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Pushkin’s Button

Pushkin’s Button recreates the four months of Pushkin’s life leading up to the fatal duel in the snow on January 27, 1837. Many theories have been advanced about the death of one of Russia’s greatest artists, none of them wholly satisfactory. Serena Vitale has opened the archives and studies the case more closely, and more imaginatively, than anyone before her. Her brilliant detective work unearths fascinating, revealing details, including a button missing from Pushkin’s Kamerjunker uniform.

"Pushkin’s Button will keep all constituencies of reader fastened to their seats, as they watch Petersburg’s lofty denizens leave no moment of the hurtling Pushkin scandal unrecorded or not speculated on."—Monika Greenleaf,Los Angeles Times

"[A] deliciously entertaining whydunit, a book in which every page seduces with a riddle. . . . Vivacious, seductive, original."—Michael Dirda, Washington Post

"A delightful combination of retrograde pleasures (court balls, the demise of a doomed genius) and primary sources. . . . Illuminating."—Richard Lamb, New York Times Book Review

"A book almost impossible to put down."—George Steiner, New Yorker

355 pages | 1 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 1999

Biography and Letters

Table of Contents

Author’s Note
1. Dispatches from St. Petersburg
2. The Chouan
3. Those Fateful Flannel Undershirts
4. Herring and Caviar
5. The Heights of Zion
6. Pushkin’s Button
7. The Anonymous Letters
8. Suspects
9. Twelve Sleepless Nights
10. Remembrance
11. The Deleted Lines
12. The Bold Pedicurist
13. Table Talk
14. The Man for Whom We Were Silent
15. The Ambassador’s Snuffbox
16. One Summer in Baden-Baden
Index of Names

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