Pushkin was the first Russian writer of European stature, and he is among the very few artists - such as Homer and Shakespeare - to have shaped the consciousness and history of an entire nation and its language, thereby affecting the world at large. Eugene Onegin is not merely the greatest poem in the Russian language by its most influential poet: it is a global culture, social and political icon of the highest order. The historical power of this work - a novel in verse - is made all the more extraordinary by the simplicity of its subject. Eugene Onegin is a story of disappointed love. Tatyana falls for the handsome Eugene to whom she daringly makes advances. He cooly rejects her, then flirts with her sister, Olga. When challenged by Olga's fiance, Lensky kills him in a duel, seemingly indifferrent to the grief he causes. (Ironically, Puskhin himself was to be killed in similar circumstances in 1937, some seven years after he completed the work). Onegin leaves the district. When he returns four years later, Tatyana has married another man and it is her turn to reject his advances. But it turns out that Onegin's hauteur is affected: he has always loved her passionately. She loves him too and both reflect painfully on what might have been.
Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin—Eugene Onegin