World Literature: Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin

1. Autobiographical
The author does not introduce himself but often presents himself inform of a persona in drama then later, as an author. “The hero is of my narration! Onegin, O my gentle readers, was born beside the Neva, where It may be ye were born, or there Have shone as one of fashion’s leaders.”

2. Philosophical
The author’s reference to the wearisome style of the current elegies where a “feeling of despondency has consumed all else” brings in a discussion of romance without mentioning this term. This was reinforced by the explanation of a poet’s duty of inspiration.

3. About the Russian language
“Latin is just now not in vogue, But if the truth I must relate, One guide knew enough, the rogue A mild quotation to translate, A little Juvenal to spout, With “vale” finish off a note; Two verses he could recollect Of the Aeneid, but incorrect.”

4. About literature and contemporary culture in Pushkin life, literary characters, and genres
The vagueness of genre highlighted in the subtitle in sustained in the reference in a single poem using the term “stikhotvorenie” instead of the usual literature to strengthen confusion. With the quote, “humorous description of manners”, the author later contradicted satirical intent.

5. About love and friendship
“At first their differences of heart Made meetings dull at one another, But then their friendship grew, and soon They’d meet on a horse each afternoon, And in the end were close as brothers Thus people so it seems to me Become good friends from sheer ennui.” Chap. 2, stanza 13, p. 41

6. About modern society, manners, tastes, education, and the youth
“Then Monsieur taught the child, A pleasant-natured lad but wild. Monsieur L’Abbé, French and thin, Spared the lad from weary lessons, Ducked the moralizing sermons, Taught him everything by whim, A mild rebuke, a sharp remark, Then off to ramble in the park.”

7. About Moscow
“Moscow, Russia’s darling daughter, Where thine equal shall we find?”

8. About the novel
“But blest is he who rightly gauges The time to quit the feast and fly, Who never drained life’s chalice dry, Nor read it’s novel’s final pages; But all at once for good withdrew –As I from my Onegin do.”

9. About Russian roads and the future of Russia
“Do ye of spring the blossoms graze? Lapped in your Eastern luxury, No trace ye left in passing by Upon the dreary northern snows But better loved the soft repose Of splendid carpets richly wrought.”

10. About duels and murder
“The poet, then aged 37, had become convinced that D’Anthès was flirting with his wife and challenged the French cavalry officer to a duel. Pushkin’s death is all the more curious because a major theme in Eugene Onegin is the relationship between literature and real life.”

11. About balls, women’s feet, wine, cuisine
“Onegin stanza” is a device for musing on wine, women’s legs, poetry, hypocrisy – whatever strikes his fancy. Having performed his service truly, Deep into debt his father ran; Three balls a year he gave ye duly, At last, became a ruined man.”

Pushkin, Aleksandr Sergeevich, V. Markov, and A. Pasʹko. Eugene Onegin: a novel in verse. Princeton University Press, 1981.

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