Turgenev: The Man, His Art and His Age

By Avrahm Yarmolinsky | Go to book overview

17
FOLLY'S DUE

It was cold comfort to be sitting on the edge of another man's nest, even if the edge was broad and well cushioned. And yet it must have been clear to Turgenev that this was the prospect he was facing. "By the way," he wrote to Tolstoy early in the new year 1857, "what are the absurd rumors that are spreading among you? Her [ Pauline Viardot's] husband is well, has never been better, and I am as far from a wedding as you, for example." He was tormented by the thought that he had wasted his life, let it slip between his fingers. His youth was far behind him, and there was no use stirring the ashes: not a spark remained under them. He was too old not to have a real home of his own. Where was he to live? What should he do with the rest of his days? If only he could work! But his ailment unfitted him for any effort that demanded concentration. His bladder trouble had worsened, and he blamed the climate of Paris for it. He thought his pain was a symptom of gallstones, the disease that had killed his father, and this added to his distress. Tolstoy, after staying with him for a while, wrote home that he was "pitiful to see."

To make matters worse, his collected stories in three volumes, issued toward the close of 1856, met with a cool reception. At least so he believed. Obviously, he was bankrupt, his talent had run dry. In a letter dated March 1, 1857, he told Botkin that his prose was as bad as his verse had been and that all he could in decency do was retire. The young Tolstoy, who was in Paris, holding his tongue and taking in everything about him, was the only hope of Russian literature. "As for me," Turgenev wrote, "let me whisper in your car, with the request not to repeat it to anyone: except for the piece ( "The Trip to the Woodlands") promised to Druzhinin [editor of the review, Biblioteka dlya Chteniya], I will not publish or,

-154-

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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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