Eugene Onegin has been translated into English over forty times; the most renowned versions are listed below
The very first translation was published by colonel Henry Spalding in 1881; in the 1930s three other versions were introduced—by Oliver Elton (revised in 1995 by A. D. P. Briggs), by Dorothea Prall Radin with George Z. Patrick and by Babbette Deutsch.
A version presented by Babbette Deutsch was widely considered canonical until the 1960s when Walter W. Arndt and Vladimir Nabokov published their editions. The translations by Arndt and Nabokov are considered both fundamental and mutually exclusive—not least due to their argument over Eugene Onegin and nature of verse translations in general, creating one of the biggest literary disputes of that era.
In 1963, Walter Arndt published a verse translation of Eugene Onegin preserving the rhyme schemes and metrical structure of Pushkin’s text. Vladimir Nabokov reviewed Arndt’s work in an essay entitled “On Translating Pushkin Pounding the Clavichord” that was published in The New York Review of Books. Nabokov furiously criticised Arndt’s translation; according to him, the attempt to preserve the original iambic tetrameter resulted in Arndt’s defacing Pushkin’s spirit and the literal meaning of the novel. Arndt replied with a letter “Goading the pony” that was followed by an article “The strange case of Pushkin and Nabokov” by Edmund Wilson, a critic who rose to Arndt’s defence and thus ruptured his close friendship with Nabokov.
In 1964, Nabokov published his own Eugene Onegin, drastically different from all the previous versions. While working on the translation he came to a conclusion that creating a relevant poetic text in English is impossible. So he made the most careful word-for-word lexical transcoding with a two-volume commentary. All the posterior translations are believed to be influenced by Nabokov’s work and his views on translation theory.
In 1977, Sir Charles Johnston published his Onegin that established itself as one of the best English versions of the novel, along with the translation of James E. Falen first published in 1990 and then in 1995.
Falen has carefully preserved the Onegin stanzas; his version is arguably the most loyal to the letter and spirit of Pushkin’s novel, and this audiobook, with hope, gives you the opportunity to appreciate it.
Here is James Falen’s commentary on his work: “Verse, perhaps, can be translated; great poetry is something else. Russian and English poetry do not look, sound, or behave very much alike; and by choosing to work on Pushkin's poem, in which the sheer beauty of sound is so vital a part of its effect and in which all the expressive resources of the Russian language are on masterful display, the translator may find himself casting an uneasy eye at Robert Frost's cautionary definition of poetry as 'what gets lost in translation'. All he can do, having begun, is keep to his task, reassuring himself that both Russian and English, after all, assemble consonants and vowels into sounds and words, into beauty and sense.”
In 1999 Douglas R. Hofstadter presented a more liberal, distinctly American and colloquial in style version of the novel. He believed that a contemporary translation should be done in contemporary English and taught himself Russian for the task.
In 2008 Stanley Mitchell published what appears to be the most appreciated of the recent versions.
There are also a number of less known translations; the full list can be found here.