Евгений Онегин PDF Á Paperback

Евгений Онегин PDF Á Paperback
  • Paperback
  • 240 pages
  • Евгений Онегин
  • Alexander Pushkin
  • English
  • 17 October 2018
  • 9780192838995

Евгений Онегин❰PDF❯ ✅ Евгений Онегин Author Alexander Pushkin – Essayreview.co.uk Eugene Onegin is the master work of the poet whom Russians regard as the fountainhead of their literature Set in imperial Russia during the s, Pushkin's novel in verse follows the emotions and destiny Eugene Onegin is the master work of the poet whom Russians regard as the fountainhead of their literature Set in imperial Russia during the s, Pushkin's novel in verse follows the emotions and destiny of three menOnegin the bored fop, Lensky the minor elegiast, and a stylized Pushkin himselfand the fates and affections of three womenTatyana the provincial beauty, her sister Olga, and Pushkin's mercurial Muse Engaging, full of suspense, and varied in tone, it also portrays a large cast of other characters and offers the reader many literary, philosophical, and autobiographical digressions, often in a highly satirical vein Eugene Onegin was Pushkin's own favourite work, and it shows him attempting to transform himself from romantic poet into realistic novelist This new translation seeks to retain both the literal sense and the poetic music of the original, and capture the poem's spontaneity and wit The introduction examines several ways of reading the novel, and the text is richly annotated.

About the Author: Alexander Pushkin

Александр Сергеевич ПушкинFrench:.

10 thoughts on “Евгений Онегин

  1. says:

    I dare you, double-triple-dog dare you¹, to find a Russian person who has never heard of Evgeniy Onegin.

    ¹ If you do somehow manage to find this living-under-the-rock person, I unfortunately cannot provide you with a monetary reward since I have no money to speak of. Instead, I will treat you to the my horrified expression akin to Edvard Munch's 'The Scream'. Sorry.
    This novel in verse permeates all aspects of Russian culture, lauded both in the tsarist Russia and the USSR. Children read it in literature class and are made to memorize passages from it starting in elementary school. There are operas, ballets, and films. The phrases from it have become aphorisms and are still widely used in the Russian language. It even dragged the name Tatyana out of the obscurity to the heights of long-lasting popularity (now the lines 'Her sister's name was Tatyana./It's the first time we dare/ To grace with such a name/ The tender pages of a novel' seem outright silly).

    Yes, the familiarity of Russians with 'Evgeniy Onegin' is quite stunning. And yet I think most of us, when you get to the bottom of things, have only superficial recollections of it, the bits and pieces of storyline (which may or may not feature a love story?), a duel, a passionate letter, a few aphorisms, and a phrase coming from the recesses of the third-grade memory: Winter! The peasant, triumphant...

    And at the same time most of us, I think, would be hard-pressed to point out exactly why this book is so great - not unexpected given that 200+ pages of verse read at age 15 may not necessarily create a meaningful imprint on teenage minds.

    And this is why I embarked on a re-read - and as a result having unintentionally impressed my literature teacher mother (yay, the perks of Pushkin! I wonder - is it a coincidence that my brother and I have the names of Alexander Pushkin and his wife Natalie?)

    I wanted to discover those gems that critics and teachers see, and which evaded me the first time I read it at seven and then at fifteen. And, reader, I found them!

    Did I mention before that this book is over 200 pages of verse, rhyming in a particular stanza structure that came to be known as 'Pushkin sonnet' (aBaBccDDeFFeGG with masculine endings in lower case and feminine endings in upper case - for you, literature buffs!). That seems like a huge feat to accomplish - and it did take Pushkin a decade to complete and publish it. And yet, despite the gargantuan effort, this novel reads so incredibly easy and effortlessly that it's almost too easy to overlook its beauty and sophistication under the deceiving cover-up of light simplicity.

    These verses are two hundred years old, and yet sound very natural even to a modern Russian ear - a testament to Pushkin's amazing grasp of nuances and dynamics of living Russian language, not the stuffy official one (and that, admirably, was in the era where many educated Russians could speak flawless French, English or German but were often struggling with their native 'peasant' language - just like Tatyana Larina, actually!)

    The plot of the novel can be easily seen as a love story - if you strip it down to its most basic elements, of course. A bored rich noble Evgeniy Onegin comes from the capital to a rural part of Russia, meets a young and naively passionate Tatyana Larina, a daughter of a local rural noble, and spurns her naive affections expressed in a passionate letter to him. A misunderstanding over Tatyana's sister leads to a duel between Onegin and his younger poet friend Lensky - and leaves Lensky dead. A few years later, Onegin runs into Tatyana in St Petersburg - now a married sophisticated lady of the higher society - and is smitten; but his affections get spurned by the older and wiser Tatyana who delivers a famous line that although she still loves Evgeniy, she belong[s] to another and will be forever faithful to him. End of story.

    What this simplified version that sticks in the minds of many readers years later lacks is exactly what makes this a great novel as opposed to yet another 19th century romance. What makes it unique is a masterful mockingly sarcastic portrayal of the entire 'cream' of Russian society so familiar to Pushkin, one of its members by birth.

    From the very beginning, Pushkin assumes a conversational tone with the reader, breaking the literary fourth wall any chance he gets, emphasizing that the characters and customs he describes are well-known, contemporary and easily recognizable not only to him but also to his audience - the educated 'cream of the society' of whom he's making subtle fun.

    Evgeniy is your typical Byronic young man, fashionably disenchanted with life, suffering from хандра - the Russian expression for ennui - and fashionably, as learned from the books (something that enamored with him Tatyana discovers to her distress), showing his tiredness of the world and showing off his trendy cynicism. He's reasonably good-looking, educated 'just enough' and unconsciously playing up a fashionable gothic stereotype, bored with life already at the age of twenty-six, sharply contrasted with Lensky, an eighteen-year-old poet ready to fall in love and sing it endless dithyrambs.

    Evgeniy does seem fake in his boredom and despicable in his feeling of superiority and self-righteousness, and therefore his disappointment in pursuit of older, more interesting Tatyana's love comes as a deserved punishment, readers agree. And let's face it - despite the novel being named after Onegin, he in the hearts of the readers plays second fiddle to the one he first rejected and then hopelessly pursued - Tatyana Larina.

    Tatyana Larina, in contrast to Evgeniy, has always been the darling of Russian literature. She is viewed as uniquely Russian (the fact that Pushkin himself emphasizes, even when he acknowledges that like many of the Russian nobles of that time, Tatyana had a hard time speaking Russian), the embodiment of what a perfect Russian woman should be - sincere, idealistic and passionate, and yet strong, resilient and faithful to her partner despite the temptations. She can be easily seen as an inspiration to all those noble Decemberists' wives who were willing to leave everything behind and follow their duty and obligation to the depths of Siberia, if need be. Her rejection of Evgeniy is viewed as undeniable integrity and strength of character, and the unwavering ability to self-sacrifice for what is right.

    That's how I was taught to think about Tatyana, in any case. She steals the stage from Evgeniy so effortlessly and naturally to become a heroine and not just the girl in love. And yet, as I was reading this novel now, likely at least a decade older than Tatyana when she falls in love, I could not help but notice the bits in her character that made me question her place on the pedestal of ultimate Russian womanhood - and because of that actually made her more dear and more relatable to me.

    You see, the sincerity and passion with which Tatyana embraced her young love on this read-through did not really pass my scrutiny. Let's be honest - she does not fall in love with Onegin; instead, raised on cheap romances, she falls in love with an imagined ideal of him, having glimpsed him only during a single evening he spends in her home. She falls in love with this mysterious handsome haughty stranger because, as the stories have taught her, she's supposed to. She's young and impressionable (her age is never stated, but at some point there's a mention of a thirteen-year-old girl, which to me feels a bit too young to be Tatyana - and so I tend to imagine her about seventeen or eighteen, making her younger sister Olga a 'marriageable material' as well).

    She plays the role of a typical quiet, introspective, shy, pale and dreamy young woman very well, having internalized the idea of a romantic heroine. Her love is likely no more real than Onegin's trendy disappointment with life. Her passionate letter, written in French, is open and brave - but yet, on a closer reading, full of cliches that are clearly taken out of romance novels that kept her company throughout adolescence.

    So basically what I see here is the meeting of two people both of whom are instinctively and therefore very sincerely playing the exact roles society and culture expect them to play - the world-weary Evgeniy and the romantically passionate Tatyana. None of them is the ultimate Russian hero, let's face it. The conventions they both pander to is what does not allow them to be happy.

    Tatyana three years later, having turned into a refined Petersburg married lady commanding respect and admiration, appears a much more interesting character - to Onegin as well, unsurprisingly. But her astounding transformation really seems to be just another role she tries on and fulfills with the same aptitude as she did the role of a romantic provincial young woman in love. Tatyana wears her new expectations as a glove - and so does Evgeniy, madly falling in love with her just as would be expected for a young dandy meeting a refined alluring woman of higher society. Once again both of them play a part that's expected for them, and play it well. And even Tatyana's ultimate rejection of Onegin may not be so much the strength of her character as the expected behavior of a woman in such a situation as portrayed in the romance novels with which she grew up (the alternative to Tatyana's decision decades later was described by Tolstoy in 'Anna Karenina' with all the tragic consequences that followed).

    An ideal Russian woman? Perhaps not. A young woman tragically caught in the web of societal and cultural expectations in her youth and now in her adulthood? Perhaps so. And in this, I think, is the strength and the tragedy of this story.

    Pushkin seems to have felt the societal conventions very well to so exquisitely poke fun at them while showing very subtly the pain they can lead to. He shows the tragedy of yet another societal convention of establishing masculinity and honor - the duels. Onegin kills his friend Lensky in a duel that both of them know is not necessary but yet expected by the society - and Pushkin is not subtle about showing the wasteful unnecessity of such an act.

    And this is why neither me nor my literature teacher mother can even fathom how, in winter of 1837, 37-year-old Alexander Pushkin himself allowed ridiculous societal convention to take his life, losing his life in a duel which supposedly happened over a woman - the duel he described so aptly years prior in his masterpiece.
    Bookworm buffs - check this out. The second greatest Russian poet, young Mikhail Lermontov, who wrote a famous and angry poem upon Pushkin's death in that ill-fated duel, proceeded to write a death-duel scene himself which almost exactly predicted his own death - also in a duel - a few years later.

    What was going on with Russian literary geniuses recognizing the futility and tragedy of conventions leading to duels and then dying in the same manner that they described and mocked?
    There was more to Onegin's story than we got to see in the finished version. As Pushkin wrote it when he has fallen out of favor, when he was in his Southern exile, he had Onegin travel all over Russia coming in contact with events and sights that the poet had eventually prudently decided were not risking his freedom over publishing and so destroyed those parts. How much do I wish those chapters had survived intact! There may have been some added depth to the character of the ultimate Russian world-weary dandy had they survived.

    But even without them, the 200+ pages novel in verse that has been the darling of Russian literature for two centuries now lives up to its hard-to-attain fame.

    4.5 stars and extra respect from my mother for having reread it - and that ultimately is priceless.

  2. says:

    Евгений Онегин = Yevgeniy Onegin = Eugene Onegin, Alexander Pushkin

    Eugene Onegin is a novel in verse written by Alexander Pushkin. Onegin is considered a classic of Russian literature, and its eponymous protagonist has served as the model for a number of Russian literary heroes (so-called superfluous men). It was published in serial form between 1825 and 1832. The first complete edition was published in 1833, and the currently accepted version is based on the 1837 publication.

    In the 1820'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. Lensky takes Onegin to dine with the family of his fiancée, the sociable but rather thoughtless Olga Larina. At this meeting, he also catches a glimpse of Olga's sister Tatyana.

    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. This famous speech is often referred to as Onegin's Sermon: he admits that the letter was touching, but says that he would quickly grow bored with marriage and can only offer Tatyana friendship; he coldly advises more emotional control in the future, lest another man take advantage of her innocence.

    Later, Lensky mischievously invites Onegin to Tatyana's name day celebration, promising a small gathering with just Tatyana, Olga, and their parents. 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. Olga is insensitive to her fiancé and apparently attracted to Onegin. 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 visits Onegin's mansion, where she looks through his books and his notes in the margins, and begins to question whether Onegin's character is merely a collage of different literary heroes, and if there is, in fact, no real Onegin.

    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. Petersburg. Onegin has come to attend the most prominent balls and interact with the leaders of old Russian society. He sees the most beautiful woman, who captures the attention of all and is central to society's whirl, and he realizes that it is the same Tatyana whose love he had once spurned. 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.

    تاریخ نخستین خوانش روز بیست و ششم دسامبر سال 1970 میلادی

    عنوان: یِوگِنی آنِه گین - اوژن اونه گین؛ نویسنده: الکساندر پوشکین؛ مترجم منوچهر وثوقی نیا؛ تهران، گوتنبرگ، 1348، چاپ دوم 1357؛ در 434ص؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان روسیه - سده 19م

    شاهکاری شورانگیز، از «پوشکین» شاعر نابغه ی نیمه ی نخست سده نوزدهم میلادی سبک رومانتیک روسیه بودند، و هستند؛ قلم سحرانگیز پوشکین، در خوانشگر هماره اثری شگرف بر جای میگذارد

    در «یوگنی آنگین»، از غم معشوق (تاتیانا)، و خودبینی شبه عاشقانه، پرده برمیدارد، و «یوگنی آنگین» که پس از درگذشت عمویش، به مال و منال فراوان رسیده، و با سنّتهای اشرافی روس، بزرگ شده، برای فرار از روزمرّگی‌های زندگی، به روستای دور افتاده‌ ای می‌رود، و آنجا به دختر زیبایی به نام «تاتیانا»، بر میخورد.«تاتیانا» خواهرزن دوست شاعرش «ولادیمیر لنسکی»، بود...؛

    نگاره های «پوشکین» برای این کتاب چنین آغاز میشود: «فکر من برای سرگرمی جامعه متکبر اشراف نیست، به خاطر علاقه ای ست، که به محبت دوستانه پیدا کرده ام؛ پس کنون میخواهم ارمغان شایسته تری، که شایسته ی روح عالی باشد، روح عالی که مملو از آرزوهای مقدس، فکر بلند و بی آلایش، عوالم زنده و روشن شاعرانه است، تقدیم تو کنم
    هرچه باداباد - با دست ملتهب و خواستار، این مجموعه ای از فصول رنگارنگ را، بپذیر، مجموعه ای مضحک و تقریبا تاثرآور، عامیانه، ممتاز و ایده آل، ثمرات ناقابل تفنن، بیخوابیها، الهامات سبک ایام نارسی و جوانی، و پیری و پژمردگی من، بررسیها و مشهودات عاری از احساسات عقل، و هیجانات و تاثرات تلخ دل و جان

    سپس فصل نخست
    هم در زیستن عجله دارد و هم در احساس، شتاب عموی من قوانین قابل احترامی داشت و ...؛ پایان نقل

    اگر هنوز کتاب را نخوانده اید خوانش کتاب را بیش از یکبار سفارش میکنم، تا لبخند نیز همچون بهار هماره بر لبتان شکوفه بیاراید؛ ا. شربیانی

  3. says:

    Have you ever dreamt in verses,
    Woke to thoughts that tapped in terces,
    Units measured in finger tips,
    Rhymes recurring on your lips,
    Your whole mind on metre bent,
    All prose thoughts, elsewhere sent?
    That's what comes of reading Pushkin,
    Late nights spent with his Onegin.
    Scanning lines til eyelids droop,
    And all your thoughts are in a loop.
    Counting, counting, metres, feet,
    Endless tapping, then repeat.

    Woe to the reader, used to prose
    Who seeks to fathom Eugene's pose,
    Who must daily exerce her ear
    And progress slowly, full of fear.
    What if this poem, she can't finish,
    In her eyes she will diminish.
    But with practice, she gained speed,
    And Pushkin's verses, learned to read,
    Til soon she saw with failing heart
    That she and Eugene soon must part.
    The end loomed near, mere pages left,
    She knew full well she'd be bereft.

    But now let's talk of Pushkin's style
    Which she's observing all the while,
    As eyes scan lines, and pages turn,
    And poet thoughts by midnight burn,
    Wondering, wondering, this:
    If what she reads is even his?
    The story, yes, she knows that is.
    The verse form too, most likely, yes.
    But oh, how far the language strides
    From his chosen words, miles and miles.
    But she reads them how she may,
    With thanks to Mr Mitchell, Stanley:

    But hush! I hear an awesome critic
    Cry: ‘Drop your wreath of elegies,
    So miserable and pathetic,’
    And to us rhymesters bellow: ‘Cease
    Your whimpering and endless croaking
    About those times you keep invoking,
    Regretting what is past, what’s gone:
    Enough! Sing us another song!’

    But where’s Onegin, by the way?
    Let's meet the hero of the day.
    We've heard the narrator, Mitchell style,
    So now with Onegin we'll while
    A little time away in verse, and
    See him just as Pushkin planned:
    Childe Harold to a T, Onegin
    Lapsed into pensive indolence
    Brooding, brooding, among his books,
    Shunning, shunning, other folks,
    Guards his heart from all soft feeling,
    Tho teaching lessons, not resisting,
    False love to his friend revealing,
    And keen, harsh truths to introduce
    To one whom truth loves far too much.

    And what of Tatiana, pray?
    We'll let the narrator have his say:
    A wayward, silent, sad young maiden,
    Shy as a doe, in forest hidden,
    She seemed inside her family
    A stranger, an anomaly.
    By children’s games was not beguiled
    To skip or play, but often, rather,
    Would at a window silently
    Sit on her own throughout the day.

    And so we have our brooding pair
    Both, loving books and winter's air,
    And we know Pushkin will indeed
    His Eugene and his Tanya lead
    Where truth will love so harshly slay,
    And love for truth, drive love away.

    In praise of both, I do confess,
    I, too, am glad to pen a verse,
    Secure in my presupposition
    That any zealous rot of mine
    Will merit a regard benign,
    And not the solemn inquisition
    Of those, who, with their wicked smile,
    Appraise my nonsense by its style.

  4. says:

    This foundation stone of Russian literature is a smashing, lilting read - and it's only 200 pages to boot, so it's less of a commitment than all those later Russians who thought editing was for assholes.

    It's a novel in verse, which means epic poem, wtf, in iambic tetrameter. It's organized in stanzas that are almost sonnets, but far enough off to kindof fuck with your head, or mine anyway. The scheme is abab, ccdd, effe, gg, so he's switching it up in each quatrain, which leaves me constantly off-balance. But in a good way! Tetrameter has a dangerous tendency to sound sing-songy to me, and this helps counterbalance that somehow.

    It also makes a tough challenge for a translator, and for a long time Onegin was considered untranslatable. Stanley Mitchell has done what feels like an admirable job; I'm sure if I knew Russian I'd say he brutalized it, but one takes what one can get and this version felt readable and elegant. He's no Mos Def, but he's pretty good with the rhymes.

    The story ends abruptly at Chapter VIII; Pushkin had to do some last-minute rearranging, by which I mean burning most of a chapter that was critical of the government, which really throws the pace off there. The version I have includes some fragments after VIII - stuff that survived the flames for whatever reason - but it's really not enough to be more than a curiosity.

    Tolstoy called this the major influence for Anna Karenina, and you can see it. He kinda took this story and said what if, at a crucial moment, things had gone differently? (The point I'm thinking of, if you're interested, is the duel. (view spoiler)[Karenin considers dueling Vronsky - which choice would surely have ended the same way Onegin's with Lensky does - but chickens out. (hide spoiler)]

  5. says:

    And then, from all a heart finds tender
    I tore my own; an alien soul,
    Without allegiances, I vanished,
    Thinking that liberty and peace
    Could take the place of happiness.
    My God, how wrong, how I’ve been punished!
    - Alexander Pushkin, Chapter VIII

    Contradictions. We are made of dreams and contradictions. We want something and after getting it, we don't want it anymore. But there's even a more bitter reality: we often want what we can't have. We compare our lives with the lives of the characters we love and we long for that. The literary universe created by another human being fits our desires. The real world, doesn't. And there's nothing we can do about that. The more we spend our time yearning for a fictional life, the more we lose our own. I always enjoy reading about amazing cities and great people I'll never meet; I usually find them more interesting than people I've actually met. But I set my boundaries. I don't want to miss getting to know awesome people in real life—they certainly exist, somewhere—for a life full of fiction. The world of books is a rewarding world that I'll never leave behind, but the one I see out there, is the only one I can truly experience, inhabited by people that can actually answer my questions, soothe my pain and be happy because of my own happiness.
    This is a book where real life and fiction are too close to distinguish one from the other.

    This novel in verse tells the story of Eugene Onegin, a man that doesn't seem to be quite excited of taking care of his dying uncle.
    But, oh my God, what desolation
    To tend a sick man day and night
    And not to venture from his sight!
    What shameful cunning to be cheerful
    With someone who is halfway dead,
    To prop up pillows by his head,
    To bring him medicine, looking tearful,
    To sigh – while inwardly you think:
    When will the devil let him sink?
    (Chapter I, Stanza I)

    Through Pushkin's witty and ironic writing we see that Eugene is not exactly a person full of integrity and generosity. After the death of this uncle, he inherited his land and moved to the country.
    Eugene is depicted as a dandy; perfect hair and clothes, fond of dances and everything that characterized high society. A young man with charm and mind... A pedant, yet an able lad. In conclusion, an arrogant moron. Do you see the clear difference between his words and mine? That leads me to my next point.
    I always say I kind of prefer writing over plot. I can deal with a simple plot if it's wonderfully written. And this is a fair example of that. The plot is quite simple (therefore, I can't write about it); it's all about Pushkin's talent: a beautiful writing that can mesmerize even the most detached human being of the planet. However, do not get the wrong idea. The plot may be simple, but he still managed to deal—in few pages—with the higher and most degrading aspects of human nature. We have an arrogant and shallow main character, a strong female character that loved to read, an interesting twist, many references to other authors and books (literary anxiety levels are increasing by the minute), a complicated ending and Pushkin's superb style and clever insights. I can't ask for anything more. I LOVED this book.

    I highly recommend this edition. I have been always fascinated with the translation process. One's subjectivity can create a whole different work. Between respecting the structure and preserving the actual meaning that the author wanted to express... tough work. I read Spalding's translation and this one is by far more superior. Both kept a correct rhyming, but Mitchell's flows like water, losing all kind of stiff archaisms. And, needless to say, his notes are extremely helpful. By the way, Nabokov's translation is coming, soon! And then, I shall meet Mr. Arndt. Still, I can't imagine what reading Pushkin's poetry in Russian must be like. A delightful experience, I'm sure.

    Anyway, this masterful poet's words should end this review. Beautiful words that irradiate hope. That's the thing about Pushkin: no matter how unpleasant what he's describing might be or how profound his character's pain seems to be, I can always find hope in him. Always.
    Whatever, reader, your opinion,
    A friend or foe, I wish to part
    With you today like a companion.
    Farewell. Whatever you may chart
    Among these careless lines, reflections –
    Whether tumultuous recollections
    Or light relief from labour’s yoke,
    The lively image, witty joke
    Or the mistakes I’ve made in grammar –
    God grant you find here just a grain
    To warm the heart, to entertain,
    To feed a dream, and cause a clamour
    With journals and their clientele,
    Upon which, let us part, farewell!
    (Chapter VIII, Stanza 49)

    March 24, 14
    * Also on my blog.

  6. says:

    Umbert Eco once wrote that Translation is the art of failure and your opinion of this work is likely to be decided by the translation that you read.

    Pushkin wrote Onegin in Alexandrines which have twelve syllable lines with an end rhyme. This works well in Russian, it feels fairly easy even natural achieving a light and classical tone. The Johnson translation that works so hard to achieve this in English has for me a trite and bouncy tone that detracts from the work rather than supporting it. But there is more than one translation available so you pay your money and make your choice.

    The poem has a lot to offer. Onegin is the prototype of the superfluous man who was to have a long history in Russian history. He could have been a Byronic figure - but isn't, although that may be part of his appeal when Tatiana, who is a very literary heroine, first sees him.

    The symmetry of its simple 'man rejects woman, woman then rejects man' plot interrupted by a 'man kills friend in duel' incident allowed Pushkin opportunity to look at values embodied in literature and the contrast between the city and the countryside which represent contrasting ways of life with alternate value codes and modes of appropriate behaviour.

    It is a text that is open to a range of readings as Tchaikovsky's later syrupy opera shows, yet always has something new to offer.

    The problem is rendering it into English. If you want to enjoy Onegin then possibly learning Russian is the only way to do it. Pushkin dominates the beginnings of modern Russian literature, his huge popularity meant that much of the rest of literary life in nineteenth century Russia is in response to the models he established(view spoiler)[ I like in particular another poem of his The Bronze Horseman which stands in opposition to the idolising of strong men and forceful leaders (hide spoiler)]

  7. says:

    I finally read this marvel of a novel (poem?). Inevitably I have felt for a long time daunted by the stature of the work but now, after finishing it, I feel both still daunted and surprised because it was a much easier read than I had expected.

    While reading it, the Onegin story rarely jumped at me. This very simple story, which I knew beforehand, kept receding into the background behind the text. Instead it was as if I were sitting with the Author, who kept changing chairs with a masked Narrator and to whose musings I listened eagerly. Luckily my edition provided excellent notes that clarified many of the references. Some were very specific to the Russia of the time, or to specific writers that now would be known only to specialists. But others elucidated aspects, such as the very many literary puns and parodies and ironic verses that could not touch my literary sensibility as it would have done to Pushkin’s contemporaries – and for these I was sorry I was not naturally/culturally equipped. The pastiches on neoclassical strophes, and the satirical references to the fresher romanticism just cannot have the same effect to a 21st century reader as the writer would have desired. And yet, in spite of the complex literary texture of the poem that was relayed to me indirectly, I highly enjoyed the open and candid tone of the narrator tremendously, and particularly, as said earlier, the very particular rapport the author establishes with his reader.

    As with the other two works by Pushkin, Ruslan and Ludmila and Boris Godounov, I read this while watching their operatic versions (more than a hundred operas have been composed based on his writings – three by Tchaikovsky). And it is somewhat paradoxical that given that the plot is the least striking aspect of the poem, it should be the story what has invited an operatic rendition.

    Tchaikovsky was born in 1840, that is three years after the death of Pushkin, and composed this opera in 1879, roughly half a century after the novel was published in complete form. The composer was directly involved in the libretto which meant that Pushkin’s exact lines were respected as much as possible. Striking is also that Tchaikovsky composed this with the specific intention that it should not be performed by professionals. He was seeking a freshness that in his view seasoned singers could not provide (may be the fact that Wagner’s Ring had just been premiered could have felt slightly intimidating leading Tchaikovsky to play in a different league). Another striking feature is that Tchaikovsky has Eugene sang by a baritone voice while the tenor is the unfortunate Lensky. The composer also omits Eugene’s Letter in his version. And talking about letters, it can only be perceived as uncanny that Tchaikovsky finished the opera at around the time when he met and quickly married Antonina Miliukova, who had addressed him a similar passionate letter as young Tatiana had sent Onegin.

    I watched two versions of the opera – both produced by the Met. One with Renée Fleming and the my preferred one with Anna Netrebko . I wonder what Tchaikovsky would have thought of his young Tatiana being impersonated by such seasoned sopranos. I was delighted.

    To return to the text, my edition is bilingual with the Spanish also rendered in verse. It also includes a fascinating Note on the Translation by Mijail Chílikov. Apart from explaining the difficulties of rendering the rhymes of an ‘analytical’ language to a ‘synthetic’ one, which means that the former relies on a complex flexing system for its syntax versus the reliance on a plethora of articles, prepositions and other particles of the latter (which mess up the syllable count), Chílikov also explained the structure of Pushkin’s strophes with the alternating male/female rhymes and the rhythm of the tonics. And this made me think that there must have been a musical reason and a framework basis for Tchaikovsky’s wish to keep Pushkin’s text as it was, that it went well beyond a general respect for the great literary figure. So, it is not just the plot that links these two works.

    There is also the musicality of the inner structure.

  8. says:

    My honest reaction to this poem is a sense of awe at the art and the translation, rather than the story itself. Since I, regrettably, don't know nearly enough Russian to read the original, I can't speak to the accuracy of Anthony Briggs' efforts, but each stanza reads with an incredible, hypnotising rhythm and verve. It was fascinating to read the introductory notes about the multitude of issues the come with translating this work and I can well believe how many hours it must have taken to complete (a two-three year project according to Briggs http://pushkinpress.com/behind-the-bo...).

    Thematically, the ennui and selfishness of society, embodied in the eponymous protagonist, had the most impact for me. Despite being written in the first half of the 19th C, Pushkin's commentary about the superficial, detached nature of social interaction, the obsession with beauty over emotion, and the rigid framework of society's expectations have more than a little relevance today. In opposition, Tatyana's innocence, idealism, and integrity make her the strongest moral character in the narrative; she dares to love and yet she holds to what is right when her marriage is later tested by Yevgeny. I couldn't help but be pleased that it remained a tragedy.

    While reading this has given me an appreciation of why Pushkin is regarded so highly in Russia, and elsewhere, he hasn't quite made it into my list of favourite Russian authors. I have enjoyed Briggs' translation and will likely look for his version of War and Peace to add to my collection.

    Many thanks to Pushkin Press and Netgalley for this copy in exchange for an honest review.

  9. says:

    Douglas Hofstadter, in his informative (but self-indulgent) Le Ton beau de Marot , devotes over 500 pages to the subject of translating a 28-line poem from French to English. The book is filled with a multitude of attempts, each with its own character, its own aims in conveying some element of the original, and each differing significantly in style, language and emotion. There is a seemingly infinite linguistic freedom and complexity in the translation of even a poem of just 60 words, between languages that are virtual siblings.

    By comparison, Eugene Onegin is a poetic novel consisting of over 200 pages, which utilises a poetry of grammar completely alien to English understanding. What is left, then, must be regarded as a vague ghost of the original, and it would be pure folly to attempt an earnest review. Perhaps all that survives the distortion of translation are the most salient and immutable elements: the captivating story itself; Pushkin's playful genius; and his eclectic passion and enthusiasm. As for the rest, I will leave that to the judgement of the great Russian writers, who have universally regarded Onegin as one of the singular works of Russian literature.

  10. says:

    ARC review: 2016 Pushkin Press edition, translated by Anthony Briggs

    [3.75?] I've yet to be convinced that it's possible to translate Russian poetry into consistently excellent English verse. Translator Anthony Briggs' introduction suggests that it is easier to make Russian poems sound good in English than it is French ones - which contradicts my experience as a reader. (I loved Kinnell's Villon, Millay's Baudelaire, among others, and was disappointed by two different versions of Tsvetava.)

    It had been my intention, if I ever read Onegin, to go for Stanley Mitchell's translation (for what I'd seen of the actual poetry, though I love the cover too), but this new* version was on offer as an ARC last year. I liked the beginning of Briggs' War & Peace enough that I'd have read his translation if it had been available as an ebook. (It wasn't, so I went for the ubiquitous P&V.) I wasn't so impressed with his translation of some Pushkin poems in a funny little miscellany from the eponymous publisher, under the title The Queen of Spades, but they were reasonable enough - and this ARC was, after all, free, and, what's more, praised by Nick Lezard in the Guardian. (Lezard quite often makes good recommendations, but admitted himself that he was no expert on Pushkin translation.)

    I read perhaps a third of this Onegin in April 2016, when I found it clunky and packed with banal sing-song rhymes. Though it seemed to improve at times - inconveniently for me, as I'd have to rewrite the at-least-half a hatchet job I'd already typed out. Returning to the book in January 2017, reading straight through from Introduction to FIN, I thought it not so bad. Somewhat better than the frustratingly blurred reflection of a celestial original that seemed the usual offering for Russian translated poetry in the body of a book, compared with the way the original was described in the introduction. Some stanzas are indeed embarrassingly sing-song others rather good; and plenty more dependent on how each reader hears all the line-end rhymes - whilst a few are convoluted, with sense and meaning obscured by the struggle to attain the correct structure in English.

    In Briggs' introduction, Stanley Mitchell is both praised - for his use of approximate rhyme - and criticised - for taking it too far. I found the list of Mitchell's rhymes more pleasing to the ear, less pat, than many of those Briggs uses, so perhaps I'd still prefer his version. (Perhaps what I am really looking for is the equivalent of Edna St Vincent Millay's Flowers of Evil, a highly liberal translation that uses the essential sense of the poems to create a[n IMO] beautiful work that sounds like true poetry in English.)

    For the reader who'd prefer a thorough, scholarly intro of the Penguin/Oxford ilk, Briggs' isn't terrible. He provides a thorough and persuasive case for calling the protagonist Yevgeny Onegin in English, due to the name's musicality and scansion, and how this metrical beauty is at odds with the anti-hero's conduct. Otherwise, it omitted useful points: cultural background (which I at least had via reading Tolstoy in the last few years, and I see how scenes in Onegin likely inspired some in War and Peace); and the poet-narrator and his relationship with his muse as a significant feature of the poem (it took the blurb of another edition on GR to make me notice that and not near-skim those stanzas as inconsequential fluff interrupting the real story). Briggs also spent time on a critical debate about Onegin's moral character in a manner superfluous for the first time reader, as he reaches the same conclusion Pushkin does in the poem:
    His secret inner court will hear
    Him charged with multiple offences…
    Charge One: He had been wrong to jeer
    At timid, tender love so easily
    And so off-handedly that evening.
    Charge Two: The poet might have been
    An ass, but this, at just eighteen,
    Could be excused. Judge whose fault this is:
    Yevgeny deeply loved the youth,
    And should have proved to be, in truth,
    No mere plaything of prejudices,
    No fiery, strapping lad, but an
    Honourable and thinking man.

    Onegin, packed with of-its-time cultural references, desperately needs annotations, and this Pushkin Press edition sadly has none.
    From chapter two, a handful of the many examples: I've at least heard of [Sir Charles] Grandison but wouldn't mind a reminder about plot and character, and it's hardly one of the best known bits of British C18th lit; would have liked something on origin and reputation of the following gothic behaviour, implied as a French import:
    She took to using blood when scrawling
    In sweet girls’ albums
    and in the same stanza, re-Russification as
    she restored without mishap
    The padded robe and floppy cap, some background to whose presumed nationalistic significance could, I think, only add to the edition.

    This same allusiveness gives the poem a satirical, flippant air I hadn't anticipated. At first I was in two minds about use of noticeably contemporary phrases - a lodging with decent storage; a dashing officer who's the delight of local mums - but soon felt they sharpened the text. After all, the poem, picking over the mores of recently fashionable Romantic young things, would have felt as modern to readers of the 1830s as daft mockery of Millenials would to us. This sense of freshness is one of the impertinent advantages of a translated classic has over the original, and perhaps what I liked best about Briggs' Onegin, though not as much as in Clive James' Divine Comedy. I love noticing the cheeky wink of a half-hidden pop lyric; one especially deft example here amused me no end:
    “I say, who is that lady, Prince,
    There in the raspberry-coloured beret,
    Near the ambassador from Spain?”
    However, modernity occasionally went too far, and jarred: when Tatyana's nanny was wearing a body-warmer; and even brands crept in, albeit ones old enough to have been around at the time - so can't discount the possibility they were cited in Pushkin's original - Veuve Clicquot—or is it Moët? (I think that was when Robbie Williams' 'Party Like a Russian' started playing in my head...)

    For much of the poem, I didn't feel a great deal for the characters. I was sorry for the infatuated Tatyana - I felt that fiction and film gave me a similarly misleading impression of social life and romance when I was younger - but it was a sympathy often out of step with the ironic relating of the silly girl's fandoms and mopings. May as well have been watching a black comedy about hipsters. (Натан Ячмень, Москва 1830?)
    Among my favourite of the human scenes was when Tatyana, pining for Evgeny, reads his favourite books to try and understand him, and instead finds them an excellent way to get over him:
    And my Tatyana comes by stages
    To understand the very man
    (Depicted clearly as outrageous?)
    Destined for her by some weird plan,
    Sent to unsettle and derange her,
    A maverick oddball bringing danger,
    A child of heaven, of hell perchance,
    Devil and god of arrogance.
    What is he? A copy of mischances,
    A ghost of nothingness, a joke,
    A Russian in Childe Harold’s cloak,
    A ragbag of imported fancies,
    A catchphrase-monger and a sham.
    Is he more parody than man?
    I've done similar in my time (sometimes the books - or films - are a key, sometimes they are not: not everyone sees themselves in their favourites, or loves works that reflect themselves, though Evgeny clearly did). But thankfully, in the early twenty-first century, it is easy to get one's own copies of those titles remembered, no trespass required.

    Sardonic archness wasn't what I expected from Russian epic verse, so for some time I wondered whether this was a property of the translation (British dry wit) or of the original. The duel scene and its immediate aftermath altered my opinion: it was clearly meant to be that way. The stanzas from the fight itself were marked by an instantaneous a change of tone, gripping and utterly immediate, like a movie scene:
    Out come the pistols (how they dazzle!),
    The ramrods plunge, the mallets knock,
    The leaden balls roll down the channels,
    The triggers click, the guns are cocked.
    The greyish powder streams out, steady,
    Into the pan, while, waiting ready,
    The solid, jagged, screwed-down flint
    Stands primed. Guillot can just be glimpsed
    Lurking behind a stump, much worried.
    The two foes cast their cloaks aside.
    Zaretsky walks thirty-two strides
    With an exactitude unhurried,
    Then leads each friend to his far place.
    They draw their pistols from the case.

    On its heels, verse reminiscent of one of Hilaire Belloc's Cautionaries, only for slightly older boys:
    But the most fun comes from insisting
    On plans for a noble death, somehow
    Fixating on the man’s pale brow,
    And aiming coolly from a distance.
    But sending him to kingdom come—
    Surely you won’t find that much fun.
    Afterwards, there was profound feeling, which soon admixed back into the former social irony and the odd Keatesian landscape. The original's emotional trajectory, and the translator's control of his material became clear; my respect for Briggs increased again.

    Friends who know my tastes will not be surprised to hear that it was mostly the stanzas about peasant customs, and winter, on which I was most swept away. I'm not sure whether these were also qualitatively better in translation than plenty of others, or if I'm simply so very susceptible to this type of scenery. (I suspect the latter, because so many of the spring and summer verses bored me.)
    Through the cold murk the dawn comes searching,
    The noisy field work has tailed off,
    The wolf is on the road, emerging
    With his half-starving lady wolf.
    A passing horse scents him and bridles,
    Snorting, at which the wary rider
    Gallops away uphill flat-out.
    At dawn no herdsmen are about,
    Bringing to pasture hungry cattle,
    At noon no horn is heard to sing
    And bring the cows into a ring.
    And girls stay home to sing and rattle
    Their spinning wheels. Friendly and bright,
    The pine logs sting the winter night...

    A tubby goose, red-footed, fearful,
    Hoping to breast the waters, crawls
    Gingerly out, but skids and falls
    Upon the ice. Here comes the cheerful
    First fall of whirling, gleaming snow,
    Star-scattered on the banks below...

    Riding the prairie wild, of course, is
    Perilous for your blunt-shod horses,
    Who stumble on the treacherous ice
    And down they clatter in a trice.
    Stay in your bleak homestead. Try reading—
    Here is your Pradt, here’s Walter Scott—
    Or go through your accounts, if not,
    Or fume, or drink. The endless evening
    Will somehow pass, tomorrow too.

    I've not read enough classic English poetry lately to be confident in comparing the quality - for instance, with Byron, one of Pushkin's inspirations, and whose verse forms Briggs hoped to emulate - but I have included ample quotes, so you may be able to make up your mind whether Briggs' translation is for you, if you wanted to read Onegin in the first place.
    (Incidentally, does anyone else worry about whether reading Russian lit now means more, something unsavoury, compared with even six months ago; not the same configuration as it might have forty years ago, so more confusing? Or is it just me and that's laughably paranoid, even for these strange times?)
    This translation is rather fun, especially if you enjoy the modern elements alongside the more typically early nineteenth century themes; if it were accompanied by a more detailed introduction, and some notes, I'd more readily recommend it; the lack of either is always a drawback to an edition of a classic, as far as I'm concerned. Like so much great literature of its time, Onegin is a story of youngsters and their betrothal intrigues, but the irony and detachment means that it may still appeal to those who are no longer in that phase of life (though I do think there much to be said for reading classics before or around that time), including those whose years have now outspanned Pushkin's own.

    * A few days after reading, I've noticed that there's an Everyman edition of Yevgeny Onegin (same spelling) from 1995 translated by Briggs. As this Pushkin Press one clearly says English language translation copyright A.D.P. Briggs, 2016, I'm assuming that it's is a revised version - although surely not entirely new as the blurb suggests.

    Thank you to Edelweiss, and the publisher, Pushkin Press, for this free advance review copy.

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