Pushkins popping up like mushrooms

There I was, taking a perfectly innocent stroll through the woods, passing an overturned tree stump I had seen a thousand times before when I made out a shadowy figure lingering behind it, standing there suspiciously still. He looked Russian, though it was hard to tell because it was foggy and he had such a dark complexion. I tried to keep my wits about me, which was a good thing because I suddenly realized who it was.

Pushkin! Yes, it was Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin himself, or rather, it was a monument dedicated to his immense literary achievement, a bronze monument that must have arisen out of nowhere after a slight rainfall and which would just as quickly be picked and made into a sauce or soup.

Alright, so I wasn’t walking in the woods. I haven’t even been in the woods or out of Prague in months, and Pushkin monuments do not grow as suddenly as mushrooms – or, do they?

Less than a month ago the Swiss town of Sisikon unveiled a public statue to the great poet. The bust was presented to the city by the Russian Union of Writers and was placed in front of one of the city’s lakeside hotels. The Swiss town becomes the 11th city across Europe, Asia and Africa to have a public Pushkin monument, which seems a fairly reasonable number (North and South America please take note and start catching up).

Yet, the Russian Union of Writers was not done. From Switzerland they were off to Yerevan, Armenia, and from their cache of Pushkin monuments placed another at the site where Pushkin reportedly saw the body of another Alexander Sergeyevich, in this case the murdered Russian ambassador in Tehran and author of Woe from Wit, Griboyedov, being carried on his way to Tiflis in 1829. The Soviet-era memorial there does not look to be in great shape so a new one is probably a good idea and is being given as part of Armenia’s Days of Russian Language.

And so, enough, you say, or Russia will be facing acute shortages of Pushkin busts just as a cold, merciless winter approaches. Too late, for on October 23 yet another bust of the poet will be ceremonially placed at the University of Baghdad. It is something of an exchange. In 2009, a bust of Iraqi poet Muhammad Al-Javahiri was presented to Voronezh State University.

After that, well, keep your eyes peeled, and if you see a Pushkin bust sprout up around the corner do not be alarmed.

Photos – 1) Pushkin by V.G. Sidorenko   2) Monument to Alexander Pushkin by Alexander Opekushin 3) Griboyedov Monument in Armenia showing Pushkin stopping the cart carrying the slain writer’s body

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Categories: Literary History

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