Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Teasers: 'Yevgeny Onegin' by Alexander Pushkin, trans. A.D.P. Briggs

It's my father's birthday!! So what is more appropriate than sharing teasers from one of Russia's most famous works? Well, perhaps there would be more appropriate books to share but not as fun. Yevgeny Onegin and Pushkin are institutions in their own right so I'm really happy to be reading it. I'm also excited for it because I have seen a ballet based on it! And I haven't read verse in a very long time...
The aristocratic Yevgeny Onegin has come into his inheritance, leaving the glamour of St Petersburg's social life behind to take up residence at his uncle's country estate. Master of the nonchalant bow, and proof of the fact that we shine despite our lack of education, the aristocratic Onegin is the very model of a social butterfly - a fickle dandy, liked by all for his wit and easy ways. When the shy and passionate Tatyana falls in love with him, Onegin condescendingly rejects her, and instead carelessly diverts himself by flirting with her sister, Olga - with terrible consequences.
Yevgeny Onegin is one of the - if not THE - greatest works of all Russian literature, and certainly the foundational text and Pushkin the foundational writer who influence all those who came after (Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, etc). So it's no surprise that this verse novella has drawn so many translators. It's a challenge, too, since verse is always harder to translate than prose. (Vikram Seth, rather than translating Onegin again, updated it to the 1980s in San Franciso in his The Golden Gate). 
A.D.P. Briggs is arguably the greatest living scholar of Pushkin, certainly in the UK, and as such he's spent a lifetime thinking about how to translate Pushkin. Briggs is an experienced and accomplished translator, not only for Pushkin (Pushkin's The Queen of Spades) but for Penguin Classics (War and Peace, The Resurrection) and others. Briggs has not only been thinking about Pushkin for decades, he's been working on this translation for nearly as long. It's a landmark event in the history of Onegin translations and this edition is accompanied by a thoughtful introduction and translator's note.
Tuesday Intros and Teaser Tuesday are hosted by Diane over at Bibliophile by the Sea and Jenn over at Books and a Beat.


Tuesday Intros:
'Not for the stately world's amusement 
But as your friend, I'd have been pleased 
To dedicate for your perusal 
A better pledge, a worthier piece 
Truer to your exalted spirit, 
Brimming with limpid poetry, 
And holy dreams by which to fill it.' 1%
I love the beginning of this, the translation flows really beautifully. I like that Yevgeny Onegin is dedicated, or written for a friend in this way. A problem with verse, however, is that usually you don't get much of an introduction so I have no idea what is going to happen.

Teaser
Teaser Tuesday:
'And local folk were much enthralled, 
Which then gave rise to lots of guesses, 
And enigmatic noes and yesses, 
And jokes and judgements, some quite rude: 
Tatyana - was she being wooed?' 42%

I think we can all recognise ourselves in the situation that Tatyana finds herself in. The guessing and the prodding that starts when someone is maybe being flirted with. It's both the most awkward and exciting thing. But considering the blurb I feel like this guessing game may have some bad consequences.

Have you heard of Yevgeny Onegin and Pushkin? Do you read a lot of verse?

25 comments:

  1. Hmmm. Not something I'd pick up on a whim, but it sure sounds interesting.

    My TT from A Whole Lotta ARCS

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    1. It's definitely a read that requires some dedication, but so far it's keeping my interest! Thanks for commenting :)

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  2. Doesn't sound like my usual read, but I kind of like the writing style from the teaser and intro.

    Here's my teaser for the week.

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    1. I heard so much about Pushkin and his writing that I figured it was time to check it out for myself. I'm glad you like it! Thanks for commenting :)

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  3. +JMJ+

    So it's a novel written entirely in verse? If so, how charmingly translated those excerpts are! =)

    I once had a Russian client who said that if I wanted to start reading great Russian literature but didn't want to be overwhelmed, I should begin with Pushkin. And I'm very slowly learning Russian right now, so I hope to fulfill that goal someday!

    Here's my Teaser for the week!

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    1. It is, which is such a feat! And major respect for learning Russian, it doesn't look like an easy language! I've read Russian lit before (in translation), so I hope Pushkin will work for me! Thanks for commenting :)

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  4. This does sound like fun. I'm glad you are enjoying it. My teaser this week comes from Rock Wedding by Nalini Singh. Happy reading!

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    1. It's fun the way in how it differs from my normal reads!Thanks for commenting :)

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  5. It does sound entertaining - is it written in rhyming couplets all the way through? You're right - translated verse can be particularly demanding. My TT this week is off the planet...
    https://sjhigbee.wordpress.com/2016/07/19/teaser-tuesday-19th-july-2016/

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    1. It is, which makes it a lot easier to keep going, almost to the point where it's hard to stop! I can't imagine having to try translating this! Thanks for commenting :)

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  6. I guess gossips are the same the world over.

    Mine is here: http://www.aliceaudrey.com/?p=14165

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    1. We truly are all the same, aren't we? ;) Thanks for commenting :)

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  7. Fascinating! Probably not my usual read, but I am definitely curious. Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

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    1. Curiosity is also what got me to try this one, and the fact that I trust Pushkin Press xD Thanks for commenting :)

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  8. Happy birthday to your father! This is not my typical read, but the premise sounds interesting.

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    1. Thank you! It's fun in how it's challenging me! Thanks for commenting :)

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  9. This sounds like an interesting book. I have only read a few books that were in verse and they were all quite enjoyable. I hope that your father enjoys his birthday! :)

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    1. Novels in verse are somehow both easier and more difficult to read, don't you think? And thank you! Thanks for commenting :)

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  10. A classic on my list. The verse throws me a little but I would keep reading. Enjoy!

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    1. It takes some getting used to but it works really well! Let me know what you think of it when you try it! Thanks for commenting :)

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  11. That is a fantastic opener - I love that verse and I do like the sound of the synopsis too. I hope your Dad has had a wonderful birthday.

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    1. I'm really opening up to verse novels! And thank you!! Thanks for commenting :)

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  12. Definitely not my usual read, but a really interesting premise and it seems beautifully written.

    Happy birthday to your dad, and thanks for commenting on my blog ^^

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  13. Sounds like a good but tougher read to me. I tend to pick easier themes for summer:) Hope you enjoy it Juli

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  14. This is different to me as I usually read light topics for this time of the year, and I don't really read a lot of books in verse. Happy reading! :)

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