 May] 1799 and published his first poem at the age of 15. When he finished school, as part of the first graduating class of the prestigious Imperial Lyceum in Tsarskoye Selo, near Saint Petersburg, his talent was already widely recognized within the Russian literary scene. After school, Pushkin plunged into the vibrant and raucous intellectual youth culture of the capital, Saint Petersburg. In 1820, he published his first long poem, Ruslan and Ludmila, with much controversy about its subject and style.

Pushkin gradually became committed to social reform and emerged as a spokesman for literary radicals. That angered the government and led to his transfer from the capital in May 1820. He went to the Caucasus and to Crimea and then to Kamianka and Chișinău, where he became a Freemason. He joined the Filiki Eteria, a secret organization whose purpose was to overthrow Ottoman rule in Greece and establish an independent Greek state. He was inspired by the Greek Revolution and when the war against the Ottoman Turks broke out, he kept a diary recording the events of the national uprising. He stayed in Chișinău until 1823 and wrote two Romantic poems,which brought him acclaim: The Captive of the Caucasus and The Fountain of Bakhchisaray. In 1823, Pushkin moved to Odessa, where he again clashed with the government, which sent him into exile on his mother’s rural estate of Mikhailovskoye (near Pskov) from 1824 to 1826. Whilst In Mikhaylovskoye, Pushkin wrote nostalgic love poems which he dedicated to Elizaveta Vorontsova, wife of Malorossia’s General-Governor. Pushkin also continued work on his verse-novel Eugene Onegin.

In 1825, Pushkin wrote the poem To***. It is generally believed that he dedicated this poem to Anna Kern, however poet Mikhail Dudin believed that the poem was dedicated to the serf Olga Kalashnikova whilst Pushkinist Kira Victorova believed that the poem was dedicated to the Empress Elizaveta Alekseyevna.and Vadim Nikolayev thought the poem was dedicated to Tatyana Larina, the heroine of Eugene Onegin.

Authorities summoned Pushkin to Moscow after his poem “Ode to Liberty” was found among the belongings of the rebels from the Decembrist Uprising (1825). Being exiled in 1820, Pushkin’s friends and family continually petitioned for his release, sending letters and meeting with Tsar Alexander I and then Tsar Nicholas I on the heels of the Decembrist Uprising. Upon meeting with Tsar Nicholas I Pushkin obtained his release from exile and began to work as the tsar’s Titular Counsel of the National Archives. However, because insurgents in the Decembrist Uprising (1825) in Saint Petersburg had kept some of Pushkin’s earlier political poems the tsar retained strict control of everything Pushkin published and he was unable to travel at will. In 1825 Pushkin wrote the drama Boris Godunov, while at his mother’s estate. He could not however, gain permission to publish it until five years later. The original and uncensored version of the drama was not staged until 2007.

Around 1825–1829 he met and befriended the Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz, during exile in central Russia. In 1829 he travelled through the Caucasus to Erzurum to visit friends fighting in the Russian army during the Russo-Turkish War. In the end of 1829 Pushkin wanted to set off on a journey abroad, the desire reflected in his poem Poedem, ia gotov; kuda by vy, druz’ia…He applied for permission for the journey, however Nicholas I refused.

Around 1828, Pushkin met Natalia Goncharova, then 16 years old and one of the most talked-about beauties of Moscow. After much hesitation, Natalia accepted a proposal of marriage from Pushkin in April 1830, but not before she received assurances that the Tsarist government had no intentions to persecute the libertarian poet. Later, Pushkin and his wife became regulars of court society. They officially became engaged on 6 May 1830, and sent out wedding invitations. Due to an outbreak of cholera and other circumstances, the wedding was delayed for a year. The ceremony took place on 18 February 1831 (Old Style) in the Great Ascension Church on Bolshaya Nikitskaya Street in Moscow. When the Tsar gave Pushkin the lowest court title; Gentlemen of the Chamber, the poet became enraged, feeling that the Tsar intended to humiliate him by implying that Pushkin was being admitted to court not on his own merits but solely so that his wife, who had many admirers including the Tsar himself, could properly attend court balls.

In 1831, Pushkin met one of Russia’s other great early writers, Nikolai Gogol. After reading Gogol’s 1831–1832 volume of short stories Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka, Pushkin supported him and would feature some of Gogol’s most famous short stories in the magazine The Contemporary, which he founded in 1836. Sadly By 1836, Pushkin was falling into greater and greater debt and faced scandalous rumours that his wife had a love affair. On 4 November he challenged Georges d’Anthès (Dantes-Gekkern) to a duel. With efforts by the poet’s friends, the duel was cancelled. On 17 November Georges d’Anthès made a proposal to Natalia Goncharova’s (Pushkina’s) sister – Ekaterina Goncharova. The same day Pushkin sent the letter to refuse the duel. The marriage didn’t resolve the conflict. Georges d’Anthès continued to pursue Natalia Goncharova in public. Rumours that Georges married Natalia’s sister just to save her reputation started to spread. On January 26 1837 Pushkin sent a “highly insulting letter” to Heeckeren. The only answer for that letter could be a challenge to a duel, and Pushkin knew it. Pushkin received the formal challenge to a duel through his sister-in-law, Ekaterina Gekkerna, approved by d’Anthès, on the same day through the attaché of the French Embassy Viscount d’Archiac. Since Dantes-Gekkern was the ambassador of a foreign country, he could not fight a duel – it would mean the immediate collapse of his career. The duel with d’Anthès took place on January 27 at the Black River. Pushkin was wounded in a hip and the bullet penetrated into the abdomen. At that time that kind of wound was fatal. Pushkin learned about it from the medic Arendt, who did not conceal the true state of affairs. Two days later, on January 29 (February 10) at 14:45 Pushkin died of peritonitis.

By Pushkin’s wife’s request he was put in the coffin in an evening dress – not in chamber-cadet uniform, the uniform provided by the tsar. The funeral service was assigned to the St. Isaac’s Cathedral, but it was moved to Konyushennaya church. The ceremony took place at a large gathering of people. After the funeral, the coffin was lowered into the basement, where it stayed until 3 February, before the departure to Pskov. Alexander Pushkin was buried on the territory of the monastery Svyatogorsk Pskov province beside his mother. His last home is now a museum.

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