Eugene Onegin is a novel in verse, by the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. The main characters are Eugene Onegin, a young and bored man, and Tatiana, an even younger girl who falls in love with Onegin.

Onegin is said to be in his twenties during the main events of the novel, but I don't actually remember how old Tatiana was.

Do we know Tatiana's age, either from the novel or other sources?

This question was prompted by a guy on the Internet, who claimed that Onegin was 21, and Tatiana was 13, at the time she writes the letter. This is, of course, absurd.

  • "This is, of course, absurd." - why? Shakespeare's Juliet was only 13, and IIRC Romeo was several years older. Such things were more common centuries ago. Edgar Allan Poe married his cousin when he was 26 and she was 13. – Rand al'Thor Jun 10 '17 at 21:42
  • Maybe not that absurd, but I don't remember her age being mentioned the first time I read the novel (and the time I posted the question). – Gallifreyan Jun 10 '17 at 21:44
  • Lady Capulet had Juliet at age 12 or so. But yes, Tatiana was 17. – SAH Aug 7 '18 at 20:16

Some parts of the text suggest she was thirteen ...

I found this article, which summarises an analysis by Russian sexologist A. Kotrovsky and columnist E. Tchernych and concludes that Tatiana was probably only thirteen:

Pushkin uses the word otrokovitsa. This hard-to-pronounce Russian word is usually translated as maiden but in Pushkin’s time otrok (male) and otrokovitsa (female) referred to children from 7 to 15 years old.

In Chapter Three of Eugene Onegin Tatiana asks her nyanya (nanny) if she was in love in her age, and gets the answer:

“What nonsense, Tanya! In those other

ages we’d never heard of love:

why, at the thought, my husband’s mother

had chased me to the world above.”

”How did you come to marry, nyanya?”

“I reckon, by God’s will. My Vanya

was younger still, but at that stage


Then, in famous Chapter Four, Pushkin says:

To listen to the same tedious objections,

Do battle with rooted convictions,

Such as never were and never have been

Even in a young girl WHO’S JUST THIRTEEN!

... but Pushkin said she was seventeen.

In a letter of 29 November 1824 to his fellow poet Pyotr Vyazemsky, Pushkin wrote:

the sense is not quite precise, there is more truth in the letter - the letter of a woman - and, on top of that, a seventeen-year-old one - and on top of that a woman in love.

(quote found on pp. 85-86 of Pushkin's Tatiana by Olga Peters Hasty)

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  • 2
    By similar reasoning to this, I'm more inclined to believe Pushkin's letter. First of all, "young girl who's just thirteen" does not necessarily reference Tatiana. Secondly, Tatiana wasn't significantly younger than Olga; Olga and Lenskiy were approximately the same age; and Lenskiy was 18. – Gallifreyan Feb 11 '17 at 15:41

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