Aleksandr Sergeevich Pushkin was born in Moscow on May 26, 1799. In 1811 he was selected to be among the thirty students in the first class at the Lyceum in Tsarskoe Selo. He attended the Lyceum from 1811 to 1817 and received the best education available in Russia at the time. He soon not only became the unofficial laureate of the Lyceum, but also found a wider audience and recognition. He was first published in the journal The Messenger of Europe in 1814. In 1815 his poem "Recollections in Tsarskoe Selo" met the approval of Derzhavin, a great eighteenth-century poet, at a public examination in the Lyceum.
After graduating from the Lyceum, he was given a sinecure in the Collegium of Foreign Affairs in Petersburg. The next three years he spent mainly in carefree, light-hearted pursuit of pleasure. He was warmly received in literary circles; in circles of Guard-style lovers of wine, women, and song; and in groups where political liberals debated reforms and constitutions.
Between 1817 and 1820 he reflected liberal views in "revolutionary" poems, his ode "Freedom," "The Village," and a number of poems on Aleksandr I and his minister Arakcheev. At the same time he was working on his first large-scale work, Ruslan and Liudmila.
In April 1820, his political poems led to an interrogation by the Petersburg governor-general and then to exile to South Russia, under the guise of an administrative transfer in the service. Pushkin left Petersburg for Ekaterinoslave on May 6, 1820. Soon after his arrival there he traveled around the Caucasus and the Crimea with the family of General Raevsky. During almost three years in Kishinev, Pushkin wrote his first Byronic verse tales, "The Prisoner of the Caucasus" (1820-1821), "The Bandit Brothers (1821-1822), and "The Fountain of Bakhchisaray" (1821-1823). He also wrote...