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Old 08-19-2018, 11:19 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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John, I do very much hope that you enjoy “Mr. Either/Or.” I confess I hadn’t been thinking of Eugene Onegin with the epigraph. But you got me curious about parallels between him and Camus’ Meursault:

From a review of the opera Eugene Onegin:

Speaking of Camus, there is the chance we may take this opera not as a Victorian paean to dull responsibility but as a relentless portrayal of an absurd man. After all, Eugene Onegin, though central to the action, seems hardly ever present to us and, even less, to himself. Tatiana steals the first act from him, Lensky the second, and Gremin the third. Onegin postures, causes lots of damage, but never makes contact with a real motive or cause. More than Prufrock, he is the Hollow Man. He rejects love, kills his friend, does a poor imitation of Byron, and then is abandoned, as lost as ever. And why? He has done none of this for any reason, his murder of his friend making Meursault’s shooting of the Arab in Camus’ The Stranger seem deeply motivated. Worse, Onegin is not even the victim of any external forces. We’ve known Oedipus, and Gene here is no Oedipus, not even a Willy Loman. Just what we tough post-modernists recognize and thrill to: he’s so like us.

Jim, thank you very much for reading and thinking so seriously about that final stanza. I was wondering whether the poem effectively “opens outward” with the “we” there, and you have confirmed that it is working.
Thanks, thanks as always.

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Old 08-19-2018, 11:40 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Aaron,

I also liked the move to "we."
Yes, that seems exactly right for Onegin. He's not alone: Lermontov's contemporaneous A Hero for Our Time is a hero cut from pretty much the same cloth. The Russian Romantics did interesting stuff. Superb, actually.

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Old 08-19-2018, 02:29 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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Hi Aaron,

I remember critting an earlier version of this and enjoyed revisiting it. I like that close is open to be read as finding freedom or killing himself. I seem to recall it ended this way (with this ambiguity), or came to, in the first version you posted. Is this a return to the original ending?

S1L4, "the moment I came around" or "as soon as ..." might be more dramatic than "whenever".

S7 is the one I'm least sure of. A brain state isn't a location so it's hard to imagine a stent being placed there. I guess you could argue something like: it wasn't really in his brain, only in his state of mind. Maybe. For me, "sum" doesn't rhyme with "room", and stands out after so many pure rhyme triplets -- or perhaps it does for those who know Latin, but I've not heard it pronounced that way. I guess there are dialects of English where 'room' might be pronounced so as to rhyme with 'sum'. I do like "the Ur-urges bloom", though I'm not sure how the "cogito ergo sum" can "well up thick and fast", though not a big deal I guess, or that this kind of seemingly high-level thought would exists this deep down where the ur-urges bloom. Though I like "cogito ergo sum" -- it suggests to me that his assumed existence as a spied-upon person is a product of his thought.


Last edited by Matt Q; 08-19-2018 at 05:31 PM.
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Old 08-19-2018, 03:30 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Btw, do you know of the novel/movie Shutter Island? Directed by Martin Scorsese. Great movie. A psychological thriller about a person's descent into madness.
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Old 08-19-2018, 04:49 PM
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Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
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Aaron, I have never been hostile to you. However, I will respect your wish that I stop providing feedback on your poems.
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Old 08-19-2018, 05:54 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Jim, I do know the movie “Shutter Island.” It is spooky indeed. Leonardo Di Caprio is particularly good in it. I’m glad my poem evoked that movie. Thanks.

Matt, I will take your “the moment I came around.” That is much better. Thank you.

I did go back to something like the original last line. It used to be “and struck freedom at last.” I think “and broke loose life at last” is better, richer in the death/freedom resonance.

In the States most Latinists use what is called the “restored pronunciation” for Latin. We think that it is closer to the way the Classical Romans spoke. (The UK, in contrast, has a living Latin tradition that goes back to the Romans but has evolved—your pronunciation is more Italianate.) I learned to pronounce “sum” as “soom” and “Summa Theologica” with “sooma,” for example. I am willing to accept that some readers will find “sum” an off-rhyme. There’s nothing I can do about the variation in the pronunciation.

Thank you,
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