can we stop saying Onegin murdered Lensky? Because that would be great.
Thank you ever so much.
According to Wikipedia, it falls in the category of involuntary manslaughter, as Pushkin implies that Onegin fires a deadly shot by accident (ie. without the intent to kill).
Personally I cannot for the life of me understand why Onegin chooses to shoot Lensky anywhere close to the torso if he doesn’t want to kill him. But the man is already a magnificent dumpster fire from act 1, so I’m not surprised that everything he does is the equivalent of unpacking a pickaxe when he’s hit rock bottom.
Wow. Reading the book repeatedly for (omfg) almost 12 years and I’ve never, like not even once, thought – Hey, Onegin, babe, why did you actually SHOT Lensky?! Couldn’t you, I don’t know, fire somewhere else? Near his right shoulder for example or something, so it wouldn’t be painfully obvious you are trying to miss…
Like I know there was Zaretski, who apparently knew anything and everything about duels and was taking them pretty seriously and such and he probably wouldn’t be very happy about you sabotaging the whole thing, but christ, Eugene, you were feeling guilty right after accepting Lensky’s challenge, you knew this whole situation was your fault, you knew this was his right since he was naive, emotional, 18yo poet stupidly in love with a girl, who might not be so in it as he was as you were trying to prove, but come on, you were supposed to be the adult one here, more or less, and you yourself were aware of it! You loved him, for god’s sake!
Would it be so difficult to come and say – look, I fucked up, sorry.
Yes. Yes, it would. Because it was 1820′s, because you were an aristocrat, because the society worked in certain way and because it was you…
Now another question is, how would Lensky react to Onegin’s appology. Because he was furious, he wanted his revenge, but then he went to Olga and kind of realized how stupid, rash and mindless his challenge was.
I love Lensky and his death will always break my heart.
But let’s be real, my heart then breaks even more for Onegin, because right after Lensky fell dead, Pushkin wrote some of the most beautiful, poignant words in the whole novel.
“Tell me, of sentiment concealed
Which in your spirit dominates,
When motionless your gaze beneath
He lies, upon his forehead death,
And slowly life coagulates –
When deaf and silent he doth lie
Heedless of your despairing cry?”
chapter 6, XXXII
(English doesn’t make it justice, but what would you do with Czech, right? Tried to find Nabokov’s translation online somewhere, but to no avail…)
So, because I cannot help myself, here’s another note regarding the duel from Donald Rayfield, emeritus professor of Russian at Queen Mary Uni of London:
“When Lensky challenges Onegin to the duel, Onegin cannot refuse, nor does etiquette allow him merely to fire into the air.
If the duel turns so vicious in Puskin’s novel, it is because the seconds allow it to be so. Onegin does what he can to annul the duel: he turns up late, with his manservant, Guyot, as a second: an unpardonable insult to his oponent and to the other second…”
So basically as I said before – no, Onegin couldn’t just not show up, fire into the air or ignore it completely no matter how fucked up it can look to us now, only Lensky could cancel the whole affair and even then it would probably hurt his moral code or something.