Statute of Alexander Pushkin: Pushkin and Othello
We didn’t find our dining room table on eBay (though we tried to before we found an inspired furniture maker who lives on our very street) but husband David did find me several Pushkin statues on eBay. I like this one best. Pushkin looks intelligent and swaggering. He’s standing on a pedestal my husband brought up from Vicksburg, Mississippi. The pedestal came out of Taylor Ewing’s son’s house. The son of the slave who fought with the Union troops, Taylor Ewing, Jr was the first black notary public in the state of Mississippi. By the time my husband David visited Taylor Ewing’s house, Taylor was long dead and the house was being vandalized by drug addicts. Last we heard, a young white couple has bought the house and fixed it up. The world moves on, sometimes in very surprising ways. It always surprises me when people don’t know that Pushkin was an Afro-Russian. It also surprises me when people plain just don’t know who Pushkin, the man who invented the modern Russian language, the language of Chekov and Tolstoy, was. I never forget Pushkin’s Othello-like tragedy or his Shakespeare-like brilliance. And I will not forget Konstantin Kustanovich who was my Pushkin tutor.
As I said in my second novel, if it were not for Pushkin we’d have to say, playing off Virginia Wolf who said the female Shakespeare died in childbirth, that the black Shakespeare got beat to death in a Mississippi cotton field.