Queen of Spades

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Illustrations by Gennady Yepifanov (Г. Епифанова) for Pushkin’s Queen of Spades, 1966:

01 Gennady Yepifanov, illus. for Pushkin's Queen of Spades, 1966

02 Gennady Yepifanov, illus. for Pushkin's Queen of Spades, 1966

03 Gennady Yepifanov, illus. for Pushkin's Queen of Spades, 1966

04 Gennady Yepifanov, illus. for Pushkin's Queen of Spades, 1966

05 Gennady Yepifanov, illus. for Pushkin's Queen of Spades, 1966

06 Gennady Yepifanov, illus. for Pushkin's Queen of Spades, 1966

07 Gennady Yepifanov, illus. for Pushkin's Queen of Spades, 1966

08 Gennady Yepifanov, illus. for Pushkin's Queen of Spades, 1966

09 Gennady Yepifanov, illus. for Pushkin's Queen of Spades, 1966

10 Gennady Yepifanov, illus. for Pushkin's Queen of Spades, 1966

11 Gennady Yepifanov, illus. for Pushkin's Queen of Spades, 1966

12 Gennady Yepifanov (Г. Епифанова), illus. for Pushkin's Queen of Spades, 1966

These images come from da-zdra-per-m, my favorite Russian illustration blog. (This is my second post from their archives, following Snuffbox Village.)

I’ve seen the illustrator’s name spelled Yepifanov and Epifanov. He was a wood carver and engraver (1900-1985).

While browsing (unsuccessfully) for a good post title, I came upon this quote in a paper exploring Pushkin’s possible influence on The Aspern Papers:

[Queen of Spades] is probably the most over-interpreted text in Russian literature… James may have been drawn by its hermeneutically provocative character. The tale has attained a scriptural status, and its exegetes find deep meaning in every word. Gematria, Masonic and numerological symbolism, secret messages to Decembrist conspirators, are thought to lurk in every corner. The loose ends of the plot are treated as sacred enigmas, and Pushkin is supposed to anticipate modernism and postmodernism in his cultivation of indeterminacy and undecidability, teasing the reader at every turn. The shifts back and forth in time and the changing points of view are taken as a display of sophisticated narrative technique. The style is said to have a limpidity and vital rhythm such as we find in Voltaire or Stendhal. In a story of such consummate craftmanship, it is thought, the oddities and enigmas must be fully deliberate.

Previously:

Alexeieff’s Queen of Spades


Will Schofield is the editor of 50 Watts (original name: A Journey Round My Skull) and Writers No One Reads. More from this author →