The theme of the historical past of the homeland always excited Pushkin, both a poet and a prose writer. He created such works as “The Song of the Wise Oleg,” “The Borodino Anniversary,” “Poltava,” “The Bronze Horseman,” “Boris Godunov,” “The History of the Pugachev Riot,” and of course the “Captain’s Daughter.” All these works describe different historical events, different historical epochs: beginning with the half-legendary events described in the ancient Russian monument “The Tale of Bygone Years”, ending with the events of the Patriotic War of 1812, which were still fresh in the memory of the poet and his contemporaries.
One of the first such works is “The Song of the Wise
The theme of the triumph of Russian arms, the heroism of the Russian people, the victor and liberator, is vividly and strongly pronounced and works dedicated to the Patriotic War of 1812. How beautiful are the lines of the seventh chapter of “Eugene Onegin,” glorifying the feat of Moscow:
Napoleon waited in vain,
The last happiness,
With the keys of the old Kremlin;
No, my Moscow did not go.
To him with a guilty head.
In the lines of the poem “Memoirs in Tsarskoe Selo” we see the Rumyantsev, “the leader of the midnight flag” Orlov, who became famous in fights “Perun of the Cahul Shores”. The same theme is devoted to the poem “The Borodino anniversary,” written in 1831 on the capture of the suburbs of Warsaw.
One of the central places in the work of Pushkin takes the image of Peter I. Pushkin saw in the image of Peter I an exemplary ruler of the state. He writes in the poem “Poltava”:
There was that vague time,
When Russia is young,
In the struggles of strength,
Muzhala with the genius of Peter.
Similar thoughts are also found in The Bronze Horseman, where he speaks of Peter’s glorious rule, calling him “the lord of fate”, raising “Russia on his hind legs” and hacking “the window to Europe.”
The unfinished work “Arap of Peter the Great” continues this theme. In this work the poet tells us about his ancestor, great-grandfather Ibrahim Hannibal.
In the drama “Boris Godunov” Pushkin turns to another era, an era of troubled times. This was a period of hardest trials for Russia. The drama “Boris Godunov” is in a sense an innovative work in which the people are shown the driving force of history. In this work, the author, anticipating Dostoevsky, debunks the theory that the alleged goal justifies the means. Both – both Tsar Boris, and Raskolnikov – commit crimes, justifying themselves with “good intentions”, forgetting that it is they who paved the road to hell.
“The Captain’s Daughter” is Pushkin’s most significant historical work in terms of the volume of research work done by the author. “The Captain’s Daughter” the author wrote while working on the “History of the Pugachev Riot” – a documentary work with a mass of evidence characterizing the bitterness of the opposing sides. But “The Captain’s Daughter” is a romantic work. The difference between these two works was pointed out by Marina Tsvetaeva in the essay “My Pushkin”, in its original way drawing the line between the notion of realism and romanticism. Pushkin – the researcher knows the bloody price of the uprising with all the horrific details. Pushkin – the poet remembers about it, with the mouth of Shvabrin, scaring Masha by the fate of Elizaveta Kharlova. We remember her and we, thinking about the possibility of Grinev to go, like his prototype, Sergeant Karmitsky, with a stone on the neck “down the Yaiku”. This poeticization, this romantic aura around
Pugacheva, created by Pushkin, Marina Tsvetaeva called the word “charm”.
In the story “The Captain’s Daughter” Pushkin first developed a new epic genre – the genre of a historical novel, an historical novel. Paying tribute to the poet, our contemporary David Samoilov will write about this amazing work:
The beginning of Russian prose,
Do not swift laugh,
Not verterovy tears,
A hare’s sheepskin coat,
Forcibly removed from the lord’s shoulder.
“The Captain’s Daughter” is the beginning of Russian historical prose. Without it, there would be no “Taras Bulba” by NV Gogol, “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy, “Peter I” by AN Tolstoy.