Alexander Pushkin was born into the Russian nobility in Moscow in 1799. Educated by French tutors while learning Russian from the household serfs, he began publishing poems in his early teens and soon gained widespread recognition, especially for his use of vernacular. At 18 he received a government appointment in St. Petersburg and threw himself into cultural life, including associating with radical intellectuals. He published his first major work, the long poem Rusian and Ludmila, in 1820, shortly before being banished from the capital for writing political poems such asOde to Liberty. In 1825 some friends were involved in the Decembrist uprising, and Pushkin's restrictions were tightened. Yet he wrote some of his greatest work in exile, including his playBoris Godunov and his novel-in-verse Eugene Onegin. Finally pardoned by the Tsar, he married Natalya Goncharova in 1831. They became regulars of court society, which soon impoverished Pushkin, and in 1837, scandalous rumors about Natalya prompted him to challenge an alleged paramour to a duel. Wounded, Pushkin died two days later. Fearing a public outpouring at his funeral, the governme
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