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The last traces of Pushkin

February 13, 2009 |  1:50 pm

Alexanderpushkin_0213

Russian scientists are testing the bloodstains on a leather sofa where Alexander Pushkin reportedly died to determine if they were, in fact, the author's.

Pushkin was mortally wounded in 1837 in a duel with Georges d'Anthès, whom the Russian author suspected of carrying on an affair with his wife. After taking a shot to the belly, Pushkin was taken home, where, according to legend, he lay on a sofa for two days before expiring.

Pushkin's apartment is now a museum, where many tour guides have, for the last 70 years, referred to this stained sofa as the place that Pushkin died. The museum has had the couch since 1937; it was previously in the possession of the State Hermitage Museum, and a family that had received it from Pushkin's youngest son. But the St. Petersburg Times reports that "some of the museum's staff have expressed doubts as to whether or not it was the actual sofa on which the poet passed away."

The author of "Eugene Onegin," "The Bronze Horseman" and "Boris Godunov," considered one of Russia's greatest poets, was highly revered even at the time. So much so, in fact, that the waistcoat he wore in the duel -- torn and bloody -- was preserved. It will serve as the basis for the sofa tests.

The extraction of new physical data previously thought to be inert led BLDGBLOG's Geoff Manaugh to imagine a Pushkin Park, peopled by thousands of Pushkin clones. But I think it'd be more fun to have a theme park full of all the Russian greats -- Chekhov and Dostoevsky and Gogol too. You probably couldn't call it an amusement part -- probably more of a downer park -- but it couldn't end as badly as Michael Crichton's "Jurassic Park."

Unless someone cloned Georges d'Anthès. That could lead to "Westworld"-style trouble.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Alexander Pushkin painting by Vasily Tropinin

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