Books: Great Performance

EUGENE ONEGIN by Alexander Pushkin. Translated from the Russian with a commentary by Vladimir Nabokov. 4 vols. 1,850 pages. Pantheon. $18.50.

Educated Russians of the pre-Communist era could be expected to know long passages of Pushkin's Eugene Onegin by heart. The romantic (and mock-romantic) novel in verse about Onegin, the bored fop, Lenski, the pup-poet he kills in a duel, and Tatiana, the good girl who grows up, was the first master piece of the modern Russian language. But until now an American who did not read Russian could only nod politely when told...