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Michael Wachtel

Michael Wachtel is a professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Princeton University. He is a specialist on Russian poetry. In St. Petersburg he was completing a book called A Commentary to Pushkin’s Lyric Poetry 1826–1836, the first extended commentary in any language.

«For a scholar of Russian literature, Pushkin’s poetry is the holy grail. The fellowship from the Likhachev foundation not only allowed me to consult with superlative Russian scholars and use the unmatched bibliographical resources of the Pushkin House library. It also gave me the chance to examine the books in Pushkin’s personal library, many of which are sufficiently rare that they cannot be found anywhere in the United States. It is difficult to describe the sensation of holding in one’s hand not simply the edition that Pushkin himself used, but the actual book itself (sometimes with the owner’s signature on the cover). Google books may eventually get around to scanning everything in Pushkin’s library (and this would be a wonderful thing), but it will never be able to duplicate the aura of the actual artifact. I have spent considerable time in Russia before, but this visit was special. I returned home inspired.»