The Golden Gate (Vikram Seth novel)

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The Golden Gate
First edition
Author Vikram Seth
Country India
Language English
Publisher Random House
Publication date
12 March 1986
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 307 pp
ISBN 0-394-54974-0
OCLC 12081140
813/.54 19
LC Class PR9499.3.S38 G65 1986

The Golden Gate (1986) is the first novel by poet and novelist Vikram Seth. The work is a novel in verse composed of 590 Onegin stanzas (sonnets written in iambic tetrameter, with the rhyme scheme following the unusual ababccddeffegg pattern of Eugene Onegin). It was inspired by Charles Johnston's translation of Pushkin's 1833 Russian classic, Eugene Onegin.

Set in the 1980s, The Golden Gate follows the lives of a group of yuppies in San Francisco.

The novel brought its author the 1988 Sahitya Akademi Award for English, by the Sahitya Akademi, India's National Academy of Letters.[1]


At the time of the novel's composition, Seth was a graduate student in Economics at Stanford University [1]; portions of it make reference to the Printers Inc. Bookstore and Cafe in Palo Alto, California (sections 8.13 and 8.14). Seth described the origins of the novel as a "pure fluke." While conducting tedious research for his dissertation, Seth would divert himself with trips to the bookstore.

"On one such occasion, I found in the poetry section, two translations of Eugene Onegin, Alexander Pushkin's great novel in verse. Two translations but each of them maintained the same stanzaic form that Pushkin had used. Not because I was interested in Pushkin or Eugene Onegin, but purely because I thought, this is interesting technically that both of them should have been translated so faithfully, at least as far as the form goes. I began to compare the two translations, to get access to the original stanzas behind them, as I don’t know Russian. After a while, that exercise failed, because I found myself reading one of them for pure pleasure. I must have read it five times that month. It was addictive. And suddenly, I realized that this was the form I was looking for to tell my tales of California. The little short stories I had in my mind subsided and this more organically oriented novel came into being. I loved the form, the ability that Pushkin had to run through a wide range of emotions, from absolute flippancy to real sorrow and passages that would make you think, during and after reading it."[2]


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