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Ambivalent Souls


Translation of Alexander Pushkin's Eugene Onegin with original stanzas, rhymes, and reflections.

"To put 5541 lines of Pushkin’s fast-moving iambic tetrameter into English verse; to reproduce in the short-winded monosyllables, disyllables and trisyllables of English the demanding yet infinitely adaptable Onegin stanza (aBaBccDDeFFeGG) which gets its aesthetic charge from Russian’s free-flowing polysyllables — that would be a challenge even for the most experienced translators. (Vladimir Nabokov gave up and damned anyone who would try.) However for a translator relatively new to Russian (like Tanner), this is audacious, if not insane on its face. Then, setting about his work, he makes an even more consequential decision: into the interstices of the text, into the dropped lines and the cancelled stanzas that are a structural feature of Pushkin’s novel, into the metrical spaces opened up by translating long Russian words into short English ones, he will write himself and the story of this translation... Robert Tanner found Pushkin, and he responded with this translation. Obligated, like any translator, to know what the original says, but like any good translator, never bound by it, he audaciously writes himself into Pushkin’s text, and far from making Pushkin into something he isn’t, he makes Pushkin into something he is."

— Peter Scotto (from the foreword)

Publication date: 08/15/2022

ISBN: 978-0-9990737-5-9

Price: $18

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