Wednesday, June 06, 2012

The Pushkin Quote Mystery.

Pushkin monument in St.Petersburg

Today is Alexander Pushkin's birthday, widely marked in Russia as the day of national culture.

EU-Russia summit was held in Saint-Petersburg. President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso made a short statement (text) at the joint press-conference at the end of the summit. In the statement he quoted from Pushkin, generating pleased murmur in the audience. This is the phrase from Barroso's statement:
As the most famous Russian poet, Alexander Pushkin, who studied, lived and died in Saint Petersburg, once wrote: “we can try and fail, but we should not fail to try”.
The quote, nice as it is, looks suspiciously like one of the modern 'motivational slogans.' And indeed, when I googled it, it turned up on many 'inspirational' sites. While attributing the words to Pushkin, none of the sites give the work from where it is taken. I searched and searched, in English and in various back translations into Russian and couldn't find it.

It's quite possible that assistants found the quote for the President who wanted to strike a warm note with the hosts. He did, but I doubt that any of the Russians in the hall were able to recognize it as genuinely Pushkin's.

Can anyone help?

Photo of Barroso: eppjfficial.
Photo of the Pushkin monument in Arts Square (ploschad' Iskusstv) by George Shuklin.

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