Saturday, 10 January 2015

Six Facts about the Novel that Inspired Onegin

Alexander Pushkin's novel Eugene Onegin inspired both an opera and John Cranko's 1965 ballet. Here are some interesting facts about the book:

Sarah Lamb in Onegin
Photo: Bill Cooper / ROH
1. Pushkin wrote in 14 line stanzas with his own unique rhyming pattern. There are 389 stanzas in total.

2. The book's title in Russian is Евгений Онегин, which can be literally translated as 'Yevgeny Onegin'.

3. The book includes a lengthy digression about women's feet (or possibly legs, as it's the same word in Russian), as well as lots of other comments about contemporary society.

4. In the novel, Tatiana loses her ardour for Onegin when she looks through his books and questions his character. This scene isn't replicated in the ballet.

5. The book was written between 1923 and 1931 and originally published serially, one chapter a year.

6. Russians have real fondness for Eugene Onegin and insist its brilliance is not conveyed in translation, as Pushkin's unusual rhythms and clever jokes don't work in other languages.

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