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Eugene Onegin, a Russian gay gentleman

Zizek, Slavoj (2008) Eugene Onegin, a Russian gay gentleman. Lacanian Ink , pp. 130-141. ISSN 1049-7749.

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Official URL: http://www.lacan.com/lacinkXXXI9.html

Abstract

In our Politically Correct times, it is fashionable to discern homosexuality in the musical texture of some classic composers and thus redeem them - there are, for example, totally unconvincing and ridiculous readings of Schubert: he must have been gay, because his music is non-aggressive/penetrative/phallic, full of soft passages... In the case of Eugene Onegin, however, we stand on a much more firm ground. In the Fall of 1876 Tchaikovsky informed his closest family members of his intention to marry—a typical hysterical passage à l’acte, an act of ethical betrayal, of compromising one’s desire, i.e., a desperate attempt to thwart his homosexuality. Half a year later, the eagerly awaited “answer of the Real” came—Antonina Milyukova, his piano student a couple of years before, wrote to him, declaring that she was in love with him ever since. Tchaikovsky tactfully but firmly rejected her, and, at this precise moment, he threw himself into composing Eugene Onegin (starting with Tatyana’s letter to Onegin—he was already for some time playing with the idea of making a song out of this letter). As he later admitted, from this moment onwards, fact and fiction became inextricably entangled: he identified with Tatyana’s love for Onegin and was outraged at Onegin’s moralistic rejection, perceiving it as equal to his own rejection of Antonina. Consequently, he contacted Antonina again, telling her bluntly that he doesn’t love her, but is ready to marry her; he then left Antonina to make all the wedding preparations, while he escaped Moscow to a friend’s country estate, where he composed two thirds of the opera in five weeks. What followed is well known: the honeymoon was a nightmare, the desperate Tchaikovsky tried suicide and then quickly left his wife for a long tour of Western Europe.

Item Type: Article
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > Philosophy
Depositing User: Administrator
Date Deposited: 07 Jan 2011 12:27
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:18
URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/2250

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