Pushkin is First Beneficiary From USSR Formation, Says Vasily Ustyuzhanin

Pushkin is First Beneficiary From USSR Formation, Says Vasily Ustyuzhanin

Photo: https://ru.wikipedia.org/

In the Russian language, the “beneficiary” is a combined word consisting of “recipient + benefit”. It is even worse than the foreign word because there is no mystery in it. That is why I left a foreign word in the headline. To sacrifice everything to meaning and to mystery is the credo of any writer.

In the Soviet Union, “Eugene Onegin,” a novel in verse written by Alexander Pushkin, was translated even into Tabasaran – the tongue spoken by a people in the southeast of the North Caucasus region of Dagestan and known for having 46 cases grammatical cases.

I’d like to talk about my favorite poet again. A month ago I posted an article on Facebook about translations of this famous novel into the English, French, Italian and other languages. Here is the link on it:


I used to believe that “Eugene Onegin” is really a summit of poetry. Trying to climb it and to come down safely, i.e. translate it into my native language, is completely impossible. I was mistaken, however, as “Eugene Onegin” has been translated 43 times into English, 17 times into French and 10 into Italian. And 3 times into Spanish. Of course, there are still continents, countries and dialects not “covered” by it. However, every year their number is decreasing.

Well, what about Russia? What happened to Onegin in before the Bolshevik revolution of 1917? And in the multinational USSR? And in the Russian Federation, the legal successor state? How, where and by whom was “Eugene Onegin” conquered in the great swaths of Russia and the former Soviet republics?

I've decided to find out it. And that's what I discovered. I’d like to share this information.


Here is the first and unfortunate disclosure.

On the outskirts of imperial Russia almost nobody cared for the novel. Yes, exactly like this, almost nobody and nowhere.

Only the famous Kazakh poet Abai (Ibrahim Kunanbayev) translated “Eugene Onegin” and turned its 5,500 lines into 375. He drew inspiration only from love letters and dialogues of the main characters Tatiana and Eugene, as well as the duel between Lensky and Onegin, rather from the entire text of the novel.

Abai was especially impressed with Tatiana’s letter to Onegin. He clearly saw the emotional drama that he himself described in confessions to his beloved ones. “By the way, every poet is a friend of dreamy love.” It was said not by me, but by Pushkin in his “Eugene Onegin.” Abai is no exception to the rules of love. If you read Mukhtar Auezov's novel “Abai,” it became obvious that he fell in love often and passionately. But not as often as Pushkin, of course. He did it significantly fewer times. Abai did not leave behind a list of his 113 love affairs. A total of 113 amorous adventures is too much even by the standards of the East. Though Pushkin's list looks more like boasting of a single man of pleasures and a soon-to-be groom than an accurate account. As is known, his bride Natalie Goncharova became the 113th one. But undoubtedly, Abai felt a soulmate connection with Tatiana after reading the revelation of her heartache.

Tatiana’s letter to Onegin where she opened her soul to him is not very brief. There are 77 lines from the opening stanza that reads “I write to you – no more confession// is needed, nothing’s left to tell// I know it’s now in your discretion// with scorn to make my world a hell…” to the last ones: “I close. I dread to read this page…// for shame and fear my wits are sliding… // and yet your honour is my gage// and in it boldly, I’m confiding.” (translated by Ch. Johnston.) I can make a guess why there are so many. Let’s remember astonished Onegin, looking at it through his lorgnette and saying about Tatiana. “Can it be she?” Eugene in wonder// demanded. “Yes, she looks… And yet…// from deepest backwood, furthest under…” Somewhat earlier in the novel Pushkin wrote: “[…] jealously, shyly I’ve imported// her steppe-land charms into a rout.”

Her steppe-land charms! So, was Tatiana close in her mentality to the Kazakhs? This is my wide guess, though. In fact, she came to Moscow “from deepest backwood” through the Tverskaya Zastava square to get married. She admired the Petrovsky Castle along the way. In contemporary Moscow, it is located on Leningradsky Prospekt avenue. So, she arrived in Russia’s ‘old capital’ from the West. More likely, her cart moved from Pskov or Tver governorates and from some townships like Izhora or Torzhok, so much-loved by Pushkin. Could they be connected somehow with the charms of the steppe? It’s unlikely because these places are surrounded by thick forests and oak groves.

Only poets know what they have in their mind.

In general, poetry is a puzzle. When eyes of a healthy person see a gray cloud or a young lady in a strict outfit, the poet's eyes will see a mirage and a passing vision, the one of exceptional beauty. Why do they have these allusions? I guess because the eyes of a poet look at life through a certain magical crystal. And the reflected rays send illusive signals to their brain. Illusive signals are distorted. Well, the brain sends signals to the hand, and then the hand reaches out to paper. As a result, a song, a ballad or a sonnet is written. The muse is born. Why does God give the bonuses of this kind to poets? How does He distinguish the lucky ones? I hope to meet God some day and ask him the innermost questions. Both you and I will be interested to get the answers.


In the meantime, let’s return to our main topic.

Another poet, K. Lichsit who was Latvian, wrote a libretto for the opera “Eugene Onegin” in 1913. It was written in the Latvian language. Riga was then the capital of the Livonian governorate. Both the capital and the governorate were part of the Russian Empire. However, the libretto is a very short summary of plotlines. A paraphrase of someone else's creation. As a frontier guard or an intelligence officer look through binoculars at the enemy border studying what the enemy is doing, where he is going, and what ammunition he has and then reports to his superiors, the libretto is something like a report to the stage director about the original masterpiece. However, it's quite a different story. So, a good deed was done by a Livonian translator with a German surname, whom I know nothing about. Notably, the number of Baltic Germans living in Riga at that time was almost as big as the number of Baltic Russians. But his contribution was not fundamental enough to write his name into the history of Onegin translations.

Well, I guess that's the whole pre-revolutionary story about “Eugene Onegin.” Not that much to tell about.

However, I am not going to ostracize the Tsarist regime or to blame the indigenous peoples of that huge empire for showing this modest interest in “Eugene Onegin.” It's not their fault. It's all about timing. Obviously, there were still weak literary traditions, translation schools and poor lexical and expressive means. Languages are gradually maturing like dough. But if they do...


A truly large-scale research of the novel began after the collapse of autocracy. The shackles were taken off. Pushkin himself had longed for this when he was young. People relieved of autocracy really started getting acquainted with Pushkin’s name, translating his masterpieces and making them recognizable.

The year of 1937, one of the darkest in the history of the USSR, became breakthrough for Pushkin's genius. Thousands of new enterprises were being built across the country. And simultaneously hundreds of camps for the builders of the new world. The country of dreamers and scientists needed a national hero and a national holiday that would be able to unify people.

The anniversary of Pushkin’s death turned up just at the right moment.

Usually the birthdays of geniuses are celebrated joyously and publicly. But not anniversaries of death. It would be more reasonable to wait a little and to solemnly celebrate 140 years since the poet was born in 1939. But it was in 1937 that Pushkin was needed. As long as the legal proceedings compel attention, as long as the people are excited, as long as we believe that we are always right in our impudence and are ready to carry the flame of our souls and the flag of our country through the worlds and centuries, and as long as the Isaak Dunayevsky’s March of Enthusiasts vibrated in our hearts. The song from the film “Tanya” actually became popular three years after Pushkin's anniversary. It was written and became well-known in 1936. Anyway, in 1937 the pulse of people’s hearts was already beating with it, and the newspapers of those years offer a proof of that.

Moreover, the Central Executive Committee, the Soviet Union’s highest governing body, endorsed a program of the commemorative events for the centenary of Pushkin's death. The way it was celebrated deserves a separate story – and delight. Certainly, Pushkin had a dream that he would be well-known throughout Russia. But could he imagine that his popularity would be all-encompassing and nationwide and that he would become a universally loved poet of the whole country? Could he imagine that towns, streets, embankments, museums and ships would be named after him, and he himself would be called a proletarian poet? That his literary works would be included in school curriculum thereby changing it forever? That solemn and mass meetings would be held in cities and villages? That his works would be translated into the languages of large and small nations, and that multi-tome collected works would be published and re-published in state publishing houses?

And it happened indeed. Books were translated, published and re-published. Towns, streets, embankments, museums, and ships were named after Pushkin. As a matter of fact, if anyone had benefited from the formation of the USSR, it was him, in the first place.

Literary organizations of the Soviet Union and autonomous republics have responded to the call to return Pushkin to the Russian people. The leaders of the unions commissioned translations of the ingenious heritage left by him. Ideas sparkled; pens scratched on the paper; and the typewriters that were already widely used at the time clamored.

Meanwhile, in the 1930s, the Stakhanovite movement started gaining popularity. Miners, weavers, and loggers broke records in slaughterhouses, workshops, and logging areas. Poets translating Pushkin’s poems also had a lot of work to do.


The way that Pushkin’s masterpieces were translated it in the 1930s, they were never ever translated again.

In my native Belarus, the process looked as follows. Anna Seviarynets, the researcher of literature, said about it: “The translation commission was headed by [poet] Yanka Kupala. It was he who distributed the novels and poems for translation among the Belarusian writers. For example, Todor Klyashtorny got “The Stone Guest,” Yanka Kupala took “The Bronze Horseman” to translate it by himself, and Ales Dudar was given the honor to translate “Eugene Onegin.”

The text of “Eugene Onegin” was sounded from loudspeakers all over Minsk. Then Ales Dudar was arrested and executed by shooting in the dungeons of the Minsk prison of NKVD secret police on the night from 29 to 30 October 1937. At that time, more than 100 representatives of the intellectual elite of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic were killed – writers, statesmen, and scientists. The night from October 29 to 30, 1937, this tragic date, went down in history as “the Night of the Murdered Poets.”

Yes, the celebration of the anniversary of death is a bad omen.

This Belarusian tragedy is only one of Stalin’s numerous crimes. And the anniversary celebrations took place just once. The terror of 1937 took away the writers of Georgia, Ukraine, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Tatarstan and other Soviet and autonomous republics.

For what? Why? Proletarian internationalism demanded sacrifice. Writers who expressed the identity of national cultures more explicitly than others were declared nationalists and were added to the tragic list of victims of persecution.

Ilyas Dzhansugurov, a Kazakh poet, translated Pushkin's novel in February 1937. And in April, he was shot dead.

Karen Mikaelyan, the translator of “Eugene Onegin” into Armenian, was repressed in 1937 and died in 1941.

Tatar poet Futkhi Burnash translated “Eugene Onegin” in 1939. He was convicted in 1940 and shot in 1942.

In Azerbaijan, the novel was translated by Samad Vurgun. And he escaped punishment only by chance.

In Kiev, the “neoclassical” poet Maxim Rylsky was put in the Lukyanov prison for a certain separation from the ideals of socialism. He translated “Eugene Onegin” after admitting guilt and emerging from jail.

However, I won't talk about the sad things anymore. May God spare us the ordeal of new great utopias and the touch of practicing headsmen.

It is fair to say that in the 1930s, Pushkin's other works were translated more often. Novels, stories, poems, verses. Still, the novel in verse is a pinnacle of poetry, and it is hard to “cowboy” your way through it. The translation of the literary work of this kind takes time.


In the same little Latvia, two translations of Pushkin’s novel were published later, during the Soviet times. They were done by Janis Plaudis in cooperation with Andrejs Schmidre (1948) and Mirza Bendrupe (1974). If we take into account that the very first translation by Herbert Dorbe was published in 1929, then it can be concluded that three translations for a total of 2 mln people inspires respect for the Latvian culture and literature.

In neighboring Belarus, after Ales Dudar, the translation of “Eugene Onegin” was done by Arkady Kuleshov in the 1960s. I found his translation. In the Belarusian language, Pushkin’s novel sounds exotic. Anyway, how should it sound when translated in another language? If I read Kuleshov's translation as a child without knowing the original text, it would definitely sink into my heart.

Maybe, someone doesn't remember that “young Tanya first appeared to me, Onegin too […]” happened to Pushkin in Chisinau. There, in Bessarabia, he wrote the first 16 verses of the novel. It would be unfair if the Moldavans did not return the compliment to Pushkin. Actually, they did. In 1950, Yuri Barzhansky translated the novel into his native language. It is curious that a year earlier, in the neighboring Bucharest, George Lesna translated it into Romanian. The Moldovan and Romanian are kindred languages. It turns out that the Moldovans have two translations of the novel. And it is up to them to decide which one of the two is better.

In Georgia, “Eugene Onegin" was translated by three poets. The first translation was made by Grigol Tsetskladze in the 1930s, the second one by Otar Chelidze in 1972 and the most recent one, by Leila Kacharava in 2011. If the USSR still existed, then the translation into the Abkhazian language, made in 1969 by Mushni Lasuriya, would be considered as made by the Georgian poet. But it didn't happen. The USSR collapsed. Two years ago, Mushni Lasuriya presented an updated translation. All these years – 50 years! – “Eugene Onegin” was on his mind. The presentation of the book was also attended by the Abkhazian President. As expected, he honored the great contribution of Pushkin and Lasuriya to the rapprochement of the two peoples. I would make the same speech.


In general, the Caucasian poets developed a liking to Pushkin. For example, Nafi Jusoita gave his version of “Eugene Onegin” to South Ossetians, and Georgy Kaitukov to the North Ossetians. Kaitukov's translation was praised by the critics: “It seemed that there was no craftsman capable of conveying a complex contexture of this kind in a foreign language. However, G.Kaitukov succeeded in conveying not only the scale of the work, but also a complex scheme of rhyming and clear alternation of clausulas. Moreover, he almost always managed to keep equiliniarity.”

I wash my hands. Equiliniarity! The music of orthoepy! For the record, equiliniarity is the correspondence of words and strophes in translation to the original text. Well, as everybody knows what a clausula is, I'm not going to explain it.

The residents of Dagestan, a multilingual republic located in the North Caucasus area and home to 14 indigenous peoples, also got an opportunity to read “Eugene Onegin” in their native languages. Almost every nation has its own translation. Back in 1956, the novel was translated into the Avar language by Magomed Suleymanov. Recently, it was reprinted with a modest circulation of 300 copies. Namely, barely after being published, the translation became a bibliographical rarity. However, the copy of joint translation of the novel into the Kumyk language by Ibrahim Bammatuli and Anvar Hamidov became even rarer. It was printed in a newspaper. I found no information whether it was published as a separate book.

In addition, there is also a translation by the bilingual Magomed Abdullayev into the Lak language. Who is bilingual? You don't know? Previously, I didn't know it either. It is a person who is fluent in two languages. A person speaking three languages is polylingual. And the one who speaks four or more languages is a polyglot. This knowledge might be useful. Now I can flaunt my erudition.

I was truly surprised to learn that there is a translation of “Eugene Onegin” into the Tabasaran language. This language is spoken by over 100,000 people in the mountains of Dagestan. It has a complicated case system. So complicated that it is in the Guinness Book of Records. There are 46 grammatical cases in it! However, this linguistic peculiarity didn’t stop the poetess Gyulbika Omarova from doing a translation. I wish I knew the Tabasaran language. I cannot convey the sounds of the novel’s strophes in this rare language. So, I bow my head in admiration for Gulbika Omarova’s work.

And that's not all.

The contribution of other linguists from the valleys and highlands of the Caucasus was also remarkable. Chechen Hussein Khatayev translated the novel two years ago. The Kabardian Mida Shaoyeva translated it a year ago, Adyge Asker Baste did so in 1999 and Balkarian Salikh Gurtuyev, in 2010. Those who criticize Russia for its lack of attention to national cultures should stop, after all. Let’s take, for example, “Eugene Onegin.” The novel has become well-known almost in every saklia (a dwelling of Caucasian peoples) and in every mountain village, among almost all the Caucasian peoples. Whoever denies my conclusion is mistaken.


Central Asian peoples have peculiar story of relations with Pushkin. Probably, it is the most interesting part of my research.

The Kazakhs love Pushkin and the characters of his novel in the most passionate way.

I already told you about Abai. He evoked interest towards the novel among many members of the public. In particular, in Kuvat Teribayev, a member of the Shadai aul collective farm No. 27 of Aksu district in the Almaty region. He translated the novel into Kazakh when he was young. And he did it in a very unusual manner so that his translation was passed on by word of mouth, a traditional form of texts’ transmission in steppe villages. In 1930s, the Socioldi Kazakhstan republican newspaper sent a poet from the editorial office to him. He wrote down 600 songs in Arabic transcription from Teribayev. Before 1930, the Kazakhs wrote in Arabic, and then switched over to the Roman script and to the Cyrillic script in 1940. From 2017, they Romanized their writing again.

How can people's love for someone else's genius be expressed in more all-encompassing way?

Kazakhstan has evolved an amazing genre of translated dastans -- an ornate form of oral stories, folklore renderings and freewheeling ballads. Poet Aset Nymanbaev composed his dastan “Onegin and Tatiana” based on Pushkin's novel. His Tatiana Larina commits suicide when she learns that Onegin was killed in a duel. It was Onegin, not Lensky, as in Pushkin’s original version. However, the steppe stories usually end up sadly, and their main characters pass away. Of course, the tradition is unlikely to be broken for Pushkin.

In 1937, four more free translations of “Eugene Onegin” were published in Kazakh. They were made by Kuvat Teribayev whom I already mentioned, as well as Sapargali Alimbetov, Arip Tanirbergenov and Esensary Kunanbayev. The Kazakh names and surnames already sound like poetry, don’t they? Though I am a Slavophile and a national loyalist deep at heart, I admit that Russian Ivanov, Petrov and even Sidorov are much inferior in sounding to Alimbetov, Kunanbayev and Teribayev. Well, my surname Ustyuzhanin that I got from my great grandfathers, can still compete with them. However, I have a prejudice in favour of the Kazakh ones. The same Petrovs have the right to object by asking me what I actually mean. Our surnames are simple and short but they reflects the history of Russia. And it is truth. “Be beautiful, Petrograd, and stand firm.” Nothing of this kind was ever written about the township of Ustyuzhna or Velikiy Ustyug by Pushkin. My last name is not so outstanding in direct and figurative meaning and doesn’t contain any significant historical material.

But let’s get back to the Kazakh phenomenon.

After Abai, professional translations of “Eugene Onegin” also were published in Kazakhstan. They were done by Ilyas Dzhansugurov in 1937, Kuandyk Shatginbaev in 1949 and Kakimbek Salykov in 2007.

I believe that the Kazakhs are unconditional leaders as regards translations of this novel in verse. To my thinking, this reverence for “Eugene Onegin” indicates maturity of the national literary language.

If there is only a little set of expressive means why should there be an impressive number of translators? The connection is obvious. Meanwhile, all Central Asian republics received “Eugene Onegin” in their native languages at different times.

Musa Tashmuhamedov, better known as Aybek, presented his translation to the Uzbeks in 1937. Then in 1986, Merzo Kenjabek also translated it into Uzbek. Erns Tursunov translated the novel into Kyrgyz in 1967. Muhiddin Farhat did a translation into the Tajik language in 1967. Mamed Seyidov and Anna Kovusov enabled the Turkmens to read “Eugene Onegin” in their mother tongue in 1974.

Central Asia seems to be very interested in Pushkin’s literary heritage.


I'm glad that my namesake was also engaged in translation of Pushkin's novel.

In 1997, Vasily Regezh-Gorokhov translated Onegin into the Mari language. In Yakut it was done by Dyuon Dyanyly (Gavriil Makarov in Russian,) a frontline soldier. It was the war that inspired him to do it. The shell fragment fell into Dyuon’s bag with Pushkin’s collection. The book saved his life. While at hospital, he began working on the translation of “Eugene Onegin.” He completed it later on, as a student at the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute in Moscow.

That is not the whole story about translations of the novel. To make the picture complete, it would be necessary to mention the Estonian poetess Betty Alver, Lithuanian Antanas Venclav, Chuvash Peter Huzangay, Kalmyk Basang Georgiev, Udmurt Rosa Yashina and Mordvinian Kuzma Abramov. Their quills also touched the Russian genius and his novel.

To my disappointment, I did not find any translations of “Eugene Onegin” in the Bashkir and Buryat languages. I believe that their time will come. And also time of Khanty, Mansi, Nanaians, Nenets, Khakassians, and Kamchadals. And of course, of the Tungus. All the more so, that nowadays the “wild Tungus” is a modern advanced Evenk speaking the modern advanced Evenk language. It has a huge number of dialects and three parlances – southern, northern and eastern. What else does the translation of Pushkin need?

If you noticed, I said almost nothing about the quality of translations. What for? Lets’ leave it to the critics. I would rather focus on the names of those who were not afraid of this demanding challenge and presented the Russian genius and his brilliant novel in verse to their fellow countrymen.

P.S. I will finish my review with an unusual example of the novel’s translation, the translation from Russian to ... Russian. It was done by our contemporary Andrey Chernov. He is a writer, a historian, a reporter, a poet and, obviously, a man of rare talents. He presented not a translation, but his own reconstruction of the tenth chapter of “Eugene Onegin” that was destroyed by Pushkin. For this purpose, he merged himself with Pushkin’s personality and dipped the pen in his inkwell. The outcome turned out to be brilliant. I accidentally bought his book in a flea market. I was absorbed in reading and found that it was almost authentic Pushkin. So, sometimes it happens.

Well, there is some more food for thought.

“The devil commanded me to be born in Russia, with soul and talent,” Pushkin once wrote in the heat of the moment. However, the devil was kind. Most likely, it was a disguised angel who sealed Pushkin’s fate to be born in Russia. Merely, geniuses sometimes do not understand their happiness in their lifetime. Well, where and in what other country would the personages of a lyrical novel speak in this inconceivable variety of languages? Isn't it an enviable fate and a happy destiny?

I like more another Pushkin's confession made in a letter to Chaadayev: “I am far from admiring everything that I see around me. As a writer, it makes me sad. As a man with prejudices, I got offended. However, I swear to you by honor that for no reason in the world would I want to change my homeland and have a different story than that of our ancestors, as God has predetermined us.”

This is “not a boy's speech, but that of an adult male.” That is Pushkin, who is significant and dear to me. These are the revelations from which future masterpieces are born. Masterpieces that captivate the reader. So, the most talented of them got an inspiration to translate them into their native languages. Honor and praise to this glorious tribe of enthusiasts. I dedicated my review paper to them who are obsessed with Pushkin, crazy, totally in love with Pushkin and encouraged by his muse.

I look at the cover of “Eugene Onegin” translated by Mida Shaoeva or, to be more precise, into, in the Kabardinian dialect of Circassian (Adyghe). For 21 years, she worked on Pushkin’s novel. It was published in December last year. It turns out that it is the most recent translation of the novel into the languages of the world.

“Eugene Onegin” translation in Ossetian was done by Nafi Jusoita. His way to Onegin was thorny – through the war, study at the Pedagogical Institute and the Institute of Russian Culture and work in the party committee, in the Main Administration for Safeguarding State Secrets in the Press, in the newspaper and at a research institute. It was a typical pathway of a Soviet poet and translator.

There is a monument to Abai and Pushkin in Kazakhstan's Petropavlovsk. Abai was the first to pave the way to “Eugene Onegin” on the outskirts of the Russian Empire.

A photocopy of a leading article in the January issue of the Literary Gazette. The year of 1937. The whole issue is devoted to the problems of translators’ work. In the USSR, the same importance was given to it as to a writers' work. That is why the requirements were extremely high. The author of the article warns translators against three dangers – formalism, naturalism and impressionism. A naturalist deifies every word and comma. He looks not like a virtuoso in music, but like a soulless accompanist in a restaurant. A formalist deifies the form. An impressionist has the shortcomings of both. And that's why he cannot express the soul of a masterpiece either. Poor fellow translator! If you go to the right, you'll become a formalist. If you turn left, you'll become a naturalist. If you move straight forward, you'll be an impressionist. Where will the poor translator go? But in the end, the Soviet translation school was one of the best in the world. Maybe the author of the editorial was right.

Gyulbika Omarova is the author of the translation of “Eugene Onegin” into the Tabasaran language. She is a member of the Union of Writers of Russia and she works at the Tabasaran drama theatre in Derbent.

In the subtitle of the article, I wrote that “Eugene Onegin” was translated into Tabasaran in the Soviet Union. But it is not true. Gyulbika Omarova did it in post-Soviet Russia in 2018. However, she started working on the translation back in the USSR. All of us who live today are from there. So my inaccuracy is deliberate.

Did Alexander Pushkin know about the mountain people of the Tabasarans? I suspect that yes. He had been to the Caucasus. But why didn't he laud it? I guess he just didn't have time. He’d better have another trip to the mountains. Unfortunately, life was short. But what Pushkin didn't have time to do, the Dagestani poetess Gyulbika Omarova did. She celebrated Pushkin. Nothing and no one falls into oblivion.

“Eugene Onegin” was translated into Latvian by Herbert Dorbe. Riga. The year of 1929. Dorbe is a well-known writer and poet in Latvia. He could read Pushkin for hours in two languages. The memorial house-museum of Dorbe is located in Ventspils. I have never been there. But I will definitely visit it on my next trip to Latvia.

In 1967, “Eugene Onegin” was translated by Ernsa Tursunov in Kyrgyz. My command of the language is very poor. But it is enough to estimate the accuracy of translation of the last line of the first chapter of the novel: “When will the devil come for him!” In the Russian and Kirgiz languages, the word “devil” sounds very similar. So, I feel the connection.

Interestingly, Ernes Tursunov graduated from Moscow Lomonosov State University. There is also a direct connection between Lomonosov and Pushkin.

The novel was translated into Ukrainian by Maxim Rylsky, People's poet of Ukraine.

Still, it was much easier for the Belarusian and Ukrainian translators “get” the rhyme and the images of Pushkin’s characters. These are kindred languages. We got common phonetics, vocabulary and morphology from the ancient Slavs. After the Kiev Duchy fell apart, the common Old Russian writing system did so, too. Everyone spoke their dialects. However, Pushkin only benefited from this. He made the Russian language somewhat heavenly pure. Ukrainians and Belarusians also had their Pushkins, Lermontovs, Nekrasovs such as Taras Shevchenko, Maxim Rylsky, Pavlo Tychina, Yanka Kupala, Jakub Kolas and Maxim Tank. But everybody drank water from one spring.

The translation into Belarusian was done by Arkady Kuleshov, People's poet of Belarus.

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