The Genius of Pushkin

The Russian-born French writer Henri Troyat wrote in his biography of Alexander Pushkin:

Pushkin grew with the years. Every other writer claimed descent from him. Inexplicably, the whole of Russian literature proceeded from his genius. Poetry, novels, short stories, history, theater, criticism-he had opened up the whole gamut of literary endeavor to his countrymen. He was first in time, and first in quality. He was the source. Neither Gogol nor Tolstoy could have existed without him, for he made the Russian language; he prepared the ground for the growth of every genre.

Henri Troyat wrote a stream of biographies of Russian luminaries: Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, Alexander II, Nicholas II, Rasputin, Tolstoy, Gogol, Chekhov, and Boris Pasternak.

A Successful Romantic Relationship Is Never Easy

From Alain de Botton’s novel, The Course of Love:

Love reaches a pitch at those moments when our beloved turns out to understand, more clearly than others have been able to, and perhaps even better than we do ourselves, the chaotic, embarrassing, and shameful parts of us. That someone else gets who we are and both sympathizes with us and forgives us for what they see underpins our whole capacity to trust and to give. Love is a dividend of gratitude for our lovers’ insight into our own confused and troubled psyche.

Rather than some notional idea or perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate dissimilarity that is the true marker of the right person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it shouldn’t be its precondition.