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

50 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0192838995
ISBN-10: 0192838997
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Editorial Reviews


"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 Marshall College

"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

Language Notes

Text: English, Russian (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford World's Classics
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (October 22, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192838997
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192838995
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 0.7 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,186,206 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

150 of 152 people found the following review helpful By Jodi VINE VOICE on November 8, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have read four translations of this novel and James Falen's is my favorite one. He has translated Pushkin's classic in a fun, witty way which doesn't take too much away from the original Russian version (which I have also read). Granted, something is always lost in a translation, but it certainly doesn't take away from the humor and wit of this translation. If you are interested in a literal, as-close-to-the-original-as-possible translation, then I highly suggest Nabokov's translation, which (in my opinion) is somewhat dry and boring, but extremely accurate. It is all a matter of taste...what the reader wants. If you want accuracy, you will have to sacrifice some of the fun. If you want the fun, you will have to sacrifice some of the accuracy. I prefer the fun, therefore I preferred this version of Onegin.
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82 of 84 people found the following review helpful By "mikeu3" on July 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
Eugene Onegin was Pushkin's favorite among all his works, and although it seems to take a back seat to some of the great late-19th century Russian novels among western readers, Russians themselves tend to prize it above all other works of their country's literature. In case you're not familiar with the story, it deals mainly with two of the title character's ill-fated relationships: one with his friend and neighbor Vladimir Lensky, which ends tragically due to a very unnecessary rivalry over Olga Larin; and the other with Olga's sister Tatyana, which never comes to fruition because Eugene initially rejects her, only to fall in love with her later. Interwoven among all this, Pushkin himself periodically appears to invoke his muse or to digress on such seemingly unrelated topics as his penchant for women's feet.
The work can't possibly be praised enough in a single review, and I won't try to do so; suffice it to say that Eugene's provincial boredom, Tatyana's passion, and Vladimir's poetic romanticism are all splendidly drawn, and many of Pushkin's digressions have justly become proverbs in his native land. Presumably much of the reason that the novel doesn't receive quite so much attention in the non-Russian speaking world is that, due to its verse structure (it consists of 14-line stanzas in iambic tetrameter with a consistent ababccddeffegg rhyme scheme), it's very hard to translate while still retaining both the meaning and the delightfully spirited rhythm of the original. Vladimir Nabokov asserted very emphatically back in the 1960s that any faithful translation would have to almost completely sacrifice the original's lyric quality, and Nabokov's translation is notoriously dull, if extremely adherent to Pushkin's exact meaning.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By James Ferguson VINE VOICE on December 6, 2003
Format: Paperback
James Falen has offered his version of the Russian classic, and has captured both the meaning and the verse. The stanzas flow effortlessly in Falen's hands, it may very well be the best translation yet. Of course, Nabokov is not around to cast his judgement on it. He panned every other translation that had been printed and penned his own in prose, so as not to stray too far from original meaning. But, even he said it was no more than a crib, as what Puskin had achieved in Eugene Onegin was a restructuring of the Russian language, giving it a beauty few had thought it possessed.
Orlando Figes similarly noted that Onegin was the first truly Russian lyrical novel. Pushkin had forsaken the standard French and sought to find the words expressive enough to convey the contradictory nature of the Russian soul. The novel in verse ebbs and flows as Pushkin takes you from St. Petersburg to Moscow to the Russian countryside, weaving a charming tale with many fascinating asides. The texture is so rich and the characters so enduring that this lyrical novel has attained mythological status in Russian literature. No understanding of the subject is complete without having read Eugene Onegin.
But, if language is essential to understanding Onegin then any translation will ultimately come up short. However, Falen has shown great respect for the novel and its language, unlike Douglass Hofstadter's juvenile attempt to translate it. Falen offers copious endnotes and a fascinating introduction. He tips his hat to Nabokov and the others who have translated this novel in the past. The language Falen uses is modern, giving Onegin a freshness lacking in other translations.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By FJC on April 26, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When Russians ask you who your favorite poet is they will often add a "Besides Pushkin, of course." Pushkin has an iconic status in Russia that is maybe unparalleled in the English speaking world. Shakespeare probably comes the closest. Eugene Onegin is a masterpiece and the genius of it's creator is apparent. It is alwasy difficult, however, to read poetry in translation. Others have spoken of the translation difficulties already. As a non-Russian speaker, I won't comment on them except to say that, at some points, the difficulties encountered in translation are obvious and frustrating. Professors have told me, however, that this translation is about as good as they come. Like any other work of genius, Eugen Onegin needs a careful reading. Each layer, and there are many, proves more rewarding then the next. Pushkin is often funny, passionate and has a pretty keen sense of satire. I would advise everybody to read this. Pushkin is doubly important as background to Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy. He began the Russian literary tradition.
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