Pushkin spent over seven years writing Yevgény Onégin, from May 1823 until September 1830. In fact, work on the piece lasted until the first edition was published in 1833.
Pushkin did not labor over any of his other novels for such a long period. The novel, not written “in a single breath,” is composed of verses and chapters written at different times, in different circumstances, and at different periods in the creative process. The Russian literary critic V. G. Belinsky called Yevgény Onégin “the encyclopedia of Russian life.” The work is a wide scale metaphor that reflects the innovative nature of this novel, that has incorporated much socio-historical, and literary materials. The location of the novel is unique not only because of the great variety of locations, but also thanks to the tremendous detail surrounding each location—both capital cities play a role in the novel, as well as the provinces of central Russia.
The novel presents the reader with details of many aspects of the life of Russian royalty at the beginning of the 19th century—including fashion, food, furniture, and lifestyle.
The novel Yevgény Onégin highlights literary trends of the period, as well the economics, social policy, humor, controversial issues of the time, etc.
The goal of the course is to expose students to Russian aristocrat culture of the early 19th century based on this specific novel and the examination of many of the events of the time as seen through the eyes of Pushkin and his contemporaries.