Eugene Onegin

Pushkin's Dear Tatiana

What is it about Tatiana Larina? How is it that a young country girl, whose semblance is hardly remarkable and whose intelligence and judgment are suspect, has captivated literary culture and come to be regarded as “the Russians’ Mona Lisa” according to one prominent Russian literary scholar (Hasty, 1999)? Any sensible reader should root against her ill-matched and impulsive love, yet there is something irresistibly endearing and engaging about her innocent desire that pulls at the strings of even the most callous cynic’s heart. How is this accomplished? It is the charming eloquence of Pushkin’s most delicate love poetry in CHAPTER III, STANZAS XV, XVI – where Tatiana first admits her love obsession to her nurse, Filatyevna – that fully captures our heroine’s most cherished traits and helps explain the unjustified attraction that is inherently felt towards her.

In STANZA XV Pushkin offers Tatiana his fateful warning; the stanza opens with an ominous plea “Tatiana, dear Tatiana!; I now shed tears with you (Pushkin, Eugene Onegin, 1964).” The reader gets the sense that Pushkin’s appeal is doomed to be helpless as the he continues:

“Dear, you shall perish; but before,

in dazzling hope,

you summon somber bliss,

you learn the...

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