RT Book, Whole DB /z-wcorg/ DS http://worldcat.org ID 37862695 LA English T1 Pushkin's button A1 Vitale, Serena., PB Farrar, Straus and Giroux PP New York YR 1999 SN 0374239355 9780374239350 AB Pushkin's Button is a narrative about the four months of Pushkin's life leading up to the fatal duel in the snow on January 27, 1837, when a young French officer in the Russian Army shot and killed Russia's greatest living artist. Ever since, Russian leaders, critics, and poets have advanced theories about the terrible deed, none of them wholly satisfactory. Serena Vitale has opened the archives and studied the case more closely, and more imaginatively, than anyone before her; her account of the Pushkin "dilemma" is also a wonderfully astute, original assessment of the poet's literary and national importance. Vitale has unearthed family secrets, diaries, courtroom records, and a cache of letters found in a Paris attic ten years ago; she shows us how a pawnbroker's slip and even a button missing from Pushkin's Kamerjunker uniform are significant details in the story. Her close examination of the record sparkles with Pushkin's own genial wit and brings to life the international yet very Russian world of St. Petersburg in the 1830s, with its imperial halls, its political and literary gossip, and its beautiful women - notable among them Natalya Pushkin, the poet's wife. Vitale adds another level to the narrative with her absorbing references to her own archival detection work, work that enabled her to accomplish this double feat of literary interpretation and superb history.