Students Staff

04 February 2009

Author presents Pushkin translation at Essex

Colchester Campus

A former University of Essex academic who spent seven years translating Alexander Pushkin’s famed novel, Eugene Onegin, will read passages from the book at an event next week.

Professor Stanley Mitchell, who taught Russian and comparative literature in the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies from 1965 to 1975, will read two passages from his translation which was recently published by Penguin Classics. The event, on 12 February, is part of the Department’s open seminar series aimed primarily at graduate students but open to all.

Professor Mitchell, who is now Emeritus Professor of Aesthetics at the University of Derby, was commissioned to translate Eugene Onegin in 2001 having already completed a rough translation of the first chapter in 1986. He and colleagues at Essex first contemplated translating the novel in the late 1960s.

Eugene Onegin¸ first published as a complete work in 1837 following serialisation, is written in fully rhymed verse which is notoriously difficult to translate without losing the intensity of the Russian original.

Professor Mitchell, who has also translated works by Georg Lukacs and Walter Benjamin, said: ‘There are perhaps 15 previous translations of various merit but Penguin Classics wanted something more up-to-date.

‘It was challenging to translate because I was trying to produce something entirely new, that is to slough off the patina of idyllic, olde-worlde translations which had, as far as I was concerned, strangled the openness and freshness of Pushkin. I wanted to translate him into a language that was available to the present-day.’

Dr Leon Burnett, from the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, will host the event. He said: ‘Professor Mitchell’s translation of Pushkin’s “novel-in-verse”, Eugene Onegin, is a testimony to the central role that literary translation plays in an understanding of a foreign culture. His new version of this Russian classic makes an important contribution to our appreciation of a text that belongs to one of the major literatures of the world. Pushkin has been called the “Russian Shakespeare” and Eugene Onegin is generally considered to be his most significant creative work. ‘

The event takes place on 12 February at 4.30pm in the Senate Room (room 4.722) at the Colchester Campus. For further information contact Dr Sanja Bahun, telephone: 01206 872634 or e-mail:


For further information please contact the University of Essex communications office on 01206 873529 or e-mail

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