October 30, 2012 § Leave a comment
I return to Onegin often. Not on the strength of the love story, as most of you do, I am sure; but on account of the friendship-story: Onegin, a man from the capital, befriends a local boy; in conversation he lets slip that he finds the boy provincial; over which the boy challenges him to a duel — and dies shot through the head. In a way this summarizes my relationship with the world: here I am, the (sorry to sound stuck up, but this is the unadorned truth, the, as it were, facts of life) man of the world — seven languages, life divided between five countries on three continents, a man of vast reading with experience and expertise in several professions and several sciences — and over there is everyone else, lucky to be bilingual, lucky to have lived in two different countries, lucky to have held more than two jobs. This, it turns out, is not merely a source of misunderstanding but also a source of deep resentment. My provincial friends (which is, more or less, everybody) will not only often not understand what I am saying, they will also not be explained to. (There is a Dale Carnegie lesson in this: play dumb).