A stunningly convincing picture of the great Russian poet which also offers a panorama of Russian life in the first third of the 19th century through the half barbaric, half oriental, wholly dissolute and irrational milieu in which he lived. First there is Pushkin the child, descended from an African slave and neglected by his capricious, debtladen parents, members of the lesser nobility. Then there is Pushkin the talented student, at which time his talents for buffoonery, liberalism and poetry make their first appearance. Then there is Pushkin the exile, on a charge of atheism, squandering his health and his talents in a life of incredible profligacy. Finding favor with a new Czar, his is an almost worse fate as he is seen as a oringing, fawning courier under constant surveillance. Finally married to one of Russia's most beautiful women, there is the tragedy of his death in a duel with one of his wife's ardent admirers. Although the American reader must accept the word of the author that this was a great lyric and epic poet, since the poems given here are so untranslatable that their impact on Russia in their time is lost to us, this is still an important biographical and historical interpretation. A long term rather than immediate market.