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Pushkin's Button

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Pushkin's Button: the story of the fatal duel which killed Russia's greatest poet by Serena Vitale

This is an engrossing story of three people (Pushkin, his young wife and her admirer) and the society they are part of. I really enjoyed this book. Initially it has a slightly disjointed feeling because Vitale is meshing together various accounts from letters, diaries etc. And there are some mysteries that are never solved but I like the way she deals with the possible scenarios and discusses what is probable and what is not.

Now to find a good biography of Pushkin!

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I've enjoyed Elaine Feinstein's biography and the more recent and detailed book by T.J. Binyon. Binyon has read everything relevant to Pushkin, it seems, but concentrates more on the drama of his life than on his poetry. I happen to like this approach. For sense of why Russians are so in love with Pushkin the poet, Feinstein's book does a better job of balancing life with art. She is herself a poet and integrates many translated excerpts into her text. Both were very useful in providing social and even political context.

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