Turgenev: The Man, His Art and His Age

By Avrahm Yarmolinsky | Go to book overview

8 THE POET

In Berlin Turgenev had at times played with the idea that his studies might lead him to a chair of philosophy. The notion tickled his mother's vanity. Her Ivan a professor--why, that would be "the height of bliss" for her, she wrote to him on November 30, 1840. In March, 1842, as the first step toward the realization of his plan, he requested the University of Moscow to examine him for the degree of Master of Philosophy. The chair of philosophy being vacant there at the time, he went to Petersburg to take his examination at his alma mater.

His brother was then living in the capital with his wife, a former chambermaid of Varvara Petrovna's, whom he had secretly married the previous year, and the several weeks Ivan stayed in their apartment were some of the smoothest his life was to hold. He had a fine room, with a fireplace, three armchairs, quantities of pillows, and a desk with a lamp. The days began well with excellent tea, sipped out of large English breakfast cups, and delicious rolls. They wore on through placid hours, in which he lounged and crammed, warmed by the open fire, lulled by the dancing snowflakes outside, vaguely exhilarated by the profundities and promises of his texts. "Yesterday," he writes to the Bakunins on April 9, 1842, "I swallowed at one sitting Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz. Leibniz is still growling in my stomach. But without waiting I gobbled down Kant, and now I am getting my teeth into Fichte, and as this man is somewhat dry, I am putting him aside to write to you."

He goes on to note his train of thought as he sits, book on knee, before the fire: he reads a line of his philosopher, decides that the fire needs wood, puts it on, reads another line, suddenly recalls a verse of Lermontov; he yawns, paces over

-61-

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Turgenev: The Man, His Art and His Age
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Preface To The First Edition ix
  • Contents xi
  • Errata xiv
  • Illustrations xv
  • 1 - In Which a Russian Is Scratched 3
  • 2 - "Shades of The Prison-House" 9
  • 3 - "The American" 18
  • 4 - Adolescence 26
  • 5 - The Immaculately Conceived 33
  • 6 - "The Sphere Of The Ideal" 42
  • 7 - Love, Carnal And Spiritual 52
  • 8- The Poet 61
  • 9 - Belinsky's Disciple 74
  • 10 - November First, Eighteen Forty-Three 81
  • 11 - The Dark Lady 90
  • 12 - "I Am Chained To The Earth" 101
  • 13 - "Bonne Nuit, Maman" 110
  • 14 - The Crown of Martyrdom 120
  • 15 - The Turning Of the Road 128
  • 16 - "The Only Woman" 139
  • 17 - Folly's Due 154
  • 18- A Nest of Gentlefolk 164
  • 19 - On the Eve 173
  • 20 - The Nihilists 182
  • 21 - Freedom 191
  • 22 - Fathers and Children 200
  • 23 - Different Clay 210
  • 24 - "I Am a European" 221
  • 25 - "Dearest, Dearest . . ." 231
  • 26 - The Baden Nest 241
  • 27 - Smoke 250
  • 28 - The Expatriate 258
  • 29 - Meek Pagan And 268
  • 30 - Thirty Devonshire Place 279
  • 31 - The French Home 291
  • 32 - Virgin Soil 302
  • 33 - A Marriage of Souls 314
  • 34 - Paris: Friends and Strangers 324
  • 35 - "Au Revoir in America!" 336
  • 36 - The Return Of the Native 347
  • 37 - Reconciliation 361
  • 38 - Phoenix Love 370
  • 39 - "Time to Take Leave" 380
  • Bibliographical Note 393
  • Chronology 396
  • Index 399
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