How to Cite
Sokurova, O. B. (2019). Spiritual Problems of the New European Man in The Little Tragedies by Alexander Pushkin. Heritage of Centuries, (2), 23-33. Retrieved from
The Eternal Pushkin

Spiritual Problems of the New European Man in The Little Tragedies by Alexander Pushkin

  • © Sokurova Olga B. Dr. Sci. (Theory and History of Culture), Assoc. Prof., Department of History of Western European and Russian Culture, Institute of History, Saint Petersburg State University


This article studies the spiritual problems found in The Little Tragedies written by Pushkin during the Boldino autumn of 1830. In this dramaturgic collection, the poet undertakes a brilliant creative exploration of the main passions of the new European man. The passions are avarice (The Miserly Knight), pride, envy (Mozart and Salieri), philandering (The Stone Guest), cynical attitude toward death and fear of immortality (A Feast in Time of Plague). Each of these tragedies is based on a Western European literature source which the poet reinterprets in the light of the Orthodox cultural tradition. The conciseness of the form and the “creative economy of the thought”, so typical for The Little Tragedies, make the methodology of the research quite complex. Academician A.A. Potebnya called this phenomenon “concentration of the thought in a word”. The explanation of these thoughts that carry the energy of the prophetic revelations is only possible through a detailed analysis of the text and an integrated representation of the philosophical and aesthetic problems of the New Age Europe, its religious trends and progress of science. In addition to professionalism, understanding of the problems of The Little Tragedies requires serious spiritual work, the most demanding type of human activity. It appears that such high-level publications began to be produced at the end of the 20th – beginning of the 21st centuries and continue to grow in numbers in our days. This article includes links to the works by V.S. Nepomnyashchiy, I.M. Andreev, V.E. Vetlovskaya, Yu.K. Rudenko, B.N. Tarasov, who are researchers making way in the most needed direction of Russian Pushkin studies. At the same time, the author of this article is attempting to make her own contribution in the research of Pushkin. Each part of Pushkin’s dramaturgic collection is studied in turn. A complex culturological method is used; textual and psychological analysis, in addition to philosophical and theological knowledge, is applied. The article contains new observations of The Little Tragedies characters and their motivations. The characters dear to Pushkin but interpreted superficially up until now (Alber, Mozart, Don Giovanni, Valsingam) are paid a special attention to. Internal connections of The Little Tragedies and the Gospel are revealed. The cardinal change of values in the transition from the Middle Ages to the New Age is noted. The article shows that the passions that manifested themselves the most in the new European society were determined by its condition of apostathy. The author concludes that in each tragedy man opposes not only another man within the horizontal measurement of the earthly life, but also the Heavens, vertically. However, while in the first tragedy (The Miserly Knight) the horizontal line of earthly being crosses out the vertical line of the Law of God, at the end of the last tragedy (A Feast in Time of Plague) the vertical line is restored. The research testifies that Pushkin in this brilliant collection outlines solutions of the problems that remain timely and extremely important for the modern man.

Keywords: Alexander Pushkin, The Little Tragedies, New Age, personality type of the new European man, antagonist heroes, dispute between man and Heaven, Pushkin’s interpretation of European literary sources, Russian cultural and religious tradition.