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Eugene Onegin: A Novel in Verse, Vol. 1 Paperback – January 1, 1991


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Eugene Onegin: A Novel in Verse, Vol. 1 + Eugene Onegin: A Novel in Verse, Vol. 2 + Eugene Onegin: A Novel in Verse (Oxford World's Classics)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 362 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; Reprint edition (January 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691019053
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691019055
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 4.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #403,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Mr. Nabokov has not merely rendered the most precious gem of Russia's poetic heritage into limpid, literal poetic translation. He has given Pushkin's wondrous lines the glow and sparkle of their Russian original."--Harrison E. Salisbury, The New York Times

"Perhaps [Nabokov's] ultimate masterpiece."--J. Thomas Shaw, Slavic and East European Journal

Customer Reviews

Compared to others, it is definitely a conspicuous and brilliant one.
Kang Kyung Ah
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.
John T C
I know that Nabokov didn't translate it using the verses (and Pushkin's verses are so great), but I think it is the most punctual one.
Alexander Usoltsev

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Edward on June 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
There is an old, politically-incorrect adage regarding the translation of a literary work from one language to another. A translation is like a woman: if it's beautiful, it's not faithul; if it's faithful, it's not beautiful. This saw kept buzzing through my brain while I was reading Vladimir Nabokov's 1964 English translation of Alexander Pushkin's novel-in-verse "Eugene Onegin". The poem has a unique place in Russian literature, required reading in schools -- required memorization, from what I understand. It seems an odd choice for school rooms, being an ironic love story with a sardonic edge; but then American students are required to read "Silas Marner", George Eliot's tale of greed and redemption. Nabokov, the author of the dazzling "Pale Fire", was born in Old Russia in 1899 and became a master of his native language as well as English. His version of Pushkin's masterpiece doesn't attempt to maintain the meter or rhyming scheme of the original, thereby leading to the danger of "piped-in background music", but presents a literal translation of "humble fidelity". There have been several English translations, and Nabokov sternly appraises them all. (Tchaikovsky's opera is dismissed as "slapdash".) He even goes so far as to compare his work with that of other translators. Thus, Onegin's flirtation with a serf in Book Four is translated by Nabokov as: "sometimes a white-skinned, dark-eyed girl's young and fresh kiss". In his notes Nabokov is amused by an earlier translator's "And, if a black-eyed girl permitted, sometimes a kiss as fresh as she" and is positively aghast at this rendering: "A kiss at times from some fair maiden, dark-eyed, with bright and youthful looks".Read more ›
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35 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Zhong Rui on January 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
Ignorant Heersink ignobly writes, besides other trite nonsense, "But Nabokov's Pushkin is too literal to be any good. James Falen's trans. is far superior, ... Falen, while also literal, also is metered and rhymes. Nabokov's thuds."
In reply, I quote Nabokov from his Foreword, "Literal: rendering, as closely as the associative and syntactical capacities of another language allow, the exact contextual meaning of the original. Only this is true translation."
Later, Nabokov asks: "can a rhymed poem Like Eugene Onegin Be truly translated with the retention of its rhymes? The answer, of course, is no. To reproduce the rhymes and yet translate the entire poem literally is mathematically impossible. But in losing its rhyme the poem loses its bloom, which neither marginal description nor the alchemy of a scholium can replace. Should one then content oneself with an exact rendering of the subject matter and forget all about form? Or should one still excuse an imitation of the poem's structure to which only twisted bits of sense stick here and there, by convincing oneself and one's public that in mutilating its meaning for the sake of a pleasure-measure rhyme one has the opportunity of prettifying or skipping the dry and difficult passages? I have been always amused by the stereotyped compliment that a reviewer pays the author of a "new translation." He says: "It reads smoothly." In other words, the hack who has never read the original, and does not know its language, praises an imitation as readable because easy platitudes have replaced in it the intricacies of which he is unaware. "Readable," indeed!
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40 of 54 people found the following review helpful By D. S. Heersink on May 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
Nabokov and Pushkin are among my favorite authors, both having an excellent command of the language, the media, and the art. But Nabokov's Pushkin is too literal to be any good. James Falen's trans. is far superior, perhaps the best, and it's worth while to read the very best Pushkin. Ironically, Nabokov was fretted that anyone other than his son would ever translate his words; I think Pushkin would have felt the same if he saw Nabokov's translation of his masterpiece. Falen, while also literal, also is metered and rhymes. Nabokov's thuds. Read Nabokov's great novels (Pnin, Lolita, King Queen & Knave, Bend Sinister, Invitation to a Beheading, Despair, etc.) but leave Pushkin to Falen, not Nabokov.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Edward on February 21, 2012
Format: Paperback
There is an old, politically-incorrect adage regarding the translation of a literary work from one language to another. A translation is like a woman: if it's beautiful, it's not faithul; if it's faithful, it's not beautiful. This saw kept buzzing through my brain while I was reading Vladimir Nabokov's 1964 English translation of Alexander Pushkin's novel-in-verse "Eugene Onegin". The poem has a unique place in Russian literature, required reading in schools -- required memorization, from what I understand. It seems an odd choice for school rooms, being an ironic love story with a sardonic edge; but then American students are required to read "Silas Marner", George Eliot's tale of greed and redemption. Nabokov, the author of the dazzling "Pale Fire", was born in Old Russia in 1899 and became a master of his native language as well as English. His version of Pushkin's masterpiece doesn't attempt to maintain the meter or rhyming scheme of the original, thereby leading to the danger of "piped-in background music", but presents a literal translation of "humble fidelity". There have been several English translations, and Nabokov sternly appraises them all. (Tchaikovsky's opera is dismissed as "slapdash".) He even goes so far as to compare his work with that of other translators. Thus, Onegin's flirtation with a serf in Book Four is translated by Nabokov as: "sometimes a white-skinned, dark-eyed girl's young and fresh kiss". In his notes Nabokov is amused by an earlier translator's "And, if a black-eyed girl permitted, sometimes a kiss as fresh as she" and is positively aghast at this rendering: "A kiss at times from some fair maiden, dark-eyed, with bright and youthful looks".Read more ›
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