The rhyming and metrical format of Onegin declare that it is a historical work. There is a whole magic which goes by default: the touching lyrical beauty, the cynical wit of the poem, the psychological insight, the devious narrative skill, the thrilling, compulsive grip of the novel, the tremendous gusto and swing and panache of the whole performance. Charles Johnston Confronted with an evident inability to render a work faithfully in either its absolute form or its total sense… the only solution it seems to me is for the translator to try to view the work not as a hopeless dichotomy but as unified whole and to try to be faithful, in some mysterious spirit, to this vision of wholeness. James E. I would say that poetry translation is the art of poetic lie-sense.
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Eugene Onegin as imagined by Alexander Pushkin, Eugene Onegin: A dandy from Saint Petersburg, about An arrogant, selfish, and world-weary cynic.
Vladimir Lensky: A young poet, about Pushkin referred to her as aged 17 in a letter to Pyotr Vyazemsky. Plot[ edit ] In the s, Eugene Onegin is a bored St. Petersburg dandy , whose life consists of balls, concerts, parties, and nothing more. Upon the death of a wealthy uncle, he inherits a substantial fortune and a landed estate. When he moves to the country, he strikes up a friendship with his neighbor, a starry-eyed young poet named Vladimir Lensky.
A quiet, precocious romantic, and the exact opposite of Olga, Tatyana becomes intensely drawn to Onegin. Soon after, she bares her soul to Onegin in a letter professing her love. Contrary to her expectations, Onegin does not write back.
When they meet in person, he rejects her advances politely but dismissively and condescendingly. When Onegin arrives, he finds instead a boisterous country ball, a rural parody of and contrast to the society balls of St.
Petersburg of which he has grown tired. Onegin is irritated with the guests who gossip about him and Tatyana, and with Lensky for persuading him to come. He decides to avenge himself by dancing and flirting with Olga.
Earnest and inexperienced, Lensky is wounded to the core and challenges Onegin to fight a duel; Onegin reluctantly accepts, feeling compelled by social convention. During the duel, Onegin unwillingly kills Lensky. Afterwards, he quits his country estate, traveling abroad to deaden his feelings of remorse.
Tatyana, still brokenhearted by the loss of Onegin, is convinced by her parents to live with her aunt in Moscow in order to find a suitor. Several years pass, and the scene shifts to St. Onegin has come to attend the most prominent balls and interact with the leaders of old Russian society.
Now she is married to an aged prince a general. Upon seeing Tatyana again, he becomes obsessed with winning her affection, despite the fact that she is married. However, his attempts are rebuffed. He writes her several letters, but receives no reply.
Eventually Onegin manages to see Tatyana and offers her the opportunity to finally elope after they have become reacquainted. She recalls the days when they might have been happy, but concludes that that time has passed.
Onegin repeats his love for her. Faltering for a moment, she admits that she still loves him, but she will not allow him to ruin her and declares her determination to remain faithful to her husband. She leaves him regretting his bitter destiny. Major themes[ edit ] This section possibly contains synthesis of material which does not verifiably mention or relate to the main topic.
Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. September Learn how and when to remove this template message One of the main themes of Eugene Onegin is the relationship between fiction and real life. People are often shaped by art, and the work is packed with allusions to other major literary works.
A sketch by Pushkin of himself and Onegin lounging in St. Onegin is its bearer in this work. His induction into selfishness, vanity, and indifference occupies the introduction, and he is unable to escape it when he moves to the country. His inability to relate to the feelings of others and his entire lack of empathy — the cruelty instilled in him by the "world" — is epitomized in the very first stanza of the first book by his stunningly self-centered thoughts about being with the dying uncle whose estate he is to inherit: "But God how deadly dull to sample sickroom attendance night and day Tatyana learns her lesson: armored against feelings and steeped in convention, she crushes his later sincerity and remorse.
This nightmare is contrasted to the open vitality of the "real" people at the country ball, giving dramatic emphasis to the war of warm human feelings against the chilling artificiality of society. Thus, Onegin has lost his love, killed his only friend, and found no satisfaction in his life. He is a victim of his own pride and selfishness. He is doomed to loneliness, and this is his tragedy.
Composition and publication[ edit ] Onegin proposes to Tatiana, late 19th-century illustration by Pavel Sokolov As with many other 19th-century novels , Onegin was written and published serially , with parts of each chapter often appearing in magazines before the first printing of each chapter.
The remaining stanzas were completed and added to his notebook by the first week of October Chapter 1 was first published as a whole in a booklet on February 16, , with a foreword which suggests that Pushkin had no clear plan on how or even whether he would continue the novel.
Chapter 2 was started on October 22, the date when most of chapter 1 had been finished , and finished by December 8, except for stanzas XL and XXXV, which were added sometime over the next three months. The first separate edition of chapter 2 appeared on October 20, Many events occurred which interrupted the writing of chapter 3. Pushkin incurred the displeasure of the Tsarist regime in Odessa and was restricted to his family estate Mikhaylovskoye in Pskov for two years.
He left Odessa on July 21, , and arrived on August 9. The first separate publication of chapter 3 was on October 10, Chapter 4 was started in October He thought that it was finished on September 12, , but later continued the process of rearranging, adding, and omitting stanzas until the first week of The first separate edition of chapter 4 appeared with chapter 5 in a publication produced between January 31 and February 2, The writing of chapter 5 began on January 4, , and 24 stanzas were complete before the start of his trip to petition the Tsar for his freedom.
He left for this trip on September 4 and returned on November 2, He completed the rest of the chapter in the week November 15 to 22, The first separate edition of chapter 5 appeared with chapter 4 in a publication produced between January 31 and February 2, When Nabokov carried out his study on the writing of Onegin, the manuscript of chapter 6 was lost, but it is known that Pushkin started chapter 6 before finishing chapter 5.
Most of chapter 6 appears to have been written before the beginning of December 19, when Pushkin returned to Moscow after exile on his family estate. Many stanzas appeared to have been written between November 22 and 25, On March 23, , the first separate edition of chapter 6 was published.
Pushkin started writing chapter 7 in March , but aborted his original plan for the plot of the chapter and started on a different tack, completing the chapter on November 4, The first separate edition of chapter 7 was first printed on March 18, Fragments of this incomplete chapter were published, in the same way that parts of each chapter had been published in magazines before each chapter was first published in a separate edition.
When Pushkin completed chapter 8, he published it as the final chapter and included within its denouement the line nine cantos I have written, still intending to complete this missing chapter. When Pushkin finally decided to abandon this chapter, he removed parts of the ending to fit with the change. Chapter 8 was begun before December 24, , while Pushkin was in St. In August , he went to Boldino the Pushkin family estate   where, due to an epidemic of cholera , he was forced to stay for three months.
During this time, he produced what Nabokov describes as an "incredible number of masterpieces" and finished copying out chapter 8 on September 25, The first separate edition of chapter 8 appeared on January 10, Pushkin wrote at least 18 stanzas of a never-completed tenth chapter. It contained many satires and even direct criticism on contemporary Russian rulers, including the Emperor himself.
Afraid of being prosecuted for dissidence, Pushkin burnt most of the tenth chapter. Slight corrections were made by Pushkin for the edition. Zaretsky is described as "classical and pedantic in duels" chapter 6, stanza XXVI , and this seems very out of character for a nobleman.
In effect, he is enthusiastic at the prospect of a duel and callous about its deadly possibilities. Instead of asking Onegin if he would like to apologise, he apologises for having much to do at home and leaves as soon as Onegin obligatorily accepts the challenge. On the day of the duel, Zaretsky gets several more chances to prevent the duel from happening.
Because dueling was forbidden in the Russian Empire , duels were always held at dawn. When Onegin finally arrives, Zaretsky is supposed to ask him a final time if he would like to apologise. Onegin, against all rules, appoints his servant Guillot as his second chapter 6, stanza XXVII , a blatant insult for the nobleman Zaretsky.
By his actions, Zaretsky does not act as a nobleman should; in the end Onegin wins the duel. Instead, he tried to minimize his chances of hitting Lensky by shooting without precise aiming, from the maximal possible distance, not even trying to come closer and get a clear shot.
This particular challenge and the importance of Eugene Onegin in Russian literature have resulted in an impressive number of competing translations. It is still considered one of the best translations. Accordingly, in he published his own translation, consisting of four volumes, which conformed scrupulously to the sense while completely eschewing melody and rhyme.
The first volume contains an introduction by Nabokov and the text of the translation. The second and third volumes consist of very detailed and rigorous notes to the text. The fourth volume contains a facsimile of the edition. The discussion of the Onegin stanza in the first volume contains the poem On Translating "Eugene Onegin", which first appeared in print in The New Yorker on January 8, , and is written in two Onegin stanzas.
Some consider this "Nabokovian vocabulary" a failing, since it might require even educated speakers of English to reach for the dictionary on occasion. Other English translations[ edit ] Babette Deutsch published a translation in that preserved the Onegin stanzas. The Pushkin Press published a translation in reprinted by the Oxford scholar Oliver Elton , with illustrations by M. James E. Tom Beck published a translation in that also preserved the Onegin stanzas.
Eugene Onegin : A Novel in Verse
Told only in pure verse and rhyme, the reader follows the story of Eugene Onegin and his lover, Tattiana. Yes, I enjoyed the story greatly. What a read! To follow the lives of these characters through poetry, to learn their deepest feelings, tortured thoughts, and highest ecstasies -- written out not in typical prose, but in a way that tingles the soul. This novel has certainly intrigued me. In his short life he produced a treasure trove of brilliant poetry and prose. For anyone interested in world literature or more specifically in Russian literature, there are two good reasons to read YO.
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James E. Falen