American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages

Lyric and Narrative Consciousness in Eugene Onegin
Author(s): Craig Cravens
Source: The Slavic and East European Journal, Vol. 46, No. 4 (Winter, 2002), pp. 683-709
Published by: American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages
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LYRIC AND NARRATIVE CONSCIOUSNESS IN
EUGENE ONEGIN
Craig
Cravens,
The
University
of Texas at Austin
In his comments on
Eugene Onegin,
Bakhtin considers Pushkin's novel in
verse a
typical
novel
(1981, 43-49).
This article is not an
attempt
to refute
Bakhtin's
conclusions,
but rather to demonstrate that the situation is more
interesting
and
complex
than Bakhtin assumes. It is Pushkin's
mastery
of
the forms of consciousness characteristic of the
lyric,
I will
argue,
which
allows him to create full and
complete literary
characters. One must
keep
in mind that Pushkin was
writing
at a time before the
great literary develop-
ments in
psychological
Realism. Pushkin's own creation and
presentation
of consciousness is
distinctly pre-Realistic
and,
I will
argue,
more
lyrically-
based than Bakhtin allows.
By negotiating among
the
essentially "lyric"
realms of
author, narrator,
and
characters,
Pushkin
develops
his characters
psychologically
as far as
possible
within the limits of his
literary
method,
creating
characters that
appear
to exist
independently
from the author-
narrator's
consciousness,
but which do not constitute
fully-embodied "pro-
saic" consciousnesses.
Eugene Onegin
is indeed a
"poet's
novel,"
but not in
terms of formal markers alone.
By employing
the
lyric
in a narrative
situation,
Pushkin
exploits
the
capacity
of
lyric poetry
to
express
a state of mind and combines it with a
fictionally
created character and world.
Although writing
in an era that did
not
yet
have
fully
rounded
psychological prose
characters,
Pushkin's mas-
tery
of the different
genres
of
lyric poetry
allows him to create different
authorial
images
or
lyric personae
which,
when
incorporated
into the con-
text of his novel in
verse,
create
psychologically convincing
characters
distinct from the
overarching
consciousness of the author-narrator. In
short,
by mixing
the
genres
of
lyric
and
novel,
Pushkin creates an
unprece-
dented
type
of
psychological
narration.
The narrator of
Onegin is,
to
say
the
least,
an
idiosyncratic figure.
Push-
kin at times
(and
most
insistently
in
chapter 8)
invites the reader to view the
narrator as an
image
of the author himself
by attributing
to him certain
autobiographical
facts. At other
times,
he
mitigates
this view
by pointing
to
SEEJ,
Vol.
46,
No. 4
(2002): p. 683-p.
709 683
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684 Slavic and East
European
Journal
the borders of the fictional world and
stressing
the
artificiality
of his
literary
construct,
so that the
image
of the narrator
emerges
as a
vague
and
stylized
portrait
of the
author,
comprising
elements from the worlds-of both fiction
and
reality.
In both
guises,
however,
the narrator of
Eugene Onegin
is an authorita-
tive
presence
both omniscient and
omnipresent.
His
temporal point
of
narration is some
years
after the event he
narrates;
spatially
and
psychologi-
cally,
however,
he does not seek
complete independence
from his fictional
world. That
is,
he is in no sense a
detached,
objective
observer of the
type
we find in so
many
of the novels of later Realist writers. He is
physically
present
in
parts
of the
story
as
Onegin's
friend,
and he does not hide his
psychological
and emotional
engagement
with the characters whose lives
he relates
-
especially
Tatiana's. This
duality
-
the narrator's authoritative
presence
above and
beyond events,
both
spatially
and
temporally,
com-
bined with his occasional
physical participation
in the events themselves
and his emotional
engagement
with the characters--is
typical
of first-
person
narration.
In
first-person
narration,
the reader's attention is
usually
divided be-
tween two
spatio-temporal
realms,
that of the narrator and that of the
narrated
events,
and the narrational center of
gravity
oscillates between
them. In some
first-person
works,
the narrative
process
itself
dominates,
while in others it all but
disappears
so that characters and events of the
story
absorb the reader's attention almost
exclusively.
In both
cases,
the
author combines two modes of
experience
in the
single persona
of the
narrator. As a character in the
story,
he is a fictional
being
within the
fictional world. This is the narrator's
experiencing
self. At the other end of
the
spectrum
we have the
narrating
self: the fictional
present
tense be-
comes
past,
and the narrator reflects on events with the benefit of
temporal
distance and
hindsight. Usually
the narrator of a
first-person
novel oscil-
lates between these two
perspectival
modes
depending
on the effect the
author wishes to
produce
on the reader. The
narrating
self is of course still
fictional,
but
only
from a
point
of view outside the text. Within the
text,
the
first-person
narrator is "real." For this reason the German narrative theo-
rist Kate
Hamburger (313)
refers to
first-person
narration as a
"feigned
reality
statement
[fingierte Wirklichkeitsaussage]."
This
description
of a
first-person
novel is
appropriate
to
Eugene Onegin
only
with some
qualification.
First of
all,
Pushkin's narrator
directly partici-
pates
in the fictional world in the first
chapter only.1
For the rest of the
novel he functions as an omniscient
third-person
narrator located
beyond
the fictional world. He often
digresses
from the fabulaic
sequence
of
events2 to relate information from his own
biography,
but after the first
chapter,
these
biographical
allusions seem
beyond
the fictional
pale
of the
novel because the narrator is no
longer
embodied in the text. This
points
to
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Lyric
and Narrative Consciousness in
Eugene Onegin
685
another feature of
Onegin,
which
distinguishes
it from conventional first-
person
novels: the inclusion of elements of the real-life
biography
of the
author,
which would have been
immediately recognizable
to his readers.
Later in the Realist
period
of the nineteenth
century,
authors often create
narrative
personae,
which are
manifestly
not identical with the author.
Pushkin,
on the other
hand,
brazenly
bares his
biography
in his work to
create a
dynamic
in the construction of character unlike that which we find
in most instances of later Realist fiction.
In the
first-person
novel of the Realist
period- Dostoevsky's
Demons is
a
good example-
when the narrator shifts from
retrospective
to immediate
narration,
that
is,
when he
participates
in
events,
he tends to
acquire
char-
acter traits from the fictional realm he is
narrating.
The fictional mode of
existence is transferred to
him,
and he "becomes" a fictional character. He
enters the fictional realm and exists on the same
plane
as the other charac-
ters. In
part,
as a reaction to this altered center of
gravity,
the reader's
attention shifts to the fictional
present
tense,
the time of events. At other
points,
the narrator reflects on events from the
retrospective pole,
and
readers are
compelled
to view events likewise
retrospectively.
This
shifting
of narrative modes within
first-person
narration is character-
istic of
Eugene Onegin.
Most of the
story
is told
retrospectively
from a
seemingly third-person viewpoint,
but at times the narrator enters his fic-
tional world to become a character therein. Unlike the narrator of
Demons,
however,
Pushkin's narrator does not become fictionalized in his own narra-
tive.
Conversely,
I
suggest,
the fictional realm of the
literary
heroes be-
comes what we
might
call
"biographized" by
the real-life author. This
biographization
is one of the elements Pushkin
employs
to create fictional
characters that seem to free themselves from their
dependence
on the
author.
In the Realist
period
of the
mid-1800s,
authors come to invent new
methods of
creating apparently
autonomous
consciousnesses,
of
vivifying
characters. In
Dostoevsky's
works,
for
example,
the author effaces himself
behind limited and delimited
narrators,
and characters
appear
to
emerge
as
beings independent
of either author or narrator.
Tolstoy,
on the other
hand,
employs
a vocal authoritative narrator who is sometimes assumed to
be the author
himself;
his
characters, however,
likewise
emerge
as autono-
mous
beings. Despite
chunks of "event material"
(Dostoevsky's
mock exe-
cution,
Tolstoy's marriage proposal),
neither author's
biography
enters the
respective
novels
overtly.
To be
sure,
Pushkin's own narrative
persona
in
Onegin possesses analogous
elements;
he is not coextensive with the au-
thor. The narrator at times
appears
to be confused
by
events,
or to lose
track of his characters. At other times he is an
omnipotent
and
omnipres-
ent
being commenting
on events or on the novel itself. Pushkin's method of
character
construction, however,
is in essence different from that of later
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686 Slavic and East
European
Journal
Realist authors. For
example,
while it would be unthinkable for a critic not
to
distinguish
the narrator from the author in
Tolstoy's
or
Dostoevsky's
works,
the term "author-narrator" with reference to
Eugene
Onegin
is
quite
common. Pushkin
employs
his own
persona
and
biography
in a
way
later authors would find
unacceptable.
Let us look at some
examples.
i.
Autobiography
In
general,
Formalist and Structuralist criticism tends to stabilize the
relationship
between author and narrator: the author is
presumed
to
keep
his narrator at an ironic arm's
length.
In
Onegin,
however,
Pushkin
keeps
this distance in constant
flux,
now
approaching,
now
receding
from his
narrative
persona. By packing
his text with
autobiographical
references,
Pushkin
envelops
his novel in the
larger
extra-textual,
real world of author
and
reader,
so that the worlds of fiction and
reality
are forced to intersect.
Already
in the second
stanza,
Onegin
is introduced as the hero of the novel
and
simultaneously
as the friend of the author-narrator who teases the
reader with the
possibility
he is Pushkin himself
(or
a simulacrum
thereof)
at the end of the stanza
by commenting
on his own real-life exile to the
Crimea: "No vreden sever dlia menia
[But
the north is harmful for
me]."
Later in the
chapter,
the narrator himself
appears
as a character in a remi-
niscential section of the text as the friend of
Onegin.
He in fact becomes a
fictional character. The
reader, too,
is
mapped
onto the fictional
plane
of
the novel
through
the author-narrator's constant
apostrophizing.
For exam-
ple,
the author-narrator
suggests
in the second stanza that the reader and
the novel's hero
may
have been born in the same
place,
"Gde mozhet
byt'
rodilis'
vy [Where perhaps you
were
born]."
More
subtly
in the same
stanza,
he
rhymes
moi
priiatel' [my friend], meaning
of course
Onegin,
with
chitatel'
[the reader],
and
thereby
introduces a covert semantic consan-
guinity
between
protagonist
and reader.
Thereby,
three different worlds
-
the worlds of the
character, author,
and reader-come to exist intermit-
tently
on the same
plane;
at the same
time, however, they
exist
separately
in their own
spheres.
The "I" of the novel as a friend of
Onegin
(and
perhaps acquaintance
of the reader as
well)
is not identical to the
biographi-
cal author.
However,
he is
presented
as
such,
and therein lies the contradic-
tion.
Dynamically
and
irregularly
the author-narrator mixes the worlds of
reader, author,
and character. Fixed borders
collapse,
and life overflows
into and animates art and vice versa.
This almost mechanical
mixing
and
intersecting
of levels is one
way
Pushkin
brings
his world to life. It is
not, however,
unique
to Pushkin. As
is often
remarked,
the
principle
of authorial interference was
quite
com-
mon in the tradition of
Enlightenment
Realism
(El'sberg 257).
We
may
also look to
European
Sentimental and Romantic literature for closer
sources of influence.
Constant, Richardson,
and
especially Byron
likewise
created characters
by projecting
their own
personalities
onto the
page.
For
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Lyric
and Narrative Consciousness in
Eugene Onegin
687
these
authors,
the dominant mode of
literary
creation was not mimetic
narration
whereby
an author creates a world similar
to,
yet
distinct
from,
the real one. Nor did
they
create
third-person, seemingly
autonomous
beings
distinct from themselves.
Rather,
authors
produced stylized
self-
portraits.
Authorial
subjectivity projected
onto
third-person
narration,
the
emotional
engagement
of the
narrating
voice,
and the
ambiguous
bound-
aries between life and art are all characteristic of
European
Romantic
literature. The Romantic hero
emerged
when the reader
postulated
the
existence of the
literary
hero's alter
ego,
that
is,
the
author,
in real life
(Zhirmunskii, Greenleaf).
When these writers
projected
themselves into
the
fiction,
they
discovered a whole
range
of
psychological complexity
and
narrative
possibilities.
This reveals a
significant preoccupation
of
pre-Realist
literature: the
problem
of
creating
characters who
appear
to exist and think on their
own,
independently
of the narrator or author. In the aforementioned
works,
the
author or narrator is the
only excogitating
consciousness
upon
which other
characters
appear
to feed. Direct inside views are restricted to
first-person
forms--the epistolary
novel,
the
confession--while third-person
works
concentrate on external behavior - action rather than attitude.
Pushkin also
employs
the
Byronic interpretation
of life and art as well as
a
vocal,
authoritative narrator: in the
main,
he uses external
descriptions
that
rely heavily
on the use of cultural conventions and
stereotypes.
Yet he
succeeds in
creating
characters who seem to free themselves from the
subjective
element,
from the authorial or narratorial "I." One
key
to Push-
kin's
achievement,
I
suggest,
is the
lyrical
essence of his
work, which,
in
ways
I will
try
to demonstrate
below,
frees the characters from the author-
narrator's control.
ii.
Lyric
and Narrative
From a narrative
perspective,
the device Pushkin
employs
to
portray
his
characters
psychologically
is free-indirect discourse. Pushkin describes a
character's
cognitive
and emotional life
by having
his author-narrator
speak
in the words and intonations of the character while the narrator
technically
remains
outside,
speaking grammatically
in his own voice. A
brief
example
from James
Joyce's
A Portrait
of
the Artist
[1916]
demon-
strates how this
type
of narration
traditionally
functions in
prose:
He halted
suddenly
and heard his heart in the silence. How far had he walked? What hour was
it?
(189)
The first sentence is a standard narrational
description,
whereas the two
following incorporate
the character's emotional and
interrogative
diction
-
they
seem to issue from the character's
mind--but they
retain the third-
person
reference to the character and the standard
past
tense of narration.
While
grammatically belonging
to the
narrator,
emotionally they belong
to
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688 Slavic and East
European
Journal
the character.
Roy
Pascal calls this mode of narration a "dual
voice, which,
through vocabulary,
sentence
structure,
and intonation
subtly
fuses the two
voices of the character and the narrator"
(26).
Bakhtin's
concept
of voice
zones elaborates the dualistic nature of free-indirect discourse.
According
to
Bakhtin,
each character has his own voice zone
[rechevaia
zona],
"his
own
sphere
of influence on the authorial context
surrounding
him,
a
sphere
that extends--and often
quite far--beyond
the boundaries of the direct
discourse allotted to him"
(1981, 320).
Within these
zones,
a
given
char-
acter's
speech patterns
and modes of
expression
dominate. At different
times,
the
narrator, author,
or other characters
may
enter a character's
zone and
speak
from within
it,
that
is,
employ
that character's mode of
speaking, thinking,
and
expression
without
erasing
the
boundary
between
the two
speech
centers. This rich and flexible
"quoting
without
quotation
marks"
[bez kavychek]
is,
according
to
Bakhtin,
among
the most common
means of
transmitting
inner
speech
in the novel
(1981, 319).
It allows the
author's voice to
merge
with the character's while at the same time
preserv-
ing
its own
expressive
contours;
that
is,
one still
recognizes
the
presence
of
two voices. For the
general
reader,
free-indirect discourse is
barely
discern-
ible;
in
fact,
its effect
depends
on its
being
almost
unconsciously appre-
hended as a distinct
type
of narration.
In the
history
of
fiction,
free-indirect discourse occurs
occasionally
in
eighteenth-century
novels,
where it is often difficult to
distinguish
from
mere narrative
commentary.
It is when the novel
begins
to turn
inward,
during
the Realist
period
of the nineteenth
century,
that this discourse
type
becomes common and
requires
more
rigorous
delineation.
Pushkin's narrator in
Onegin
is not the dimmed
personality
of later
Realist
fiction,
who
silently
enters a character's
psyche
and
portrays
it from
within. He is as vociferous and intrusive as
Fielding
and Sterne who
only
sporadically
resort to free-indirect discourse. It is Pushkin's
mastery
of the
lyric
and
poetic
form that allows him his
distinctly
accurate and well-
focused access to
-
and creation of- a character's
psyche.
iii. The
Lyric3
Toward a definition of the
lyric,
it will be
helpful
to
begin
convention-
ally--by contrasting
it to narrative. The contrast between
lyric
and narra-
tive is of
long-standing
derivation. It is
commonly
held that narrative fore-
grounds sequence
and
metonymy,
and
lyric foregrounds simultaneity
and
metaphor (Jakobson).
Narrative concentrates on
story, lyric
on a state of
mind or cluster of
feelings.
The
lyric presents
a
speaker's subjective experi-
ence and asks the reader to
adopt
the
speaker's perspective.
The
speaker
is
present
in the
lyric
not
only
as the
author,
not
only
as the
subject
of
representation,
but also as its
object,
included in the aesthetic
structure;
the
speaker's
own
feelings
are the
subject
matter of the
lyric
utterance. The
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Lyric
and Narrative Consciousness in
Eugene Onegin
689
conception
of
poetry
in
general
as non-mimetic became
widespread during
the Romantic
period
in
Europe
when the
presentation
of the more visceral
life of the
poet displaced
the rationalist, Neoclassical
poetics
of mimesis
and
genre
hierarchies. Poets
sought expressions
of emotion rather than
reproductions
of
surroundings (Abrams 50). Lyric expression
was
per-
ceived as authorial
self-projection,
and most Romantic critics
agreed
that
the
origin
of
lyric poetry
was in
passionate
utterance rather
than,
as Aris-
totle had
assumed,
an instinct for imitation
(Abrams 101).
In the
lyric,
the
poet
is at the
center,
and
by
the late
eighteenth century,
it had become the
epitome
of the
purest poetry
in
English
and German aesthetic
theories,
thereby challenging
Aristotle's mimetic
theory
of art
(Abrams 88-89).
This
widespread
shift in aesthetic
theory
had its effect on the
development
of
theories of
cognition
as well.
The revolution in
epistemology
made famous in
philosophy by
Kant
(that
the mind
imposes
the forms of
space
and time on the external world
-
or,
expressed
more
generally,
that the
perceiving
mind discovers what it has
itself
partly made)
occurred
among
Romantic
poets
before it became wide-
spread
in academic
philosophy (Abrams 58).
What was "real" for a Euro-
pean
Romantic was a
subjective
attitude toward the world rather than a
mimetic reflection of it.
Reality
was created in the mind of the
subjective
consciousness. The
subject
matter of a
lyric
is a
subjective
attitude toward
reality,
which for Kant and the Romantics is closer to actual
epistemologi-
cal
functioning
than narrative mimesis.
Besides
subjective expression,
another
widely-acknowledged aspect
of
the
lyric
is its
universality,
for even
though
it is the most
subjective
form of
literature,
it
always
strives for the
general,
to
depict spiritual
life as universal
(Levin).
The
lyric encourages
the reader to
identify
with a
single point
of
view,
but the
point
of view is
presumably
to be
nearly universally
accessible.
Lyric poetry
is
by
no means
always
the direct
speech
of the
poet
about
himself and his
feelings,
but it is
always
an
exposed point
of
view;
it
displays
the relation of a
lyric subject
to its
surroundings.
The reader is invited to
identify
with the
speaker's viewpoint
and
emotionally engage reality
as does
the
speaker.
In
narrative,
on the other
hand,
the word is used
denotatively
to
create a fictional
reality
that
pre-exists
the utterance. The mimetic function
of narrative is
replaced by
the
expressive
function of
lyric.
And thus we
arrive at the
paradoxical
conclusion that readers
apprehend
the
lyric
utter-
ance as
they
would a real utterance and not a fictional
one,
a
paradox
because the
lyric
"owes less" to
reality
and is less constrained
by
it.4
iv.
Lyric
in the Novel
Onegin
is a work both narrative and
lyric.
In the
main,
it
foregrounds
plot
or narrative to create a fictional
reality
of characters and events. At
numerous
points,
however,
the
lyric impulse
comes to the
fore,
and the
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690 Slavic and East
European
Journal
speaker expresses
a
lyrical, subjective
attitude. Most
Russians,
for exam-
ple, recognize
the
lyric
lament of
spring
in 7.ii. as Pushkin's
poetry,
but
many
are hard
put
to name the work it comes from. This is because it
stands on its own when
excerpted
from the novel. The narrator often
digresses
into
lyrical passages
such as this one where the
continuity
of
action,
or
narrative,
is
suspended.
Here,
utterances become more self-
referential and less
directly descriptive
or communicative. The
speaker's
attitude toward
"reality,"
whether it be fictional or
non-fictional,
is fore-
grounded.
Furthermore,
the
lyric
and narrative modes are of different
temporal
orders: the narrative sections tell a
story
and move forward in
time,
while the
lyric
sections seem to exist
beyond
this
chronological
realm
as static entities. These interludes are detachable from the main action of
the
story
and mark no
passing
of time.5 As the narrative function
changes,
so do the reader's reactions. The desire for narrative mimesis is
suspended,
and the
lyric portions
are
apprehended
as if
they
were
lyric poetry.
The reader
perceives
the
lyric
and novelistic sections of
Onegin
on two
different levels
-
the
lyric
interludes as
subjective expressions
of a real con-
sciousness,
and the novelistic sections as the creation of a fictional
reality.
The two levels of the
work, however,
do not
always
remain
separate.
Often
the
subjective, lyric impulse
is ascribed to a created fictional
character,
and a
paradox
arises. If we
apprehend
the
lyric
statements as
subjective expres-
sions of a real consciousness
-
as one does in the
lyric
outside of the novel
-
then,
in a
sense,
we have a case of a fictional character
uttering
non-fictional,
subjective lyric
statements. As in the
lyric
on
spring,
these statements can be
removed from the work and read as
lyric expressions
on their
own,
yet
in the
novel
they
are uttered
by
a fictional character. This is one
way
Pushkin
creates the illusion of
cognitive
function
-
what
might
be called the autono-
mous
intelligence
-
of his characters.
Often
during
the
lyric
sections of
Eugene Onegin,
the
lyric
"I" is
sup-
planted by
a fictional one which assumes a life of its own.
Through
free-
indirect
discourse,
the
lyric
"I" attaches itself to a character and
poses
as a
subjective
attitude toward the fictional
reality.
Here,
to take one outra-
geously
famous
example
from
chapter
1,
the narrator
appears
to
digress
from his
fabula
to relate a maxim
concerning
what at first
appears
to be his
own world-weariness:
KTO XKH H
MbICJIHJI,
TOT He MOKCeT
B
yiyme
He
npe3HpaTb niioeii;
KTO
HyBCTBOBaJI,
TOrO
TPeBO)KHT
IpH3paK HeB03BpaTHMbIX
RHeH:
ToMy ysK
HeT
oqapOBaHHH,
Toro 3MHWS BOCIIOMHHaHHA,
Toro
pacKasHbe
rpbI3eT.
Bce 3TO MaCTO
nipHgaeT
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Lyric
and Narrative Consciousness in
Eugene Onegin
Boaibmyro npenecrb pa3roBopy.
CnepBa
OHerHHa
SI3bIK
MeHI
cMyula.:
HO A
npHBbIK
K ero
3sBHreaJIHoMy cnopy. (1.xlvi)
He who has lived as
thinking being
Within his soul must hold men
small;
He who can feel is
always fleeing
The
ghost
of
days beyond recall;
For him enchantment's
deep
infection
Is
gone;
the snake of recollection
And
grim repentance gnaws
his heart.
All
this,
of
course,
can
help impart
Great charm to
private conversation;
And
though
the
language
of
my
friend
At first disturbed
me,
in the end
I liked his caustic
disputation.6
We take this to be the
lyric
"I" of the narrator until the
lines, "Sperva
Onegina iazyk
/ Menia
smushchal;
no ia
privyk
/ K
ego
iazvitel'nomu
sporu
[And
though
the
language
of
my
friend / At first disturbed
me,
in the end / I
liked his caustic
disputation],"
which reveal the
preceding
to be the
subjec-
tive
expression
of
Onegin's lyric
"I." The
lyric portion portrays
and
thematizes a character's
engagement
with
reality,
his own
subjective experi-
ence,
through
free-indirect discourse. None of the stanza is
presented
in
quotation
marks to
signal Onegin's
voice,
but the last two lines
betray
the
vocal
origin.
This brief
lyrical
section creates for the reader
Onegin's
im-
age,
his internal
life,
in a
way
not
possible through
a direct
presentation
of
a character's
thoughts
in the author's own
"objective"
voice. The
passage
does not
merely
describe
thoughts;
it rather illustrates and thematizes a
way
of
cognizing
the
world,
of
engaging reality.
The view is
subjective
as
well as
general,
and the
passage
invites the reader to enter and share this
point
of view. The
personality,
however,
is a constructed one with a
forward-moving biography
of its own.
First of
all,
the
universality
of these
lyric passages
invites the reader to
participate
in the
speaker's
emotion and
identify
with the
point
of view
expressed. Instinctively,
the reader internalizes the
lyric.
In this
way,
Push-
kin allows the reader access to a
subjective
mind.
Subsequently,
the author
attaches the
lyrics
to a fictional character to create the illusion of an autono-
mously acting
and
thinking being. Precisely crossing
this
boundary
between
codes is characteristic of Pushkin's
highly sophisticated manipulation
of the
genre
conditions of Romanticism.
The
depersonalization
and decontextualization characteristic of the
lyric
is
impossible
in the traditional
novel,
since one of its
defining
characteris-
tics is
specificity
of
place
and time. The Realist novel
conventionally oper-
ates
by developing
a
recognizable
fictional world distinct from the reader's
691
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692 Slavic and East
European
Journal
own. The novelistic world comes to life outside the reader's soul--it is
grounded
in a
specific
time and
place.
The
universality
of the
lyric
allows Pushkin to attach it to a certain
character in a certain situation. A curious
aspect
of Pushkin's
lyrics
in
general
is
that,
although they
create a definite authorial
image,
this
image
shifts with each
genre
of
poem.
Lidia
Ginzburg
notes an absence of a
single,
central
image,
the absence of a
lyrical
hero in Pushkin's
poetry
as a
whole. No such
unity, according
to
her,
can
emerge
from Pushkin's multi-
faceted and multi-thematic verse.
Rather,
it contains an internal
unity
of
the author's
point
of
view,
an
intensely developing unity,
in which Pushkin
projects
various embodiments of his authorial "I"
(182).
According
to
Ginzburg,
Pushkin
passed through many stages
of
poetic
development
and in each
stage
created a distinct authorial "I." Pushkin's
easy mastery
of each
genre
and
style
of
poetry
contributed to his
reputation
for
proteanism.
In
Onegin,
Pushkin uses the
shifting
authorial
image
of
each
genre by attaching
it to a different character. For
example,
Pushkin
initially
endows Tatiana with the Sentimental
image
and
Onegin
with the
Byronic,
but these
poetic
authorial
images,
as we shall
see,
evolve
through-
out the novel. Pushkin's
poetic
narration
thereby
creates not
only
distinc-
tive,
recognizable
characters
independent
from the
author,
but also
types
associated
through genre.
Let us examine another
example.
In the
following passage
from
chapter
2,
Lensky
visits the
grave
of
Olga's
father and meditates on death.
Here,
rather than a character
assuming
the
narrator's
lyric
"I,"
the narrator
displaces
the
character's,
with all the
requisite
shifts and redefinitions of
authority.
"Poor Yorick! MOJIBHI OH
yHbIJIO,
OH Ha
pyKax MeHSI
epxcai.
KaK qaCTO B
geTCTBe AI
rpan
Ero OqaKOBCKOA
MenaibIO!" (2.xxxvii)
"Poor Yorick!" then he
murmured, shaking,
"How oft within his arms I
lay,
How oft in childhood
days
I'd
play
With his Ochakov decoration."
Lensky's
direct discourse
is,
of
course,
signaled by
the
quotation
marks. In
the
subsequent
stanza,
the narrator continues
Lensky's thought grammati-
cally
in his own
(the narrator's)
voice:
H TaM Ke HanIIHCblO neqaJnbHoi
OTUa H
MaTepH,
B
cJIe3ax,
rIOqTHJI OH
npax naTpHapxanbHbIl
...
YBbI! Ha
XaH3HeHHbIX
6pa3Aax
MrHOBeHHOI )KaTBOfi nOKOJIeHbSI,
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Lyric
and Narrative Consciousness in
Eugene Onegin
lo
TafgHOfi BoJe
npOBHgeHb6,
BocxoAr.T, 3peIOT
H
nalayT;
XpyrHe
HM BocJieg HAyr
...
TaK Hame
BeTpeHoe
niieMa
PacreT, BOJIHyeTCa,
KHnHT
H K
rpo6y npaAeosB
TecHHT.
ripHieT, npHAeT
H Hame
BpeMS,
H
HamILI BHyKH
B
1o6pbift
qac
H3
MHpa
BbITeCHiT H Hac!
(2.xxxviii)
And then with verse of
quickened
sadness
He honored
too,
in tears and
pain,
His
parents'
dust ... their
memory's gladness
....
Alas!
Upon
life's furrowed
plain-
A harvest
brief,
each
generation,
By
fate's
mysterious dispensation,
Arises, ripens,
and must
fall;
Then others too must heed the call.
For thus our
giddy
race
gains power:
It
waxes, stirs,
turns
seething wave,
Then crowds its forebears toward the
grave.
And we as well shall face that hour
When one fine
day
our
grandsons
true
Straight
out of life will crowd us too!
The stanza continues the lament of the
passing
of
generations begun by
Lensky. Grammatically,
the narrator seems to
speak,
but
Lensky's elegiac
tone,
his voice
zone,
dominates. The next stanza moves closer
yet
to the
author-narrator's "I."
rIOKaMecTb ynHBaftTecb elo,
Cefi nerKofi
)KH3HHIO, Apy3ba!
Ee HHITO)KHOCTb
pa3yMeIo,
H
MaJIo
K Heft
nIpHB3aH i;
Jl,
npiH3paKOB 3aKpbIJIa
BexcbI;
Ho
OTanJieHHbie HaAeieKbI
TpeBoxaT cepJuie
HHorla:
Be3
HenpHMeTHoro cniega
MHe
6bIo
6
rpycTHO MHp
ocTaBHTb.
)KHBy, nHrmy
He
Rni noxsan;
Ho A 6bi KaxeTCs xKenan
Ile,aanbHbl
x)Kpe6Hi
CBOHI
npocJIaBHTb,
XTo6 o60
MHe,
KaK
BepHbhfi gpyr,
HanoMHHJI XOTb
eAHHbIlt
3ByK.
(2.xxxix)
So
meanwhile, friends, enjoy your blessing:
This
fragile
life that hurries so!
Its worthlessness needs no
professing,
And I'm not loathe to let it
go;
I've closed
my eyes
to
phantoms gleaming,
Yet distant
hopes
within me
dreaming
693
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694 Slavic and East
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Journal
Still stir
my
heart at times to
flight:
I'd
grieve
to
quit
this world's dim
light
And leave no
trace,
however slender.
I
live,
I write
-
not
seeking fame;
And
yet,
I
think,
I'd wish to claim
For
my
sad lot its share of
splendor
-
At least one note to
linger long,
Recalling,
like some
friend, my song.
The
lyric
"I" is now the narrator's
(and,
by stylized extension, Pushkin's),
who
expatiates
on the
elegiac
theme
begun by Lensky.
He
augments
Lensky's slightly
comic lament with his own more serious
philosophical
lyricism,7
and ends
by referring
to his own creation to remove
any
doubts
the reader
may
have had as to the
identity
of the
speaker:
H
ibe-HH6y/6b
OH
cepxge TpOHeT;
H
coxpaHeHHaAs cyYb60t,
BbITb MOKeT B JIeTe He HOTOHeT
CTpo4a
cjaraeMaa
MHOA;
BbITb MOweT
(jiecTHaS HaARewa!)
YKaxKeT
6yxyumkH Hesewcga
Ha MOA
npocjaaBeHHbIA nopTpeT,
H MOJIBHT: TO-TO 6bIJI Io0T!
(2.xl)
And
may
it touch some heart with
fire;
And thus
preserved by
fate's
decree,
The stanza fashioned
by my lyre
May yet
not drown in Lethe's
sea;
Perhaps (a flattering hope's illusion!)
Some future dunce with warm effusion
Will
point my portrait
out and
plead:
"This was a
poet, yes
indeed!"
The "I" of the stanza
belongs clearly
to the narrator who
broadens,
modi-
fies,
and
brings
down to earth
Lensky's image by transferring
it into the
realm of his own
poetic
"I" and
supplementing
it with his own
lyric
world
view and
presumed
life
experiences.
The scene is
originally
set in a narra-
tive,
fictive
situation,
but it
gradually
moves into the realm of
lyric
and the
"I" of the
narrator,
whereby Lensky's image acquires
more facets and
complexity. Onegin,
Tatiana,
and
Lensky
are all
subject
to similar
lyric
narration where the narrator's voice
displaces
or,
depending
on the char-
acter,
mixes with the character's voice.
In the case of
Onegin
and
Lensky,
the narrator describes and creates his
narrative,
fictional
world,
and at moments he shifts to a
lyric "I,"
employ-
ing
the fictional world in the same
way any lyric
"I" would
employ
non-
fictional
reality,
that
is,
as a
pretext
for his self-referential
lyric
dilations.
When the
identity
of the
lyric
"I" shifts to that of a
character,
the reader
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Lyric
and Narrative Consciousness in
Eugene Onegin
695
initially apprehends
this "I" as he does the
poetic
"I" of a real
person,
but
he
subsequently
realizes that the "I" is a character created
by
Pushkin. The
reader
participates
in a character's emotions
expressed lyrically,
but soon
realizes that the
poet
is
speaking through
a created self.
Through
the cre-
ated
character,
the
poet
finds an emotion
corresponding
to a
private
emo-
tion of his own. He is able to
express
a sentiment he otherwise could
not,
or
did not choose
to,
express
in his own
voice,
since the mediation of a created
consciousness dissociates him from the emotion.8
What makes this shifting of
speakers'
identities
possible
in
Eugene
Onegin
is an inherent feature of the
lyric--the difficulty
of
determining
definitively
and
exclusively
who is
speaking,
whether it be the
author,
narrator, character,
and
when, where,
and to whom he is
speaking.
As
Sharon Cameron
notes,
generalizing
on this
phenomenon,
"In
lyric,
the
speaker's origin
remains
deliberately unspecified,
unlike characters in nar-
ratives,
whose first task is to
particularize
themselves"
(208). Lyric speak-
ers are
non-specified
and
generalized--they
seek
epochal
and trans-
historical
expression
and characterization.
(Compare
this
chronotope
to
that of the
novel,
where the
significant
features are
particularity
of
descrip-
tion, characterization,
and
placement
in a concrete time and
space (Watt
17-18)).
In
short,
the
lyric
voice is a
shifter--all depends
on the
point
of
view from which the
lyric
is uttered. But it is a shifter that can
literally
bond
to
anything
and start to
speak (unlike
novel
voices).
The
speaker
of a
lyric
has no
background.
Hence,
the shift from one
lyric
"I" to another in
Onegin
does not cause the dissonance one would sense were the
speaker's
identity
in a novel to
change.
The
non-specificity
of
speaker
and addressee in
lyric
reveals a
significant
difference between the
functioning
of free-indirect discourse in
prose
and
lyric,
and can
help
us see how
lyric
characterization differs from character-
ization in a novel. Let us view the thesis from a Bakhtinian
perspective.
Since the
identity
of the
speaker
of a
lyric
is
unspecified,
one cannot
distinguish
the two distinct voices of the "dual voice" of free-indirect dis-
course as one can in narrative. Free-indirect discourse in
prose
relies on the
presence
of two
voices,
or more
accurately,
voice zones.
In
contrast,
the instances of
quasi
free-indirect discourse
just
described
in
Onegin express only
one voice. Due to the
non-specificity
of the
lyric
voice,
irony
or
sympathy
from the narrator
emerges only after
or
before
a
character's
lyric passage,
never within. Such a
reading helps
us see
why
Bakhtin would characterize
poetry
as
single-voiced (1981, 286).
If the
lyric
speaker
is
unspecified
and
undifferentiated,
a second voice within or
along-
side would likewise have to be
unspecified.
For
this,
surely,
is a
corollary
to
the
dialogic principle:
that two voices cannot coexist as autonomous voices
expected
to
interact,
if neither is
distinguished.
The narrator enters the
voice zone of his character
(a lyric
voice
zone)
and
expresses
himself from
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696 Slavic and East
European
Journal
within that zone as if he were the character. Two
voices, however,
are not
heard within a
single
utterance.
Only
one
resounds,
the
identity
of which is
later revealed to be that of author-narrator or character.
Pushkin,
through
his
narration,
employs
this
psychological
method to
characterize
chiefly Onegin
and
Lensky.
The world views of these two
characters are best
expressed by
the
universalizing
and
isolating genre
of
the
lyric.
Tatiana's
psyche
and structured role in the work is more
complex,
and here we encounter a different method of
psychological portrayal.
v. Tatiana
The narrator's attitude toward
Onegin
and
Lensky
is one of almost
locker-room camaraderie. He
speaks
of them from the
point
of view of a
boon
companion,
of one who has
experienced
similar
stages
of life. He
knows
Lensky's
Romantic
sentiment,
Onegin's splenetic Byronism,
and
although
all three characters seem to be at different
points
in their
develop-
ment,
their
progression
is
along
the same
trajectory
and
through
the same
life
experiences.
The narrator's attitude toward
Tatiana,
by
contrast,
is
protective,
and he
appears
hesitant,
even
reluctant,
to narrate her. As has often been
pointed
out in the
literature,
Tatiana is
initially
characterized
chiefly by
her dissimi-
larity
to her sister:
HH
KpacoToA ceCTpbI CBOel,
HH
cBexecrboK
ee
pyMaHOlA
He
npHBjeeKia
6 oHa oqei.
[...]
OHa
JnacKaTTbcS
He
yMeJia
K
OTRy,
HH K
MaTepH
CBoeif.
(2.xxv)
Neither with her sister's
beauty
Nor with her
rosy
freshness
Would she attract one's
eyes
[. ..]
She never learned to show
affection,
To
hug
her
parents
-neither one.9
Such
negative physical
characterization
suggests qualities
of Tatiana that
elude direct and
precise description.
Moreover,
it
anticipates
the narrator's
psychological depiction
of her.
Unlike his
lyric portrayal
of
Onegin's psyche
and
despite
her
superficially
more
"lyrical"
nature,
the narrator will not or cannot
speak directly
for
Tatiana: he will not
express
her
thoughts
or attitude
through lyric
free-
indirect discourse or
any
other
type
of narration that creates the
impression
that he knows her. This does not
imply,
of
course,
that she has no discern-
ible
psychic
life or that she is not a
psychologically convincing
or
complex
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Lyric
and Narrative Consciousness in
Eugene Onegin
697
character. She
has,
in
fact,
the most
complex, developed,
and
dynamic
mental life and world view of
any
of the
characters,
which
requires
differ-
ent and more subtle narrative means.
Similar to the vocal
dynamic
we saw in the
example
from
Joyce,
Push-
kin's
presentation
of Tatiana's inner life relies on the subtle
intertwining
of
the voices of narrator and character. In
Onegin,
however,
this character's
voice
emerges
from and
begins
to define the narrative texture of the
work,
so that the reader senses more
strongly
her
presence
than that of
any
other
character.
Here we move closer to Bakhtin's
reading
of
Eugene Onegin. Although
one does not sense the
presence
of two voices in the
lyric passages
Bakhtin
cites as double-voiced
(1981, 43-50),
other
passages
do in fact contain two
vocal
origins,
and most of these
passages pertain
to the heroine. Tatiana's
voice becomes the
object
of
representation,
but at the same time it
repre-
sents her in her own characteristic
style.
Often in the narrative
passages
of the
novel,
the narrator
speaks
as if
from the
point
of view of the character he is
describing.
He does not
express
a
general
world view-as he does with
Onegin
and
Lensky-but
describes a
specific
situation
inseparable
from the fictional world. In the
following passage,
the tense of the verbs is the standard
past
tense of
narration,
whereas
Onegin's lyrics
fall out of the action in
part
due to the
verbal
present
tense. Here Tatiana has written and sent the fateful letter to
Eugene
and awaits his
reply:
14
Me)Iy
TeM
gymua
B Heft
HbIJIa,
H cJIe3 6bI nOJIOH
TOMHbIii
B30p.
B,pyr TonoT! . .
KpoBb
ee 3acTbIJIa.
BOT 6iiiKe!
cKayr
... H Ha
aBOp
EsreHHfi! <Ax!> -H j ner'e TeHH
TaTbHHa
npbIr
sB
pyrHe ceHH,
C
KpbiJIbn
a Ha
RBOP,
H
npSMO
B
cag,
JIeTHT, JIeTHT; B3IrIHyTb Hasaa
He
cMeeT;
MHrOM o6excaIa
KypTHHbI, MOCTHKH, JI)KoK,
Anjieio
K
o3epy, JecoK,
KycrbI
CHpeH nepeJIoMaJia,
Io uBeTHHKaM
JIeTI K
py'bIO,
HI, 3aabixaacb,
Ha CKaMbIO
(3.XXXViii)
And all the while her soul was
aching,
Her
brimming eyes
could
hardly
see.
Then sudden hoof beats! . . Now she's
quaking.
They're
closer!
coming
here . . . it's he!
Onegin!
"Oh!" -And
light
as
air,
She's out the
backway,
down the stair
From
porch
to
yard,
to
garden straight;
She
runs,
she
flies;
she dare not wait
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698 Slavic and East
European
Journal
To
glance
behind
her;
on she
pushes
-
Past
garden plots,
small
bridges, lawn,
The
lakeway path,
the
wood;
and on
She flies and breaks
through
lilac
bushes,
Past seedbeds to the brook - so fast
That, panting,
on a bench at last.
Notice how the two exclamations
grammatically
voiced
by
the narrator
"Vdrug topot! [.
.
.]
Vot blizhe!
[Then
sudden hoof beats!
[.. .] They're
closer!]"
reflect Tatiana's
anxiety.
Not
only
do the exclamations seem to be
generated
from Tatiana's
perspective,
but the rushed cadence of the whole
stanza
(characterized by frequent enjambments
that,
significantly,
run on
to the next stanza with the fateful and
Biblically-laden
verb
Upala [She
fell])
reflects her
physical
and emotional situation and its whole liminal
vulnerability.
Here we see the narrator's fundamental method of character-
izing
Tatiana
psychologically:
in
many
of the narrative
passages relating
to
Tatiana,
the narrator
speaks
from her
viewpoint using
her words and man-
ner of
speaking, yet
the narrator's own voice is
always present alongside.
He sees her and can contextualize her fate. This insinuates her voice and
presence
into the fabric of the narrative world.
In the
early descriptions
of
Tatiana,
the narrator uses this method with a
shade of
irony;
he
predicts
and
presumes knowledge.
In the
following
passage
from
chapter
3,
the narrator
apostrophizes
Tatiana in her own
Romantic/Sentimental
language (emphasis added):
TaTbSHa,
MHias TaTbaHa!
C To601
Tenepb
S cje3bi
j.bIo;
TbI B
pyKH
MOXHOrO
THpaHa
YK oTTaJIa
cyab6y CBOIo.
HorH6HemE, MHJIaI;
HO
npegAe
TbI 6 ocAenumenbHOUi naaeexc)e
EBaaxeHcmoo meMHoe 30BeIIIb,
TbI
nezy
XH3HH
y3Haemub,
TbI nbemb
60oJue6Hbl1u
a
iceAlauui.
(3.xv)
Tatiana, O my
dear Tatiana!
I shed with
you
sweet tears too
late;
Relying
on a
tyrant's honor,
You've now
resigned
to him
your
fate.
My
dear
one, you
are doomed to
perish;
But first in
dazzling hope you
nourish
And summon forth a somber
bliss,
You learn
life's
sweetness ...
feel
its
kiss,
And drink the
draught of
love's
temptations.
It should be
pointed
out that the task of
determining
from a
single passage
of free-indirect discourse
(such
as I have
just quoted)
whether a narrator is
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Lyric
and Narrative Consciousness in
Eugene Onegin
699
expressing irony
or
sympathy regarding
his character is
notoriously
diffi-
cult.
Moreover,
the structure of the
Onegin
stanza builds in routine ironic
reversals in the
concluding couplet.
Such
judgment
calls are less
risk-laden,
however,
when measured
against
the narrator's tone overall. The above
passage
is
preceded by
a
digression
on the
soporific qualities
of Sentimental
and Romantic literature in
general-
the same literature
according
to which
Tatiana
patterns
her
relationship
with
Onegin.
Hence in this
passage,
the
Sentimental
vocabulary
in the narrator's voice is sensed as ironic.
The most
significant aspect
of Tatiana's
psychological presentation
in the
first
part
of the novel is of course her letter.
Although stylized
and
translated,
it is the first extended
self-expression
of a character's
thoughts,
which will be
repeated by Eugene
in
chapter
8. In
general,
Tatiana is an
extremely
literate
and
literary
character. After the narrator's
apophatic description
of
her,
she
is defined
by
the
eighteenth-century
Sentimentalism whose heroines become
models of behavior. She enters this well-established
epistolary
role,
and
declares her
literarily inspired
ardor in a billet-doux to
Eugene.10
Let us consider in more detail the
genre
of the letter both as communica-
tion act and as
self-expression.
First of
all,
the
genre
of the
epistolary
novel
as
practiced by
Richardson, Rousseau,
and countless others in the
eigh-
teenth
century
was not
only wildly popular
but also a landmark in
literary
psychological description. Through self-analysis
and
self-presentation,
these
authors discovered a new form of character
portrayal, anticipating
later
Realistic
psychological
character
presentation.
The drawbacks of the
episto-
lary
form are obvious and
many
-
the
implausibility
of such incessant writ-
ing,
its
prolixity
and
repetition-
but
although
the
genre,
as Walter
Raleigh
writes,
"inaugurated
a
century
and a half of
hyperasthesia" (161),
it moti-
vated the revelation of a character's
subjective
inner life. The
epistolary
novel revealed and succeeded in
tracking
the minute movements of con-
sciousness with heretofore
incomparable
detail. What differentiates this
method from later Realistic
psychological descriptions
is Realism's individu-
ation of character. In
Sentimentalism,
all characters are
perceived
as emanat-
ing
from a
single
consciousness,
the
author's,
which is the
only
one
truly
present.
One senses Richardson's own
sensibility
in all of the
correspondents
of Pamela
[1740],
Clarissa
[1748],
and Sir Charles Grandison
[1753],
and in
Mme. de La
Fayette's
La Princesse de Cloves
[1678]
the author's
psyche
is in
all three characters of the love
triangle."
In
Onegin,
Pushkin
employs
the letter as a vehicle for Tatiana's
psycho-
logical presentation,
and she becomes the first character of the novel al-
lowed
direct,
unmediated
self-expression.
The letter
presents
a truthful and
detailed
picture
of the inner life of a
young
woman in love. In 1824 Pushkin
wrote to Prince
Vyazemsky
about Tatiana's
letter,
"But even if the
meaning
is not
clear,
that makes the letter all the more
truthful;
it is a letter written
by
a woman in
love,
and what is more she is seventeen" (PSS 13:
403).
At
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700 Slavic and East
European
Journal
least one of Pushkin's
contemporary
reviewers
thought
Pushkin had al-
ready
mastered the
epistolary genre
in
this,
his first
attempt.
In one of the
first
published
reviews of
chapter
3,
P. I. Shalikov wrote about Tatiana's
letter
(emphasis
in
original):
The
poet
is a moral Promethean who without the
slightest
effort takes into his heart
feelings
that do not
belong
to him and who
appropriates
the other
[chuzhoe]
as if there were no other
for him in the whole world.
(Vatsuro
and Fomichev
329)12
Shalikov
points
to the method of Sentimental character
portrayal
in
gen-
eral: the author/narrator
presents
a character's inner life as if it were his
own. But while this is true of
Onegin
and
Lensky,
Tatiana
manages
to elude
the
grasp
of the
overarching
narrative voice.
Besides its
first-person
form,
another
significant aspect
of the letter is its
deviation from the form of the rest of the novel.
Departing
from the
Onegin
stanza at first
tentatively
and then
wholeheartedly,
the letter is cast
in
seventy-nine
lines of
freely rhyming
iambic tetrameter verse. The non-
observance of the
Onegin
stanza strikes the reader
forcefully
whenever it
occurs
(three times).
As
Tynianov
notes in his Formalist
study
of
Onegin:
as
long
as the constructive factor of a work remains constant
(here,
the
Onegin stanza),
narrative
digressions
from the
fabula
will not be sensed as
digressive.
In Tatiana's
letter,
we do have a
departure
from the
form;
whatever its
"original" language
and ultimate truth
value,
we sense its
content as
differently
voiced,
paced,
and mediated. The letter individuates
Tatiana's consciousness and
distinguishes
it from the others.
Through
a
combination of
first-person self-expression
and constructive
deviation,
Pushkin creates a consciousness that is meant to
appear
different in form
and
depth
from the other consciousnesses of the novels.
As Tatiana matures and
emerges
from her
youthful
Sentimental world
view,
the narrator's attitude toward her alters as well. In the later
parts
of
Onegin,
the narrator's voice
approaches
Tatiana's - he becomes more
sym-
pathetic
and less
ironic,
and
begins
to narrate from her
viewpoint
and reflect
her mood. In the
following passage
from
chapter
7,
Tatiana has been re-
jected by Eugene,
her future brother-in-law has been
killed,
and her sister
has all too
blithely decamped
with another suitor. Note how the narrative
style
reflects Tatiana's mood - at first
passionate,
then sad and sober
-
as
she makes her
way through
the woods to
Onegin's
former
lodgings:
H B
OAHHOqeCTBe
>KeCTOKOM
CuibHee
crpacrb
ee
ropHrT,
H 06 OHerHHe
gaJIeKoM
EA
cepAue rpoMqe
roBopHT.
OHa ero He
6ygeT BHseTb;
OHa OJiDKHa B HeM HeHaBHReTb
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Lyric
and Narrative Consciousness in
Eugene Onegin
701
Y6Hitly 6paTa
cBoero;
Ho3T
norH6 ... HO
y)K
ero
HHKTO He
IOMHHT,
yK
JlpyroMy
Ero Heaecra oT?anJacb
KaK JbIM no
He6y rony6oMy,
O HeM
lsa
cepgla,
MOKeT 6bITb,
Erue
rpycTT
... Ha qTO
rpyTrHTb?.
.
EBbi
seBep.
He6o
MepmIo. BogbI
CTpyHUIHcb
THXO.
)KyK yacxKan.
Yx
pacxoAHncb
xopoBoEbI;
YXK
3a
peKOfi, gbIMacb, nbrian
OroHb
pbl6aIHA.
B none
qHCTOM,
JIyHbI
npH
cBeTe
cepe6pHcroM,
B CBOH Me'TbI
norpyxKeHa,
TaTba Ha jonro tuna
onHa.
IIIja, IIia.
IH BApyr nepeq
co6oio
C XOnMa
rocnoacKHfi BHAHT AOM,
CeieHbe,
poiiy nog
XOnMOM
H
cag
Ha;
cBeTJnoIO
peKoIo.
OHa rjIsiHT -
cepgiIe
B Heft
3a6Haocb iuaie
H cHJlaHekt.
(7.xiv, xv)
And in the solitude her
passion
Burns even
stronger
than
before,
Her heart
speaks
out in
urgent
fashion
Of
faraway Eugene
the more.
She'll never see him ... and be
grateful,
She finds her brother's
slayer
hateful
And loathes the awful
thing
he's done.
The
poet's gone
... and
hardly
one
Remembers
him;
his bride's devotion
Has flown to someone else
instead;
His
very memory
now has fled
Like smoke across an azure ocean.
Two
hearts,
perhaps,
remain forlorn
And mourn him
yet..
. . But wherefore mourn? .
'Twas
evening
and the heavens darkled.
A beetle hummed. The
peasant
choirs
Were bound for home. Still waters
sparkled.
Across the
river,
smoky
fires
Of fishermen were
dimly gleaming.
Tatiana
walked,
alone and
dreaming,
Beneath the moonbeams' silver
light
And climbed a
gentle
hill
by night.
She walked and walked ... till with a shiver
She
spied
a distant hamlet's
glow,
A manor house and
grove below,
A
garden by
the
glinting
river.
And as she
gazed upon
that
place
Her
pounding
heart
began
to race.
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702 Slavic and East
European
Journal
In the last three words of the first
stanza,
"Na chto
grustit'?
. .
[But
where-
fore mourn? .
.],"
the reader senses Tatiana's voice. The free-indirect dis-
course here is similar to the
example
cited
previously
from
Joyce,
but in the
Onegin passage,
all the
surrounding
words,
the whole of these two
stanzas,
in
fact,
seem to
express
Tatiana's world view. The narrator has modulated
his
style-
tone, syntax,
and
vocabulary
-to Tatiana's.13 Nowhere does she
speak directly
nor does the narrator
explain
or
analyze
her inner
life,
but
by adjusting
his
style
to the
character,
the narrator describes Tatiana as if
she were
speaking, yet
more
eloquently
and
powerfully
than she could ever
do herself. This is free-indirect discourse - the words are
grammatically
the
narrator's,
yet emotionally
the character's. Were
they
voiced
by
either the
narrator or Tatiana
alone,
the
powerful
effect would be lost. Unlike the
lyric
free-indirect discourse we examined
concerning Eugene,
two voices
resound at the same time. This is a
truly
double-voiced
passage.14
Thomas Shaw
(34) points
to three
phases
in the narrator's
development
-
youthful perceptiveness,
disenchantment, and,
in the
present
tense of the
novel,
mature re-enchantment. The narrator is able to understand and nar-
rate
Eugene's
character which
is,
in Shaw's
words,
"arrested at the
stage
of
disenchantment,"
because he too
experienced
his own
stage
of disenchant-
ment,
of
world-weary Byronism.
Tatiana's
development,
I would
argue,
follows a
similar,
but not
identical, pattern.
In her
stage
of
youthful
enchant-
ment,
she idealizes
(or completely fantasizes) Onegin by projecting upon
him her Sentimental heroes. At this
point,
the narrator ironizes Tatiana
(albeit tenderly),
as we saw in the
passage
from
chapter
3. In the
passage
quoted
from
chapter
7,
Tatiana is in the midst of her disenchantment--
reality
has not lived
up
to her
ideals--yet
it does not take the form of
Onegin's cynicism,
which,
as Tatiana soon sees in her visit to
Onegin's
library,
is likewise
literarily inspired.
Tatiana's disenchantment with the
world is much more
reflective, sober,
and educative.
The narrator's
presentations
of the
cognitive
lives of
Onegin
and Tatiana
differ
accordingly.
The mental lives of both characters
emerge through
free-indirect
discourse,
but
only
in Tatiana's section do we sense the voice
of both character and narrator
simultaneously. Eugene's
character,
we re-
call,
emerged
from the
single-voiced lyric
and a confusion of vocal
origins.
Tatiana's
psychic
life is different in kind from
Onegin's.
His
cynical By-
ronism is an
aphoristic
view of life best
expressed by aphoristic,
sententious
language.
Tatiana's
psychology, being
more
complex, requires
different
expression.
Her
early
enchantment was also a kind of
"lyricism":
a Sentimental world
view ironized
by
the narrator
early
on. Toward the end of the
novel,
how-
ever,
we encounter a heroine with a view on the world
tempered by
the
"reality"
of
everyday
life,
the
"prose"
of life that often
(in
Onegin
at
least)
exposes
the
lyric
world view as unable to
perceive
and
adequately engage
the
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Lyric
and Narrative Consciousness in
Eugene Onegin
703
intricacies that
complicate
life.15 Whereas
Onegin's
character and
psychic
life are best
expressed by single-voiced, aphoristic "lyrical" language,
Tatiana's character
emerges
from a
multi-voiced,
more
narratively-oriented
language
which endows her with a more
complex
character,
one more at-
tuned to
fictional,
narrated
reality.16
In
chapter
7 and
8,
the narrator time
and
again
enters Tatiana's voice zone and narrates from her
viewpoint.
Not
only
do Tatiana's mood and character
emerge
from the combination of
voices,
but
they
come to dominate and
shape
the texture of the narrative
itself,
and the narrator's
sympathy
toward Tatiana becomes clear from the
overall tone of the final
part
of
Onegin.
Let us now return to
Eugene
and his fate at the end of the novel. In the
final
chapter,
we encounter a
new,
love-struck and
pensive Onegin
and,
correspondingly,
a new
presentation
of his inner life.
Indeed,
in the final
chapter,
the narrator endows
Eugene
not with a
single lyric
voice,
but with
a multi-faceted narrative one.
Onegin
too,
finally,
has
outgrown
his own
youthful (that is,
prematurely aged)
and naive world view. He is no
longer
a
lyric personality projected
onto the surface of
prose,
blind to the world's
multifaceted nature. Now his
previous universally
valid,
aphoristic lyrics
cannot narrate his new
experience
of
complex, prosaic
life. In
chapter
8
almost
every
bit of narration
describing Eugene
is double-voiced:
OH OCTaBJIqeT
payT
TecHbIi,
gOMOi
3aAyMMHB
ejeT
OH;
Me'Tofi TO
rpycTHOf,
TO
npejiecTHof
Ero
BCTpeBOeKH
nO3IHHfi
COH.
rIpocHyJIc
OH
eMy npHHOCRT
rlHcbMo: KHI3b H
nOKOPHO npOCHT
Ero Ha
Benep.
<Boxe! K Hef! ..
O
6y
6yy6yny!>
H
cKopefi
MapaeT
OH OTBeT
yITHBbIi.
TITO C HHM? B KaKOM OH
CTpaHHOM
CHe!
TITO
IeBeJIbHynOCb
B
rIy6HHe
ymIIH XOJIOJHOf
H neHHBOA?
J)ocaaa? cyeTHocTb?
HJIb BHOBb
3a6oTa
IKHOCTH-
JIo6oBb?
(8.xxi)
He left the rout in all its
splendor
And drove back
home,
immersed in
thought;
A swarm of
dreams,
both sad and
tender,
Disturbed the slumber that he
sought.
He woke to
find,
with some
elation,
Prince N. had sent an invitation.
"Oh God! I'll see her ... and
today!
Oh
yes,
I'll
go!"
-and
straight away
He scrawled a note: he'd be
delighted.
What's
wrong
with him? . . . He's in a daze.
What's
stirring
in that idle
gaze,
What's made that
frigid
soul excited?
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704 Slavic and East
European
Journal
Vexation? Pride? Or
youth's
old
yen
For all the cares of love
again?17
The narrator
gives expression
to
Eugene's
inner turmoil
by speaking
with the
latter's emotional diction. The
interrogatives
and exclamations are from
Onegin's
voice
zone,
but unlike his
previous
internal
voice,
this one is
grounded
in the world of the novel. Such
sympathetic passages
where the
narrator narrates from the character's
point
of view are so numerous in
chap-
ter 8 that
they
create a new
forward-pressing, psychological image
of One-
gin.
He is now a character no
longer
able to
express
himself
lyrically,
which
was for him a facile
genre.
In
short,
he has entered the realm of Tatiana.
Finally,
let us look at the evolution of the narrator.
By
the end of the
novel,
he too has evolved. No
longer
is he the
vociferous,
dominating,
and
quasi-manic presence
from
chapter
1, continually thrusting
himself to the
fore. Like Tatiana and
Eugene,
he has become more subdued and reflec-
tive. We can
explain
this
change,
on the one
hand,
from a
strictly
narrative
standpoint:
to
present
a
sober,
unironized
image
of Tatiana
by mixing
his
voice with
hers,
the narrator's own voice in the
surrounding
text must to a
certain
degree
come to resemble the character's. Were the narrator to
maintain his tone and
style
from
chapter
1,
we
would,
of
course,
have a
totally
different
image
of Tatiana. This narrative modulation endows Tati-
ana's
image
with tremendous
power
and
presence. Everyone
seems to have
entered Tatiana's voice zone.
When the narrator modulates his voice to resemble
Tatiana's,
we sense
that it is he who enters her voice zone rather than vice-versa. The narra-
tor's voice no
longer
creates the
impression
of a
dominating
external con-
sciousness that we had sensed in
chapter
1. At the end of
Onegin,
the
narrator loses his
protective, gently
ironic attitude toward Tatiana. He
approaches
Tatiana's manner of
speaking,
and this
change
in tone creates
the
impression
that it is Tatiana's voice that has invaded and modified the
narrator's.
Eugene,
Tatiana,
and the narrator are all somehow different
by
the end of the
novel,
but the
paradox
of Tatiana is that it is she who
maintains the most
continuity throughout
and
yet
who
experiences
real
change.
Hence,
she
appears
to subsume all the other voices which
arrange
themselves beneath her
authority.
Her voice zone
and, consequently,
her
image
have attained the most
prominent position
in the novel. But in what
does this
authority
and
strength
consist?
At the
beginning
of the final
chapter,
Tatiana is most
overtly
identified
with Pushkin's muse:
H BOT OHa B
cagy
MOeM
BIsHnacb
6apbImHek ye3AHoA,
C neqnajbHoft jyMOI)
B oqax,
C
4paHmy3cKOA KHEKKOIO
B
pyKax.
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Lyric
and Narrative Consciousness in
Eugene Onegin
H HbIHe
My3y
I
BnepBble
Ha cseTCKHi
payr npHBoXay. (8.v-vi)
And in
my garden
she
appeared
-
A
country
miss -
infatuated,
With mournful air and
brooding glance,
And in her hands a French romance.
And now I seize the first occasion
To show
my
muse a
grand
soir6e.
At the end of the
novel,
Tatiana is revealed as the
spirit
of Pushkin's
poetic
inspiration,
but she is a
poetic spirit qualitatively
different from the kind of
poetry
associated with
Onegin, Lensky,
and the
narrator,
that
is,
the
lyric.
These three male characters inhabit the same voice
zone,
and
through
an
interchange
of vocal
origins,
the narrator creates the
psychic
life of
Lensky
and
Onegin.
With
Tatiana,
the narrator shares no zone and no
voice;
hence,
he cannot narrate her
thoughts directly.
However, by interweaving
his own voice with
hers,
he
penetrates
her
zone,
her
poetic
aura.
Shaw
(35) suggests
that the novel stresses the
importance
of
being po-
etic,
and
Caryl
Emerson
(1995) along
the same lines sees Tatiana as
repre-
senting
a balanced
poetic principle,
a verse
presence.
I would add that
Tatiana's
poetic
nature is one that has
experienced
and taken leave of the
lyric
view of
life,
a view in which
nothing changes,
in which characters and
their utterances are self-sufficient and
whole,
universal and
unchanging.
She is
lyric depth
that learns to
adjust
to the arbitrariness and
uncertainty
of narrative
(life)
and to find her own
grace
within it.
When
Eugene passes through
life,
events do not accumulate and do not
change
him. He
passes
from role to role with no
qualitative
evolution of
character. See
8.viii,
for
example,
in which Pushkin enumerates
Onegin's
roles.
Onegin
does not
mature;
he
merely changes
roles and
voices,
all of
which are
unitary
and
literary,
and when he sees Tatiana's evolution from a
poor,
lovesick
country girl
into the "indifferent
princess"
and
"unapproach-
able
goddess"
of the Moscow
salon,
he views her as if she too were
playing
a role: "Kak izmenialasia Tat'iana! / Kak tverdo v rol' svoiu voshla!
[How
Tatiana has
changed!
/ How
firmly
she has entered into her own
role!]"
(xxvii).
But
Onegin
is
wrong.
Tatiana is
playing
no
role,
but rather
living
real "life." This motivates her
pragmatic
refusal of
Onegin
at the end.
The
ending
of the novel
disappointed many
of Pushkin's
contemporary
readers since the hero was neither married nor
dead,
two conventional
fates.
Onegin
does not conclude
conventionally
because Tatiana will not
permit
it. She knows and outlines to
Eugene
the "real-life" toll such marital
infidelity
inflicts,
and rather than
play conventionally,
she
rejects
him. The
roles are reversed at the
end,
but as the narrator
points
out,
these roles are
not
interchangeable:
705
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706 Slavic and East
European
Journal
JII6BH Bce
B03paCTbI
nOKOpHbI;
Ho
IOHbIM, geBCTBeHHbIM cepgiaM
Ee
nopbIsbI 6JIaroTBopHbI,
KaK 6ypH
BeriHHMe noJnM:
B
gowKe cTpacTef
OHH
cBe)KeiOT,
H
06HOBsJIOTCH,
H
3peIOT
-
H
)XH3Hb MoryLmaaI
gaeT
H IIbIImHbIfti BeT H cinaKHfi rimo.
Ho B
Bo3pacT
no3HHHft
H
6ecnnogHbIfi,
Ha
noBOpoTe
Haminx
neT,
IleqaneH
cTpacrTH
MepTBOf cineg:
TaK
6ypH
oceHH
xoJInoHoI
B 6onoJOT
o6pawiaKIT nyr
H o6HaxaIoT nec
BOKpyr. (8.xxix)
To love all
ages yield
surrender;
But to the
young
its
raptures bring
A
blessing
bountiful and tender-
As storms refresh the fields of
spring.
Neath
passion's
rains
they green
and
thicken,
Renew themselves with
joy,
and
quicken;
And vibrant life in
taking
root
Sends forth rich blooms and
gives
sweet fruit.
But when the
years
have made us
older,
And barren
age
has shown its
face,
How sad is faded
passion's
trace!
Thus storms in
autumn, blowing colder,
Turn meadows into
marshy ground
And
strip
the forest bare all round.
Eugene
wants to return to his
previous
Tatiana,
and his
lyric
view tells him
that he can. The
lyric
is
static;
within
it,
what is
past
is not
really past,
but
somehow
always freshly
accessible.
However,
the narrative world is now
Tatiana's. She has
control,
and for such a
narratively
oriented
character,
things past
are
things gone.
What Tatiana learns and what
brings
the narrator into her zone is the
value of
leaving
-of
taking
leave of a
role,
giving
in to external
pressures,
and
surrendering
to fate: "No sud'ba moia I Uzh reshena
[But my
fate / Is
already decided]" (8.xlvii). By accepting
her immediate
circumstances,
Tatiana becomes a real
part
of
somebody's
world. On the one
hand,
she is
identified with a narrative view of the
world,
one that has forward move-
ment and leaves behind
permanent change.
On the other
hand,
she knows
when to leave the
literary.
We can view her as a balance of life and
art,
of
fabula
and siuzhet. This is what the narrator wants to learn from Tatiana:
how to take leave of the
literary.
At the end of the
novel,
the narrator
recasts himself in Tatiana's zone; she is a
continuously
created
character,
but her creator has more to
gain by being
inside her rather than outside her.
She teaches him:
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Lyric
and Narrative Consciousness in
Eugene
Onegin
BJiaxeH,
KTO
Inpa3AHHK
IKH3HH
paHo
OCTaBHJI,
He OIIHB RO RHa
BoKaja,
noJIHoro
BHHa,
KTO He
ARoenj
ee
poMaHa
H1
BApyr yMeJi pacCTaTbCa
c
HHM,
KaK X c OHerHHbIM MOHM.
(8.1i)
But blest is he who
rightly gauges
The time to
quit
the feast and
fly,
Who never drained life's chalice
dry,
Nor read its novel's final
pages;
But all at once for
good
withdrew-
As I from
my Onegin
do.
To
conclude,
let us summarize Pushkin's method of
creating apparently
psychologically
autonomous
beings.
In the two basic
types
of
psychological
narration
employed
in
Eugene Onegin--lyric
and narrative free-indirect
discourse
-
the author-narrator
overtly employs
his own
persona
and con-
sciousness to endow characters with a
psychic
life. The narrator modulates
his
voice,
a
poetic
voice,
among
different
styles
and
genres,
which at differ-
ent
points
in the novel both
corresponds
to and
helps
create a character's
personality
and world view.
Through
the
first-person
form,
Pushkin is able
to
project
different facets of his
poetic personality
onto narrated characters
to create
psychologically persuasive
characters,
each with its own
dynamics
and internal
logic,
but which are
ultimately
based on what
Ginzburg
referred
to as the
"intensely developing unity"
of Pushkin's own
poetic persona.
The
author-narrator is not
fundamentally separate
from his characters nor is he
fundamentally separate
from the real-life Pushkin and extra-textual
reality.
Hence,
the voices with which he endows his characters resonate
beyond
the
fictional world.
I have outlined two kinds of
cognitive privilege
in
Eugene Onegin
-
lyric
and narrative. The former is
ostensibly unproblematic
direct
psychological
expression
or access. The
latter,
by
contrast,
is somehow mediated
by
another
consciousness--the narrator's-and,
as in the case of
Tatiana,
creates the most
complex
character in the work.
NOTES
1 And
perhaps,
as Lotman
points out,
in
chapter
5 as a witness to Tatiana's
fortune-telling
(1980, 268-69).
2 I use the term
fabula
as distinct from siuzhet as defined
by
Tomashevskii
(136-46).
3
My
account of
lyric
draws on
Ginzburg, Olson, Phelan, Cameron, Abrams, Levin,
and
Hamburger.
4 The
comparativist
Earl Miner
points
out that the mimetic basis of Western
poetics
as
expounded by
Aristotle is the
exception
rather than the rule when
compared
to other
cultural
poetics:
"All other
examples
of
poetics
are founded not on
drama,
but on
lyric.
707
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708 Slavic and East
European
Journal
Western literature with its
many
familiar
suppositions
is a
minority
of
one,
the odd one
out. It has no claim to be normative"
(8).
5 This
chronological
dualism finds an exact
parallel
in the more
overtly performative
arts
such as
operatic
time: recitative tells the
story
and therefore has narrative
integrity
and
forward
movement,
while
aria,
as
Caryl
Emerson
writes,
"almost
begs
to be set free from
the
plot" (1986, 153, 165).
6 All translations of
Onegin
are from Falen.
7 In Bakhtin's
terminology,
this is
stylization
rather than
parody:
the author or narrator
introduces an intention "to make use of someone else's discourse in the direction of its
own
particular aspirations" (1984, 193).
8 This
dynamic proceeds along
the lines of T. S. Eliot's third voice of
poetry,
the voice of
the dramatic
character,
when the
poet
"is
saying
not what he would
say
in his own
person,
but
only
what he can
say
within the limits of one
imaginary
character
addressing
another
imaginary
character"
(96).
9 Falen's translation
slightly
modified.
10 In her
monograph
on
Tatiana, Olga
Peters
Hasty
claims that Tatiana's behavior is "never
convention driven but
always individual,
motivated from within." This is difficult to
accept, however,
in view of the author-narrator's
gentle ironizing
of Tatiana in the afore-
mentioned clich6d Sentimental diction used to describe Tatiana's inner life. It seems that
it is not until the end of
Onegin
that Tatiana assimilates and modifies these
preexisting
modes of behavior and
emerges as,
in
Hasty's words,
"the
principle
character of
Eugene
Onegin" (32).
11 Pushkin's own attitude toward Sentimentalism was mixed. In an article entitled
"Journey
from Moscow to St.
Petersburg"
written between 1833 and
1834,
Pushkin writes of
Richardson's
Clarissa,
"Many
readers will
agree
with me that Clarissa is
very
wearisome
and
dull; nevertheless,
Richardson's novel is of
exceptional
merit"
(PSS
11:
244).
12 Pushkin
began
his own
epistolary
novel in
1829,
Roman
vpis'makh [Novel
in
Letters],
but
never
completed
it.
13 As Pushkin's
contemporary,
the
poet
Kiukhelbeker noted "in his
eighth chapter
the
poet
himself resembles Tatiana"
(Lotman 1960, 161).
14 See 7.1iii for another
example
of such narration.
15 Lotman
(1966)
sees the
uncovering
of
literary
conventions
by
the
"prose
of
reality,"
especially regarding Lensky,
as a characteristic feature of
Eugene Onegin
and an
example
of Pushkin's
development
toward "realism."
16
Tynianov (86)
hints at a similar
reading
of
Onegin. By using colloquial
intonations,
claims
Tynianov,
Pushkin creates a thin intonational
layer,
which makes the narrative itself a
kind of indirect
speech.
17 Lotman
(1980, 349-57) analyzes
the various
viewpoints
and voices in the first
part
of
chapter
8.
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