Stacy's Reviews > Eugene Onegin

Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin
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Feb 10, 12

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bookshelves: russian, classics
Read from February 01 to 10, 2012

I have read that Pushkin is to Russian literature what Shakespeare is to English literature, and this "novel" that is really an 8-chapter-long poem was the author's favorite work. Compared with Tolstoy, this is light reading, in length and style both.

The rhymed iambic pentameter lines tell the story of a young man named Eugene Onegin, from the author's own perspective. The narrative wanders a bit at times, and is laced with real life references to Pushkin's own friends, society and places from his realm of experience. Onegin is called a "fop", a bored, arrogant, handsome playboy. I thought of him like the Scarlet Pimpernel, only callous and utterly bored with life.

I found it true that Pushkin is an "encyclopedia of Russian life". So many of the scenes and themes of Tolstoy are found here first, including the sensual pleasures of Moscow society, the contrast between the country and city life in Russia and between bachelor and married life, jealous love affairs and dueling gentlemen, love sick girls sighing at balls after dashing young flirts, and so on.

Of course, I feel that Tolstoy takes these simple scenes and delves so much deeper into them. Pushkin also lacks a concern for the spirit or religious themes whereas they are always near to Tolstoy's mind and pen.

It's a quick read and if you don't have the time or attention for longer works, this brief novel in verse might be a good introduction to Russian literature.

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