Literature / Eugene Onegin

Tatiana fell in love Onegin. Tatiana comes Onegin and says "Onegin, I love you!". Onegin says "No!". Time passed. Tatiana grew up, became big, fat, beautiful. Onegin fell in love Tatiana. Onegin comes Tatiana, says "Tatiana, I love you!" Tatiana says: "Will you look at this guy!"
A non too educated man from a Soviet ethnic minority giving a surprisingly accurate summary to the novel.

Eugene Onegin is a novel in verse written by Alexander Pushkin. It's largely considered to be his master piece, and it was the author's very own dearest work. Eugene Onegin was first published in serial form between 1825 and 1832. The first complete edition came out in 1833. The novel was translated to many languages many times (and new modern translations are being made) and it belongs among the most classic books of the classic Russian literature.

Pushkin's story is set in 1820s Russia, both in the city and the countryside, and it follows the fates of one Eugene Onegin, a Russian aristocrat and dandy who is bored with life. He became a literary (stereo)type called a superfluous man, and he has served as a model for many following literary heroes of Russian literature. The novel also portrays a wide cast of other characters, usually very typically Russian.

The story is told by a narrator who is basically a fictionalized version of Pushkin's public persona. His tone is sophisticated, worldly, and he intimately addresses his readers who are treated with many adorable and snarky Shout Outs that expand nicely on its relatively simple plot and characters. The tone of the book manages to be engaging, thrilling, exciting, hilarious, sad, bitter-sweet or utterly tragic. The work is rightly praised for its narrative virtuosity and master poetic form.

Pyotr Tchaikovsky adapted the novel Eugene Onegin as opera. In 1958, the opera version was made into a film. A film adaptation of the novel starring Ralph Fiennes and Liv Tyler was made in 1999.

An audiobook narrated by Stephen Fry is available as a free download.

Eugene Onegin provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Age Lift: In the novel, it's hinted very clearly that Tatiana's husband is in his thirties at most. The opera makes him elderly.
  • Author Appeal: Pushkin is infamous for having a foot fetish, and one digression in the work is all about praising women's feet. It has been argued that this is a mis-translation, and Pushkin was actually obsessed with women's legsnote , but regardless, Author Appeal applies.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The narrator constantly addresses his readers as if he could talk with them.
  • Byronic Hero: Like many Romantic poets of his time, Pushkin was deeply influenced by Byron in his earlier works, and many of his lyrical and narrative poems contain Byronic imagery. Later, he playfully lampshaded, parodied and deconstructed the concept in Eugene Onegin, and never looked back.
  • Character Title: Eugene Onegin is the book's main character.
  • The Dandy: Onegin is explicitly described as this.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • The narrator. He has sneering comments about everybody and everything.
    • Eugene Onegin. Could you expect anything else from a young intelligent aristocrat who is bored with life?
  • Duel to the Death: Lensky and Onegin. It doesn't end well for Lensky and his friend is extremely shattered, too.
  • Feigning Intelligence: Early in the work, the narrator sarcastically praises Oneigin's erudition, describing how Onegin was (typically of Russian aristocrats of the time) fluent in French and learned enough Latin that he could impress people with tags and quotations, but was really largely ignorant of literature Latin and otherwise.
    • Played With, since Onegin is actually intelligent, and is good with economics. He just thought that literature is boring. However, it was a part of standard education during that historical period, so he had to fake it.
  • German Russians: Lensky is described as a "half-Russian" and he spent years studying in Germany.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Lensky and Onegin became friends out of boredom but they were very close.
  • Mr. Imagination:
    • Lensky is a naive dreamer of a poet.
    • Tatyana is Miss Imagination: Shy and quiet, a great reader and dreams about perfect love.
  • Mood Dissonance: The book is written in a light-hearted, witty style, with a lot of jokes, but the story itself is pretty depressing.
  • Narrative Poem: A novel in verse.
  • Opposites Attract: Onegin and Lensky are very different but they became friends quite quickly. The narrator states it was because they were bored and because there was not anybody else around.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Lensky and Onigin. Lensky is a sensitive an rather ineffectual poet in contrast to Oneigin's Book Dumb womanizer and man-about-town.
  • Stealth Parody: Eugene Onegin parodies the Byronic Hero.
  • Stylistic Suck: Lenskiy's poem is a Cliché Storm.
  • Shout-Out: The book is full of them. Every chapter starts with a carefully chosen motto from either Russian or western literature, and there are many others in the story. For example, the narrator mentions which books Tatyana read and enjoyed.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: When Lensky returns home, he visits Larin's grave. He exclaims: "Poor Yorick!", and writes a poem about it.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Tatiana initially sees life as a romantic novel and Onegin as its hero.