Definitions

Natalia_Pushkina

Natalia Pushkina

Natalia Nikolaevna Pushkina-Lanskaya (Наталия Николаевна Пушкина-Ланская, 1812-1863), née Natalya Nikolaevna Goncharova (Гончарова), was the wife of the poet Alexander Pushkin from 1831 until his death in 1837 of a duel with Georges d'Anthès. Georges d'Anthès was married to Natalia's sister, Ekaterina Goncharova and was suspected to be having an affair with Natalia. Natalia was married to Pyotr Lanskoy until her death in 1863.

Biography

Prior to marriage

Natalia Goncharova was born on September 8, 1812 (August 28, 1812 Old Style) in the Karian village in the present-day Tambov Oblast, where her family lived during the occupation of Moscow by the forces of Napoleon. Her father, a scion of the family of paper manufacturers from Kaluga, was pronounced demented in 1815; the household was managed by his wife, Natalia Zagryazhskaya, an imperious lady with connections within Muscovite nobility. Her ancestors included Petro Doroshenko, Hetman of the Ukraine.

Natalie (as she was familiarly known) met Alexander Pushkin at the age of 16, when she was one of the most talked-about beauties of Moscow. Her striking beauty was said to have been inherited from her maternal grandmother, a noble lady of Swedish descent.

Marriage to Pushkin

After many hesitations, Natalia eventually accepted his proposal in April 1830, but not before she received assurances that the tsarist government had no intentions to persecute the libertine poet. They were officially engaged on May 6, 1830, and sent out wedding invitations. Due to the outbreak of cholera and other circumstances, the wedding was delayed for a year. The ceremony took place on 18 February, 1831 (Old Style) in the Great Ascension Church on Bolshaya Nikitskaya Street in Moscow.

During the six years of their marriage, Natalia Pushkina gave birth to four children: Alexander, Grigory, Maria (touted as a prototype of Anna Karenina) and Natalia (who would marry into the royal house of Nassau-Weilburg and become Countess of Merenberg). As the family resided for prolonged periods in the country, while Pushkin frequented the capitals, such a lifestyle could not but occasion a sizable correspondence between the spouses. Seventy eight letters of Pushkin to his wife are extant, frequently written in a light-hearted tone with touches of ribaldry, yet there are none of what may be called love letters among these. It is believed that the poet dedicated several poems to her, including Madonna (1830). As for her own correspondence with Pushkin, it was lost with the exception of one letter, written together with her mother Natalia Ivanovna.

The Affair with d'Anthès

In 1835 she met a French immigrant Georges d'Anthès and was involved in a society intrigue, which provoked rumors of her alleged affair with d'Anthes and resulted in a duel between her husband and Baron D'Anthes on January 27, 1837, in which Pushkin was mortally wounded. The propriety of her behaviour in this situation was disputed by commentators; some — including Anna Akhmatova and Marina Tsvetayeva — veiledly or overtly blamed Pushkin's death on her, feeling that she could not understand his greatness and didn't take an appropriate interest in his art. That she preferred worldly pleasures to his society is hard to argue with; and her constant exhortations of money for costly dresses and jewelry forced the poet to write increasingly for money rather than for pleasure.

The second marriage

Much was made of her relationship with Nicholas I after the poet's death; it was even rumoured that she became his mistress. In 1843, Pushkin's widow met Pyotr Lanskoy (1799-1877), who served at the same regiment as her brother. After having been blessed by the tsar, their wedding was held in Strelna on July 16, 1844. Lanskoy enjoyed the sovereign's favor and made a remarkable career, while his wife gave birth to two daughters: Yelizaveta and Sophia. Natalie died on November 26, 1863 and her ashes were put to rest in the cemetery of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra.

Trivia

Both Natalia and Pushkin and their romance are brought to life in Bronze no Tenshi (Angel of Bronze), manga.

References

  • Vadim Stark. Zhizn s poetom. Natalia Nikolayevna Pushkina, in two volumes. Moscow: Vita Nova, 2006. ISBN 5-93898-087-9, 5-93898-099-2, 5-93898-100-X.

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