Biographical drama, instigation of canons, dramatic histories, conspiratorial subversion via verse, exile, Russia, and a certain grandfather. Another characteristic the two casually brilliant and brilliantly casual authors have is that neither of the two, despite what assumption may proclaim, are white. A coincidence? A trend? A piece of evidence of how much has been lost through centuries of ideological denial and towers of pasty onanism?
The world may never know. So, Eugene Onegin's this classic rich boy who has a talent for wandering into good fortunes such as deliverance from bankruptcy, best of best friends, his perfect type of women who throws herself at his feet, and doesn't appreciate any of it. Luckily, Pushkin's far more interested in using this woebegone hero of his as a vector for panoramic views of Russia in its daily life of the working class, social intrigue of the upper class, and all the artistic endeavors and landscape spectaculars that fall in between.
As made explicit above, Pushkin is a constantly overt and ever engaging presence, musing on the happier times of youth, commenting on the vogue he loves this word of his time and the foibles of his critics, having sympathy for his main character but not enough to excuse Onegin's assholery in his relationships. Apparently the opera by Tchaikovsky of this is super great, so I'll be keeping that in mind for my next theatrical engagement. For all that, what grabbed my attention the most was the bits and pieces Pushkin excised, erased, and encoded in reaction to the political censors of his day.
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Banishment, Decembrists, royal overthrows and national conflicts on both battlefield and writing desk galore. Good stuff. Methinks some sort of nonfictional Pushkin pursuit is in order, along with the more fictional and authorial The Blackamoor of Peter the Great.
I will post the same review in both locations. I apologize for the length but it requires transcriptions of enough poetry to compare the two. Here is what Nabokov said in his forward quoted many times : To reproduce the rhymes and yet translate the entire poem literally is mathematically impossible…In transposing Eugene Onegin from Russian into my English I have sacrificed to completeness of meaning every formal element including the iambic rhythm, whenever its retention hindered fidelity.
To my ideal of literalism I sacrificed everything elegance, euphony, clarity, good taste, modern usage, and even grammar that the dainty mimic prizes higher than truth. Pushkin has likened translators to horses changed at the posthouses of civilization. The greatest reward I can think of is that students may use my work as a pony. Wonderful pun! They are both valuable for different reasons. You have to have Nabokov to a satisfy yourself that Johnston got it right, and b fill in all the context.
For example, Nabokov explains the changes that were occurring in Russian language at this time, and refers to the relatively to English small vocabulary that led to reusing words in the same stanza. Then I read the first volume of Nabokov, which has biographical, literary and prosody background along with his translation.
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The current second volume of Nabokov presents his commentary plus pages and an index. I only read the commentary on the Eighth Chapter, which I had decided to focus on in my review, and by chance it is where Nabokov vents his spleen on other translations. Johnston generally sticks with Pushkin, but is ingenious in finding evocative and rhyming equivalents for the Russian.
As it turns out, after I read Nabokov I found that I had indeed understood almost everything the first time, which indicates how accomplished Johnston is. In the last example Johnston nails it. At the end of the review, some very brief comments on the actual poem. Pushkin wrote in a stanza of his own design. Nabokov says it contains syllables and consists of fourteen lines, in iambic tetrameter, with a regular scheme of feminine and masculine rhymes: ababeecciddiff.
The abab and the ff part are usually very conspicuous in the meaning, melody, and intonation of any given stanza. Feminine rhymes are lines ending in an unstressed syllable with both of the last two syllables of the lines rhyming: e.
Masculine rhyme is a stressed single last rhymed syllable. Nabokov credits La Fontaine as an influence on this form. Her mute sufferings—who would not have read in this swift instant! In the heartache of mad regrets, Eugene has fallen at her feet; she started—and is silent, and at Onegin looks without surprise, without wrath… His sick, extinguished gaze, imploring aspect, mute reproof, she takes in everything. The simple maid, with dreams, with heart of former days again in her has resurrected now.
Johnston: Who in that flash could not have reckoned her full account of voiceless pain? Who in the princess for that second would not have recognized again our hapless Tanya? An emotion of wild repentence and devotion threw Eugene at her feet—she stirred, and looked at him without a word, without surprise or rage…his laden, his humbly suppliant approach, his dull, sick look, his dumb reproach— she sees it all. The simple maiden, whose heart on dreams was wont to thrive, in her once more has come alive.
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Last example, where Johnston gives a beautifully Byronic rendition, including the enjambment in the final line, that beats Nabokov hands down: 3: XI Nabakov His style to a grave mood having attuned, time was a flaming author used to present to us his hero as a model of perfection. Nourishing the glow of the purest passion, always the enthusiastic hero was ready to sacrifice himself and by the end of the last part, always vice got punished, virtue got a worthy crown.
He gave this figure—loved with passion, wronged always in disgraceful fashion— a soul of sympathy and grace, and brains, and an attractive face. It is a wonderful and surprising to me compendium of story, autobiography, satire, political commentary, musings and digressions. Onegin, for example, says of the man he shot, in his letter to Tatiana late in the poem: another thing yet parted us: a hapless victim Lenski fell…. As if the pistol fired itself.
As Nabokov says of this line: A profound commentator might suggest that while a hyppish Englishman shoots himself, a Russian chondriac shoots a friend—committing suicide by proxy, so to speak. In contrast, Tatiana has read Onegin's library and understands him very well. And she has accepted the responsibilities she has chosen in Moscow, even if reluctantly. So definitely read it. View all 9 comments. Feb 01, Laurel Hicks rated it it was amazing Shelves: books-read-in , 0-kindle , audible , books-read-in , books-read-in , books-read-in , , books-read-in , books-read-in , books-read-in Just wonderful!
If you haven't gotten around to reading Eugene Onegin yet, get the Naxos audio version. It's available through either Naxos or Audible. The translation by Mary Hobson is very pleasing, and Neville Jacobson's narration is superb. I have read Pushkin's novel in verse in several very good translations, and none is better than this. To finally be able to hear the lines is amazingly satisfying. What's it about, you ask? Oh, Russia, family, society, unrequited love, that s Wonderful! Oh, Russia, family, society, unrequited love, that sort of thing.
You just have to read it to begin to know. I know I will. And now I have a second recording: the Falen translation, with the book to follow along with. Poor Eugene! Will he ever grow up? This was one of the most original books I have ever read.
Good - Eugene Onegin: A novel in verse (Penguin classics) - Pushkin, Aleksandr S | eBay
The theme of rejecting love and then being rejected by that same love latter in life is masterful. Alexander Pushkin!
This is my first Alexander Pushkin. I read a biography of his life a long time ago, and after then I tried to read some of his poetry and couldn't get my mind to digest them. Finally after all these years I have. I like what I've read. Alexander Pushkin is the father of modern Russian poetry and literature.
I will be reading more of his work both poetry and prose. Pushkin had a fascinating heritage. He This is my first Alexander Pushkin.