Tag: Author: Ivan Turgenev

So You Want to Read… (Ivan Turgenev)

Posted 26 December, 2017 by Lianne in Lists / 0 Comments

So You Want to Read… is a monthly feature here on eclectictales.com in which I recommend books by particular authors to readers who have never read a book from certain authors and would like to start. I’m always happy to recommend books and certain authors to my fellow readers and bloggers! 🙂

And here we are, it’s December once again and so it’s another round of So You Want to Read…! I’ve been having a lot of fun putting these posts together and I hope you also have been discovering a lot of new books through these posts. I’ve been getting busier in the past year so like many things, this feature will also be re-jigged in the coming year. It will still be featured in 2018 but I think the frequency might change depending on how the year shapes up and how much content I have to share. I’ll repeat the news in the December updates 🙂

So anyway, for this month I decided to feature Russian classic author Ivan Turgenev. As winter begins to roll in, I have a tendency of turning towards the Russians; there’s something about the weather and the classics that just work together, and of course Russian winters also come to mind. Turgenev is one of my favourite Russian authors around, his stories are rich and characters and plots are fleshed out without sacrificing the underlying themes that he wants to discuss and vice versa. First time reading Ivan Turgenev’s works? Here’s my recommendations on where to start:

  • Fathers and Sons (review) — This was my first Turgenev book and it remains my absolute favourite from him (and one of my top favourite books ever, period). I had to read it for my Imperial Russian history class in university and it remains in my mind the perfect example of seamlessly balancing storytelling with sociopolitical commentary; I could not put this book down when I started reading it.
  • Home of the Gentry (review) — Another excellent novel from Turgenev about a man who returns home, disillusioned by his failed marriage, and is confronted not only with contrasts between living conditions and experiences but also possibilities of the future. There’s a few different themes that Turgenev explores in this book but is nonetheless excellent and quite the page-turner.
  • Rudin — If you want to start with something slightly shorter in length, there’s Rudin. It was easy to slip into the story and it’s sort of like a precursor to Fathers and Sons in that the novella explores the idea of the superfluous man and contrasts in generations and ideas of the Slavophiles verses the Westernisers in terms of the future of Russia. So if you want to read something like Fathers and Sons but not necessarily start with that book, you can start with this one (albeit it is not as fleshed out as the former).

And that’s my list! If you’ve read Ivan Turgenev’s books, which one is your favourite? Which would you recommend for first-time readers? Or which books have you been meaning to get around to reading? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you! 🙂

Review: Smoke

Posted 6 March, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 4 Comments

By: Ivan Turgenev
Format/Source: eBook

On his way back to Russia after some years spent in the West, Grigory Mikhailovich Litvinov, the son of a retired official of merchant stock, stops over in Baden-Baden to meet his fiancee Tatyana. However, a chance encounter with his old flame, the manipulative Irina – now married to a general and a prominent figure in aristocratic expatriate circles – unearths feelings buried deep inside the young man’s heart, derailing his plans for the future and throwing his life into turmoil.

You guys probably know this already, but Ivan Turgenev is my favourite classic Russian author (okay, on par with Leo Tolstoy and Anton Chekhov). A lot of the themes that he weaves into his stories are themes and subjects that have long interested me and that had fueled my academic studies. I’ve been a little slow getting around to his other books–some, I realised, I didn’t review, but they seem too short to warrant a review anyhow–but I was determined this winter to at least read one of his works (winter, after all, being the perfect time to read a Russian classic novel).

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Review: Home of the Gentry

Posted 25 April, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Home of the Gentry
By: Ivan Turgenev
Format/Source: eBook; my copy

The novel’s protagonist is Fyodor Ivanych Lavretsky, a nobleman who shares many traits with Turgenev. On one level the novel is about his homecoming, who, broken and disillusioned by a failed marriage, returns to his estate and finds love again – only to lose it. The sense of loss and of unfulfilled promise, beautifully captured by Turgenev, reflects his underlying theme that humanity is not destined to experience happiness except as something ephemeral and inevitably doomed. On another level Turgenev is presenting the homecoming of a whole generation of young Russians who have fallen under the spell of European ideas that have uprooted them from Russia, their ‘home’, but have proved ultimately superfluous. In tragic bewilderment, they attempt to find reconciliation with their land.

This is…I think the third book I’ve read by Ivan Turgenev. I was introduced to his work in my fourth year of undergrad when we had to read his infamous book Fathers and Sons. Unlike many books I had to read for class, this book utterly gripped me from the start and I did not put it down until I had finished it. To this day it remains one of my favourite novels. I was pretty excited to read this novel.

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Review: First Love

Posted 8 February, 2012 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

First Love
By: Ivan Turgenev

Love can be torture

At the end of a dinner party, the remaining guests smoke cigars and tell stories of their first love. For one of them, it will be a dark journey into his past, reawakening unbearable memories of his obsession with the beautiful Zinaida, and the cruelty and betrayal that followed…

Continuing the theme of love and my mood for some Russian literature, I picked up Ivan Turgenev’s First Love. This is the second work that I’ve picked up by this author, the first being his classic Fathers and Sons which I read for my undergraduate course in 19c Russian History. He’s interesting because he’s a rather accessible Russian author in the nineteenth century context, and he really draws the reader to his stories. Contains some spoilers ahead!

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Review: Fathers and Sons

Posted 1 February, 2008 by Li in Books / 0 Comments

Fathers and Sons
By: Ivan Turgenev

Despite of the fact that I am specializing in Russian history, I have not read a lot of Russian literature to date. So the fact that my 19c Imperial Russia professor assigned Fathers and Sons was welcoming in that sense. Of course, whenever a professor or teacher assigns a books, one gets a little wary of the book itself—after all, you have the deadline when the book has to be read by, the comments you have to make of them, the sorts of things you should be picking up as you read the book, etc, etc. Suddenly the book’s not fun anymore and you don’t get to appreciate the book as much. But Fathers and Sons falls under one of those exceptions where you find yourself completely immersed in the story and the setting and the characters. Each character in this novel represents a strand present in Russian society and yet they all have their own individual voices, they all have their own personalities that marks them as unique, as human. The story itself follows a young son, Arkady Petrovitch, who comes home from university with his nihilist mentor/friend named Bazarov, and finds himself in a totally different mindset and perspective from his father and uncle. It’s really a novel of perspectives, of how they view everyday life and how they come to terms with these realities. But the personal dynamics nad interactions were really what drew me in to the storyline. Unlike many readers who had read this book, I found myself more inclined to Arkady, his father and his family’s position and opinions moreso than Bazarov’s, who I found rather irritating with his blunt assessment of the world; he seemed to me a person without any sort of passion, who is incapable to ever reconciling with the fact that as humans we have passions and we do have emotions and that we bring meaning to the things we have. Like the movement he represents, he breaks things down, he questions everything and nothing is spared from his criticism and yet he is incapable of presenting a viable alternative to the things he just broke down. The reflections and dynamics that are represented in this novel are quite addicting to say the least; I personally couldn’t put the book down until I finished it. Easily one of my favourite Russian novels, a must-read.

Rating: ★★★★★

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