The Gentle Barbarian: The Life and Work of Turgenev
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'A gentle giant', as the Goncourts called him, Turgenev emerged from the barbarous yet doting rules of a terrible mother, whose cruelties to her serfs are at the heart of his hatred of serfdom. He was saturated in femininity and could not write unless he was in love. When he freed himself from his mother, he became enslaved by the famous Spanish singer, Pauline Viardot, married to a Frenchman. He was heir to vast estates, a convinced Westerner, proud to be both European and deeply Russian, and one of the most civilized men of his time.
This is his story.
V.S. Pritchett The Gentle Barbarian The Life and Work of Turgenev Contents Acknowledgements Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Sources Chapter 1 Ivan Turgenev was born in the autumn of 1818 in Orel, a provincial capital some three hundred miles southwest of Moscow and halfway to Kiev. It was, in those days, a large town of distilleries, craftsmen in stone, glass,
Turgenev was torn by the fact that the West had declared against Russia and he rediscovered his patriotism at first: the eventual defeats brought home to him that the war would in a few years mark the end of the landowning class as an intellectual élite and the sole source of revolutionary or reformist ideas. Rudin is an enlargement of Turgenev’s powers: it establishes him as a dispassionate, apolitical novelist who watches political ideas as they filter into individual character. Only at the
there in silence and mastered him as one takes possession of a new dwelling. Litvinov was ashamed of himself no longer, but he was afraid: he burned with an intense and desperate fear: prisoners experience these opposite feelings and thieves after their first theft. The disturbing moments before the seduction, itself halting, half-sulking, inevitable, are carefully given that air of accident so necessary to incitement and yet covering the act. There is a tiny incident in which some dresses Irina
appearance of another possible gros monsieur, the tall general in the story. A reckless story teller himself, Turgenev invited malice in return for his witticisms. One possible witness is missing from the story: Porfiry, the half-brother and the serf-valet whom he took to Berlin—but perhaps he was not on the steamer and had been sent on by another route. But good came out of the disaster from Varvara Petrovna’s point of view when later on her son told his mother of the affair with Mme Tyutchev. A
end of the first part of the novel in which Markelov begins to have the force of a tragic figure. As a man of honour, reckless and incapable of spite or jealousy, indifferent to enemies, determined as an analyst and not deceived, Markelov does not spare his host: “If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything is ready, we shall never begin. If one weighs all the consequences beforehand, it is certain there will be some evil ones. For instance, when our predecessors organized