The Prisoner of the Caucasus: Nearly Two Centuries of Literary Succession

Nonna Danchenko, Victoria University of Wellington

Hardly could A. Puškin have thought when writing his poem The Prisoner of the Caucasus that its title would give rise to such a rich seminal tradition in Russian literature. And yet it did. Why? What is there in the nature of the mountainous Caucasus and Caucasian warfare that compelled and inspired residents of the Russian plains—A. Puškin, M. Lermontov, L. Tolstoj and V. Makanin to write about the Caucasus exploiting the same title (or nearly the same for Makanin)? This paper dwells on some literary and cultural aspects of the poems and short stories that maintain this literary tradition as well as gives a survey of the historical background that feeds it. It also traces the evolution of plennik into plennyj and makes references to the film of the same title directed by S. Bodrov.