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Eugene Onegin
 
 

Eugene Onegin [Kindle Edition]

Alexander Pushkin , Walter Arndt
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description

More information to be announced soon on this forthcoming title from Penguin USA

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 511 KB
  • Print Length: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook; 2 revised edition (16 Jan 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00AG07DEU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #699,690 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Nabokov's criticism of Arndt's translation is sometimes cited as evidence of Johnston's or Falen's version being superior to it. This is a misunderstanding: the thrust of Nabokov's arguments is in fact directed at any form-preserving translation of 'Onegin', and the only reason his wrath was not unleashed against later attempts at it is that Nabokov died in 1977 - the year Johnston's version was first published. It is true that the authors of more recent translations of 'Onegin' benefited form access to Nabokov's literalistic rendering (which makes a very useful crib but cannot possibly be recommended to lay readers of poetry) and his painstakingly detailed commentary - but so did Arndt when he revised his translation in 1981.

Form-preserving translations inevitably involve what Nabokov derisively called "arty paraphrase", and a common argument against such translations goes along the lines of "I prefer to know what the poet meant". The problem with this position is that Pushkin meant to create a work of art based on harmonious interplay between the sense conveyed by the words and the music of iambic tetrameters arranged in exquisitely rhymed stanzas. Approximating this interplay in English is a formidable challenge, but it is the only way to get anywhere near the intention of Pushkin. If some readers would rather enjoy the most precise English equivalents of his words, preferably placed in the same order as in the original (where this order, and even the words themselves, were often chosen for the sake of the metre and rhyme that have vanished in the literal translation) - well, that is their choice. Arndt dismissed translations of this type as "sad ritual murder performed for the purposes of an ever more insatiable lexical necrophilia".
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classical translation, still unsurpassed in several respects 17 Sep 2009
By Oldthinker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Nabokov's criticism of Arndt's translation is sometimes cited as evidence of Johnston's or Falen's version being superior to it. This is a misunderstanding: the thrust of Nabokov's arguments is in fact directed at any form-preserving translation of 'Onegin', and the only reason his wrath was not unleashed against later attempts at it is that Nabokov died in 1977 - the year Johnston's version was first published. It is true that the authors of more recent translations of 'Onegin' benefited form access to Nabokov's literalistic rendering (which makes a very useful crib but cannot possibly be recommended to lay readers of poetry) and his painstakingly detailed commentary - but so did Arndt when he revised his translation in 1981.

Form-preserving translations inevitably involve what Nabokov derisively called "arty paraphrase", and a common argument against such translations goes along the lines of "I prefer to know what the poet meant". The problem with this position is that Pushkin meant to create a work of art based on harmonious interplay between the sense conveyed by the words and the music of iambic tetrameters arranged in exquisitely rhymed stanzas. Approximating this interplay in English is a formidable challenge, but it is the only way to get anywhere near the intention of Pushkin. If some readers would rather enjoy the most precise English equivalents of his words, preferably placed in the same order as in the original (where this order, and even the words themselves, were often chosen for the sake of the metre and rhyme that have vanished in the literal translation) - well, that is their choice. Arndt dismissed translations of this type as "sad ritual murder performed for the purposes of an ever more insatiable lexical necrophilia".

As many as eight form-preserving translations of 'Onegin' can be found on Amazon: see my list "Form-preserving translations of 'Eugene Onegin', published 1881-2008". Having given a try to five of them, I think that it is only natural that different readers may prefer different versions. For what it is worth, Arndt's translation turned out to be the only one that I wanted to continue reading after a few pages (I know much of the original by heart). His text flows almost effortlessly, his rhymes seldom feel forced, and he manages to put across some of the stylistic brilliance and sheer magic of Pushkin's writing. Arndt is also particularly good at translating passages that involve complex emotions or subtle humour, of which there are plenty in this book.

Some readers are attracted by the contemporary vocabulary and idiom of the translations of 'Onegin' made in the 21st century, and this is as good a reason as any to prefer one translation to another. However, bearing in mind that rhymed metrical verse is inevitably perceived as archaic by today's Anglophone readers, and that the language of the original feels somewhat old-fashioned to today's speakers of Russian, it is not at all clear whether rendering 'Onegin' (written by a contemporary of Byron) in modern parlance has much artistic credibility. The language of Arndt sounds more fitting to me.

Overall, my recommendation would be to read at least two translations of this outstanding work of literature and to choose Arndt's classical version as one of them.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars don't be intimidated by idea of novel in verse 31 May 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I am not a poetry lover but I found this book to be delightful. It can be appreciated simply as a good read. This particular translation made it very accessible, very engaging. I was swept up by the period detail provided by the author. If you like books with dashing but jaded heroes and strong minded heroines this is for you.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A landmark of world literature 25 Aug 2010
By R. M. Peterson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Pushkin is to Russian literature what Shakespeare is to English literature. And the most important, the most influential, work of Pushkin's is EUGENE ONEGIN. So it is with Pushkin and ONEGIN that I begin a personal survey of Russian literature in translation (continuing on to Gogol, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Tolstoy, Solzhenhítsyn, with many stations in between - a multi-year project, no doubt).

Many Russians born before the Bolshevik Revolution knew by heart lengthy excerpts from ONEGIN. (I wonder whether any born after say 1960 do.) Such memorization feats are facilitated by the fact that the novel was written in verse. And not free verse, mind you. All but a few of the approximately 5500 lines are written in very formal, structured stanzas with a consistent rhyming pattern (aBaBccDDeFFeGG) and four iambic feet per line. By this very formal structure there proceeds an unconventional, discursive, often informal narrative.

The plot of the novel is disarmingly simple. Eugene (more properly "Yevgeny") Onegin is a young Russian man of comfortable inheritance. He is "sensitive", perhaps one of those new "Romantics" (the time of the novel is the 1820s), but he also is somewhat of a fop and a dandy, the sort of man liable to squander his youth in idleness. Curiously, he ends up being a not very attractive or sympathetic title character. A young woman, Tatyana, falls head over heels in love with him. Tatyana, on the other hand, is one of the more attractive and sympathetic women in literature. Onegin rejects her proffer of love but with time the tables are turned. In the course of the novel, there are several balls and parties, two lovesick letters, and a duel. That pretty much covers it.

But in truth, the plot takes up only about a third of the narrative. Another third, approximately, is given to descriptive passages - such as the Russian countryside in autumn and the approach to Moscow - and the final third to a potpourri of Pushkinian digressions - among them literature, food and wine, the ballet, and (most famously) ladies' feet. The novel includes all sorts of commentaries on Russian society - some admiring, some disapproving. Among the latter there is a biting critique of the social conventions of honor and dueling.

The most conspicuous theme of the novel is lost youth. For example:
But sad to feel, when youth has left us,
That it was given us in vain,
That its unnoticed flight bereft us
And brought no harvest in its train[.]
Ironically (and prophetically?), Pushkin died at age 37, having been mortally wounded in a duel.

EUGENE ONEGIN is a wonderfully inventive and protean work. It is charming and it is playful. It contains much exuberant authorial showing off - with considerable justification. It is a distinctively Russian amalgam of both comedy and tragedy.

Amazon lists at least six different English translations of ONEGIN, and a good number of the reviews of each translation discuss and debate their respective merits and demerits. I have two different translations. One is by Vladimir Nabokov. As is his wont, Nabokov's approach is a singular one. He does not attempt to replicate the formal elements of Pushkin's Russian, such as rhyme and iambic rhythm. Instead, his lodestar is "completeness of meaning". It's an interesting and instructive translation, but by forgoing the formal elements Nabokov abandoned the music and soul of the work. My other translation is by Walter Arndt. The first version of it, published in 1963, has been on my shelves for nearly 40 years. I am posting this review under the listing for the second revised edition. Regarding the merits of Arndt's translation (as well as the problems with Nabokov's approach), I commend the review by Oldthinker of September 17, 2009.

There is no question that any translation of ONEGIN will strike a modern English reader as somewhat alien and fusty. My guess is that the original Russian would strike a contemporary Russian reader as rather archaic. It, emphatically, is a work from a different age -- just like a Shakespeare play. But, as with Shakespeare, if the literate reader approaches EUGENE ONEGIN with an open mind and gives herself up to it, reading it will be quite rewarding.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Warning! Bad translator 8 Jan 2008
By lexo1941 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The first edition of Walter Arndt's translation of 'Eugene Onegin' was reviewed by the great Russian-American novelist Vladimir Nabokov, who demonstrated pretty conclusively (to my eye, anyway) that this is a very bad translation of Pushkin's great verse novel. Arndt adds all kinds of frills and excessive verbiage in order to make his version fit Pushkin's rhyme scheme, and in many cases, as Nabokov showed, he simply failed to understand what the Russian meant. Nabokov's opinion was that there was a mistake or error of judgment on practically every page of Arndt's version. (Nabokov himself did a translation of 'Eugene Onegin' which turned out to be almost comically faithful to the original's meaning, rejecting rhyme and metre in the service of literalness.)

I don't have the Russian to criticise Arndt's version myself, but I have enough German to know that his translations of Rilke are extremely unfaithful (or, to use a kinder word, 'creative'). As I prefer to know what the poet meant, and don't want some translator adding stuff that wasn't there in the first place, I advise readers to go for a different translation of 'Eugene Onegin'. Charles Johnston's is meant to be good. Or you could try Nabokov's, which is eccentric but in its own way rather brilliant.
5.0 out of 5 stars A true classic 19 Jan 2014
By John T C - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I read this book after watching a movie on the story. One thing for sure is that James Falen did a perfect job on the translation of EUGENE ONEGIN. Much of the Russian nature of glows in this English translation, brining out the humor, wittiness, emotions, grief, sadness and vitality of the original story, which mirrored the Russian society at the time Pushkin lived.
The lessons from the story are strong. Never fight against somebody who is not out to hurt you even if you feel he hurt your pride. That was the case between Eugene and his friend and neighbor Vladimir Lensky, which ends tragically over a nonexistent rivalry over Olga Larin: Another lesson is to appreciate the genuine and selfless love of others for, especially when we are lost in life. That was the case of Olga's sister Tatiana, whom Eugene initially rejects, only to fall in love with her later at a time when she had lost faith in him and had committed herself to a man she did not love but respected. Pushkin himself could be seen in the writing. The loss of what we did not know we loved is the overriding theme in this book. In this direction, there are many lessons to learn from Russia .We can see that in UNION MOUJIK, WAR AND PEACE.I enjoyed reading this book, so if you are undecided about reading it, pick it up and do yourself a favor by knowing about this great work of art.
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