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Eugene Onegin
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Group Reads Archive - 2012 > 2012 Group Read: Eugene Onegin by Pushkin

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message 1: by Silver (last edited Nov 01, 2012 10:40AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Silver For the discussion of Pushkin's Eugene Onegin. Please post any comments and questions you have regarding the reading of this work here.

Please take care of spoilers and mark them either by using Goodreads spoiler formatting or stating a spoiler warning before your post.


message 2: by Barbara (new) - added it

Barbara (BarbaraSC) | 27 comments I'm trying to find a good translation of this on the Nook. Does anyone here use a Nook?? If so, could you give me the isbn of the best translation?? IS there a "best" translation???

Silver, if you're moderating this discussion, are you using the paperback version that's posted here in the group?? Would it be easier for us to have a good discussion if we all read the same edition???

If anyone has a suggestion of a good translation (preferably with footnotes) for the Nook, please let me know. If not, does the paperback edition have footnotes?? (I'm a "footnote fan.")

I LOVE Eugene Onegin. I'm looking forward to reading it and discussing it here.

Has anyone seen the movie with Ralph Fiennes and Liv Tyler??? I thought the film was great.


George | 58 comments Loved it too when studying it in my Russian school. Would love to reread it! Great choice!


Amalie  | 649 comments Mod
I love this one and I love Pushkin's short stories! Hope you guys will enjoying the reading.

Barbara wrote: "Has anyone seen the movie with Ralph Fiennes and Liv Tyler??? I thought the film was great...."

I love it! (view spoiler) Till someone makes another to top this one, this is going to be my favourite version.


Silver Barbara wrote: "I'm trying to find a good translation of this on the Nook. Does anyone here use a Nook?? If so, could you give me the isbn of the best translation?? IS there a "best" translation???

Silver, if you..."


I am using an online version. I downlowded it from Project Gutenberg

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/23997


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Barbara wrote: "I'm trying to find a good translation of this on the Nook. Does anyone here use a Nook?? If so, could you give me the isbn of the best translation?? IS there a "best" translation???

Silver, if you..."


I read Stanley Mitchell translation which is Penguin Classics. This one Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin I thought it was great though I can't compare. See if you can find it.

Here's a blog on translations on Onegin:http://stephenfrug.blogspot.com/2009/... Hope this will help you.


message 7: by Marie (new)

Marie | 43 comments Shanez wrote: "Barbara wrote: "I'm trying to find a good translation of this on the Nook. Does anyone here use a Nook?? If so, could you give me the isbn of the best translation?? IS there a "best" translation???..."

I've read a James Falen's translation which was really good.

There are editions available online. Check them and see which is the one you'd prefer. That's what I do when reading translated classics.

Here's one of few sites with Pushkin available to the English speaking readers: http://www.pushkins-poems.com/Yev001.htm

If there's a bilingual here (Russian/English) do tell us if this is good. I do want to read some poems.


Stephen | 9 comments Barbara,

I'll second Shanez' suggestion. I also own a Nook and was not able to locate any editions I had any faith in. I kept looking and found the Penguin Classics edition in paperback - which is a new translation by Stanley Mitchell - and enjoyed it. There are tons of footnotes in the back as well! Good luck!


message 9: by C.P. (new)

C.P. Lesley (cplesley) I have heard good things about the Falen translation, which I like very much. Don't know about the Mitchell translation, or what is available for nook, specifically.


message 10: by Barbara (new) - added it

Barbara (BarbaraSC) | 27 comments Hi Everyone,

Thank you SO MUCH for all the info on good translations!!!

I live in Manhattan, so I can only get online service and power intermittently, due to Hurricane Sandy, so I'm just writing a quick "hi" and "thank you" right now for all of your posts in response to my questions on good translations!!!

I'm hoping to be able to have online access most of the day tomorrow, and I'm looking forward to joining all of you in discussing Eugene Onegin!!!


message 11: by Amalie (last edited Nov 06, 2012 05:42PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amalie  | 649 comments Mod
I want to add a question. How old Tatiana really is?

*************Spoiler alert*************

As I was saying to Barbara earlier, I loved Onegin movie but Liv Tyler is a grown woman, I always got the idea in the poem Tatiana is very young may be 15 years old or something?? May be even as young as Natasha Rostov in War and Peace when she met Prince Andrei for the first time she was 13.

I don't know why movies tends to always use older actors, I mean, I'm still waiting for 13 & 12 year-old Heathcliff and Catherine in any Wuthering Heights movie version but always when they meet Edger for the first time (peeping through the window scene) they are like 18-20 years old.

So my question is, Was it she being too young was THE REASON Onegin didn't return the affection? Was she at an age of marriage at the time of the "letter"? Or did he think it was a teenage crush?

I remember at a place she asks her nanny if she was in love in her age, and gets the answer:

What nonsense, Tanya! In those other
ages we’d never heard of love:
why, at the thought, my husband’s mother
had chased me to the world above.
How did you come to marry, nyanya?
I reckon, by God’s will. My Vanya
was younger still, but at that stage
I was just thirteen years of age.


message 12: by C.P. (new)

C.P. Lesley (cplesley) Amalie wrote: "I want to add a question. How old Tatiana really is?

*************Spoiler alert*************

As I was saying to Barbara earlier, I loved Onegin movie but Liv Tyler is a grown woman, I always got..."


Yes, Tanya is much younger than Liv Tyler in the film—a teenager. I think not 13, probably more like 16 or 17, because when she goes to Petersburg a few years later, she is considered almost too old to marry (meaning about 20, in that place and time). I have to check the text again to make sure I haven't read something into Pushkin's text that is actually from the film, though.

Tanya's youth is a factor, but I think the bigger problem for Onegin is her lack of sophistication and her emotional intensity, in part a result of her youth but also of her personality. Onegin is emotionally deadened in the first part of the book, an affect that he sees as Byronic and fashionable. When he sees Tanya again in Petersburg, she is a sophisticated lady, an aristocrat. That's what he reacts to.

I find it hard to believe that the concept of spoilers applies to such an iconic work as this. It would be like talking about spoilers in Hamlet. But I will refrain from giving away the ending, just in case.


message 13: by C.P. (last edited Nov 08, 2012 07:22AM) (new)

C.P. Lesley (cplesley) Amalie, here's what I've learned so far. I'm using a slightly different translation, so I'll just give the chapter/stanza numbers. Onegin is 26 (18 in 1/23, plus 8 years passed mentioned in 4/9). Lensky is 18 (2/10). Olga is old enough to marry, which for an aristocratic Russian girl in those years probably means 16-18; we can assume she is Lensky's age or a little younger.

I have found no specific reference to Tanya's age, other than that she is "a little older" than her sister (2/24). So probably 17-18.

The reference to the nurse marrying at 13 does not mean that most girls married at 13. First, the nurse is a peasant, and they often married earlier for economic reasons. And second, I think Pushkin intended to shock. Officially, the Orthodox Church permitted girls to marry at 12 and boys at 14 (note that the nurse's husband was even younger than 13, hence below the age limit). But aristocratic Russian families by the 1820s mostly followed Continental European norms, so girls would make their debuts at 16-17 and marry within a couple of years.

If I find any later references to Tanya's age, I'll post again. Otherwise, this is probably as close as we can get.


message 14: by C.P. (new)

C.P. Lesley (cplesley) Also, I somewhat misstated Eugene's reaction to Tanya's letter.

(view spoiler)


message 15: by Mary Ellen (new)

Mary Ellen (raven51) ok, I'm going to ask a foolish question ... what is the correct pronunciation of "Onegin"? Sorry, but I find it difficult to read when I feel I'm mispronouncing a name... thank you :)


message 16: by C.P. (new)

C.P. Lesley (cplesley) Oh-NYEG-in, with the stress on the middle syllable and a y sound before the e. The initial O is so unstressed that it sounds more like ah or uh, but not quite. And the i sounds like ee, but again, it's not stressed, so it fades into in.


message 17: by Mary Ellen (new)

Mary Ellen (raven51) C.P. wrote: "Oh-NYEG-in, with the stress on the middle syllable and a y sound before the e. The initial O is so unstressed that it sounds more like ah or uh, but not quite. And the i sounds like ee, but again, ..."

thank you!


message 18: by Amalie (last edited Nov 09, 2012 08:58PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amalie  | 649 comments Mod
Thanks for the age clarification :) Onegin's deeply touched response was"had no wish to betray a soul so innocent, so trusting" I guess it doesn't mean she's so young. It's curious that he doesn't tell her age. Pushkin is very precise in his characters’ ages even in his short stories.

I guess this "13-years old" issue I have is because I'm reading "War and Peace" for a while now. And Natasha's character just gets in the way but now to think about it Natasha's feelings are not mature Tatyana loved Onegin passionately, not like a child.


C.P. wrote: "Also, I somewhat misstated Eugene's reaction to Tanya's letter.

No, I don't think we have to use spoilers to everything :)

C.P. I don't think he's bored by everything. I think the meaning of being "tired of life" has a different meaning. He was a model for generations of Russian dissatisfied youth in a rigidly conservative society and "tired of life" was a social stand, not his psychological state. Onegin is a passionate man and his aloofness is a deliberate pretense.

Another thing is both Onegin and Tatyana reflect a remarkably modern sensibility in their temperaments. it is Tatyana who makes the first move, stepping well out of the accustomed bounds accorded her sex in affairs of romance and Onegin rejects because he fears the deadening of the soul that he believes will inevitably accompany marriage and fidelity reflecting the fear of commitments in modern times. The end is ironic, sadly.


message 19: by Marie (last edited Nov 09, 2012 11:32PM) (new)

Marie | 43 comments Amalie wrote: "Another thing is both Onegin and Tatyana reflect a remarkably modern sensibility in their temperaments. it is Tatyana who makes the first move, stepping well out of the accustomed bounds accorded her sex in affairs of romance and Onegin rejects because he fears the deadening of the soul that he believes will inevitably accompany marriage and fidelity reflecting the fear of commitments in modern times. The end is ironic, sadly. ..."

Good observation!

However to add something, Eugene Onegin is really about the changing society of 19th Century Russia. We see clearly the struggle between the empty ritualism and entrenched barbarism of the past, as reflected in the continuing institution of serfdom and in gun duels fought over affairs of honor, and the enlightened philosophy of the coming world, as many young aristocrats begin to champion both the abolition of serfdom and the growing acceptance of love as the foundation of marriage. (view spoiler)


message 20: by Marie (new)

Marie | 43 comments C.P. wrote: "I have found no specific reference to Tanya's age, other than that she is "a little older" than her sister (2/24). So probably 17-18...."

Wow, thanks. All this time I thought she's somewhere between 15-17 not 13.


message 21: by C.P. (last edited Nov 10, 2012 01:42PM) (new)

C.P. Lesley (cplesley) Amalie, those are two good points. Onegin is a Byronic hero, so his "tired of life" stance is to a large degree a pose. But I also have a sense, for what it's worth, that after he becomes accustomed to Petersburg's artificial society, he doesn't find much to enflame his passions. Then he runs into Tatiana, who reminds him, by her example, of how it felt to respond passionately to something. He is drawn to that sensation but also wary of it, because of his earlier disappointment.

Perhaps he is also afraid of the vulnerability that he sees in Tanya, because of her unrestrained passion? Pushkin doesn't say as much specifically, but it's not a huge stretch, since Onegin's belief that he will lose interest in her over time is just as much a fantasy as the romantic belief that true love will endure, despite all obstacles.

I agree that the characters do seem very modern in some ways, which explains the novel's lasting appeal. But Marie's point is also a good one. They are, in a sense, characters at a historical crossroads, just as Jane Austen's characters are.

Pushkin himself was pulled in different directions. He supported the idea of freeing the serfs but did not free his own. He supported the liberal ideas embraced by the Decembrists but not the uprising they attempted (despite skirting close enough to get himself in trouble—not a hard thing to do in 1820s Russia). He was exalted as a poet even during his lifetime yet suffered exile and the personal censorship of Nicholas I. He fought (I'm pretty sure) several duels, including the one to defend his wife's honor in which he died. He loved the capital and the provinces and the Caucasus; he cherished his African heritage but was the first poet to write in Russian, and so on. It makes sense that his conflicts would motivate his characters.


Amalie  | 649 comments Mod
C.P. wrote: "Amalie, those are two good points. Onegin is a Byronic hero, so his "tired of life" stance is to a large degree a pose. But I also have a sense, for what it's worth, that after he becomes accustome..."

Speaking of Byronic Heros, many of the Pushkin's men in short stories are also Superfluous Men. "Byronic Hero" and "Superfluous Man" means the same, right?

Another think I wondered was being a Romantic, his stories has more Realism in them. I also wonder if he believed in Fatalism like Thomas Hardy. Each character who seeks happiness and satisfaction in this world, but they seem fated not to achieve it.

With his bio information, Pushkin seemed to have Eugene in him.


message 23: by Marie (new)

Marie | 43 comments Amalie wrote: "C.P. wrote: "Amalie, those are two good points. Onegin is a Byronic hero, so his "tired of life" stance is to a large degree a pose. But I also have a sense, for what it's worth, that after he beco..."

Byronic Hero and the Superfluous Man is not the same. I'd not call Onegin a combination of a Byronic Hero and a Superfluous Man. Superfluous Man is a type of archetypal character identified in Russian literature only. Common in Pushkin's writings as well as in many other novels like:

A Hero of Our Time - Pechorin
Home of the Gentry - Lavretsky
Oblomov

I'd say not every Byronic Hero is a Superfluous Man vice versa.

Here's the definition from Wiki:

Superfluous Man is an individual, perhaps talented and capable, who does not fit into social norms. In many cases this person is born into wealth and privilege. Typical characteristics are disregard for social values, cynicism, and existential boredom. Typical behaviors are gambling, romantic intrigues, and duels. He is often unempathic and carelessly distresses others with his actions.

Byronic Hero:
Arrogant
Cunning and able to adapt
Cynical
Disrespectful of rank and privilege
Emotionally conflicted, bipolar, or moody
Having a distaste for social institutions and norms
Having a troubled past or suffering from an unnamed crime
Intelligent and perceptive
Jaded, world-weary
Mysterious, magnetic and charismatic
Rebellious
Seductive and sexually attractive
Self-critical and introspective
Self-destructive
Socially and sexually dominant
Sophisticated and educated
Struggling with integrity
Treated as an exile, outcast, or outlaw


The Superfluous Man can be seen as a nihilist or fatalist as well, which may say a lot about Pushkin than his characters. Byron is an obvious influence because Pushkin had read Byron during his years in exile just prior to composing Eugene Onegin.


message 24: by C.P. (last edited Nov 11, 2012 04:28PM) (new)

C.P. Lesley (cplesley) The quintessential superfluous man is Oblomov, from the novel of the same name. He has no purpose in life beyond material pleasures. That depiction becomes a trope in Russia in the 1840s, largely thanks to Goncharov's novel. (If you don't have the patience to read it, which is quite understandable, do watch Nikita Mikhalkov's wonderful film version.)

Pushkin and Byron seem a bit more intellectually engaged. But to be fair to Amalie, all European aristocrats are pretty superfluous by the 1820s, even if most of them haven't realized it yet....


message 25: by C.P. (new)

C.P. Lesley (cplesley) P.S. I do not see Pushkin as a Superfluous Man. He is, rather, mocking his own past flirtation with Byronism in the character of Onegin, and he has clearly outgrown that approach to life. Otherwise, he could not portray Onegin as dispassionately as he does.


message 26: by Emlymom (new) - added it

Emlymom | 4 comments Would the young Count Bezukhov from War & Peace be a superfluous man? To make certain I have the right character, he is the one that became a Mason for a while. He had a variety of internal struggles, unsettled with the role society would have him play. He eventually came to a place of meaning and fulfillment, but he struggled with that superfluosity (is that a word?) throughout the entire story. Thots?


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