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Eugene Onegin: A Novel in Verse

Jenny and I just spent a wonderful five days in a secret resting spot far away from the world of computers and other faster-more-now lifestyles.

While there, I had a chance to read the novel “Eugene Onegin”, which was recommended to me sometime last year. Of course, everything is now last year, but I’m not here to comment on that.

Specifically, the novel I read was the english translation by Douglas Hofstadter, a name you might recognize as the author of “Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid”. A book I still haven’t read, but I know awaits me patiently on our shelf.

Okay, back to Onegin. This book is amazing. A novel written in verse means this is now the longest poem that I’ve ever read. It also means I learned the proper pronunciation of too many words to count since I simply had to know the corresponding rhymed word. I guess that could mean I now pronounce them both wrong, but I’m betting that more were corrected than not. The book was a joy to read, partly because of the easy flowing verse, but partly because it brought me to an older time and a different land. Most of the stuff I read now-a-days keeps shoving me forward and I’ll admit that I go willingly most of the time. Onegin was a nice change of pace.

Eugene Onegin was originally written in Russian by Alexander Pushkin. The preface of Hofstadter’s translation was facinating because in it he proclaims that his Russian is not that good. He became interested in Eugene Onegin by a recommendation from Vikram Seth, the author of another novel in verse called “The Golden Gate”. I just might have to give that one a try too.

I also plan to pick up a different translation of Eugene Onegin since Hofstadter spoke so highly of it. I’m definitely hooked.

Originally published on Wednesday January 1, 2003 at 10:25 pm

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