Date of Thesis

5-9-2013

Thesis Type

Honors Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Russian Studies

First Advisor

Ludmila Lavine

Second Advisor

Katherine Faull

Abstract

In my thesis, I use literary criticism, knowledge of Russian, and elements of translation theory to study the seminal poet of the Russian literary tradition ¿ Aleksandr Pushkin. In his most famous work, Eugene Onegin, Pushkin explores the cultural and linguistic divide in place at the turn of the 19th century in Russia. Pushkin stands on the peripheries of several colliding worlds; never fully committing to any of them, he acts as a translator between various realms of the 19th-century Russian experience. Through his narrator, he adeptly occupies the voices, styles, and modes of expression of various characters, displaying competency in all realms of Russian life. In examining Tatiana, his heroine, the reader witnesses her development as analogous to the author¿s. At the center of the text stands the act of translation itself: as the narrator ¿translates¿ Tatiana¿s love letter from French to Russian, the author-narrator declares his function as a mediator, not only between languages, but also between cultures, literary canons, social classes, and identities. Tatiana, as both main character and the narrator¿s muse, emerges as the most complex figure in the novel, and her language manifests itself as the most direct and capable of sincerity in the novel. The elements of Russian folklore that are incorporated into her language speak to Pushkin¿s appreciation for the rich Russian folklore tradition. In his exaltation of language considered to be ¿common¿, ¿low¿ speech is juxtaposed with its lofty counterpart; along the way, he incorporates myriad foreign borrowings. An active creator of Russia¿s new literary language, Pushkin traverses linguistic boundaries to synthesize a fragmented Russia. In the process, he creates a work so thoroughly tied to language and entrenched in complex cultural traditions that many scholars have argued for its untranslatability.

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