The Fourth King

Glen Petrie, Author Atheneum Books $17.95 (433p) ISBN 978-0-689-11765-7
Russia's beloved poet Pushkin becomes in the hands of this gifted novelist (Hand of Glory and historian a romantic hero and misunderstood genius, whose easy morals have nothing to do with his stern morality. Released from house arrestimposed because of his presumed collusion in the Decembrist uprisingby Czar Nicholas, he returns to Moscow. At the opera, he glimpses Natalya, then 13, and is irrevocably hers. When they marry four years later, he assumes the support of the entire Goncharov family and becomes the underwriter of Natalya's appalling debts. His friends think her silly and unworthy; she is insensitive to his literary flavor, love of country, belief in God and obedience to his conscience, and what he conceives as truth. But far more serious than his growing disaffection with his wife is the stricture against publication, on the grounds of ""unconscious disloyalty,'' of some of the most sublime and least subversive products of his pen. The reader is so caught up in his travail that the pages don't turn fast enough. And at the end, when Pushkin dies of a stomach wound that the doctors treat as indigestion, few eyes will be dry. (September 24)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
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