Me and Edgar first encountered each other in seventh grade, when I was 13. I think it was love at first sight when we read one of the short story coll...moreMe and Edgar first encountered each other in seventh grade, when I was 13. I think it was love at first sight when we read one of the short story collections. Not only they were morbid and depicted the horrible nature of evil I thought he himself was like one of his tragic characters. This edition was a great chance to finish the rest that I hadn't come across. Illustrations by Aubrey Beardsley, Harry Clarke etc.(less)
Since I wasn't familiar with novels in verse before now, I was a bit uneasy at first (especially since I thought this was a regular novel), but in the...moreSince I wasn't familiar with novels in verse before now, I was a bit uneasy at first (especially since I thought this was a regular novel), but in the end I got used to it and judged it as an ok form. The thing I had problems with, was that despite the pretty nature descriptions I had difficulties in coming to terms with the characters. It wasn't that they weren't interesting. They were, especially Eugene himself in all his cynical glory, but he like the others were too superficial for my taste. Mere reflections of what might have been. Tatyana for example seems mostly just an ideal image of a sacrificing woman, who, when left disappointed, decides to just settle in a life which she can't feel any passion towards, but which she feels is right. The verses don't give that much room for delving either into the story or the characters, in which a regular novel would have had entirely different chances.
The role of writing and especially reading delighted a dusty bookworm like me. The most interesting thing in the novel was, however, Puškin's stylistic device of breaking the barrier between author and reader by occasionally referring to himself. The reader is not only being talked to, but attention is drawn to the author's own world view, feelings, and views on women (or their feet) among other things. Puškin hints at his own life and work in such manner, that it's in danger of alienating the story itself. Overall it works, though, because it brings certain depth and biographical material to the work, inspiring me to read more about the author (a classic case of being more interested about the person than about the works, I think).
The translator of my Finnish edition notes, that what Peter the Great is to history, Puškin is to literature. I can't comment on that, since my knowledge of Russian literature is pretty weak, but maybe at this stage it was only a good thing to familiarize myself with the "fountainhead of Russian literature", because later I can then compare his influence on such authors as Gogol and Dostoyevsky(hopefully the themes are utilized at a deeper level, though).
The Russian reviews here on Goodreads are interesting views on the importance of Onegin in their culture. At this point this just seemed a bit too light for my own taste, mainly just an introduction to 19th century Russian society and its literary culture. Pretty and thought provoking novel, but didn't rock my world.(less)