Saturday, 9 October 2010

Eugene Onegin - Alexander Pushkin

Eugene Onegin is the master work of the poet whom Russians regard as the fountainhead of their literature. Set in 1820s imperial Russia, Pushkin's novel in verse follows the emotions and destiny of three men - Onegin the bored fop, Lensky the minor elegiast, and a stylized Pushkin himself - and the fates and affections of three women - Tatiana the provincial beauty, her sister Olga, and Pushkin's mercurial Muse. Engaging, full of suspense, and varied in tone, it also portrays a large cast of other characters and offers the reader many literary, philosophical, and autobiographical digressions, often in a highly satirical vein. Eugene Onegin was Pushkin's own favourite work, and it shows him attempting to transform himself from a romantic poet into a realistic novelist. Eugene Onegin was Pushkin's own favourite work, and this new translation by Stanley Mitchell conveys the literal sense and the poetic music of the original.

Not being a massive fan of poetry, I wasn't sure what to expect when starting this "Novel in Verse". But how is it possible not to love Pushkin? The writing was simply beautiful and I think the translator, Stanley Mitchell, deserves a lot of praise for containing the beauty of Pushkin's writing in his translation. It was also incredibly readable, unlike some other novels from this period which can trip you up with the language and descriptions. To anyone looking to read Pushkin for the first time I'd definitely recommend the 2008 Penguin Classics edition as the translation is beautiful and easy to read, peppered with many helpful footnotes. I'm glad that my European Literature module gave me the chance to read this and have to say that I'm slowly warming up to poetry! 8/10

No comments:

Post a Comment