"But my new longings are unaccompanied by hope; and my sorrow — how I miss the sorrow I used to know! My dreams, my dreams! What has become of their sweetness? What indeed has become of my youth?" ―from "Eugene Onegin" by Alexander Pushkin
Eugene Onegin is the master work of the poet whom Russians regard as the fountainhead of their literature. Set in imperial Russia during the 1820s, Pushkin's novel in verse follows the emotions and destiny of three men - Onegin the bored fop, Lensky the minor elegiast, and a stylized Pushkin himself - and the fates and affections of three women - Tatyana the provincial beauty, her sister Olga, and Pushkin's mercurial Muse. Engaging, full of suspense, and varied in tone, it also portrays a large cast of other characters and offers the reader many literary, philosophical, and autobiographical digressions, often in a highly satirical vein. Eugene Onegin was Pushkin's own favourite work, and it shows him attempting to transform himself from romantic poet into realistic novelist.
The grand opening of the Monument to Peter the Great in Senate Square (known as the Bronze Horseman thanks to the namesake poem by Alexander Pushkin) took place on this day in 1782. The first monument in Petersburg, it was commissioned by Catherine the Great and executed upon the project by French sculptor Étienne Maurice Falconet.
А.К. Мельников (по рисунку А.П.Давыдова) | Открытие памятника Петру I на Сенатской площади в Санкт-Петербурге | Бумага, гравюра резцом | Середина XIX в.
А.К Melnikov (drawing by A.P.Davydov) | Opening of the Monument to Peter the Great in Senate Square, St Petersburg | Line engraving | Mid - 19th century
Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837) is to Russia what Shakespeare is to England and Goethe is to Germany: a founding figure of a national literature. Modern Russian masters from Leo Tolstoy to Anna Akhmatova have drawn significant inspiration from his poetry, prose, drama, and criticism, particularly his famous play Boris Godunov, and his masterpiece, Eugene Onegin, a novel in verse. For well over a century Russian readers have cherished Pushkin's humor, wisdom, and depth. Yet the very quality that most distinguishes Pushkin also presents a major obstacle to Western readers: his extraordinary use of language. Pushkin's carefully crafted sounds, meanings, associations, and rhythms cannot be rendered faithfully in any language but Russian. Walter N. Vickery elegantly rectifies this dilemma in this thorough revision of his classic introduction to Pushkin. Recasting each chapter with new ideas and discoveries gathered during the past two decades, and illustrating his discussion with a wealth of transliterated and translated excerpts, Vickery engenders a deep appreciation of Pushkin in all his subtlety. He also explains the phenomenon of Pushkin, placing him at the dawn of Russia's involvement in the European literary scene and tracing the young writer's exploration of the rich movements of his era, including Classicism, Sentimentalism, and the new Romanticism, as epitomized by Byron. Vickery moves chronologically through Pushkin's best known works, providing expert readings of the 1820 six-canto comic epic Ruslan and Lyudmila, the "Little Tragedies" of 1830, the 1833 "Fairy Tales in Verse," lyric poetry written as late as 1836, and other pieces. In several short poems he reveals the wit, irony, irreverence, and bawdiness made popular by Voltaire; in the "Southern" poems, he finds disillusion, nostalgia, and the torments of love, as well as deep patriotism; in The Bronze Horseman he uncovers Pushkin's terrible weariness and preoccupation with death; and in Eugene Onegin h