Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 561
Tatyana Larin (tah-TYAH-nah LAH-rihn), also called Tanya Larina (TAHN-yah LAH-rihn-uh), the reserved and withdrawn older daughter of the well-to-do, upper-middle-class Larin family, of whose marriage her parents despair. She falls in love at first sight with Eugene Onegin and, unable to write grammatical Russian, sends him a passionate letter written in French. Although he fails to encourage her, she turns down several other proposals of marriage. When her family takes her to Moscow, she picks up beauty hints at a ball and attracts the attentions of a retired general who persuades her to marry him. Years later, she again sees Onegin, who falls in love with her and writes her passionate letters. She reads them and preserves them to read again, but she gives him no encouragement and remains faithful to her general to the end of her life.
Eugene Onegin (ehuh-GEH-nihy oh-NEH-gihn), the hero of this narrative poem, with many resemblances to its author. Brought up in the aristocratic tradition, he is a brilliant, witty man of the world. Successful in many light love affairs, he is bored with living. City life, with its opera and ballet, has lost its appeal. A stay on the country estate willed to him by his uncle wearies him after several days. He is finally persuaded by his friend, Vladimir Lensky, to accompany him on a visit to the Larin family. There, he finds the conversation dull, the refreshment too simple and too abundant, and Tatyana unattractive. Visiting her later, after receiving her passionate love letter, he tells her frankly that he would make her a very poor husband because he has had too many disillusioning experiences with women. He returns to the lonely estate and the life of an anchorite. When Vladimir takes him under false pretenses to Tatyana’s birthday party, Onegin gets revenge by flirting with her sister Olga, who is engaged to Vladimir. His jealous friend challenges him to a duel. Onegin shoots Vladimir through the heart.
Olga Larin (OHLY-guh), also called Olenka (oh-LEHN-kuh), the pretty and popular younger daughter of the Larin family, betrothed to Vladimir Lensky. At a ball, she dances so often with Onegin that her fiancé gets angry. Although she assures him that she means nothing by her innocent flirtation, he challenges Onegin to a duel and is killed. Later, she marries an army officer.
Vladimir Lensky (vlah-DIH-mihr LEHN-skihy), a German-Russian friend of Onegin, brought up in Germany and influenced by romantic illusions of life and love. Although his reading of Friedrich von Schiller and Immanuel Kant sets him apart from most other young Russians, he and Onegin have much in common. He tries to get his friend interested in Tatyana Larin by inviting him to her big birthday party, which he describes as an intimate family affair. In resentment, Onegin avoids Tatyana and devotes himself to Olga. After the challenge is given, he is too proud to acknowledge his misjudgment and is killed.
M. Guillot (gihl-YOH), Onegin’s second in the duel.
Zaretsky (zah-REHT-skihy), Lensky’s second.
The prince (called Gremin in the operatic version), a fat, retired general and Onegin’s friend. Seeing Tatyana at a ball in Moscow, he falls in love with her and proposes. She accepts. Later, he invites Onegin to his house, and Onegin meets Tatyana again.
Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 251
Driver, Sam. Pushkin: Literature and Social Ideas. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989. The book considers the poet as an engaged social thinker rather than as an alienated Romantic poet. Traces the development of Pushkin’s social ideas and his involvement in contemporary politics. The chapter devoted to dandyism offers an insightful discussion of Eugene Onegin in light of European fashion.
Hoisington, Sona S., trans. Russian Views of Pushkin’s “Eugene Onegin.” Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988. A varied collection of Russian considerations of Pushkin’s work. Contains several famous essays by nineteenth and twentieth century writers and critics, including Fyodor Dostoevski, Yuri Lotman, and Mikhail Bakhtin. Includes a discussion of the social significance of the novel, an elaboration of the novel as multiple-voice text, and an evaluation of the narrative structure.
Nabokov, Vladimir. Eugene Onegin: A Novel in Verse by Aleksandr Pushkin. 4 vols. Rev. ed. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1975. Nabokov’s translation of Eugene Onegin includes an extensive and thorough commentary on the style and content of Pushkin’s novel. Although his gloss on Eugene Onegin is eclectic and often digressive, Nabokov’s discussion is always interesting.
Simmons, Ernest J. Pushkin. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1937. A solid survey of Pushkin’s life combined with discussion of his major works. Still considered the standard biography of the poet.
Vickery, Walter. Alexander Pushkin. New York: Twayne, 1970. Provides extensive plot commentary and a detailed consideration of Pushkin’s versification. The chapter on Eugene Onegin offers a good, basic introduction to the work.
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