Alexander Pushkin Elisabeth Van Der Meer  Podcast TTT Russia Russian Literature

Season 2 Episode 31: Elisabeth On The Eugene Onegin Challenge

Welcome to Tea, Toast and Trivia.

Thank you for listening in.

The Eugene Onegin Challenge (Photo Credit Elisabeth Van Der Meer)

Elisabeth Van Der Meer from the extraordinary blog, A Russian Affair, has once again joined me from Finland, the far distance of 7,514 km from Vancouver.

The Eugene Onegin Challenge: (Photo Credit Elisabeth Van Der Meer)

Elisabeth issued  “The Eugene Onegin Challenge” which is happening on her blog, A Russian Affair.  I have taken up the challenge and am reading Alexander Pushkin’s masterpiece, Eugene Onegin, which he wrote over the course of eight years.  Elisabeth has introduced the characters, Onegin,  Lensky, Tatyana, Olga, and yes, Pushkin.  The adventure is underway.

So, put the kettle on and add to this exciting conversation.

I am your host Rebecca Budd and I am looking forward to sharing this moment with you.

The Eugene Onegin Challenge (Photo Credit Elisabeth Van Der Meer)

By Rebecca Budd

Blogger, Visual Storyteller, Podcaster, Traveler and Life-long Learner

8 replies on “Season 2 Episode 31: Elisabeth On The Eugene Onegin Challenge”

Fabulous conversation, Rebecca and Elisabeth! Novels in the form of a poem (or novels which mix lots of poetry with prose, a la A.S. Byatt’s “Possession” and Nabokov’s “Pale Fire”) can be fascinating creations. And it’s so interesting, as you discussed, when the writer includes herself or himself as a character in a work — as Pushkin did in “Eugene Onegin.” John Steinbeck (briefly) did that, too, in “East of Eden.” I look forward to reading “Eugene Onegin” — on my list for when my local library opens. 🙂 Your enthusiastic description of it, Elisabeth, makes it clear that it’s a classic — a classic, as was mentioned in the podcast, perhaps underrated/not as known as it should be outside of Russia. Great questions, as always, Rebecca!

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I confess that I was apprehensive about reading Eugene Onegin. Would I be able to understand the narrative, especially in the form of poetry? Russian literature has always been a mystery to me, with the many unfamiliar names (no Smiths or Jones in Russian Literation) the emotional content and circuitous stories that overlap and intertwine. I think that I was also influenced by the type of analysis that generally goes into the “classics.” Sometimes the story is lost in the analysis. While I know that literary analysis is a wonderful tool, I find that we need a balance. On one hand, the pure enjoyment of reading. On the other hand, a deeper reflection, but one that is driven by curiosity. Elisabeth is masterful in how she brings out the story and then allows for the questions. I have thoroughly enjoyed the Eugene Onegin challenge. Don & I have been listening to the audio version via Audible (James E Falen translation), which has brought out the impact of words. I have come back to fiction because I have found kindred spirits, like you and Elisabeth, that have given me back enjoyment of reading. By the way, just finished your recommendation “The House on the Strand” by DDM. A very satisfying conclusion, indeed!

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These are always delightful podcasts with Elisabeth! I too am thoroughly enjoying Elisabeth’s project with her suggested and excellent Falen translation on video. And let’s not forget that most ancient, classical and medieval stories were “narrative poetry.” There’s an extensive list on Wikipedia which includes Pushkin, of course!

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Oh, I do love when you take me our for a research spin, Mary Jo. The best gift that was given to humanity was the gift of learning. Before I met Elisabeth, I knew that there was a Russian writer/poet called Alexander Pushkin, but that was the extent of my knowledge. Now, I have entered a world that is vibrant, mystical, emotional, and just as relevant today as it was when it was written. I’m heading back to Chaucer….

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Learning along with other lifelong learners is a joy, dear Rebecca. Elisabeth’s A Russian Affair is a treasure trove of Russian literature and research. I mean, who takes the time to bring share information about all the birds in Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons? Amazing!

I’ve a copy of Goethe’s Faust waiting…a first time for me…ridiculously late in life, and not Russian, I know 🙂 One of the most influential narrative poems ever written…sheesh!

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I just found Faust on Audible, parts 1 & 2. It is a 10 hour read and I’m looking forward to delving into the narrative. I understand that it took 50 years to complete. Maybe we are at the age when it is a perfect time to read.

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