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Eugene Onegin: A Novel in Verse (Oxford World's Classics) [Paperback]

Alexander Pushkin , James E. Falen
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

10 Sep 1998 Oxford World's Classics
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 - Tatyana 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. This new translation seeks to retain both the literal sense and the poetic music of the original, and capture the poem's spontaneity and wit. The introduction examines several ways of reading the novel, and text is richly annotated.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New edition edition (10 Sep 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192838997
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192838995
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 197,861 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"James E. Falen's translation of Eugene Onegin conveys with accuracy and utmost fidelity the effervescent depths and heady verve of Pushkin's sparkling and profound masterpiece. Its updated language and style will take Falen's translation well into the 21st century. The notes are invaluable for students."--Sonia Ketchian, Massachusetts Institute of Technology"A lively and readable translation."--Sr. Anna M. Conklin, Spurling University"Everything about this edition of the new translation of Eugene Onegin is superb. Mr. Falen is an amazing translator: he fully carries out his program of retaining 'both the literary sense and the poetic music of the original, and the poem's spontaneity and wit."--Lina Bernstein, Franklin MarshallCollege"Pushkin's masterpiece has had many translators, most of whom have turned this greatest Russian poet into an embarrassment. James Falen's English version is the first to approximate Pushkin's flawless poetic form and sparkling wise content. It is a miracle of ingenuity and grace, which will enter Eugene Onegin into English."--Caryl Emerson, Princeton University"It is a great service to the field that you have made this excellent, teachable translation available in an inexpensive edition for students of Russian literature. Bless you!"--Carol Ueland, Drew University

About the Author

James E. Falen is Professor of Russian at the University of Tennessee. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Nearly every Russian sees Pushkin as their country's greatest writer. This perception, however, is not shared by many foreigners. The problem, of course, is translation. Pushkin's verse is supremely elegant, witty and musical. Few, if any, great poets are harder to translate.

Charles Johnston's version is not at all bad, and conveys much of Pushkin's wit - though not his lyricism. James Falen's version (Oxford World's Classics) is better still. Stanley Mitchells's long-awaited version (just published by Penguin Classics (2008) is truly outstanding. I enjoyed it every bit as much as the original - something I would never have believed possible. It fully deserves ten stars, but the amazon programme for some reason does not allow me to change the 3 stars I originally gave to a different translation in an earlier version of this review.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Then felt I like some watcher of the skies 28 Oct 2011
By J C E Hitchcock TOP 1000 REVIEWER
In his famous sonnet "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer", Keats describes his excitement on discovering the works of Homer, comparing himself to an astronomer discovering a new planet or the explorer who first came across the Pacific Ocean. Lacking a classical education, however, Keats was unable to read Greek in the original, and therefore had to access Homer through the once-famous translation by the Elizabethan scholar George Chapman.

I had a similar experience when I recently read James E. Falen's translation of "Eugene Onegin". Although I studied some Russian at school, I never achieved anything like the fluency needed to read Russian literature in the original. I have read plenty of Russian prose in translation, from Lermontov to Solzhenitsyn, but had always avoided Pushkin until now, possibly through a fear that too many of the qualities of his verse would be lost in translation. It has become something of a commonplace to say of Pushkin that, although he is regarded by Russians as their supreme national poet, with a status comparable to that enjoyed by Shakespeare in Britain or Goethe in Germany, the greater difficulty of translating verse means that he has never quite achieved the same renown abroad as Russian prose writers such as Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky.

The story of "Eugene Onegin" is familiar to English-speakers, so much so that the hero's Christian name (Yevgeniy in the original) is normally given in an anglicised form, but this is probably due as much to Tchaikovsky's opera as to the novel. Onegin is an early example of the sort of character who has become known as the "superfluous man". Such men are generally young, intelligent and talented, but bored, cynical and world-weary.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pushkin's Onegin translated by James Falen 26 Aug 2011
By Demeas
I enjoyed reading James Falen's translation of Pushkin's verse novel Eugene Onegin very much. It is readable, beautifully phrased and comes equipped with an introduction to Pushkin and his work and very useful notes at the end. As the translator himself says, the use of strict rhyme in every stanza of the poem does begin to wear a little in a book length work, but I think the decision to imitate Pushkin's stanza and rhyme scheme makes for a more faithful translation. I cannot read Russian so I do not know how literal the translation is. I thoroughly recommend the translation for all those looking for a version of Pushkin's own favourite work in English verse.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice poetry, too little story 5 Mar 2011
3.5 stars. The translator, who appears to have done a great job with the translation, asks a question in his very well-written introduction that I have always wanted to know the answer to. Namely, why is Pushkin considered the greatest Russian writer BY the greatest Russian writers? I don't know how well he answers the question, because it is not an easy answer, and there is naturally the tendency to mention the "original language" argument, which I have always imagined must be more true for Pushkin, as a poet, than most of his compatriots. I have to say, after reading this, that I still don't understand it, and most likely never will unless I happen to learn Russian one day. The story, which is a classic tragic tale, was simply too thin to be considered great. The narrator is always going off into tangents and focusses too little on his characters. I understand that this is a poem, but is the rhyme supposed to be more important than the content? And it's not like he didn't have enough time to fill it out. It took him eight years to write it, so one would think he had all the time in the world... Anyway, I liked reading it nevertheless, and I would probably read it again because it is so short. The rhymes flowed very smoothly in almost every stanza, and I have nearly as much respect for the translator as I do for the author, because in some ways it seems even more difficult to translate such a poem than to write one in the first place. Please forgive the following stanza in the Pushkin style.

Reading poetry is daunting
If, like me, prose is your vice
Depth of story's often wanting
So I find it merely "nice"
Sometimes verse creates distraction
What I really want is action!
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