cover image Wind of Death

Wind of Death

Gilbert Grellet, Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin, Herve Guilbaud. Bergh Publishing, $18.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-930267-25-4

This, Pushkin's (Eugene Onegin) first platinum, is honored by Dargel's buoyant and graceful treatment of the poet's startlingly Russian concoction about a bride magicked away on her wedding night and the hoops her devoted Ruslan must jump through to win her back. First published in St. Petersburg in 1820 when the author was 20 years old, the tale brought him instant celebrity for the radiant ease of its language and the freshness he gave to familiar themes. Earlier poets, for example, had worked the folklore genre, most notably Pushkin's mentor and patron Vasily Zhukovsky, but with the appearance of this novel in verse Zhukovsky conceded defeat, inscribing on a portrait, ``To a victorious pupil from a defeated master.'' Enchanted objects entertain readers along the way: a beard, a complaining head (large, and severed from its body), and a hat which, when Ludmilla pops it on backwards, causes her to vanish. Black-and-white pencil sketches of the poet and his wife, the heartless Natalia Nikolaevna, are included. (Nov.)