Season 2 Episode 42: Elisabeth on The Eugene Onegin Challenge Finale

Welcome to Tea, Toast and Trivia.

Thank you for listening in.

“We still, alas, cannot forestall it This dreadful ailment’s heavy toll; The spleen is what the English call it, We call it simply, Russian soul.”

Alexander Pushkin, Eugene Onegin

Alexander Pushkin by Orest Kiprensky (Public Domain)

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.  We have come to the end, the grand finale, of the Eugene Onegin Challenge. We are at the unforgettable chapter eight, where everything become clear.  Or does it?

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.

When we first started this journey, Elizabeth wrote in her blog:

“With this challenge I hope to add something extra to your reading experience that will make it more interesting, intense, attentive, and (even more) enjoyable. I will be eating, dreaming, thinking, hearing Eugene Onegin for the next four months and I can’t wait to find out what the end result will be!”

Elisabeth Van Der Meer

We may have completed the challenge, but the pathway continues into the far horizon.  There are more adventures ahead on A Russian Affair with Elizabeth Van Der Meer.   Until next time, dear friends, keep safe and be well.

Mary Jo Malo on a Poet’s Calling Tea. Toast. & Trivia.

  1. Mary Jo Malo on a Poet’s Calling
  2. Tides of Change with Joan Dunnett
  3. The Trio on Milestones
  4. Brian on the Fear of Missing Out
  5. Heading into the Library with Dave Astor

35 Comments Add yours

  1. Dave Astor says:

    Another superb conversation about “Eugene Onegin,” Rebecca and Elisabeth! Many highlights — including how personal “EO” was to Pushkin, the idea of taking or not taking one’s fate in one’s own hands, and how much of a Pushkin scholar Nabokov was. I have mixed feelings about Nabokov and his writing, but he certainly made a wise choice of whom to admire (Pushkin)!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      I am delighted that you listened in and joined the conversation, Dave. Elisabeth has been an extraordinary guide in this journey. Alexander Pushkin became real to me as if he were in the same room with us and his insights as relevant in our time as they were in his. I have never read Nabokov and didn’t make the connection until Elisabeth mentioned “Lolita.” I have the book but hesitate to read it, especially when I look at other books on my ever-growing to-read stack of books.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. I remember studying Nabokov in Craft of Fiction class in college as a consumate and intelligent wordsmith. From a craft perspective, Lolita is one of my favorite novels because it is a tour de force of the unreliable narrator. I was in awe of how Nabokov was able to pull it off.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Clanmother says:

        I have Lolita in my “to read” stack, which is becoming ever higher. I am intrigued by your thought “unreliable narrator.” You have piqued my interest, Liz!

        Liked by 3 people

      2. I spent a great deal of time in college studying the unreliable narrator, now that I think about it. I’ll be interested in hearing what you think of Lolita.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Same time, same station!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Mary Jo Malo says:

    Wonderful conversation, and I enjoy ‘hearing’ you both smile as you discuss Tatyana and Eugene. She wanted to love and be loved while he thought to possess her through sophistication and coolness. Tatyana is a strong young woman. Her girlish but normal dreams for romantic love, and her subsequent success as a virtuous wife, make her a great role model, indeed herself a muse for modern writers. We’ve had enough jaded gentlemen with their annoying ennui! I find the passion of the young versus mature fatalist scoundrels far more appealing. I also want to thank Elisabeth for her project. Brava to both of you!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      One of my favourite passages from Eugene Onegin asked us a poignant question that speaks to the heart of trust, love and friendship.

      “But whom to love?
      To trust and treasure?
      Who won’t betray us in the end?
      And who’ll be kind enough to measure
      Our words and deeds as we intend?”
      Alexander Pushkin, Eugene Onegin

      I recognized the strength of Tatyana’s character and determination throughout the narrative, even when she was a young romantic and was not surprised by Tatyana’s transformation that came in the 8th chapter. The kindness of her youth transformed into an understanding that selfish actions have dire consequences. Elisabeth was an excellent guide throughout my reading – she is simply amazing.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. elisabethm says:

        That quite says it all, if we use this as a measure when we choose our friends and partners, we can’t go wrong. And Tatyana, yes, she deserved someone who would treasure her.
        Thank you for becoming part of the challenge, the podcasts have been a wonderful addition 🤗🤗

        Liked by 2 people

      2. elisabethm says:

        *quote*, not quite!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Speaking of “jaded gentlemen with their annoying ennui,” Mr. Listless in Thomas Peacock’s Nightmare Abbey comes to mind.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Clanmother says:

        Nightmare Abbey – Found the book!!! And all about your favourite Romantics!!! Thanks for the introduction.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. I do hope you’ll read it. It’s a lot of fun! If I recall correctly, it’s a quick read.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Clanmother says:

        Already downloaded!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Mary Jo Malo says:

        Now that looks very interesting…’new’ to me! Thanks, Liz, although it will probably provoke me in ways I can’t even now imagine 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

      5. You’re welcome, Mary Jo! I hope you’ll read Nightmare Abbey. It’s a lot of fun.

        Liked by 3 people

    3. elisabethm says:

      Thank you so much, Mary Jo! Such a great point you make, that Tatyana is also a muse for modern writers, that is very true!
      This project was a joy from start to finish, and the conversations that it has sparked have made a great contribution. I’m so happy that you joined in!

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Ms Frances says:

    This is an exciting subject and Russian literature is always a very exciting adventure. The two, yes three authors, that I have read have left me with a enlarged view of life. This conversation has been no different–an enlarging experience for sure. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      I am delighted that you enjoyed this conversation, Frances. It has been a wonderful entry into Russian literature, something that you discovered many years ago. You have always inspired me to read, from a very little child. Hugs!

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Klausbernd says:

    Dear Rebecca and dear Elisabeth,
    I really loved your podcast about Pushkin. It was in a Gurdjieff-Group I first was inspired to read “Eugene Onegin” and Pushkin’s poems. Gurdjieff as a Russian loved Pushkin. When studied the novels of Herbjørg Wasssmo, in “I am Dina” there I was fascinated by Pushkin’s poem that’s quoted there (and very well read in the filmed version of the Dina novel).
    Nabokov was an innovator on the level of style as Pushkin was on the level of the plot. I had 3 editors in the different publishing houses I wrote for and they all recommended reading especially “Lolita” as it is a novel combining a lot of quotes and allusions without breaking the flow of the text. Pushkin was a romantic and in a way, Nabokov was ironising romanticism with “Lolita”.
    Thanks for this great talks about Pushkin.
    All the best
    Klausbernd 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Clanmother says:

      Thank you so much for listening in and for your comments. I have “Lolita” on my “to read” list for a couple of years! YIKES! I didn’t link Pushkin and Nabokov until Elisabeth brought that out in our discussions. What an interesting relationship between the two writers. I just looked up Herbjørg Wassmo. I had never heard that name before your introduction. I found one of her books, but alas, it was in Norwegian. I am fascinated by how books create threads through life that defy time and location. Sending much love and hugs to my dear friends, The Fab Four of Cley!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Klausbernd says:

        “Lolita” is very well written. Nabokov had an amazing feeling for language. He wrote “Lolita” as a non-native speaker! He had just learned English.
        H. Wassmo got the very reputable award by the Nordic Council for her novel “I am Dina”. By the way, this is the text where Hanne’s second name comes from.
        With lots of love and hugs to our dear Canadian friends
        The Fab Four of Cley
        🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Clanmother says:

        I love the simplicity of the title: “I am Dina.” So much said in three words. Sending thanks and much love and hugs back to my dear friends, The Fab Four of Cley.🤗🤗🤗🤗🙏

        Like

      3. Klausbernd says:

        Dear Rebecca,
        isn’t it amazing how important the title of a novel is? Yes, simplicity is the answer but what sounds simple it’s not easy to find. In the big publishing houses they have specialists for titeling.
        Lots of love and hugs from the sunny sea
        The Fab Four of Cley
        🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

    2. elisabethm says:

      Thank you very much, Klausbernd, it’s good to hear that you enjoyed the podcast, and that you are a fellow Pushkin lover. Nabokov was a superb linguist and writer, although not without controversy. I read Lolita some years ago, and found it very well written, but definitely provocative.
      Take care, Elisabeth

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Klausbernd says:

        Dear Elisabeth
        Well, for somebody who was brought up partly in Scandinavia and partly in Germany it’s not so provocative. We didn’t had the Puritan influence.
        Keep well and happy
        Klausbernd 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Clanmother says:

        This is a brilliant thought, Klausbernd. Not that I had Puritan influence – more likely I was influenced by Quaker ideals. Perhaps I have been putting Lolita on the bottom of my stack of books because of my life experiences and difficulty with the subject matter. I have read that “Lolita”, published in 1955, was a huge financial success. I also read that Vladimir Nabokov is considered to be one of the most prominent writers of the twentieth century thanks to his distinctive elaborate prose style and extraordinary usage of English. I have often considered the link between value systems, societal norms, and acceptance of creative styles that may challenge our way of thinking. So now, perhaps is it time for me to read what I may fear. I do love our conversations, Klausbernd.🤗😀🤗😀

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Klausbernd says:

        Dear Rebecca,
        I enjoy the style of a book more than the story. Nevertheless style and story make a book. I usually read the story in the net before I read the book so I can concentrate on the style. Unfotunately, judging the story is quite often more ideological than literary.
        Wishing you a great weekend, dear Rebecca.
        Keep well
        🤗 🤗 🤗 🤗
        Klausbernd 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Clanmother says:

        Thank you for an excellent way to approach reading. It is so easy to judge first and then take a second look. Vancouver is under smoke from the Oregon and California fires. There are air quality alerts here so I can only imagine what is happening across the border. Our thoughts are with those who are experiencing the fires first hand. Take care, my dear friends, the Fab Four of Cley. Hugs and love!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Klausbernd says:

        Good morning, our dear friend Rebecca,
        it’s a desaster that the whole west-coast of the US is burning. It must be horrible being there. We are amazed that even you get the smoke. That shows the dimension of the desaster.
        We have to go to London, actually we don’t like it, but we have to because I need a new passport from the embassy. At least the weather is fine.
        All the best to you. With hugs and love
        The Fab Four of Cley
        🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      6. Clanmother says:

        I continue to send positive thoughts to our neighbors to the south. The smoke is heading over the mountains towards Alberta. You are so right – it is a disaster. I just read that “smoke from these fires is slowly dispersing but poor visibility and air quality will remained a risk at time in the weeks ahead.” So we will take care. Safe travels to London – we were to be there this week, but I will be with the Fab Four of Cley in spirit. Sending all the very best to my dear friends The Fab Four of Cley.🤗🤗🤗🤗

        Liked by 2 people

      7. Klausbernd says:

        Dear Rebecca
        Our London-trip was very easy. London was quiet and we never felt in danger to get too near to other people. But after 8 hours walking through London we were quite tired and happy to go home. We had the ideal weather for our trip, sunshine and warm.
        At ours everything is fine and we hope you are well too. Sending you love and hugs
        The Fab Four of Cley
        🤗 🤗 🤗 🤗

        Liked by 2 people

      8. Clanmother says:

        Home is always the best place. Over these past months I have come to reconnect with home and the idea of “homecoming.” So glad that your trip to London went well. We had rain overnight. 🌧🌧🌧 The smoke is slowly clearing on our side and we have seen patches of blue skies. What a welcome sight. Sending hugs and love back to my dear friends, The Fab Four of Cley.🤗🤗🤗🤗

        Liked by 2 people

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