Turgenev: The Man, His Art and His Age

By Avrahm Yarmolinsky | Go to book overview

16
"THE ONLY WOMAN"

"It is a pity that you are absorbed in a feeling for a single person." Thus Turgenev said to a young literary protégé who was about to marry for love. There was something to be said in favor of an unhappy marriage, but the cramping emotional routine of a successful union was fatal to the artist. One should approach every woman as a potential mistress: variety, not satisfaction, is what talent feeds upon. For himself, he found he could work best when the page was warmed by the glow of a casual affair, more especially with a married woman, "who can manage both herself and her passion." He could not understand this young man's curious predilection for a mere girl. As the years went by he was to regret that he had not married, but he seems to have retained the belief that any permanent relation with a woman was harmful to an artist.

That Turgenev was not always ready to pursue the game that sniffed at his traps is plain from such an incident as his affair with Yekaterina Ladyzhenskaya. The lady belonged to the eligible category of married women--indeed, was the mother of four children. Moved by a more than ordinary interest in literature, she started a correspondence with the author of A Sportsman's Sketches. The fact that she kept secret her epistolary adventure proved, even before she confessed the intention, that she had vaguely hoped to '"faire un peu de roman." At first Turgenev was complaisant, and spoke with absent-minded gallantry of her "beautiful hands" --the feature he was most sensitive to in women he admired --forgetting that he had never seen them. She managed to arrange a meeting at the house of a common friend, but to her further advances he turned a cold shoulder. He told Botkin that she was one of those women who keep chasing their

-139-

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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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