The Russians, revering Alexander Pushkin as a national hero, see his novel in verse, Eugene Onegin, as the pinnacle not only of his oeuvre, but of their entire literature. Its brilliant sonnets are traditionally memorized by youngsters, and even today nearly any Russian adult can quote many passages with fervor. No literary work plays a comparable role in the English-speaking world. The plot swirls around Onegin - a disillusioned roue who mourns youth's passing, his poet-friend Vladimir Lensky and two neighbor-girls - perky Olga and pensive Tanya. Infatuation leads to disappointment, jealousy to duelling, and in the end, obsession to rejection, in a twist that leaves readers hanging. But the novel's charm resides as much in its digressions as in its plot, for Pushkin exploits the "Onegin stanza" as a device for musing on wine, women's legs, poetry, hypocrisy - whatever strikes his fancy. In 1999 - Alexander Pushkin's bicentennial year - here is his poetic masterpiece in a new American translation by Douglas Hofstadter, author of Godel, Escher, Bach and Le Ton beau de Marot.