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Eugene Onegin Paperback – Nov 25 2008
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One of the finest of all verse translations into English ... reproduces every facet of the original: the precise meaning, the wit, the lyricism. Not once is there a false note. -- Robert Chandler Independent
About the Author
Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin was born in Moscow in 1799. He was liberally educated and left school in 1817. Given a sinecure in the Foreign Office, he spent three dissipated years in St Petersburg writing light, erotic and highly polished verse. He flirted with several pre-Decembrist societies, composing the mildly revolutionary verses which led to his disgrace and exile in 1820. After traveling through the Caucasus and the Crimea, he was sent to Bessarabia, where he wrote The Captive of the Caucasus and The Fountain at Bakhchisaray, and began Eugene Onegin. His work took an increasingly serious turn during the last year of his southern exile, in Odessa. In 1824 he was transferred to his parents’ estate at Mikhaylovskoe in north-west Russia, where he spent two solitary but fruitful years during which he wrote his historical drama Boris Godunov, continued Eugene Onegin and finished The Gipsies. After the failure of the Decembrist Revolt in 1825 and the succession of a new tsar, Pushkin was granted conditional freedom in 1826. During the next three years he wandered restlessly between St Petersburg and Moscow. He wrote an epic poem, Poltava, but little else. In 1829 he went with the Russian army to Transcaucasia, and the following year, stranded by a cholera outbreak at the small family estate of Boldino, he wrote his experimental Little Tragedies in blank verse and The Tales of Belkin in prose, and virtually completed Eugene Onegin. In 1831 he married the beautiful Natalya Goncharova. The rest of his life was soured by debts and the malice of his enemies. Although his literary output slackened, he produced his major prose works The Queen of Spades and The Captain’s Daughter, his masterpiece in verse, The Bronze Horseman, important lyrics and fairy tales, including The Tale of the Golden Cockerel. Towards the end of 1836 anonymous letters goaded Pushkin into challenging a troublesome admirer of his wife to a duel. He was mortally wounded and died in January 1837.
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Huge kudos to the translator, who has some serious linguistic talent. This not only translates the story accurately, but the English version makes sense.
The lessons from the story are strong. Never fight against somebody who is not out to hurt you even if you feel he hurt your pride. That was the case between Eugene and his friend and neighbor Vladimir Lensky, which ends tragically over a nonexistent rivalry over Olga Larin: Another lesson is to appreciate the genuine and selfless love of others for, especially when we are lost in life. That was the case of Olga's sister Tatiana, whom Eugene initially rejects, only to fall in love with her later at a time when she had lost faith in him and had committed herself to a man she did not love but respected. Pushkin himself could be seen in the writing. The loss of what we did not know we loved is the overriding theme in this book. In this direction, there are many lessons to learn from Russia .We can see that in UNION MOUJIK, WAR AND PEACE.I enjoyed reading this book, so if you are undecided about reading it, pick it up and do yourself a favor by knowing about this great work of art.
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