"Eugene Onegin" is a unique novel - a novel in verse (rhymed).

Alexandr Sergeevich Pushkin is widely regarded as one of the brightest stars in Russian literature of the 19th century, and this book is a good justification to that title.

Just imagine a whole novel, 200 pages of interesting and diverce characters, shiny descriptions of the Russian country, cities and seasons, love, hate, rivalry, envy - all in rhymes. And these are *real* rhymes. I was shunned from poetry during highschool, discouraged by many modern poets, for whom a poem is just a story with short lines, without any order. "Eugene Onegin", on the other hand, is poetry at its best.

The novel consists of 14-line stanzas. The rhyming in each stanza is a strict ababccddeffegg, all through the poem. It's amazing how a text can be so disciplined, and how much power it adds to it. For the first time in my life, I think, I thoroughly enjoyed a poem and felt its rhytm flowing in my head. Pushkin uses the rhyming masterfully to reflect the characters' feelings and the pace of the novel in general.

Plot wise, the novel tells a story of failed love, of missed moments and of the hypocrisity of the high society in Russia of the early 1800s. Through a relatively simple plot, Pushkin shares with the reader his views on things like love, literature, society and human nature in general. As a bonus the reader gets a glimpse into the beauty of Russian scenery and the changing of seasons. There's something about the verse-way of writing that conveys the author's idea in a stronger way than in a normal book.

If that isn't clear from the review so far, I thoroughly enjoyed "Eugene Onegin". Many a time while reading a good book I said to myself - this is so good, I'll reread it again after finishing. But I never actually did this - until Eugene Onegin. Having finished it, I read through the "appendixes" of backgrounds/critique/literature analysis that was included in the edition (Russian, printed in 1976), and felt like reading the book again, trying to pay more attention to the detail. That's what I did and enjoyed it again. The book is from my in-laws, but I think I'll by a copy for myself - probably with other works by Pushkin.

Also, as usual after reading a great Russian book I feel lucky for being able to read it in its original language, but this time even more so, because poetry is surely harder to translate than a normal text. I heard some of the English translations are very good. Maybe in the future I'll also lay my hand on an English translation, just to see how it is (some of the tranlators are giants like Nabokov and Hoftstadter).


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