[This article has been republished from the original May 24, 2023 publication date.]

Assistant professor Maksim Hanukai’s Tragic Encounters is available now!

“Lucidly written and energetically argued, Tragic Encounters attends to significant theoretical questions, compellingly reconstructs important historical moments in Alexander Pushkin’s poetic career, and, most importantly, carefully and brilliantly reinterprets four of Pushkin’s canonical texts. A fine contribution to scholarship on Pushkin, Romanticism, and the tragic mode.”

—Luba Golburt, author of The First Epoch: The Eighteenth Century and the Russian Cultural Imagination


Reinterpreting Pushkin’s sense of the tragic

Literary scholars largely agree that the Romantic period altered the definition of tragedy, but they have confined their analyses to Western European authors. Maksim Hanukai introduces a new, illuminating figure to this narrative, arguing that Russia’s national poet, Alexander Pushkin, can be understood as a tragic Romantic poet, although in a different mold than his Western counterparts.

Many of Pushkin’s works move seamlessly between the closed world of traditional tragedy and the open world of Romantic tragic drama, and yet they follow neither the cathartic program prescribed by Aristotle nor the redemptive mythologies of the Romantics. Instead, the idiosyncratic and artistically mercurial Pushkin seized upon the newly unstable tragic mode to develop multiple, overlapping tragic visions. Providing new, innovative readings of such masterpieces as The Gypsies, Boris Godunov, The Little Tragedies, and The Bronze Horseman, Hanukai sheds light on an unexplored aspect of Pushkin’s work, while also challenging reigning theories about the fate of tragedy in the Romantic period.