Still the benchmark of Russian literature 175 years after its first publicationâ?now in a marvelous new translation
PUSHKINâ'S INCOMPARABLE POEM has at its center a young Russian dandy much like Pushkin in his attitudes and habits. Eugene Onegin, bored with the triviality of everyday life, takes a trip to the countryside, where he encounters the young and passionate Tatyana. She falls in love with him but is cruelly rejected. Years later, Eugene Onegin sees the error of his ways, but fate is not on his side. A tragic story about love, innocence, and friendship, this beautifully written tale is a treasure for any fan of Russian literature.
The composition of this novel in verse occupied a substantial portion of Pushkin's most productive years, from 1823 to 1831. His subject matter, genre, and even the meter he chose, were all influenced by Lord Byron and, in particular, "Childe Harold" (1812-1818). Eugene Onegin is an educated dandy in Petersburg society, an archetype for the "superfluous man" in Russian literature who suffers from melancholy and an aching but willful detachment from the conventional aristocratic lifestyle. These very qualities make him the object of Tatyana Lavin's love when he decides to accompany his friend Lensky on an excursion to court Olga Lavin. Tatyana soon declares herself in a letter to Onegin, but he believes that his temperament is beyond the possibility of love, that he could never be happy, and he tells her so. A few weeks later Onegin reluctantly accepts an invitation to Tatyana's name-day party and, feeling spiteful about the whole affair, provokes Lensky by dancing with Olga. Thinking his good friend will not go through with it, Lensky challenges Onegin to a duel. Mechanically, Onegin accepts the challenge and the following day Lensky is killed. Olga is inconsolable and Tatyana is taken away to Moscow by her family to find a suitable husband. Years pass, and when Onegin next sees Tatyana at a Petersburg ball she has married a wealthy prince and is a prominent member of society. He now finds himself consumed with desire for her and writes her a letter that mirrors the one he received from her years earlier. Onegin waits in vain for her reply until finally he visits her at home. Tatyana admits that her love for him has not diminished, but her position in society, her duty towards her husband, outweigh his unwelcome, belated, and tactless emotions.
- November 25, 2008
- November 25, 2008
- Aleksandr Sergeevich Pushkin