Another Look at the Poetics of Exile: Pushkin's Reception of Ovid, 1821-24

 David Houston*


     In 8 A.D., Publius Ovidius Naso was relegated to the far corner of the Roman Empire to a small city on the Black Sea, where he spent the last ten years of his life. Some 1800 years later, twenty-one-year-old Alexander Pushkin followed him there, again to the fringes of another empire. The two poets had little in common, and because both reconciled themselves to exile in such vastly different ways, any similarities between them seem at first glance coincidental. However, Pushkin’s reading of Ovid’s last collections of elegies—Tristia (12 A.D.) and Epistulae ex Ponto (13 A.D.)—and the legends he heard about Ovid in Moldavia not only find expression in various works spanning 1821–24, but also play an integral role in his larger poetic realization of exile.

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"Mniszek's Sonnet"

In Honor of J. Thomas Shaw, Pushkinist Extraordinaire


     In recognition of Professor Shaw’s lifetime work and numerous contribu­tions to the field of Pushkin studies in North America, we are including two special sections to the journal for this issue.


Part 1:[1]  Contest for the best rhymed translation of “Mniszek’s Sonnet” in Boris Godunov. 

     Following Professor Shaw’s studies of the rhymes in Pushkin’s play, we invited literary, rhymed translations of the final fifteen lines of scene 12 in Boris Godunov. Professor Shaw has discussed the function of the sonnet in the context of sonnets in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Act I, scene 5. For more information, see Professor Shaw’s article, “Romeo and Juliet, Local Color, and ‘Mniszek’s Sonnet’ in Boris Godunov” (Slavic and East European Journal 35: 1 [Spring 1991]: 1–35), or his book, Pushkin’s Poetics of the Unexpected (Columbus, OH: Slavica, 1993).

     Many thanks to our judges, James Falen and J. Douglas Clayton.

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Remembering Tom Shaw as Teacher, Scholar, Mentor

David M. Bethea

     The thing I remember most about Tom Shaw over the years is his generos­ity, his willingness to do the “heavy lifting” without commenting on it. Per­haps it has something to do with coming from a modest background, going through the Second World War, being the “go-to guy” when the profession was establishing itself in the 1950s during the Sputnik era. We all know that Tom took great pride in being a rigorous scholar, someone who would insist that his own work and the work of colleagues meet certain stan­dards. He always said he wanted our work to be looked on seriously by col­leagues in Russia/the Soviet Union. And in this connection one of the things he was most proud of was the splash made in Russia by his dis­covery of the “Mniszek sonnet” in Boris Godunov. His edition of Pushkin’s letters is truly a foundational text we all come back to again and again to learn things about Pushkin’s life and affairs.

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Editing Pushkin: A Seminar Held at Oxford University, UK, July 2007

Catherine O’Neil


     In 2006 the first volume appeared of a projected new collection of Push­kin’s works: Pushkin: Poemy i povesti. Chast´ I. Moscow: Novoe izdatel´­stvo, 2006. Commentary by Oleg Proskurin. The complete edition is enti­tled Pushkin. Sochineniia. Kommentirovannoe izdanie pod obshchei redaktsiei Devida M. Betea (Moscow: Novoe izdatel´stvo). The collection is supported by the Vilas Trust and the Pushkin Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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