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Distant Pleasures: “Pushkin and the Writing of Exile” by S. Sandler Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Jan 8th, 2022

Stephanie Sandler, Distant Pleasures. “Pushkin and the writing of exile”, was published by Stanford University Press in1989. This classic book explores the significance of exile for Pushkin’s varying personal intellect and for his poetic engagements. By examining the Pushkin writings, the author has established the writings rely on emblematic patterns and speculative assumptions.

These characteristics are illustrated as some of the key features that separate words from concepts, or the convictions they represent. And this turns to be the main duty that the author attempts to examine. This includes examining the techniques of evaluating the figurations, poetic texts and rhetoric formats. Though the author manages to capture some of the key aspects of Pushkin writings, she fails to examine the principal characteristics and intent which rhetoric characteristics impinge (Sandler 166). I am of the opinion that this perspective is considerably too limited in regard to the stature and influence of Pushkin writings.

Sandler examines insignificant but diverse textual groups from the period of exile: lengthy narrative poems, Eugene Oregin, the canto novel, in addition to the play, Boris Godunov (Williams 56). By examining the Pushkin’s demonstration of distance in relation to his audience, she illustrates the manner he formed that audience. More so, instead of portraying Pushkin’s progression into prominence, the author formulates a hypothesis of exploring Pushkin’s changing ideas of himself, his vocation, and his motherland during the long period of exile. To support my argument, Sandler asserts “How did exile become converted from a challenge or a risk?”(5)

His method of figuration, illustration, in addition to apostrophe is measured carefully in each passage. Extracted texts are specified in Russian as well as in English rendition. The investigations vary across a number of methodological as well as theoretical perceptions: biographical plus chronological information is repeatedly pulled in. while formalist and Bakhtinian structures are utilized for a number of texts, in addition to the examples of deconstruction along with feminist inquest which are predominantly imperative to Pushkin’s style of approach.

The book”, is divided into four chapters but with individual segments. These chapters are:

  • Distance in the Lyric Voice,
  • Boris Godunov: The expectation of an audience,
  • Boris Godunov: How drama Tells its story, and
  • Negative pleasures.

The author has managed to put together a paramount image of Pushkin writings. Examining the argument presented in Chapter I, Sandler has established that Pushkin was far ahead of the buoyant testing of his Lyceum poetry, though not completely in command of poetic wave of his time. This portrays him as an individual in the search of identity or a powerful image. More so, this chapter stands out as the standard of discovering Pushkin in his formative period. This is testified by his writings which had no definite voice and were more of experimenting with themes, rhythms and tones.

Boris Godunov: The expectation of an audience, in this chapter the author has candidly presented Pushkin as a seasoned writer. This chapter examines Pushkin’s writings which seem to have sustained his self-confrontation. The writings are full of rhetorical trope associated with apostrophe figures. Too, the author delves into examining the manner Pushkin integrated diverse objects in his writings and this include the reader. Therefore, the nature of lyrics evaluated is compactly seen to involve elegiac periods of self-contemplation (Pushkin 150). Creatively, the author manages to establish how Pushkin dealt with question regarding audience and address through his narratives, and these narratives are shown to be the major instrument that helped in sustaining his audience.

Chapter 3, Boris Godunov: How drama tells its story, the author presents dissimilar set of questions regarding the play. It should be noted the play embraces unique features that are employed to sustain the dramatic actions. Each of Boris Godunovs story tellers, for instance, has peculiar live audience. This illustrates why the drama conceals its reality while all the narratives shares a common plot. Examining the works in this chapter, it emerges that Pushkin favored privacy in his personal narratives. Therefore, this chapter recounts the Pushkin life while in exile. Though, one of the predominant aspects which the author seems to rely on is Pushkin’s critical propensity towards the nonconformist stance. Pushkin’s generic innovations are employed to demonstrate the manner he utilized diverse poetic aspects to achieve a definite goal in his texts.

Chapter 4, which is titled as Negative pleasures, from diverse perspectives examines Pushkin’s ambiguity which is predominantly seen as imperatively rhetorical in addition to political stratagem. Equally, his self-contradictions, lyrical divagations and flotilla of self-characterizations are reflected in the lyrics assumptions pertaining to poetry as well as politics (Sandler 214). The examined writings expose how Pushkin squeezes diverse rhetorical strategies so as to generate distinct tropes in shape and individual function. Also the use of multi-voices in the lyrics is well presented, while the scope of wordplay in the lyrics is examined in a way that dissimilar views have been illustrated.

Exploring the diverse dimensions employed by the author to explore Pushkin’s writings, I am of the opinion that Sandler combined both qualitative and quantative approaches in examining both the primary and secondary data. These two approaches have been decisively explored by the author to make his definite conclusions. However, considering Pushkin was an individual who wrote extensively and is considered one of Russia’s literary heroes, the author could have left an open window for further investigation and interpretation of his writings. Therefore, for now the conclusions were not warranted.

The nature of the content cannot justify this book to be an anthology. However, the manner and approach employed by the author to examine Pushkin writings makes it to be a literary gem in regard to the literature domain. Despite the Sandler’s profound analysis, her approach and justification of diverse literary elements can be said to be superb. Considering the fact that Pushkin employed unique approach and style to his writings, it would be instrumental to assert that the manner she presents her observation is in line with the 18th century Russia.

Exploring the content of this book, it would be imperative to state that the audience targeted entails advanced literary pundits. However, the manner employed by the author, I am of the opinion that it did not have a profound impact. The language and the style employed are not engaging.

Works cited

Pushkin, Alexander. Eugene Onegin. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Sandler, Stephanie. Commemorating Pushkin. Stanford: SUP, 2004.

Sandler, Stephanie. Distant Pleasures. Stanford: SUP, 1989.

Sandler, Stephanie. Rereading Russian Poetry.NY: Yale University Press, 1999

Williams, Gareth. Readings in Ovid’s Exile Poetry.Cambridge: Cambridge, 1994.

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