The Gabrieliad

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The Gabrieliad (Russian: Гавриилиада, Gavriiliada) is a sexually explicit, blasphemous work widely believed to have been written by Alexander Pushkin, one of the major Russian poets, in April 1821, while he was in his student years. Although during his life he denied his authorship in court under oath, due to a sensitive nature of material it is believed[by whom?] he was lying and didn't want to admit authorship to avoid prosecution.


The Gavriiliada is a satiric description of the beginning of the New Testament, primarily making fun of virgin birth and God's ineptness. In Pushkin's narrative, Mary, the mother of Jesus, a young and attractive Jewish girl, is married to an old and impotent carpenter who has taken her as wife only to keep house. God chooses her to be the mother of Jesus and sends Archangel Gabriel to announce the good news. Satan learns about God's plan and arrives first in the form of a snake to seduce and deflower Mary (and keep his influence over the soul of man?). Gabriel arrives a bit too late to save her from Satan but manages to drive him off with an illegal punch[clarification needed] [Впился ему в то место роковое (Излишнее почти во всяком бое), В надменный член, которым бес грешил]. Then he quickly has his way with Mary, who had already seen him in a vision and was impatiently waiting for him. The next morning, God in the form of a dove flies into Mary's bedroom and has intercourse with her (still in the form of a dove), thus thinking He has conceived Jesus. Mary is left to marvel at all this sudden attention ("Вот шалости какие! Один, два, три! – как это им не лень?") and readers are left uncertain just who it is who has fathered the Son of Man.

Although the story is highly blasphemous and satirical, it is not blatantly pornographic and is written in a fine high-spirited style.[according to whom?] Illegal copies of the text circulated in Russian society for a hundred years until it finally saw the dark of print at the beginning of the 20th century.

Case of Gavriiliada[edit]

In 1826, during the investigation into the Decembrists' activities, chief investigator Bibikov came across several copies of the poem. However, this produced no consequences until 1828, when the Holy Synod learned about the poem. Because the Holy Synod could prosecute for blasphemy, a new inquiry was opened. However, for some reason, the case left the Synod and was investigated by civil authorities.

In the summer of 1828, the investigators asked Pushkin who had given him the text. Pushkin alleged that the poem had been circulating among Hussar officers and that he got a copy from one of them about 1820. He claimed he could not remember which person he got the poem from. This sounded like a poor excuse,[according to whom?] so Pushkin was watched closely.

In the fall of 1828, Russian tsar Nicholas I asked Pushkin "in his name" to clarify the issue in a private confidential letter (Pushkin enjoyed special treatment by the Russian monarch). However, the politics of that time tend to suggest that both the "formal request" and Pushkin's reply were initiated by a third party. Whatever the truth is, some time later the case had "gone cold", and, although it was never formally closed, Pushkin was left alone.

In 1951, a hand-written copy of Pushkin's letter to the tsar was found. Despite questions of authenticity surrounding the discovery, most scholars[who?] agree that the letter is a genuine copy since it alludes repeatedly to the previous letter in a way that rules out chance beyond reasonable doubt.

Authenticity dispute[edit]

Although Pushkin himself denied authorship of Gavriiliada, an overwhelming majority of scientists agree that he indeed wrote the poem.[citation needed] The usual argument against his authorship is the content of the poem. However, Pushkin was known as a somewhat rebellious person and was known, for example, to write epigrams on his superiors accusing them of homosexuality. The language of the poem is stunningly similar to Pushkin's even to the naked eye. Therefore, most likely, he indeed wrote the piece.[according to whom?]

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