Eugene Onegin Read-Along ~ Chapters 3 & 4

(c) Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

In part 1 of our read-along, we met a rather vain but world-weary Eugene on his way to his inherited country estate.  By chance, he befriended his neighbor Vladimir Lenksy, a young, Romantic (and romantic) poet.  We also get to meet Olga Larina, Lensky’s beloved, and her sister Tatyana, as opposite in personalities as Onegin and Lensky.  Chapter 2 concluded with a pithy description of the sisters’ mother and father.  There’s much to suggest that every “narrator’s aside” in this story holds some significance, so we’ll see if/when/how these themes tie into the story.

You can join this read-along at anytime!  Please add your blog post link(s) in a comment (directly below the title of this post).  Comments in lieu of a post are also welcome.  All discussion questions are optional.

I have a little catching up to do, but I hope to post my own thoughts over the next week.  🙂  It’s been great reading all of your posts so far!

Chapters 3 & 4 Questions

– Impressions of Tatyana and Olga?

– What do you make of Onegin’s reaction to Tatyana?

– How does the story, thus far, compare or contrast with another classic romantic novel (of your choice)? 

Ongoing Questions

– Reactions and/or predictions?

– Any quotes or passages that stand out?

Notes:

~ St. Tatiana is commemorated on January 25 (or 12, on the Julian calendar), so that would be Tatyana’s name day.

Feel free to comment with any additional notes that you find interesting!

Eugene Onegin Read-Along ~ Chapters 1 & 2

Eugene Onegin's portrait by Pushkin
Pushkin’s sketch of his title character

Welcome to the first part of our reading of Eugene Onegin! Please add your blog post link(s) in a comment (directly below the title of this post).  Also, if you would rather leave a comment than write a full post, that works great, too!  Chapters 1 & 2 discussion is “current” for the next week or so – please see the schedule for an update on this – but of course you can join in at anytime.

I came up with a couple of optional questions, while trying to leave it as open-ended as possible.  The book is full of ambiguity, making it ideal for diverse opinions.

Chapters 1 & 2 Questions

– First impressions of Eugene?

– What do you make of the narrator’s commentary?

– Thoughts on the characters sketched out in Chapter 2?

Ongoing Questions

– Reactions and/or predictions?

– Any quotes or passages that stand out?

Notes:

~ One of Mrs. Larina’s favorite authors is Samuel Richardson, an 18th century English writer who was popular well into the 19th century.  He is best known for Pamela (1740), Clarissa (1748) and The History of Sir Charles Grandison (1753).  (Wikipedia)

~ There are numerous references in Eugene Onegin to French language and culture.  The Russian upper class was, in fact, as much French-speaking as they were Russian-speaking (this article, by the Gale Encyclopedia of Russian History, goes into the details as to why).  Additionally, at the time of Eugene Onegin‘s publication, the Slavophilism movement was just beginning (Wikipedia), so you still see a lot of English/French influences throughout the book.

Feel free to comment with any additional notes that you find interesting!

Eugene Onegin: Editions, editions, editions

Happy New Year 2014!  It’s going to be an awesome year for reading – I’m so very excited to start the challenges I joined for the year. 

In one week, in fact, we start the Eugene Onegin Read-Along!  On January 7th, there will be a post with the first link-up/check-in.  Over the following week and a half, you can then add the link to your blog post(s) on chapters 1 & 2. 

I mentioned briefly before a quick list of copies and places to read Onegin.  Here I want to talk about them a little more in-depth:

Online – original Russian

I am (sadly) in no ways qualified to make a recommendation for a Russian edition.  However, a free online version, linked to by Wikipedia, can be found here:  ЕВГЕНИЙ ОНЕГИН

Online – English translation

The one I have read is Henry Spalding’s translation, from Project Gutenberg.  It comes in many formats, and it has a Victorian vocabulary, which is kind of nice.  On the other hand, some of the word choices are very “thesaurus.”

Another freely/legally available online translation is one by Poetry in Translation. I haven’t read it yet.  It does come in PDF, Mobi, and Epub formats.

Hard copies – English transl.

The two I have read are Stanley Mitchell (Penguin Classics, 2008) and James E. Falen (Oxford World’s Classics, 1998).  They are pretty comparable translations; personally I like Falen’s a little better (it was the first I read).

The Mitchell translation features a beautiful cover and formatting, as you expect from Penguin Classics.  There is also a map inside and extensive notes (too extensive, maybe?).  It also includes some fragments of an unfinished chapter (Onegin’s travels).  If you like to get a full grasp of the story’s background, this would be a great translation to start with.  My main quibble is that the poetry/rhyme is less intuitive than other translations.

The Falen translation is less artistic, format-wise, but the translation is emotive and well-done.  There are a couple of anachronistic word choices (“girlfriend” and “zen”); still, I like this one best, so far.  The stanzas and rhyme are more melodic than Mitchell or Spalding.

Audiobooks

There are at least two free ones (which I have yet to listen to): Librivox and Stephen Fry.  Librivox is generally excellent and professionally done, and Fry’s is, of course, professional.  You could hardly go wrong with either one.  Audiobooks are a great way to go, and poetry is particularly fun to listen to.

Please do comment with your own recommendations!  There are many, many editions I haven’t listed.  Also, this blog has an excellent comparison of the first stanzas of several English translations, a great resource if you need help deciding.