The Germann-Chekalinskii Duel in "The Queen of Spades"

Nathan Rosen[1]

 

Chekalinsky is the ever-smiling sixty-year-old banker in the gambling sa­lon where Germann[2] met his final catastrophe in The Queen of Spades. He has received little attention in the literature on gambling and The Queen of Spades. In this paper I wish to reintroduce him and to show his impor­tance in the larger picture of The Queen of Spades.

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Review: Boris Gasparov. «Five Operas and a Symphony: Words and Music in Russian Culture»

Boris Gasparov. Five Operas and a Symphony: Words and Music in Russian Culture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005. xxii + 268 pp. ISBN 0-300-10650-5. Cloth.

 

Boris Gasparov’s long-awaited book on the Russian musical tradition is not, strictly speaking, a book about Pushkin. But its central portion—which for literary people will be its most productive payoff—directly addresses Pushkin’s foundational significance for Russian opera. These four chapters can be reviewed as a free-standing segment. Not only does Gasparov contribute richly to the ancient debate over “fidelity” in transposed works with a mass of local insights about each opera; he also improves on most theories of transposition by rigorously historicizing the process, even by suggesting that the incomparably precious original literary work can at times be better understood through its transposition. The importance of this idea for opera studies is enormous. Relations once seen as derivative or parasitic are shown to be symbiotic.

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Review: Antony Wood, trans. «The Gypsies & Other Narrative Poems»

Antony Wood, trans., with illustrations by Simon Brett, The Gypsies and Other Narrative Poems, by Alexander Pushkin. Boston: David R. Godine, 2006. 116 pp. ISBN: 1-56792-272-4. Hard cover. $24.95.

 

Antony Wood’s translations of The Gypsies and Other Narrative Poems, with engravings by Simon Brett, refract many of Pushkin’s aesthetic qual­ities into a luminous echo of his voice, ideally providing Anglophone readers with access to his verse narratives. This elegantly illustrated vol­ume consists of a thoughtfully eclectic cross-section of Pushkin’s poemy and skazki, exemplifying the author’s versatility within poetic forms he used prolifically and flexibly. The English verses into which Wood casts the poems simulate the original rhyme and rhythmic patterns, capturing one of their definitive features by reproducing the narrative pace of the Rus­sian originals.

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Review: Catharine Nepomnyashchy, et al, eds. «Under the Sky of My Africa: Pushkin and Blackness»

Catharine Theimer Nempomnyashchy, Nicole Svobodny, and Ludmilla A. Trigos, eds. Under the Sky of My Africa: Alexander Pushkin and Blackness. Foreword by Henry Louis Gates Jr. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2006. viii + 418. Index. ISBN 0-8101-1970-6 (cloth), 0-8101-1971-4 (paper).

 

The anthology Under the Sky of My Africa: Alexander Pushkin and Blackness, edited by Catharine Theimer Nepomnyashchy, Nicole Svobodny, and Ludmilla A. Trigos, is an ambitious and timely collection which examines the multi-faceted ramifications of Alexander Pushkin’s mixed Russian-African heritage and their reverberations in both Pushkin’s life and oeuvre as well as in nineteenth- and twentieth-century literary and cultural history. Certainly, scholars have examined Pushkin’s African ancestry and its perceived importance in his life and oeuvre, attributing varying degrees of significance to the Gannibal branch of the poet’s genealogy. Scholars have also revealed how private and official perceptions and interpretations of Pushkin’s “blackness” have evolved in the centuries since the poet’s death, reflecting the divergent ways in which various constituencies have appropriated the poet’s mixed heritage for their own purposes. Yet Under the Sky of My Africa moves beyond the traditional historical and literary studies of Pushkin’s life and oeuvre to explore the thematic richness and complexity that accompanies the theme of Pushkin’s “blackness.”

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