Turgenev: The Man, His Art and His Age

By Avrahm Yarmolinsky | Go to book overview

38
PHOENIX LOVE

Turgenev might prolong his visits home and even entertain the thought of settling there, but in the end he always returned to France. His periodic excursions into Russia were merely leaves of absence from the Viardots. They were to him "his own people," apart from whom he could not live. Away from them, he talked of them often and wrote to them regularly. As the girls grew into matrons and had children of their own, he became increasingly attached to them through his grandfatherly interest in their offspring. He found a bulletin about the health of Didie's little girl better reading, so he said, than the most absorbing magazine article. As for the child's grandmother, he had long since ceased to be swayed by the passion for her which had once made him unwilling to alter by a single dot her homely, fascinating face. But he was bound to her by that network of cumulative habit, residual sentiment, and accepted obligation which his unofficial, incomplete marriage, had, like most marriages, in the end become.

It was a strong bond. Polonsky even spoke of Turgenev's subjection as that of a hypnotic. Otherwise, how could the man, summering contentedly at Spasskoye, exclaim apprehensively: "What if Mme. Viardot should call me? Then I would have to go, I could not help it." One report had it that Turgenev himself regarded her as literally a "sorceress." People believed that she mistreated and exploited him. In saying that Turgenev was the Viardots' "milch cow," Henry James was undoubtedly repeating the gossip current among the novelist's countrymen in Paris. It was said that when Pauline was cross with him, she would make him don a fool's cap with bells and put him in a corner, and when he spoke Russian in her presence would scream: "Assez de votre languebarbare

-370-

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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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