Pushkin: Eugene Onegin (1833) The Russian Dissolution

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Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does a bunch of other stuff.

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9 Responses

  1. Avatar ClockworkOrange says:

    Tatiana was not a “peasant girl”. She was a landowner’s daughter.Report

  2. Avatar marianne19 says:

    And they fight the duel because of Olga, not Tatiana.Report

  3. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    Pushkin is hardly attempting to save the country from the city.   Nor did Tsar Nicholas’ court  snuff him out.  It tolerated his acrid condemnations but once he’d seen fit to ask for pardon from the Tsar, positively encouraged him, making Pushkin minor nobility, if very minor, in an era where the Tsar was busily abolishing a great deal of nobility.

    While we are on the subject, immorality, lassitude and self-absorption were not the hallmarks of the Empire Nicholas I .  He ran an efficient and ruthless police state and was a great modernizer.    The arts thrived in the court of Nicholas I as never before and arguably, since.   The dialogue of the country and the city was much on everyone’s mind in those times:  France and Germany were also convulsed by upheavals and Bismarck was playing interesting games with his workers and intellectuals, alternately appeasing and jailing them.   Though it would be Alexander I who freed the serfs, Nicholas I had much to say on the subject.   Eugene Onegin is a fair copy of what most educated people in the Tsar’s Russia were thinking about things, especially effete city life.

    Over time, especially in the era of Lenin, Pushkin has come to be seen as a rebel, a man of the people.   He was anything but.   Pushkin was an exquisite dandy, a great inventor of words, a piece of literary amber containing the light which shone on those times.   The artificial values of the Tsar’s court and the deadly formality of the duels he fought were Pushkin’s own.   If there’s one lesson to take away from Eugene Onegin, it’s this:  to quote the Eagles:  “we are all just prisoners here / of our own device”.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to BlaiseP says:

      Alexander II freed the serfs (Alexander I predates Nicholas I), though at least part of Onegin was written under Alexander I. Also, Bismarck was probably in grade school when Pushkin began publishing it.

       

       Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to BlaiseP says:

      Nor did Tsar Nicholas’ court  snuff him out.

      What I had in mind was Alexander Blok’s line that Pushkin didn’t die from a bullet, but from the lack of air in the court. Also I had in mind what you say here:

      The artificial values of the Tsar’s court and the deadly formality of the duels he fought were Pushkin’s own.   If there’s one lesson to take away from Eugene Onegin, it’s this:  to quote the Eagles:  “we are all just prisoners here / of our own device”.

      The Eagles said it better.Report

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