Pushkin biography

I’m sure you’ve all been waiting breathlessly for this…. John Leonard reviews T.J. Binyan’s “magnificent” biography of Alexandr Pushkin from Knopf. But weighing in at an appropriately indulgent 727 pages and priced out of my grad student budget at a whopping $35, I may have to settle for Leonard’s lively and intelligent review in the New York Times Book Review. I am both delighted to learn and embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know that the same pistol Georges d’Anthes used to kill Pushkin in their famous duel was borrowed from the French ambassador’s son who would use it four years later to lay out Mikhail Lermontov.

Over at the Washington Post, Michael Dirda chimes in with some key facts about Binyan himself that I, of course, did not know as well:

T.J. Binyon, an encyclopedic professor of Russian at Oxford, is probably best known to common readers as an expert on crime fiction. For many years he reviewed mysteries for the Times Literary Supplement, eventually producing a study called “Murder Will Out” and two whodunits of his own. In his reviews Binyon disclosed an encyclopedic knowledge of detective fiction. He brings the same breathtaking command of detail to this biography, as he virtually recreates Pushkin’s daily life. This will surely become the standard account of the poet in English.

It looks like I’ll be spending my hours in Barnes & Noble for a while….

Go here to read what Black Square thinks of it.

And speaking of black squares…

In celebration of the 125th anniversary of Kazimir Malevich’s birth, the Malevich Society is sponsoring “Rethinking Malevich,” a conference to be held on Friday and Saturday February 6-7, 2004, in the Elebash Recital Hall of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. It’s sure to be a real barn burner, so I’ll see you all there expect to see you all there. I’ll be the one wearing the black scarf on a black coat.

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