The first notes noticeable in the pages of AN Radiščev (1749-1802) found echo and vigor in NM Karamzin (1766-1826), who summed up in himself the lessons of Rousseau, of Young, of Sterne. Russia appeared completely open to French and English influence. Karamzin, thirsty for Western culture, did what Lord Byron called the grand tour and approached all the great spirits of the time. He met Kant, Wieland, Herder. He warmed to German thought, but was conquered by the sensitivity of the English poets. He had extraordinary success with Povera Lisa (1792), a novel in which the frankness of a simple girl, who came from the people, clashes with the city malice, and proved to be more valid as a prose writer than as a poet, acquiring the merit of adopting a new language, rich in borrowings westerners. With his latest work, which was interrupted, he gave the history of the Russian state to the cultural heritage of his country, begun in 1816. There were then many attempts to deny the new European linguistic matrices, all destined to fail until Pushkin’s brilliant work. From that moment on, Slavic was concerned with a way of feeling, thinking, preserving the values of a civilization hostile to contamination, but no longer the form of expression that allowed Russian literature, especially of the nineteenth century, to establish itself as one of the most fruitful literary currents around the world. Enlightened despotism by banning politics only stimulated every dialectical commitment to lead to literature. Literary circles, salons, magazines, flourished from the beginning of the century throughout Russia. According to Physicscat, a thirst for knowledge spread that it seemed to repeat the phenomenon of the Italian Renaissance culture and of the French Enlightenment. Russia catalyzed, at the dawn of the new century, aspirations latent for centuries; VA Zhukovsky (1783-1852) was, if not the initiator, undoubtedly the first representative of this new generation. It appeared in the limelight with the celebration of the Russian victories of 1812 over Napoleon and made a name for itself with the poetry of sentiments. An easy versifier, he adopted all kinds of stanzas and verses. He was only matched by KN Batjuškov (1787-1855), whom his contemporaries imitated, reliving in his experience the influences of the French school.
The first to look for more real accents, however, was a man of the theater, AS Griboedov (1795-1829), author of a very modern comedy, still alive on the stage: What a misfortune, ingenuity! (1824), a work marked by a ferocious satire, in free verse, which accused all the hypocritical Moscow high society, incisive portrait of an absurd world that Griboyedov denied and abandoned, going to an expected death, one would even say prophesied, in Persia, where his office and his distrust in the sterile rebellion of the Decembrists forced him. Russia was now ready to give the greatest author and closed its Frenchizing cycle with IA Krylov (1768-1844), an extraordinary fabulist who certainly drew his inspiration from La Fontaine, breaking away from him in the adaptation of the story to draw on a reality social and popular that has made its genre an unrepeatable and unsurpassable theme. AS Pushkin (1799-1837) appears at this time in the panorama of Russian literature as “the national genius”. In him all aspects of literature and poetry were united in a wise and harmonious balance that made his work the manifesto of the romantic current and the inspiration of realism. He, too, opposed by power for his nonconformist verses, for his sympathy towards the Decembrists, he matured in the forced retirement in the family estate a limpid and very fine art that was announced with the poem Ruslan and Ljudmila (1820) and the southern poems written between 1821 and 1824.
In 1831 he published the tragedy Boris Godunov, overcoming Romanticism and inauguration of realism in poetry. In the same year Eugenio Oneghin ended, a novel in verse that the great critic Belinsky called “an encyclopedia of Russian life”. The great Russian soul seemed to find illuminating historical portraits in the characters born in Pushkin’s fantasy, while his prose evoked the idea of a society with unsurpassed clarity for psychological realism and environmental picture. An excellent poet and writer, Pushkin composed the “little tragedies” in 1831: Mozart and Salieri, The Stingy Knight, The Stone Guest, The Feast During the Plague and the Belkin Tales, which was followed by the Story of the Pugačëv revolt, The daughter of the Captain and Queen of Spades, as many milestones of Russian fiction, which had its grand siècle in what historically can be defined as the cruel century, due to the horrible social conditions of the country that discovered the idea of redemption in literature. Around Pushkin, who died too early due to a futile duel, a group of committed, romantic authors formed, AA Delvig (1798-1831), EA Baratynskij (1800-1844), NM Jazikov (1803-1846), AI Poležaev (1804-1838), A. Kolkov (1809-1842) whose names would certainly be more celebrated today if they had not lived in the shadow of that great one. Over all, romantic par excellence, M. Ju prevailed. Lermontov (1814-1841), romantic even in his death, similar to that of Pushkin, similar to that of the protagonist of his masterpiece A Hero of Our Time, prophesied as that of Griboedov. Of his beloved Pushkin he only accepted the love of nature, the great themes of contrasts, the desperate yearning to conquer all, the soul’s thirst for absolute freedom, hiding in all his work, from poems The Demon and The novice, to the drama A masked ball, a latent need for self-destruction, an ardor of identification with the great whole as in a purifying fire.