Alexander Pushkin: Eugene Onegin by A. D. P. Briggs

By A. D. P. Briggs

This can be a vigorous and readable consultant to Alexander Pushkin's novel in verse Eugene Onegin, a landmark of eu Romanticism, and arguably the simplest of all Russian poetry. Professor Briggs addresses the query of ways such amazing poetry may have been composed a couple of really banal plot, and considers the shape of the paintings and its poetic options intimately. He deals clean interpretations of the characters and occasions of the poem, and units it opposed to its eu historical past. He discusses its impact - particularly Tchaikovsky's operatic model - and issues to its life-affirming philosophy and spirit of joyfulness. The booklet encompasses a chronological chart and a advisor to extra analyzing.

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This is probably the only line in five thousand which divides itself with such exactitude, and it is called up at precisely the right moment in order to evoke in advance the spirit of lstomina. Perfectly poised, with dignity intact and unassailable, it takes up its own beautifully balletic stance; the ballerina is here before she has been named. The naming of her is itself, incidentally, delightfully done. You do not hurry these things. We are made to wait and grow in impatience just as the noisy crowd in the gods had to do.

Having seen Pushkin at his best, we have then redoubled our pleasure through comparison with mediocrity. It does not matter that the confident poet has shown off a little. He has done so both on merit and with good humour based on an illusion of self-dismissiveness. What is significant is the way in which it all happened. Pushkin has manipulated everything, his own verses, the text of his novel, and us. There are not many novels in which this kind of thing occurs. The Russian poet has clearly learned a good deal from Laurence Sterne, whose toying with the reader in Tristram Shandy provided him with a model and a method.

What is he guilty of, and what do people say about his blame­ worthiness? He is to be arraigned for selfishness and anti­ social behaviour of such an extreme kind that they do not balk at cruelty or even murder. Not content with insulting and humiliating most of the people he encountered, for no good reason beyond entertainment, Onegin eventually went so far as to shoot dead, wilfully and under avoidable circum­ stances, a naive youth who stood on the brink of marriage to an attractive young country girl.

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