Eugene Onegin: A Novel in Verse (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 29 January 2009
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- Publisher : OUP Oxford; Reissue edition (29 January 2009)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0199538646
- ISBN-13 : 978-0199538645
- Item Weight : 215 g
- Dimensions : 19.3 x 1.78 x 12.7 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: #104,026 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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The five-star rating of this article refers to James Falen's Oxford World's Classics translation (but Briggs' translation deserves five stars too). In chronological order, it is the 8th major translation of the poem into English. Its chief merit is the unforced fluency of the verse, and this is the most important point to make. Where liberties are taken with the feminine rhymes, the translator's success is mixed. 'Adherents/interference' is acceptable because of the shared long vowel sound; whereas, 'worry/necessary', at least to my ear, is rather strained. This is really my only criticism of Falen's translation, and it is not sufficiently problematic to dock a star.
To turn to the Briggs translation, again the verse runs smoothly. An obvious difference is that Briggs uses feminine half-rhymes more frequently. Often these are inventive and original (e.g. 'probity/nobody' and 'patience/Ancients'). You will not find any 'worry/necessary'-like pairings in the Briggs translation. Also, Briggs has a particularly good introduction.
Without wishing to criticize too harshly the Mitchell translation, my advice is to steer clear of it. This is because the approximate rhyming, whilst good in places (e.g. 'service/impervious') falls down too often (e.g. 'live/love').
I should also avoid the Charles Johnston translation (despite the fact that Vikram Seth thinks highly of it). This is because he makes too frequent recourse to feminine rhymes ending in -tion, which becomes monotonous, and to present participle rhymes, which has the same unfortunate effect.
If, after reading Eugene Onegin in either the Falen or the Briggs translation or both, you wish to read a contemporary Onegin stanza novel, I recommend Vikram Seth's 'The Golden Gate' (published 1986) and Brad Walker's 'Adam and Rosamond' (published 2019). The former is far better known; however, the latter, it seems to me, is more accomplished.
I highly recommend.