Walter Vickery approaches the old evidence concerning the death of the man who was mourned as the glory of Russia, who ""said things that have never been said before and have never been forgotten since"" with ""some scepticism and, hopefully, a little common sense."" He discards the theory that Pushkin was a political victim, holding instead to the belief that Pushkin was indeed acting in an affair of honor, which involved his Wife and the immigrant French aristocrat d'Anthes. Natalia Nikolaevna was infatuated, evidently, with more than the life of the court; her handling of d'Anthes' attentions, including the last decisive (to Pushkin's determination to duel) meeting some time after d'Anthes' marriage to her sister, leaves her own position open to question. (Pushkin himself was not altogether innocent: there is a strong suggestion that he comforted himself with an affair with Natalia's other sister Alexandra.) Mr. Vickery somewhat stolidly sets down supposition and fact in a study which really neither successfully transcends or penetrates scandal, merely presents it.