Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin, a native Muscovite born in 1799, is to Russian what Shakespeare is to English. Russians love Pushkin because he can express a world in seven words. My mother, who immigrated from the Soviet Union in 1989, says that you can read Pushkin happy, sad, or drunk. Russian kids grow up reading and reciting his fairytales. All the great Russian writers that came after him or were his contemporaries—Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Nikolai Gogol, Anna Akhmatova—aren’t universal like he is. Each had their own particular flavor, and they were all inspired by him.