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M. I. SHAPIR

TATIANA’S DREAM: RHYTHM — SYNTAX — MEANING
(Complementary Considerations)

 
 
 



 

Summary

This article expresses doubts about the validity of some conclusions drawn in the article by M. G. Tarlinskaja, and supplements it with the following correctives.

Firstly, all types of interlinear grammatical relations support the syntactic structure of the stanza in Eugene Onegin, and not only strong breaks (which are indicated in writing by a full stop, three dots, question or exclamation marks). The boundaries between sentences or between clauses (in the framework of a complex or compound sentence) more frequently coincide with the boundaries between the quatrains than with the other positions in the stanza; all links between parts of a simple sentence are less frequent in this position than in the others. In this respect, Tatiana’s dream is no exception: its peculiarity only consists in the fact that 80% of all syntactic boundaries between the first two quatrains are the boundaries between clauses.

Secondly, it is not correct to associate, as M. G. Tarlinskaja does, the general strengthening of relations between lines in Chapter 5 of Eugene Onegin with the motifs of dream and fortune-telling: what distinguishes these fragments from the rest of the chapter is a more strict correspondence between the rhyme structure and grammatical segmentation; at the same time, the syntactic isolation of quatrains in the “irreal” stanzas keeps abreast with the average figures for the entire novel. Against the background of a regular coincidence of the boundary between sentences and the boundary between strophoids, the rare cases of syntactic carrying-over are perceived as more expressive and emphasize the culmination points in the plot.

Thirdly, the smoothed out alternating rhythm of Chapter 5 does not result, pace M. G. Tarlinskaja, from close syntactic links between lines. In The Bronze Horseman, in which, as is well known, enjambements abound, the alternating rhythm is very clear; in reverse, in The Prisoner of the Caucasus, where, in the overwhelming majority of cases, the end of the strophoid coincides with the end of the sentence, the proportion of stresses on the second foot is not much higher than on the first foot. On the whole, the summary figures for the entire text of Chapter 5 do not reflect its rhythmic peculiarity. Fortune-telling and dream, if considered separately, are typified by a number of distinctive features, all of them with an archaic flavour: these fragments contain more fully-stressed lines, the third foot is pyrrhic much less frequently than in the rest of the chapter, while the proportion of stresses on the first foot is a little higher than the proportion of stresses on the second foot. In reverse, the rest of Chapter 5 does not have significant rhythmic peculiarities and remains within the frame of the general variability of the Onegin rhythm.

Fourthly, dependence has been found between the syntactic and rhythmic parameters of the stanza. In the “realistic” fragments of Chapter 5, the flatness of the stanzaic rhythm correlates with the syntactic amorphousness of the fourteen-line stanza. In return, the high proportion of stresses on the first, fifth and ninth line throughout the “phantasmagoric” episodes is determined by the fact that the beginning of the quatrain more often than not coincides with the beginning of the sentence. At the end of the stanza an increase in the proportion of stresses evokes the eighteen-century tradition and, matching the other rhythmic peculiarities, makes Tatiana’s fortune-telling and dream a semantic and stylistic unity.

 



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