Alexander Pushkin

Alexander Pushkin

Great Russian poet and playwright

"Better the illusions that exalt us than ten thousand truths"

Where did Pushkin take the heroes for his works and who did he write about in his books?

Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin is considered a talented writer, and his works are known the world over. However, it is interesting to know who became the prototype of all these books?

Indeed, Pushkin described real stories taken from life. Perhaps the only exception is his fairy tales, the ideas of which were planted by the writer’s favorite nanny Arina Rodionovna. But the novel Dubrovsky, Eugene Onegin and The Queen of Spades had their own real prototypes, which in life had other names and surnames. Thanks to Pushkin’s talent, these works became masterpieces of Russian literature.

“Dubrovsky” and the poor nobleman Pavel Ostrovsky


It is no secret that any writer looks for prototypes for his future works. Such a person is the basis from which all plots are repelled. Pushkin found a character for his novel “Dubrovsky” quite by accident. Once his friend Paul Nashchokin told the writer a sad story. It was about a nobleman Pavel Ostrovsky, who owned a village in Minsk province. His income was very modest, and he could barely make ends meet. And then there was an unpleasant incident.

In 1812, during the war, all the documents on the property burnt. Ostrovsky’s rich neighbor didn’t get confused and appropriated his property. After all, he had no way to prove his rights. However, the peasants did not accept the new owner and started a riot. Most of them turned to robbery. The young master could not start life anew, so he joined his peasant bandits. The gang only robbed wealthy and dishonest landlords. So the 22-year-old young man wanted to restore justice to society. Ostrovsky was turned in by the landowner in whose house he was present as a teacher. He was arrested, but he managed to escape and hide.

Pushkin was struck to the core by this unusual story. The writer began working on the work in 1832, and when writing the main character was given a different last name. Pushkin displayed another story in the novel, which took place in Tambov province. The case of Colonel Kryukov and Lieutenant Martynov was considered in court. Wealthy Kryukov took the estate of the poor Martynov. The court sided with the rich man.

Such misunderstandings occurred frequently throughout the country. Pushkin was very indignant at such injustice. In such an unpleasant situation was the landowner Dubrovsky. Later Pushkin will choose this surname for his hero and describe his story in detail. Alexander Sergeyevich’s novel “Dubrovsky” seems unfinished, and it really is. After all, after Ostrovsky escaped, no one heard anything about him.

“Eugene Onegin” – officer Peter Chaadayev or Professor Peter Pletnev

Eugene Onegin

It is known that Alexander Sergeyevich wrote the novel “Eugene Onegin” in verse for long 8 years. He began it while in exile in 1823 in Kishinev. During this time not only changed Pushkin himself, but also his work. Until now, experts can not say exactly who became the prototype of the main character. Many are inclined to believe that this person was in Pushkin’s inner circle and was very dear to him. There are several options of who could become the prototype of the main character in the novel “Eugene Onegin”.

A candidate for the main character could be Pyotr Pletnev. He was a professor of literature, and eventually became the rector of St. Petersburg University. But most importantly, Pletnev helped Pushkin in a friendly way to publish his works. The professor considered Alexander Sergeyevich a brilliant poet, so it was a matter of honor for him to help such a person. Thanks to the help of Pletnev Pushkin managed to publish about 20 books. The writer himself called him a benefactor and breadwinner. Therefore, it is not surprising that he could dedicate to Pyotr Pletnev first a few chapters, and then a whole novel.

Another prototype for the novel Eugene Onegin might have been Peter Chaadayev. It was an officer who wrote a work called Philosophical Thoughts. In it, he reflected his opinion on what fate, perhaps, awaits Russia in world history. However, this man was considered to be not entirely healthy. As punishment, he was locked in his own home under the close supervision of doctors. But the prototype of Tatiana Larina was Natalia Fonvizina, whose fate is very similar to the story of the protagonist.

What prompted the creation of “The Tale of Tsar Saltan” and the poem “Ruslan and Lyudmila”?

The Tale of Tsar Saltan

It is known that Pushkin had a favorite nanny Arina Rodionovna, who often told him folk tales. One of the stories of the fairy tale became the idea for writing a new work in verse. Of course, the writer refined everything he heard, adding new vivid characters. It turned out a fascinating and much-loved fairy tale for children.

It tells of the marriage of the Russian Tsar Saltan to a young and beautiful girl. She gave birth to a son who was a giant. But his evil and envious aunts decided to kill the young wife and her baby by throwing them in a barrel into the sea. As fate willed, they survived, but the waves threw them onto a desert island. Thanks to the enchanted Swan Princess, the young Prince Guidon was not only reunited with his father, but also restored justice.

The reason for writing the poem “Ruslan and Lyudmila” was also the tales of the nanny Arina Rodionovna. And Karamzin’s “History of the Russian State” and Ariosto’s “Roland the Furious” were fruitful sources for some information and inspiration for Pushkin. Alexander Sergeyevich was also influenced by Karamzin’s “Ilya Muromets” and Radishchev’s “Alyosha Popovich” when writing the poem.

«The Queen of Spades» and Countess Natalia Golitsina

The Queen of Spades

It is interesting that to write “The Queen of Spades” Alexander Sergeevich was prompted by a story from life. It was told by Prince Sergei Golitsyn himself. It turns out that he was an avid card player, like Pushkin himself. Golitsyn played often, losing small sums, but once “hit the big money. Such a sum the prince did not have. He had to go to his grandmother, Princess Natalia Petrovna Golitsina, and ask for help. She was a woman of authority and did not want to help her grandson. In spite of her 90 years old, the whole family was terrified of her. The Duchess was of considerable importance in society. And her recommendation could contribute to a dizzying career and success. However, she did not think it necessary to behave respectfully with the nobility.

Her grandmother did not give money to her grandson, but shared one very valuable piece of advice. Once upon a time she too had played cards. And the Count of Saint-Germain himself had told her the secret of winning cards. More than once it brought her a win. Indeed, when Prince Sergei Golitsyn put money on these three cards, he easily managed to win back.

Inveterate gamblers of the time could often fall into such stories. Pushkin did not just tell what to do in such a situation, but touched the human essence. True, in the novel The Queen of Spades, all does not end so well for the main character. He goes mad in retribution for his greed and avarice.