Sam Driver. Puškin: Literature and Social Ideals. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989. xii, 143 pp.
Sam Driver worked many years on this subject, publishing selected parts as articles along the way; now we have the fine result in book form. The word "politics" is not in the title, but this is a study of Pushkin's development as a political, as well as social, thinker. Driver concentrates on the poet's thought after 1828 without neglecting teh earlier, more liberal, sometimes radical political position. Central to his approach is a carefully defined notion of Pushkin's leadership of the "aristocratic party," understood as a defense of his own class of the nobility (dvorianstvo) and a rationale for a legally established class which would be at once a counter to the autocracy and its bureaucracy and a caretaker of the peasantry. Driver cautions us to be wary of interpretations of Pushkin the Decembrist fellow-traveler, and he refutes attempts to prove that teh mature Pushkin rejected his class (Blagoi's literal understanding of the sarcastic jeer "Ia meshchanin!"). His conclusion, stated early and argued throughout, is that Pushkin matured to a conservative gradualism tempered by quite liberal attitudes on such questions as serfdom, law, violence and revolution, monarchy, and the necessity of enlightenment.