NABOKV-L post 0020251, Sat, 26 Jun 2010 11:29:34 -0400

this one, by Vladimir Nabokov, is stellar ...

Eugene Obligation
June 19th, 2010 § 2

33 / 52: Eugene Onegin / Alexander Pushkin

The jury is still out for me on Onegin. I love Russian literature, so it seems only natural that I would love the most famous work of the ‘Father of Russian Literature,’ right? But I’m stumbling over the “Novel in Verse” thing, and found the whole book a little blah. If anyone has recommendations or advice about how to think about Onegin, please let me know!

A few great moments here and there. Since I married a farm girl from Kansas, I thought this description of rural conversation was hysterical:

Their reasonable talk
of haymaking, of liquor,
of kennel, of their kin,
no doubt did not sparkle with feeling,
or with poetic fire,
or sharp wit, or intelligence,
or with the art of sociability;
but the talk of their sweet wives was
much less intelligent.

A note about the translation: this one, by Vladimir Nabokov, is stellar – and it’s the fourth I’ve tried. (Yes, that’s how much I wanted to like this book, picking up four translations!).

The first I found is SO astonishingly bad, I feel like I should warn people. Tom Beck’s translation is sing-songy, awkward, and cliched. Stay away, at all costs. I should’ve known better when Beck’s bio said, “[Beck] learnt Russian so that he could translate Eugene Onegin into English. The result is a masterpiece.”

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