'Pushkin For The Whole World' Or, Why Pushkin Matters
Of heaven's realm on Earth a witness
With all within my soul on fire
I sang before the throne of goodness
That warmth and beauty did inspire.

And love and secret inner freedom
Taught my heart hymns and honest tales.
My voice, which never was for sale,
Expressed the Russian people's yearning.
For Russians, Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin (1799-1837) – "is our all". He is the lodestar of their culture, "the sunshine of Russian poetry", Russia's national bard, the creator of its modern literary language, the author of its most beloved poems, tales, novels, plays, fairy tales and essays, notably masterpieces including Ruslan and Lyudmila, Eugene Onegin, The Caucasian Captive, Count Nulin, Boris Godunov, Poltava, The Tales of Belkin, Dubrovsky, The Queen of Spades, The Bronze Horseman, and The Captain's Daughter

All Russia's great composers idolized him: countless operas, songs, ballads, romances, and orchestral pieces are set to his works.

For Dostoyevsky, Pushkin expressed the "the height of artistic perfection" with the uncanny "universal compassion of the Russian soul". For Gogol, "Pushkin was the truest expression of the essential Russian spirit" while Tolstoy extolled the clarity and seemingly effortless lightness of Pushkin's graceful style.

Pushkin's mastery is suffused with cosmic warmth, with biting wit and yet with forgiveness, with an easygoing delight in earthly pleasures combined with an almost unearthly deeply soulful yearning for holiness, truth, and love.

His life was heroic, full of love and struggle. He was true child of the French Enlightenment, and the most European of all Russian writers (fluent in nine languages), and yet the national folk poet par excellence. He was a dissident, a freethinker, a romantic, a humanitarian, a passionate advocate for freedom and the rule of law, a wit, famous for jokes and epigrams, and above all, a poet of love, indeed, perhaps the most romantic poet who ever lived.
My melancholy's bright
My melancholy's full entirely
Of you and just of you... This gloominess of mine
Nothing's tormenting, nothing's moving.
My heart again burns up with loving, because – why?
It simply cannot not be loving.
"There is no truth where there is no love," wrote Pushkin. Therefore, there could never really be love without at least the inner freedom to be oneself. Fearlessly he denounced tyranny and hypocrisy and called for the rule of law:
And hence, take heed, great heads of states!
Nor executions, nor promotions,
Nor altars, nor barred dungeons' gates
Defend you against Heaven's motions.
But bow your heads first, willingly
Beneath the Law's unerring portal,
Then o'er your throne stand guard, immortal,
The people's peace and liberty.
Twice he was exiled, and he spent years living under house arrest. Yet undeterred,
In our cruel age, I praised and gloried freedom,
For mercy to the fallen called.
In all his travails and difficulties with authority (at one point different censors read his every word) "poetry, like a consoling angel, saved me again, and my soul was reborn", as ever again he returned to his beloved theme of freedom:
We wait with longing, our hearts pounding
For Freedom's sacred fleeting bliss
The way young lovers fret while counting
The minutes to a secret tryst.
Russia has over five hundred monuments to Pushkin, at whose pedestals there are always fresh flowers, even in blazing heat or bitter frost. Both his birthday and his high school matriculation day are national holidays. All sides of Russia's political spectrum equally cherish and find rare common ground in the national bard, who remains beloved by believers and atheists alike. Even during Stalin's Terror, the last free act of countless Russians being arrested by the secret police was to slip a little volume of Pushkin's verse into their pockets for solace on their fateful journeys into the whirlwind of history. In the war, hundreds of thousands of such volumes were found in dead soldiers' pockets, on battlefields from the Arctic to the Black Sea, from the Volga to the Elbe.

So literally close to Russian hearts, ever was and will be Pushkin, their poet of poets! For Pushkin transcends the politics of the day or the travails of war or temporal power; he speaks to the poet inside of each of us, personally and individually:
No, I won't fully die – my soul in sacred lyre
Will yet out live my dust and despite withering thrive.
And I will glorious be, as long's in moonlit world entire
One single poet's still alive.
Some great literary talents, misunderstood or mistreated by the world, use their gifts to vent their spleens with pitiless resentment and anger. This has often been true of many great Russian writers, whose works, troubled by Russia's turbulent history, have created the impression that Russia and its literature are unremittingly bleak, dark, pitiless, and humourless, with novels that are (in Pushkin's words) "amazingly long, long, long long,/ And solemnly teach right and wrong"

But Pushkin's genius was uniquely pithy and – and happy. "They say unhappiness is a good school. Maybe so. But happiness is a better university. It completes the development of a soul capable of goodness and of beauty."

And so, even protesting life's injustices, Pushkin's poetry, like a consoling angel, helps us to live, to rejoice, and to be grateful for all that has been given us in this life.
How is it that joy's lost its voice?
Ring out, Bacchanalian singing!
And long live the maidens appealing,
The lovely young wives who're so loving of us!
So fill up your goblets, now, higher!
With bright, clinging chime
Into the thick wine
Cast down rings of heartfelt desire!
We'll raise up the glass, with one gulp relieve it!
And long live the Muses, and long live sweet Reason!
May you, holy sun, long burn on!
As this little lamp pales and flickers
Before the clear rising of Dawn,
So every false wisdom but glances and withers
Before the Immortal Mind's spark!
And long live the sunshine, and vanquished be dark!
Unfortunately, foreigners know Pushkin (the voice of the real warm and soulful Russia) very poorly, simply because hitherto Pushkin has been poorly translated. Virginia Woolf remarked "the great Russian writers are like men deprived by some earthquake or railway accident of all their clothes…what is left of their works in 'translation' is but a crude, abased, and humiliated hint of the initial meaning." Pushkin has suffered worst of all from calamitous mistranslation, and so the myth developed that he is simply untranslatable. The great Russian poetess Marina Tsvetaeva explained:
They say Pushkin is untranslatable. How can something be untranslatable when it has already been translated into words once already? Is not verse above all the expression in human language of the inexpressible, an embassy in human speech of the divine, the ineffable? Ah yes, but the translator of this translator must above all be himself a poet."
The project "Pushkin for the Whole World," aims over the next few years to bring the real Pushkin to the English-speaking world through the inspired translations of the American poet Julian Henry Lowenfeld

The history of the Pushkin for the World Foundation began long before its creation and reflects all the versatility of its president, the poet-translator, playwright, composer, and lawyer, Julian Henry Lowenfeld, who is widely known for his translations of his translations of Russia's national poet.
"Russian literature is an acknowledged spiritual treasure trove of global culture. The whole world knows the great Russian geniuses of prose: Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov… But alas, our greatest treasure, Pushkin — "our all" — has remained a mystery wrapped within an enigma, trapped behind the precious veil of our language, impermeable to many seeking communion with our great Russian culture. "Pushkin is untranslatable" has long been an axiom with which no one argues. After all, for nearly 200 years, though many (even such luminaries as Nabokov) have tried to translate him into any foreign language — no miracle yet has occurred. Pushkin has remained a mystery. I do not take the word "miracle" lightly, but in this book you now hold in your hand, a miracle has indeed taken place. Finally a soul capable of feeling, understanding, and living alongside our great poet has appeared to transfer his incomparable majesty and depth into the language spoken by nearly half the planet. His name is Julian Henry Lowenfeld, and he has grasped Russia with all his soul, and believes in her. Though a born and bred American, he has become truly Russian at heart. And this is why he truly understands and feels "our all" just as we feel him, why he so successfully transports our spirit into the English language. In Julian's inspired translations, finally we hear "the spark of God, and inspiration, and life, and tears at last, and love" of our Pushkin. We can recognize and hear his grandeur, and depth, and warmth, his Christian compassion and capacity for love, which mark him as the foremost Russian genius. And reading the insightful and entertaining biography of the poet Pushkin, written with heartfelt understanding and love by a fellow poet, we understand in a new way "the universal sympathy of the Russian soul" so uniquely personified by Pushkin. God grant that his book will be read throughout the entire world. It is very important indeed in these troubled times, when Russia and its history and culture are all too often deliberately demonized by some. All the more reason to rejoice that suddenly a wise and caring soul has appeared, who loves and understands "our all!" With all my heart, I bless both this book and its author's spiritual mission.

METROPOLITAN ARCHBISHOP TIKHON SHEVKUNOV

We expect of any translator of our national poet not just the obvious professional minimum of scrupulous exactitude and complete scientific approach, but no less than an embodied miracle. We expect the kind of Pushkin we know ourselves, in which the brilliance of the poetry shines out for all, and not just for a small group of academics, so that anyone whose soul is filled with yearning could feel in Pushkin what Nabokov called "that particular Pushkinian state in which you feel yourself somewhere, somehow, anyhow, locked in union with a higher, deeper, power, someplace where art, curiosity, tenderness, grace, and joy are the norm." This norm is finally found in the inspired work of the American poet and translator Julian Henry Lowenfeld. His translations keep the original's music, rhythms, rhymes, without ever losing their freedom. The amazing depth, clarity, sparkling intelligence, and warmth of Pushkin's verse are faithfully preserved in Lowenfeld's brilliant translations. And it is not just that the rhythms, rhymes, and shades of meaning completely match the original, and not even that the exact number of syllables and their stresses strong and weak are kept with 16 PUSHKIN SET FREE effortless exactitude, which is, I might add, totally characteristic of all other English translations. No, the entire voice and music of Pushkin's voice is preserved with uncanny aptitude and love. "We will be hollering to each other with Pushkin's name," prophesied the poet Khodasevich. And now we will be able to holler all over the world. For Lowenfeld has translated Pushkin not just into the English language, but into the English language of Keats and Byron. It is because of this that the significance of this translation is difficult to overestimate."

Vesvolod Bagno, Director, Institute of Russian Literature (Pushkin House), Russian Academy of Sciences

Born in Washington DC into a family of celebrated lawyers, Lowenfeld is widely known as a defender of the copyright of Russian cartoons: as a specialist in the protection of intellectual property, he has repeatedly represented the interests of Russian film studios in court, including Soyuzmultfilm, Mosfilm and Lenfilm.

In 2007, Lowenfeld translated a four-DVD video collection, Soviet Propaganda in Cartoons, which won the New York Times Critics' Choice Award.

In 2009 he translated and staged Pushkin's Little Tragedies at the Mikhail Baryshnikov Center for the Arts in New York. In addition to Pushkin, he has translated the works of Lermontov, Tyutchev, Blok, Mandelshtam, Tsvetayeva, Akhmatova, Yesenin, Mayakovsky, Rilke, Goethe, Heine, Hugo, Baudelaire, Mallarmé, Lorca, Machado, Martí, Pessoa, Leopardi, Ungharetti, Dante, Catullus, Ovid, and Horace. For outstanding literary translations and dedicated efforts for the promotion and to defense of Russian culture Julian Henry Lowenfeld was awarded the honor of Russian citizenship in 2019

In 2020, by the Decree of the President of Russia, J. Lowenfeld was awarded the Pushkin Medal for his great contribution to the study and preservation of Russian cultural heritage.

The Pushkin for the Whole World Charitable Foundation was founded in 2020 with the aim of promoting and sharing with the world Russia's magnificent literary heritage.

Last year the fund's first online marathon, organized with the help of the Russian Cultural House in London gathered tens of thousands of participants and viewers around the world, from Vladivostok, Tokyo and Beijing to Hollywood, Seattle, Anchorage, Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires. It was participated in by remarkable poets, actors, scholars, writers, opera singers, sculptors and lovers of poetry and music around the globe; representatives of all the prominent Pushkin museums. Poets from Tanzania, Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, Greece, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Belgium, Switzerland, Holland, UK, Canada and the USA performed at the marathon. Among the speakers were the head of the Whitman Foundation in New York, an American rock musician from Seattle, a philologist from Kiev and a singer from Donetsk, a literary scholar and researcher from Kiev, as well as ordinary people from all walks of life and countries all over the world.

The Board of Trustees of the Pushkin for the World Foundation includes prominent public figures and patrons that contribute to the main goal of the foundation - to popularize and disseminate the legacy and the work of Alexander Pushkin throughout the world.

The goals of the Foundation are also to promote Pushkin's unique Russian spiritual worldview through the global English language, thereby bringing about a general rapprochement of cultures.

A significant part of the profits received from the sales of English translations in the Western market will be directed in the form of charitable donations to the Russian project to help children with special needs and their parents.
Among the Foundation's projects promoting the Russian language and culture abroad are:

  • Pushkin for the Whole World international video marathon on June 6, 2021 with the participation of cultural figures, stars and admirers of Pushkin from all over the world
  • a film of Pushkin's "A Feast in Time of Plague", the relevance of which is difficult to overestimate
  • a modern staging of Pushkin "Little Tragedies"
  • release of a short film album based on Pushkin's poems with famous Russian and foreign musicians, followed by a PR campaign on social networks
  • the release of Pushkin's Fairy Tales", of Eugene Onegin, of The Bronze Horseman ", as well as a collection of selected lyrics for middle and high school student
  • an annual English Language poetry Olympiad for the high school students in Russia.
We seek to raise funds to be able to publish or reprint the following works:
  • My Talisman, Selected Verse and a Biography of Alexander Pushkin
  • The Little Tragedies, four verse plays by Pushkin that are virtually unknown in the West.
  • The Pushkin Fairy Tales
  • The Bronze Horseman (perhaps the profoundest epic meditation on state power and its cruel costs)
  • Eugene Onegin
  • The Queen of Spades, The Tales of Belkin, The Captain's Daughter and other selected prose.

In addition to books, we plan videos, readings, concerts, theatrical events, and media appearances. Budget permitting, we would like to publicize Pushkin's genius with the help of great British and American actors, especially those who already feel a connection to "the Russian soul" and its profound cultural legacy.