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When a Tehran mob broke into the Russian embassy and murdered all the diplomats there, the dead included one of the most brilliant and promising writers of 19th-century Russia. Alexander Griboyedov's masterpiece Woe from Wit, had been praised by Pushkin as making 'an indelible impression'. It also had the distinction of being immediately banned by the Russian censors. The play's alternative title was The Misfortune of Being Clever and perhaps Griboyedov's tragedy was that he was not clever enough to cope with the vicissitudes of his career. In this first biography of Griboyedov in English, Laurence Kelly paints a vivid picture of his remarkable literary and diplomatic gifts which were nevertheless overshadowed by ill-fortune. He narrowly escaped punishment for involvement with the 1825 Decembrist plot to overthrow the Tsarist state. And his role as a diplomat in the dangerous game of Russian imperial expansion in Iran was to cost him his life. After his brush with the wrath of the Tsar, Griboyedov was despatched to Georgia and Iran, to further Russia's expansionist agenda in the Caucasus and beyond. As one of the earliest Russian players in the Great Game, he drafted the treaty in 1827, which still forms the basis for today's international borders in this area. But while in Tehran Griboyedov fell foul of the zealous mobs. This book makes an invaluable contribution to the diplomatic history of Russia, the Caucasus and Iran at the same time illuminating the life and works of a writer who was among 19th-century Russia's most respected and prominent writers.
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