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Eugene Onegin: A Novel in Verse

by Aleksandr Sergeevich Pushkin, Douglas R. Hofstadter, Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin, etc.

Buy the book: Aleksandr Sergeevich Pushkin. Eugene Onegin: A Novel in Verse

Release Date: May, 1999

Edition: Hardcover


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Buy the book: Aleksandr Sergeevich Pushkin. Eugene Onegin: A Novel in Verse

misguided translation? I think not

Some of the reviews above as well as the NYT book review blasted the work for being bad poetry. I would agree that, yes, Hofstadter may not have the greatest ear for artistic language and the translation often sounds heavy-handed in English, whereas every single word in the original is light as a feather. As I recall, DF acknowledges the drawbacks of his version in his intro and praises some other work, notably Falen. Nevertheless, being fluent in both English and Russian, I think this translation is an incredible achievement. While the James Falen translation is usually better in language, what Hofstadter has done here - faithfully mimic every single beat of the rhyme - is enourmously difficult. It is by far the best way for a foreigner to see how the verses really sound in the original.


A truly misguided translation of a great work

Hofstadter is a brilliant man, with no ear for poetry. One aspect of human intelligence that computers have some hope of matching is pattern recognition. This, perhaps, has led computer scientist Hofstadter to value pattern (rhyme, meter) in poetry at the expense of sense and, above all, tone. Both in this translation and in his fascinating and infuriating "Le Ton Beau de Marot" he shows a near-complete obliviousness to the nuances of tone that words bring with them. Try the Falen translation instead.

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