Eugene Onegin

Introduction

Eugene Onegin (pre-reform Russian: Евгеній Онѣгинъ; post-reform Russian: Евгений Онегин, tr. Yevgeniy Onegin, IPA: [jɪvˈɡʲenʲɪj ɐˈnʲeɡʲɪn]) is a novel in verse written by Alexander Pushkin. Onegin is considered a classic of Russian literature, and its eponymous protagonist has served as the model for a number of Russian literary heroes (so-called superfluous men). It was published in serial form between 1825 and 1832. The first complete edition was published in 1833, and the currently accepted version is based on the 1837 publication.

Almost the entire work is made up of 389 fourteen-line stanzas (5,446 lines in all) of iambic tetrameter with the unusual rhyme scheme "AbAbCCddEffEgg", where the uppercase letters represent feminine rhymes while the lowercase letters represent masculine rhymes. This form has come to be known as the "Onegin stanza" or the "Pushkin sonnet." The innovative rhyme scheme, the natural tone and diction, and the economical transparency of presentation all demonstrate the virtuosity which has been instrumental in proclaiming Pushkin as the undisputed master of Russian poetry.

The story is told by a narrator (a lightly fictionalized version of Pushkin's public image), whose tone is educated, worldly, and intimate. The narrator digresses at times, usually to expand on aspects of this social and intellectual world. This narrative style allows for a development of the characters and emphasizes the drama of the plot despite its relative simplicity. The book is admired for the artfulness of its verse narrative as well as for its exploration of life, death, love, ennui, convention, and passion.

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