Тебя я воспою, герой,
О Котляревский, бич Кавказа!
Куда ни мчался ты грозой—
Твой ход, как черная зараза,
Губил, ничтожил племена… 
The dithyramb to Russian military power in the epilogue of “Kavkazskii plennik” has created somewhat of a quandary for Pushkin scholars. While the author draws a seemingly sympathetic portrait of the Caucasian natives in the main body of his poem, in the epilogue he glorifies their extermination by the Russian military machine. We also observe a substantial change in style: the earlier elegiac, romantic tone is replaced by a classicist, bombastic diction reminiscent of eighteenth-century solemn odes. This observation has led critics from Pushkin’s time until now to formulate two sets of questions, or rather, accusations. One objection is of an aesthetic nature and berates the poem’s lack of internal coherence. The second, perhaps more damaging, reservation concerns Pushkin’s ethics.
Scholars and readers have long been fascinated by the relationship between the excised or separately published portions of Pushkin’s works and the works themselves, whose interplay forms a fascinating part of Pushkin’s oeuvre. The openness created by the elisions and cuttings, and the readers’ interweaving of their knowledge of Pushkin’s biography into their understanding of his texts, consistently invite interpretation of missing, appended, separately published, or otherwise “exiled” sections of his works. In Eugene Onegin, for example, “Pushkin cut away at what he wrote in the novel, replacing text with ellipses, burning dangerous portions, drafting introductions and conclusions … that were published elsewhere, or not at all.”
Alexander Pushkin’s lifelong engagement with French literature, language and culture is a well documented fact of Russian literary history. It has been investigated from many angles and by many Pushkinisty, including some of its most eminent practitioners (to name but a few: A.N. Veselovsky, B.V. Tomashevsky, B.G. Reizov and A.A. Akhmatova). One of the essential merits of the book under review is that it has so many new things to say about a subject about which so much has already been said.