Eugene Onegin, a "novel in verse," as announced by its subtitle, and Russia's best-loved classic, was written by Alexander Pushkin, that country's unsurpassed literary idol. Yet the American reading public generally attributes its authorship to Tchaikovsky, who composed the score and co-authored the libretto of its operatic adaptation. Henry Hoyt, translator for this bilingual edition, suggests that this misunderstanding may stem from other translations' having been cast in a mold ill-fitted to capture both the spirit and meaning of the original. Most of the translations follow the complicated rhyme and meter scheme of the original, where the invention of new rhymes for the translated version forces the translator to abandon verbal fidelity to the original. The other translations are in prose, lacking the rhythm and hence much of the spirit of the original. Mr. Hoyt's translation is unrhymed, but retains the meter of Pushkin's verses, a procedure under which he believes verbal fidelity is attainable along with rhythm, affording the English-speaking reader an experience as close as possible to that of a Russian-speaking reader of the original. This publication includes an appendix describing the Cyrillic alphabet for readers unfamiliar with it but interested in examining the original text.
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