Pushkin's "The Stingy Knight" Synopsis and Impressions - A masterful little tragedy that strongly influenced Dostoevsky's "The Minor".

stone guardian lion-dogs at Shinto shrine The great Russian writer Pushkin Gogol

Pushkin's "The Stingy Knight"

Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837)Wikipedia.

The Stingy Knight is a small tragicomedy by Pushkin, completed in 1830.

I read "The Stingy Knight" in "The Complete Works of Pushkin 3: Folk Tales and Dramatic Poems," translated by Nobuyuki Kitagaki and Shigeo Kurihara, published by Kawade Shobo Shinsha.

The story centers around a stingy knight baron and his son Albert.

The baron is the incarnation of stinginess, an old man who devotes himself to saving money and believes that money is the almighty power.

His son Albert, on the other hand, is a good man, but in his father's opinion, he is just a dim-witted prodigal son. He laments that if his son were to inherit the estate, the money would be poured out in no time.

And the father did not give such money to his son, forcing him to live in poverty.

However, he is no longer willing to put up with it and demands a share from his stingy father. This demand leads to a dispute that ends tragically.

The Stingy Knight and Dostoevsky

Now, this work is famous for its close connection with Dostoevsky, but let us first look at the commentary on this work. First, let us look at the commentary on this work, which is given at the end of "The Complete Works of Pushkin 3: Folk Tales and Dramatic Poems.

The basis of "The Stingy Knight," like all the other "minor tragedies," is an analysis of human emotions, and stinginess - man's tremendous desire for money - is its basic theme.

 The miser or miser has been a favorite theme in world literature since ancient times, and before Pushkin, it was exemplified by Al Pagon in Molière's "The Misfit" and Shylock in Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice. In 1834, in his "Table Talk," Pushkin, referring to Molière's "The Keeper" and Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice," wrote

Shakespeare's characters are not the epitome of this or that desire or vice as in Molière, but are lively beings full of many desires and many vices. The diverse and multifaceted personalities of the characters are developed in front of the audience according to the situation. In Molière, the miser is stingy - that is all. In Shakespeare, Shylock is stingy, quick-witted, vindictive, fond of his children, and witty.

 This sentence suggests that Pushkin spent a lot of time conceiving the characters of his tragedy.

 The miser in Pushkin is not, first of all, a merchant or petty thief representing the common people, like Shakespeare's Shylock or Molière's Arpagon, but a baron belonging to the upper ruling class, a self-respecting knight who values honor above all else. A "stingy knight" is, to begin with, an oxymoron. This play is set in France in the Middle Ages (probably the 15th or 6th century), and even though chivalry was on the decline, it was still considered a knight's duty to "protect the widows, orphans, and the poor. However, this old knight squeezed every penny out of widows and the poor. To show that the baron's stinginess is a pathological desire, Pushkin introduces another money-grubber, the Jewish loan shark Solomon. For Solomon, the accumulation of wealth and the loan-sharking business without mercy were simply a profession, a means for the persecuted Jews to survive in the feudal society of his time. He knows that a man will do anything for money, which is why he implores Albert to kill his father.

Kawade Shobo Shinsha, translated by Nobuyuki Kitagaki and Shigeo Kurihara, Pushkin Complete Works 3: Folk Tales and Dramatic Poems, p. 615-616

Pushkin drew inspiration for this work from plays such as Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice. In his own way, he adapted the stingy man to Russia and gave him a more lively personality.

The commentary continues.

For a knight who respects honor, the lust for money is a despicable and shameful desire. The desire of a baron is not simple. At its root, it is a desire for honor and power. He aspired to accumulate wealth as a sure means of attaining power. He said, "What is there that is not subject to my power? I can rule the world from here, / like the devil," he says. He thinks he can buy everything - women's love, virtue, palaces, art - with his vast wealth. But the power of this knight of stinginess, the power of money, exists only in his thoughts, not in real life ("I am above all desires, I am at peace. I am at peace. /I know my power. This self-consciousness is enough for me. ......"). It is nothing but self-deception. The baron opens the money chest to put money in, not to take it out. He is not a "king" as he calls himself, but merely a "slave" to gold, as his son Albert rightly points out.

Kawade Shobo Shinsha, translated by Nobuyuki Kitagaki and Shigeo Kurihara, Pushkin Complete Works 3: Folk Tales and Dramatic Poems, p. 616

Here it is. The idea that money is power, or power itself.

How to gain power and rise in this world? Herein lies the idea that has been oriented throughout Europe since Napoleon. This idea has been passed down through the generations to Dostoevsky,Crime and Punishment."andMinors."This leads to the following.

The commentary also states

 In the Baron's monologue, Pushkin succinctly and inimitably expresses the consciousness that the object can always be grasped as long as the means are at hand, the human psychology in which thoughts can replace acquisition itself, and the magic of illusion that can paralyze the human conscience. In "The Minor," Dostoevsky quotes Versilov: "When I was a child, I used to recite the monologue from Pushkin's "The Stingy Knight," and no one, not even Pushkin, has ever created anything better in thought than that! (translated by Masao Yonekawa).

 The son Albert, the greatest enemy to the knight of stinginess, is portrayed as a brave, good young man. He is such a good man that he gives his last bottle of wine to visit his sick blacksmith, but the parent's abnormal stinginess has distorted the normal parent-child relationship. Father and son, who hate each other and wish the other dead, finally, on each's honor, desire a duel as knights, to the lamentation of the Grand Duke ("Terrible times, terrible human hearts!"). .

Kawade Shobo Shinsha, translated by Nobuyuki Kitagaki and Shigeo Kurihara, Pushkin Complete Works 3: Folk Tales and Dramatic Poems, p. 616

The father's selfishness distorts the relationship between the family, the father and son hate each other and wish the other dead...

Isn't this a plot we have heard somewhere before?

Yes.The Brothers Karamazov.It is.

We have seen novels by various authors other than Dostoevsky, and many of these works have inspired him, and as a result he has produced a variety of masterpieces.

Dostoevsky did not create his works from nothing. He took a long time to incorporate the works of many great predecessors into his own, and from there he expressed his worldview in the Dostoevsky style.

The Stingy Knight was directly the strongest influence on The Minor, but it is also interesting to consider that it also influenced Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov.

Since we're here, let's take a look at Motuliski'sA Critical Biography of Dostoevsky.There were several connections between "The Stingy Knight" and Dostoevsky in "The Stingy Knight" and I will introduce one of them.

In the summer of 1874, Dostoevsky went to Ems for treatment of emphysema and worked on a plan for a long novel. But his work was slow going. When in the world am I going to write a novel? The sun is shining so brightly during the day, I am tempted to go for a walk, and the town is buzzing. I wish I could get to the long story. If only I had even the slightest idea, if only I could get to it, it would mean that half of the work was done" (June 15, 1874). Instead of writing, he reads Pushkin and "gets carried away" (June 16, to his wife). He marvels anew at the genius of the plot of "The Stingy Knight. Influenced by Pushkin's tragic miser, he comes up with his own protagonist - an Arkazy Dolgoruky with a "Rothschild's idée".

Motuliski, "Critique Dostoevsky," translated by Yutaka Matsushita and Kyoko Matsushita, p. 528.

Thus was born "The Minor," one of Dostoevsky's five great works.

Although "The Minor" is one of Dostoevsky's five major works, it is not well known to the general public, and its reputation as a work of art is not that high.

Rather than a work that can be enjoyed and read by everyone, it is more of a work for the experts.

Although "The Minor" is a bit minor, I am very interested in this work now that I have finished reading Pushkin's "The Stingy Knight". I am looking forward to reading it again.

I'm beginning to get the sense that there are actually a number of researchers who rate "Minors" quite highly, at least in terms of popularity in general.

The above is "Pushkin's "The Stingy Knight" - a masterful little tragedy that strongly influenced Dostoevsky's "The Minor".

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