BRUSSELS — It was an eerie experience to press the doorbell alongside the nameplate “Alexandre Pouchkine” in Brussels recently, and even odder when the door flung open and there he was. I had been angling to meet him for some time for a monograph I am researching. A booming “Bonjour!” in a Belgian accent got our encounter off to a congenial start.
This Pouchkine — he spells it the French way — is the great-great-grandson of the renowned Russian poet of the same name, and his last surviving male descendant. He lacks the whiskers, the talent for lyric poetry and the “wastrel” reputation of his famous forebear but he carries the name proudly around Europe and back to Russia. Now retired from a Brussels business career, he is devoting his remaining years to raising awareness of the writer.
Such is the Pushkin legacy in Russia that “they all want to speak to me, to touch me” when he visits, he says. Educated Russians have all read Pushkin since childhood and will not have a better chance to get close to a live one.
Bookshelves in Pouchkine’s cozy Brussels apartment are lined with works by and about Alexander Pushkin and a valued sketch of him adorns the living room wall.
Tea was served and we spent the afternoon piecing together his genealogy (his father settled in Belgium after the Russian revolution). His wife, Maria, a second cousin and also a Pushkin, kept him honest by chipping in corrections of dates and places.
Read the full article: The New York Times