Ivan Turgenev

Turgenev, Ivan Sergeyevich

Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev (ēvän´ syĬrgā´əvĬch tōōrgā´nyĬf), 1818–83, Russian novelist, dramatist, and short-story writer, considered one of the foremost Russian writers. He came from a landowning family in Orel province, and his cruel, domineering mother was a great influence on his life. Turgenev studied in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Berlin, and he became an enthusiastic advocate of the Westernization of Russia. His early writings were published in Nekrasov's journal The Contemporary. He won his first success in 1847 with "Khor and Kalinich," a sympathetic story of peasant life, which was published later, with similar stories, in A Sportsman's Sketches (1852). In this book he attacked serfdom, and it is thought that this work helped induce Alexander II to emancipate the serfs. Turgenev's most fruitful period was the decade 1850–60, the latter half of which he spent in Western Europe. In his novels of this period, which include Rudin (1855), A Nest of Gentlefolk (1859), and On the Eve (1860), Turgenev is concerned with Russian social and political issues. His masterpiece, Fathers and Sons (1862), deals with nihilist philosophy and personal and social rebellion. The novel was severely criticized, and Turgenev resolved to remain outside Russia, where he could continue his lifelong love affair with the French singer Pauline Viardot-Garcia. His last long works were Smoke (1867) and Virgin Soil (1877), both of which treated social themes. Turgenev also wrote several plays, including A Month in the Country (1850), in which he made several dramatic innovations that Chekhov later developed, and the comedy A Provincial Lady (1851). His superbly crafted novellas and short stories are considered his greatest works, including "First Love" (1870), "A Lear of the Steppe" (1870), and "Torrents of Spring" (1872). His works remain enormously popular in the USSR. Almost all of them are available in English.

See his Literary Reminiscences (1958); his letters (tr. 1960); biographies by D. Magarshack (1954), A. Yarmolinsky (rev. ed. 1959), and J. A. T. Lloyd (1942, repr. 1971); study by R. Freeborn (1960).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Borzoi
Ivan Turgenev; Harry Stevens.
Alfred A. Knopf, 1950
Librarian’s tip: Includes Turgenev's novels "Smoke," "Fathers and Sons," "First Love," "On the Eve," "Rudin," "A Quiet Spot (The Backwater)," and "The Diary of a Superfluous Man"
Three Famous Plays
Ivan Turgenev; Constance Garnett.
Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd., 1951
Librarian’s tip: Includes "A Month in the Country, " "A Provincial Lady," and "A Poor Gentleman"
Turgenev: The Novelist's Novelist, a Study
Richard Freeborn.
Oxford University Press, 1960
Turgenev: The Man, His Art and His Age
Avrahm Yarmolinsky.
Orion Press, 1959
Beyond Realism: Turgenev's Poetics of Secular Salvation
Elizabeth Cheresh Allen.
Stanford University, 1992
Russian Writers: Their Lives and Literature
Janko Lavrin.
D. Van Nostrand, 1954
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Eight "Ivan Turgenev"
Russia Discovered: Nineteenth-Century Fiction from Pushkin to Chekhov
Angus Calder.
Heinemann, 1976
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Fiction and Politics: The Art of Turgenev"
The Realist Novel
Dennis Walder.
Routledge, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Six "Reading Fathers and Sons"
The Mirror in the Roadway a Study of the Modern Novel
Frank O'Connor.
Alfred A. Knopf, 1956
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 9 "Turgenev and the Cult of the Will"
The Power of the Story: Fiction and Political Change
Michael Hanne.
Berghahn Books, 1994 (Revised edition)
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "Ivan Turgenev: A Sportsman's Notebook"
Politics and the Novel
Irving Howe.
Horizon Press, 1957
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Turgenev: The Politics of Hesitation"
The Fine Art of Literary Mayhem: A Lively Account of Famous Writers and Their Feuds
Myrick Land.
Holt Rinehart and Winston, 1963
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "'I Beg You To Forget My Existence,' Cries the Gentle Ivan Turgenev"
FREE! Essays on Russian Novelists
William Lyon Phelps.
Macmillan, 1916
Librarian’s tip: Chap. III "Turgenev"
Poets and Story-Tellers: A Book of Critical Essays
David Cecil.
Macmillan Co., 1949
Librarian’s tip: "Turgenev" begins on p. 123
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