Date of Thesis
Honors Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)
Bachelor of Arts
19th-century Russian literature, Aleksandr Pushkin, Eugene Onegin
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 Â¿ 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 authorÂ¿s. At the center of the text stands the act of translation itself: as the narrator Â¿translatesÂ¿ TatianaÂ¿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 narratorÂ¿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 PushkinÂ¿s appreciation for the rich Russian folklore tradition. In his exaltation of language considered to be Â¿commonÂ¿, Â¿lowÂ¿ speech is juxtaposed with its lofty counterpart; along the way, he incorporates myriad foreign borrowings. An active creator of RussiaÂ¿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.
Bird, Alex, "Eugene Onegin As A Bridge Between Worlds: Aleksandr Pushkin As Translator Of The 19Th-Century Russian Experience" (2013). Honors Theses. 155.