Eugene Onegin

Eugene Onegin Study Guide

Pushkin, already an established poet, began writing Eugene Onegin in 1823 while exiled from the capital to southern Russia. He published parts of each chapter in serialization as he wrote them before printing each complete chapter in booklet form. While working on Onegin in such places as Odessa and the family estates of Mikhailovskoe and Boldino, Pushkin occasionally paused to work on other pieces. The final parts of the book were published in 1831, and complete editions of the book appeared in 1833 and, with minor revisions, in 1837. The standard text is based on 1837 edition with some censored sections restored. Pushkin also wrote portions of a chapter titled "Onegin's Journey" and a tenth chapter, but he only later published the former separately and burned the latter due to its anti-government sentiments.  

After the reforms of Peter the Great beginning at the end of the seventeenth century, Russian institutions and upper classes became influenced by European models. Under Tsar Alexander I (reign 1801-1825) Russia defeated the Napoleonic invasion in 1812 and began adopting some European reforms. However, the tsarist government was still very sensitive against perceived sedition, hence Pushkin's exile in 1820. Many later considered Pushkin fortunate for being exiled due to the Decembrist Revolt in 1825 organized by officers, some of which were Pushkin's close friends, against the new tsar Nicholas I. Unable to participate, Pushkin avoided death or imprisonment in Siberia. In 1826 Pushkin was allowed back to St. Petersburg by Nicholas, albeit under the condition that the tsar personally censor Pushkin's work.