Alexander Pushkin’s Duels

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Every high school kid today knows that Alexander Pushkin was shot at a duel and died in 1837, at the age of 37. Dueling was a sign of that generation, but studying the full list of Pushkin’s duels, strikes me with awareness of how incredibly reckless were men at that time. Here is the list of Alexander Pushkin’s duels.

1816. Pushkin (aged 17) summoned his uncle Paul Hannibal to a duel.
The cause: during a ball, Paul lugged away Pushkin’s girlfriend, miss Loshakova.
The result: duel canceled.

1817. Pushkin summoned his friend Pyotr Kaverin to a duel.
The cause: Kaverin’s facetious poems.
The result: duel canceled.

1819. Pushkin summoned a poet Kondratiy Ryleev to a duel.
The cause: Ryleev told a joke about Pushkin at a high society gathering.
The result: duel canceled.

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1819. Pushkin was summoned to a duel by his friend Wilhelm Küchelbecker.
The cause: funny verses about Küchelbecker, namely the passage about «feeling Küchelbeckery and sickening».
The result: Wilhelm shot at Alexander, but missed, Alexander refused to shoot.

1819. Pushkin summoned Modest Korf, a Ministry of justice worker, to a duel.
The cause: Pushkin’s drunk manservant pestered Korf’s servant, who finally beat Pushkin’s servant up.
Result: duel canceled.

1819. Pushkin summoned Major Denisecich to a duel.
The cause: Pushkin behaved provocatively in theater: he yelled at actors, so Denisevich reprimanded Pushkin.
The result: duel canceled.

1820. Pushkin summoned Fedor Orlov and Alexey Alexeev to a duel.
The cause: Orlov and Alexeev reprimanded Pushkin for being drunk and trying to play pool, which disturbed the others.
The result: duel canceled.

1821. Pushkin summoned Deguilly, a French military officer, to a duel.
The cause: An argument, and a quarrel under unclear circumstances.
The result: duel canceled.

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1822. Pushkin was summoned to a duel by lieutenant colonel Semyon Starov.
The cause: a conflict occurred because of a restaurant orchestra at a casino, where both indulged in gambling.
The result: each of them shot the other, but both missed.

1822. Pushkin summoned a 65-year-old state councilor Ivan Lanov to a duel.
The cause: a quarrel during a holiday dinner.
The result: duel canceled.

1822. Pushkin summoned a Moldavian nobleman Todor Balsh, the host of the house where Pushkin was staying during his Moldavia trip.
The cause: Maria, Balsh’s wife, responded to Pushkin’s question in an impolite manner.
The result: both shot, but missed.

1822. Pushkin summons a Bessarabian landowner Skartla Pruncul to a duel.
The cause: Prunkul, as well as Pushkin, were seconds at someone else’s duel; they could not agree upon the rules of the duel.
The result: duel canceled.

1822. Pushkin summons Severin Pototsky to a duel.
The cause: discussion about serfdom at the dinner table.
The result: duel canceled.

1822. Pushkin was summoned to a duel by a captain Rutkowski.
The cause: Alexander Pushkin did not believe that a hailstone can weigh up to 3 pounds (which is possible) and made fun of the retired captain.
The result: duel canceled.
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1822. Pushkin summoned a Chisinau tycoon Inglezi to a duel.
The cause: Pushkin coveted his wife, a gypsy woman Ludmila Shekora.
The result: duel canceled.

1822. Pushkin was summoned to a duel by a General Staff warrant officer Alexander Zubov. The cause: Pushkin had caught Zubov on cheating during a game of cards.
The result: Zubov shot but missed Pushkin, then Pushkin refused to shoot.

1823. Pushkin summoned a young writer Ivan Rousseau to a duel.  The cause: Pushkin’s personal dislike for this person.
The result: duel canceled.

1826. Pushkin summoned Nikolay Turgenev, one of the leaders of the Union of Welfare, a member of the Northern Society, to a duel.
The cause: Tugrenev did not approve of Pushkin’s poems, especially, his epigrams.
The result: duel canceled.

1827. Pushkin was summoned to a duel by an artillery officer Vladimir Solomirskiy
The cause: the officer’s female friend, a Sofia, to whom Pushkin was personally attracted.
The result: duel canceled.

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1828. Pushkin summoned the Minister of Education Alexander Golitsyn to a duel.
The cause: Pushkin wrote a bold epigram, so the Minister arranged a rough interrogation, which Pushkin found humiliating.
The result: duel canceled.

1828. Pushkin summoned Lagrenée, a French Embassy Secretary in St.Petersburg.
The cause: an unknown girl at a ball.
The result: duel canceled.

1829. Pushkin summoned a Foreign Office worker, Mr. Hvostov to a duel.
The cause: Hvostov was dissatisfied by Pushkin’s epigrams, in particular, by the fact that Pushkin compared Khvostov with a pig.
The result: duel canceled.

1836. Pushkin summoned Nikolay Repin to a duel.
The cause: Repin was dissatisfied with Pushkin’s poems about him.  The result: duel canceled.

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1836. Pushkin summoned a Foreign Office worker Semyon Hlustin to a duel.
The cause: Hlustin did not approve of Pushkin’s poetry.
The result: duel canceled.

1836. Pushkin summoned Vladimir Sologub to a duel.
The cause: Sologub’s unflattering remarks about the poet’s wife, Natalia.
The result: duel canceled.

1836-37. Pushkin summoned a French officer George d’Anthès.
The cause: an anonymous letter, which stated that Pushkin’s wife had been cheating on her husband with d’Anthès.
The result: Pushkin wounded by d’Anthès, and died two days later, on January 29, 1837.

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Sources:

Вадим Алёшин. Список дуэлей Пушкина, ЖЖ. http://vakin.livejournal.com/1427046.html?utm_source=fbsharing&utm_medium=social

George Steiner. Pushkin’s date with death. https://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/1999/mar/14/featuresreview.review1

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1 Comment

  1. Hard way to learn humility…

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