Offended Dignity and the Right for Terrorism (Why Pushkin Wanted to Kill the Tzar and Why He Didn't Do It)

1. The most important segment of the paper is an episode from history of Russian political and civil awareness demonstrating new perceptions of personal honour and necessity to protect it in relation to other and individuals as well as the state.

2. In the autumn of 1825, Alexander Pushkin, trying to change his exiled status, composed a draft of a personal letter to Emperor Alexander I (which remained unsent). This letter, describing the role of poet in late 1810s, contained a unique confession (originally in French): “There was a rumour as if I was brought to the Secret Service and subjected to beating. <...> I saw myself dishonoured in the public eye. <…> I was wondering whether I should shoot myself or kill -V-”. The paper includes additional arguments supporting an opinion that “-V-” stood for Emperor Alexander himself (ou d´assassiner Votre Majesté).

3. Higher power as a probable source of gossip of Pushkin’s “punishment.” New forms and methods of state control and discrediting of “the displeased”: from disgraceful punishment to defamation. Evolution of the perception of the offended dignity in the 1810s. Duel as non-judicial (and non-governmental) form of protecting honour and dignity. Who could and who could not be challenged to a duel? Regicide as a palliative of a duel. Individual terrorist attack as an alternative to a palace coup.

4. Current European context (Karl Sand's terrorist attack) and historic precedents. Antique models of political behaviour as a universal of the era. “Tyrant fighters”: Harmodius and Aristogeiton vs Brutus and Cassius. Possible sources of Pushkin’s information of the heroic deed of Harmodius and Aristogeiton (book of abbot Jacques-Barthélemy Salgues). “An insult that cannot be forgotten” (“un affront qu´il était impossible d´oublier”) as a basis of tyrant assassination. Revenge for a personal insult as a way to changing the political system.

5. Utopism of Pushkin's project. Possible role of Peter Chaadaev in altering Pushkin's intentions. Echoes of anti-tyrant intentions in Pushkin’s poetry. Political fronde of Pushkin in the spring of 1820 as a palliative of a failed “tyrant assassination” and as a means of restoring and protecting honour and dignity. “Louvel’s portrait.”

6. Analysis of the political assassination problem in speculative discourse and artistic practise of Pushkin during his “southern exile.” General European “Right turn” of 1823–1824. Pushkin’s disillusion of political activism (and of individual terrorism as a version of political action) as a result of disappointment in “nations’ dignity.” Search of new bases for assertion of individual’s dignity in the society that is not prepared for radical political changes.