Big Readers Forum Index


Tolstoy and other Russians
Page Previous  1, 2, 3  Next
 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Big Readers Forum Index -> Author, author! A forum for threads about individual authors.
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Please Register and Login to this forum to stop seeing this advertising.






Posted:     Post subject:



Back to top
Scousedog



Joined: 04 Dec 2008
Posts: 23



PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 2010 3:33 pm    Post subject:  Reply with quote

So where does Turgenev fit in the scheme of things.  I've just read Fathers and Sons for the second time (as it was a christmas present) and I have to say, I enjoyed it very much more than the first time around.  After reading a few modern novels it was refreshing to read a novel that gave a bit of effort to establishing the characters.  The Russians seem to be able to do more in one paragraph than most modern novelists manage in a whole book.  But maybe it's unfair comparing a first time Booker nominee to the Russian masters!

Scousedog


Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3864


Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 2010 6:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello there stranger! (And that dog in your avatar ain't scouse!)

Turgenev does get a bit overshadowed by Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, and unfairly so. I suppose it's because his novels are more modest in scale. And I supppose it's also because he was very level-headed, whereas the other two, for all their merits, really were complete nutters. Turgenev was also more Westernised than the other two, and there's not much of the "Holy Mother Russia" stuff in his works. Indeed, Dostoyevsky considered him a sort of traitor - someone who had betrayed his cultural heritage. Possibly this is why he is a bit underrated compared to the other two: when we read a Russian novel, we expect it to be about Holy Mother Russia - we expect it to be epic, and dealing with the existence of God, the fate of the human soul, and all that sort of thing. So when we come to Turgenev and find someone who is actually quite sane, and whose novels seem not too distant from the works of Gustave Flaubert and George Eliot and Henry James, we can't help feeling a bit disappointed: it doesn't have quite the flavour we think of as "Russian".

Fathers and Sons is a magnificent work, I think, and doesn't deserve to be overshadowed by any novel. Both Oxford World Classics and Penguin Classics have published new translations (by Richard Freeboorn and by Peter Carson), and I'd guess either of them would be worth a read. I still have the older translation buy Rosemary Edmonds, with a marvellous essay by Isaiah Berlin as introduction. (That essay can also be found in Berlin's collection entitled Russian Thinkers.)

Turgenev has written other very fine works, most of them sadly little known these days. His early collection of stories - Sketches From a Hunter's Album - are amongst the finest of all short stories. And I think you can still get the Penguin Classics editions of Rudin, On the Eve, and A Nest of the Gentry. (I still have the Penguin editions of these from my student days, but they don't seem very widely available now.) I think you need to hunt around a bit if you want his later novels Smoke and Virgin Soil, but they're worth hunting around for. Also unmissable is the lovely novella First Love.

One I haven't read, although I know it's available, is his novel Spring Torrents. Also, the A Month in the Country, the only play he ever wrote, is reputedly very fine. I have to look these up.


Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Evie
Site Admin


Joined: 24 Oct 2008
Posts: 3569


Location: Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK

PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 2010 7:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I adored Turgenev's novels in my late teens - Spring Torrents was the first one I read, and then Fathers and Sons and On the Eve.  I have to say I have never revisited them, and it is nearly 30 years now - I ought to re-read him, as much of the detail is hazy in my memory.


Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Scousedog



Joined: 04 Dec 2008
Posts: 23



PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 2010 8:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Himadri.  It was the Freeborn translation that I read, and it did flow very well.  And what a character Bazarov is!  Actually I think my favourite scenes involved the parents of both Arkady and Bazarov struggling to understand their sons.  Really moving.  

Turgenev did spend a lot of time with his contempories didn't he?  And lived in London and Paris for a while I think.  It's been a while so my memory is sketchy.  Talking of which, yes I've read Sketches from a Hunter's Album.  I went through a Turgenev collection phase a few years ago and have On the Eve, First Love, The Brigadier (and other short stories), Liza and Spring Torrents.  I should really get around to reading them.  First Love looks like a good place to start.  I think what has put me off reading more Turgenev is a general feeling that he is a bit dull.  Not sure where exactly I've got that impression from.  Maybe it's because he didn't go mad or get killed in a duel or something!

I really should get back into reading my Russians.  I've been through Pushkin, Gogol, Tolstoy and Lermontov, but I've still got stacks of books by Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Goncharov, Bulgakov and Gorky to get through.  Not to mention Nabakov!


Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Mikeharvey



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 3351


Location: Lancashire

PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2010 11:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Turgenev is a principal character in Tom Stoppard's trilogy of plays 'The Coast of Utopia' (2002). Part 1 -'Voyage', Part 2 - 'Shipwreck', Part 3 - 'Salvage'.  first performed at the National Theatre. The principal thread of the plays is the life and career of anarchist Michael Bakunin. These are very interesting, but sprawling plays, and bring in a huge cast of other people like Alexander Herzen and Marx.  
I saw the full trilogy on a single day starting at 10.30am. It was a mistake. By the time I sat down in the Olivier Theatre for Part 3 at 7.30 in the evening I was stuffed full of 19thC Russian politics.  But I recall a lovely performance from Guy Henry as Turgenev.


Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3864


Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2010 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Scousedog wrote:
I really should get back into reading my Russians.  I've been through Pushkin, Gogol, Tolstoy and Lermontov, but I've still got stacks of books by Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Goncharov, Bulgakov and Gorky to get through.  Not to mention Nabakov!


You missed out Isaac Babel, Vasily Grossman, Andrey Platonov and Boris Pasternak!  Very Happy  (And let's not forget Solzhenitsyn: I know he could be awfully ham-fisted at times, but for all that, The First Circle is a magnificent achievement.)

Another Russian novelist worth mentioning is Andrei Bely, whose novel Petersburg is mainly read in the western world because Nabokov rated it alongside the works of Joyce, Proust and Kafka as one of the major novels of the century. A couple of years ago, I read a translation by Robert Maguire and Joe Malmstad (I believe there also exists a more recenttranslation), and while it is clearly a major work, I could understand why it hasn't really taken off in the Western world: as the extensive notes at the back of the book indicate, the work is full of intricate wordplay that is inevitably lost in translation. The book is still worth reading, even in translation, if only to remind us that what we now call "modernism" seemed to be happening in Russia several years before it became a big thing in the West.

Another Russian novel from the early 20th century I'd love to get my hands on is The Little Demon (sometimes translated as The Petty Demon) by Fyodor Sologub, but all available translations seem to be out of print right now.


Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3864


Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2010 12:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And incidentally, a fine way to get an overview of russian prose fiction is through the Penguin anthology edited by Robert Chandler, Russian Short Stories from Pushkin to Buida. I was at a lecture Chandler gave shortly after this volume was published: he sought out for this what he thought were the finest translations (he chose Rosamund Bartlett's translations of Chekhov), and also translated a few of them himself.


Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Scousedog



Joined: 04 Dec 2008
Posts: 23



PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh yes, I do have Dr.Zhivago on my bookshelf!  The Penguin short stories has been on my wanted ist for a while now.


Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Evie
Site Admin


Joined: 24 Oct 2008
Posts: 3569


Location: Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK

PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 12:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also loved Mikhail Sholokhov's And Quiet Flows the Don, published in the 1930s.  There is a sequel too (The Don Flows Home to the Sea) which for some reason I haven't read.

It is fab to see you again, Scousedog!


Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3864


Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 12:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is there a more evocative opening sentence of any novel than that of Doctor Zhivago?

On they went, singing Eternal Memory.

I haven't read the Sholokhov novels, and dson't see them much in bookshops these days. I should hunt them out.



Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Big Readers Forum Index -> Author, author! A forum for threads about individual authors. All times are GMT
Page Previous  1, 2, 3  Next
Page 2 of 3

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum

Card File  Gallery  Forum Archive
Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group
Big Readers Theme by Mike Alexander
Based on Artemis by Vjacheslav Trushkin
Create your own free forum | Buy a domain to use with your forum