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Monday, August 13, 2012

Living Within Your Means

A quote from Oscar Wilde ran past my social feed two Fridays ago. It read "anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination". 

The quote resonated with me and this evening in my Wiki trawl of the day I decided to search 'Alexander Pushkin'. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Pushkin, he is one of the forefathers to the golden era of the Russian novel and the author of the poem Eugene Onegin and short story The Queen Of Spades. The Queen Of Spades is a didactic story centering around the theme of human avarice. It was perhaps not random that I should connect a quote to Wilde with a search for Pushkin. 

Pushkin's life, much like Wilde's, was a story of excess and ultimately their undoing was coupled with avarice and financial despair. Both, however, left remarkable works that would see them enshrined as great literary titans of their time. One of the great lines I took from the Wiki page was this one:

"By 1837, Pushkin was falling into greater and greater debt and faced rumors that his wife had started conducting a scandalous affair. In response, the poet challenged Natalya's alleged lover, Pushkin's brother in-law Georges d'Anthès, to a duel which left both men injured. Shot through the spleen, Pushkin died two days later. His last home is now a museum."

Between dallying with the fairer sex, being exiled by the government, nearing capital punishment for treason through his association with the Decembrist Uprising and taking on his wife's lover to a duel - Pushkin, like all great Russians, left no stone unturned before he was finally done in. 

It seems to me that many of the great heroes of our time often spend far beyond their means - even Churchill is often quoted as having left unpaid accounts in all sorts of places, not least with his tailor. It makes you wonder whether one should live frugally or to excess. In my mind, if you consider death the final straw and that nothing comes after it - I guess my answer would be that living frugally - whilst keeping you reasonably honest and lacking in distress, doesn't always leave behind a great deal of art. You don't often read fabulous stories about misers who don't throw their cards down 'all in'.

Alexander Pushkin wearing something between a bow tie and an ascot

Pushkin's lover Anna Petrovna to whom he dedicated  one of Russia's most famous love poems

Pushkin's wife - with whom he fought a duel over with his brother in law  Georges d'Anthès

The waistcoat Puskin wore on that fateful day when finally his luck would run out


  1. The key is to find contentment. Happiness doesn't depend on how much you can spend.

  2. Hello. I am from Russia. Spleen, depression, doezens of lovers, family, tremendous passions -- all there was in the life of the hero of your article. My fandom is related to the theme of your article. Perhaps, you'll appriciate my blog posts with the pictures and essay Thanks.