Russ 385: «Евгений Онегин»
Spring 2013

Instructor: Evgenii Bershtein
Wednesday, 6:10 – 9 PM
Vollum 234
Instructor's office: Vollum 228
Office hours: M 2:30 to 3:30 PM, W 2 to 3 PM, and by appointment.
Phone: 503-517-7953

Full course for one semester. Conference. The first task of this course is to give the students the firsthand knowledge of the book that is deemed the supreme and untranslatable masterpiece of Russian literature: Pushkin’s novel in verse Evgenii Onegin. To meet this goal, we will undertake a close analytical reading of Pushkin’s novel in the original Russian. The second goal of the course is to explore the artistic structure of Onegin, its literary, cultural and historical contexts, the tradition generated by the book, and the attempts to render it in the non-literary medium (viz., musical theater). The structure of our classes will reflect the double task of the course: each class will include my mini-lecture in Russian, the translation and analysis of a portion of Pushkin’s text, the discussion of a literary and/or scholarly text that elucidate the meaning of Onegin and the relevant literary traditions. The languages of our analysis and discussions will be both Russian and English.

Prerequisite: Russ 220 or the consent of the instructor.
Workload: extensive reading, much of it in Russian; a take-home midterm and a choice between a final paper (12 pages) or take-home final exam at the end of the semester.
Texts and audio: please buy the required books. In addition, some reading will be assigned from the books placed on the library course reserve as well as electronic reserve items, accessible via Moodle. E-reserve items need to be printed out and brought to class.  The website Staroe Radio features the audio recordings of Onegin made by famous Russian actors, such as Yurii Zavadsky, Innokentii Smoktunovsky, and Sergei Yursky. Please use these recordings as you rehearse your own reading of Pushkin’s text: the links to these audio files are on our Moodle.
Your evaluation will be based on your contribution to the conference, exam(s), and/or your final paper.

Books to buy:
(I) Required and available from the Reed College bookstore: 
Pushkin, Eugene Onegin (in Russian) (Bristol Classical Press)
Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther (Vintage Books)
Benjamin Constant, Adolphe (Oxford University Press)
Lord Byron, Poetry and Prose. (W.W. Norton & Company)
Serena Vitale, Pushkin’s Button (University of Chicago Press)
Vikram Seth, The Golden Gate (Vintage Books)

(II) Required, but the availability is limited:
Sona Hoisington, ed. Russian Views of Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin. (Indiana University Press; ISBN: 0253350670, if our bookstore  sells out of this title, you can get a copy from another vendor, such as Amazon, or use a library reserve copy; some chapters will be made available via Moodle).
Turgenev, Rudin (full text available on-line from Google Books, please print it out or buy your own copy).

(III) Recommended (these titles are available from the Reed bookstore, and they are on the course reserve at the library)
S. Dalton-Brown. Pushkin’s Evgenii Onegin. (Bristol Classical Press).
Pushkin, Eugene Onegin, tr. Vladimir Nabokov. Paperback: Vol. 1 (translation), Vol. 2 (commentary).

Рисунок Пушкина: автор с Онегиным.



January 30
Reading assignment: begin Chapter One of Evgenii Onegin (while reading it, please listen to the audio files on StaroeRadio.Ru and consult Nabokov's translation and commentary); Nabokov, I, 3-90. (There are three additional materials on our Moodle on the critical reception of Nabokov’s Onegin project: they provide a useful background but they are not a required reading).

February 6
Reading:: EO, Chapter One (continue).
Lord Byron, “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage,” Canto the Third (Byron’s Poetry and Prose, 196-227), and “Don Juan,” Canto the First (ibid., 375-436).

February 13
Reading:: EO, Chapter One (finish).
Benjamin Constant, Adolphe.

February 20
Reading: EO, Chapter Two (begin).
Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther.

February 27
Reading: EO, Chapter Two (finish).
Lotman “The Structure of Evgenii Onegin” (Hoisington, 91-114).

March 6
Reading: EO, Chapter Three.
Bakhtin, “Discourse in Evgenii Onegin” (Hoisington, 115-121). Boris Gasparov, “Pushkin and Romanticism” (from The Pushkin Handbook, David Bethea, ed., University of Wisconsin Press, 2005, 537-567, e-reserve).

Interlude (to be scheduled): the screening of the film opera Evgenii Onegin (USSR, 1959).

March 13
Reading: EO, Chapter Four.
Boris Gasparov, “Eugene Onegin in the Age of Realism” (from his Five Operas and a Symphony: Word and Music in Russian Culture. Yale UP, 2005, 58-94, e-reserve).

The take-home midterm is due on Friday, March 15, at noon. Pleases submit it by email.


Spring break


March 27
Reading: EO, Chapter Five.
Sergei Bocharov, “The Stylistic World of the Novel” (Hoisington, 122-168)

April 3
Reading: EO, Chapter Six.
Serena Vitale, Pushkin’s Button, chapters 1-8.

April 5-6, Special Event:
Eugene Onegin: Pushkin’s Novel in Verse, Tchaikovsky’s Opera, a Russian Theme”
a symposium at Reed College. The program will be published at

April 10
Reading: EO, Chapter Seven.
Serena Vitale, Pushkin’s Button, chapters 8-16.

April 17
Reading: EO, Chapter Eight.
Puskin's letters to his wife Nataliia Nikolaevna Pushkina (handout).
Belinsky, “Eugene Onegin: An Encyclopedia of Russian Life,” Pisarev, “Pushkin and Belinsky,” Dostoevsky, “Pushkin.” (Hoisington, 17-71)

April 24
Reading: EO, “Отрывки из путешествия Онегина.”
Turgenev, Rudin (Google Books or a library copy. Please bring the text to class).

Interlude (to be scheduled): the screening of Dmitrii Cherniakov's 2006 production of Tchaikovsky's Evgenii Onegin for the Bolshoi Theatre.

May 1
Reading: Vikram Seth, The Golden Gate.


Final papers or take-home finals are due on Monday, May 13, at noon. Please submit them electronically.

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