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In the hope of making Pushkin available to more readers, especially those who have only a slight knowledge of Russian, or none at all, this web site is dedicated to providing a translation of some of his poems. The Russian text is set alongside the translation, to provide easy comparisons for those who wish to make their own efforts. There is very little of Pushkin available on the Internet in English, and this site was, at the time of writing, the only one that provided an English version of Yevgeny (Eugene) Onegin. (But see below for details of versions notified to me subsequently).
All of Yevgeny Onegin and a few other poems are currently available, both in Russian and English. Scroll down the page for the links to other poems, including Yevgeny Onegin. See below for remarks on the philosophy behind the translation.
Below is one of Pushkin's well known poems. The Russian text is presented as a photographic image, to obviate the difficulty of downloading Russian script, which many computers in the West are not set up for. Eventually it may be possible to have two versions, one with photographic images, and one with actual Russian text. But it is hoped that, as computer technology advances, this will be unnecessary, and that all browsers will in time be able to accept multi-language scripts. (See also the note below beside the link to Book V of Eugene Onegin).
By A. Pushkin
If I walk
the noisy streets,
If I caress a young child,
although to the senseless body
|Views of St. Petersburg in the 19th Century|
Eugene Onegin Book I
Book V From this point on the Russian text is given directly. Most browsers should by now be able to cope with it.
If not, try looking at your browser
options, and see if there are any multi-language facilities.
(For Internet Explorer users, in the tool bar click on Tools / Internet Options / General / Languages
and add Russian to the list of languages to be used).
The dual language version of Yevgeny Onegin is also available as a book. See here for details.
This translation of Yevgeny Onegin was put together between January 2000 and February 2001 as a project for the Internet. It is not intended to supercede all other translations. The reality is that very little Pushkin in English was to be found on the Internet at the time of writing. Even the two providers of free texts, Project Gutenberg and the Oxford Text Archive, offer nothing at all of Pushkin's (Jan 2001). [Now however I am glad to say that more is available. (Sept. 2001) . See below for details.]
The intention of this web site is to make Pushkin freely available in English to all who have access to a computer. The English translation offered is provided for those who cannot read the Russian, but who still wish to read Pushkin, and also as an aid to students. It has tried to follow the original fairly closely, so that as far as possible the English reader can see which line of the original the translation derives from. Nevertheless some freedom has been used, in particular by abandoning Pushkin's rhyme scheme. This is impossible to copy in English with any accuracy or fidelity to the sense. Many attempts have been made, and one looks in wonder at the achievements of translators, but I have often felt that the sheer cleverness of English translations has the effect of shoving Pushkin to one side. This does not mean that I eschew verse and rhyme completely. Indeed I have been happy to pluck rhymes from the air, and I have been happy also to use hidden and oblique rhymes, wherever it improves the flow of language, or helps to suggest the subtlety and vivacity of the original. I have used more freedom in the translation of the closing couplets than elsewhere, as I believe that doing so preserves more of the spirit of Pushkin than could be achieved by adhering to a more wooden and technically accurate translation. The main aim has been to convey as much as possible of Pushkin's liveliness, the sheer abundance of his invention, and the daring unexpectedness of his wit. There is nothing like it in English literature, and non-Russian readers are depriving themselves of a great treasure by ignoring it. I hope this web site will go some way towards remedying this lack.
It is of course not possible to please everyone. That would be more than a minor miracle, as no doubt even the original was and is disliked by a few readers. I suspect my translation will appeal more to native English speakers than to Russians, since in some places it is slightly irreverent, although I trust that Pushkin's sense of humour would have ensured that he himself would not have felt offended.
I offer grateful thanks to all those who have sent messages of encouragement. I am conscious of inadequacies in the translation, some of which might be remediable, but others which it will probably be impossible to eradicate. Apologies also for any errors in the Russian text. Please keep me informed of these and I will do my best to correct them.
A printed version, with introduction and notes (but without illustrations) is now available. (March 2001). The translation is by G. R. Ledger. Click here for details.
Best wishes to all. И да поможет Господь всем бесприютным скитал ьцам.
The Penguin 1979 version of Onegin, translated by Charles H. Johnston is available on the following web site: ONEGIN It also provides access to some other Pushkin poems.
G.R.Ledger. Feb. 2004.
Web site last updated February 23rd 2004.
Comments on this site may be sent to Alexander@@pushkins-poems.com
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