Views of Turgenev


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Views of Turgenev

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des. 30, 2006, 4:24am

Can anybody remember what Nabokov said about Turgenev? It's well-known that he didn't like Dostoyevsky, and deeply admired the early Gogol, in addition to Anna Karenina. But Turgenev? he must've had some published thoughts. I just can't recall right now. Thanks.

des. 30, 2006, 9:12am

There is an analysis of Fathers and Sons in Lectures on Russian Literature. It is a detailed literary analysis, interesting but difficult to boil down to a couple of lines. Elsewhere in the book, he lists the four greatest prose writers in Russian (in order) as - Tolstoy, Gogol, Chekhov & Turgenev. He then says "This is rather like grading students papers and no doubt Dostoevski and Saltykov are waiting at the door of my office to discuss their low marks."

des. 30, 2006, 4:34pm

Thanks jargoneer. I've just finished reading The Sportsman's Notebook and it blew me away. But I couldn't for the life of me remember what the master said about its author. I've got a copy of Lectures on Russian Literature somewhere, and I'll look it up. Cheers.

jul. 5, 2007, 4:27pm

Has anyone here read Orhan Pamuk's Snow? If so, do you think, like I do, that it is a clever re-telling of Turgenev's Smoke? Turgenev's charms are less apparent than many of his countrymen - he lack's Dostoevsky's angst, Tolstoy's robustness, Gogol's sly humor - but he ages well. As I re-read him now, I see that his writing, more than the others, transcends place and time. He is the least provincial of Russian authors, in my view. It does not surprise me to hear of VVN's appreciation.

set. 11, 2007, 2:36pm

Recently came across this, in Lewis Dabney's Edmund Wilson: a life in literature:

"Nabokov had a proprietary attitude towards Russian fiction and he ranked Turgenev behind the other Russian greats" (pg.398)

Wilson, of course loved Turgenev.

Also, this typical Nabokovan smirk on Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago "a piece of pulp fiction, regrettably written by a poet he admired..." (p.403)

Wilson, again, giving way too much credit to the man Nabokov thought a "...lyrical doctor with penny-awful mystical urges and philistine turns of speech."

Ouch. But, oh, so true.

abr. 21, 2008, 7:03am

The stunning thing about Pamuk's Other Colours is that he includes essays - journslistic, short reviews - on both Dostoyevsky and Nabokov. Pamuk is a truly interesting man. He tries to reconcile the Apollonian VN and the Dionysian FD. In fact, as a Euro-centric intellectual in a third-world country (??) his ideas about FD are of the most striking kind. A European author could not have such insight.

set. 6, 2015, 9:58am

"Wilson, again, giving way too much credit to the man Nabokov thought a '...lyrical doctor with penny-awful mystical urges and philistine turns of speech.'"

That's as silly as Nabokov's views on Dostoevsky. I don't blame Nabokov -- creative artists in any field are full of personal prejudices, spite, envy, etc., and I tend to ignore bad things writers have to say about other writers and focus on what they love and admire -- but I do blame other people for taking it seriously. Wolfgang Kasack, a German expert on Russian literature, says Zhivago's "interwoven composition and multilayered message become evident only after several readings"; since I haven't yet read it in Russian, I won't take a position except to say that I'm quite sure Nabokov is wildly overstating what may be a valid reaction.

Editat: nov. 9, 2015, 12:08pm

I like Turgenev and rate him among the other masters of 19th century Russian literature. I don't know if I can place a 1, 2 and 3 order on them or why I would but he ranks in that upper part of that echelon.

Nest of Gentlefolk(Home of the Gentry), A Lear of the Steppes, The Diary of a Superfluous Man, Punin and Baburin are great maybe a bit sad and melancholic. I like to think of those feeling as indicative of the times. He was about 10 years before all the other Russian greats. He was friends with Flaubert and their work shares a mildly bleak, romantic, hopeless air. I have yet to read the Sportsman's Notebook, Smoke, Rudin, Virgin Soil and a few others. But I've read Fathers and Sons and Spring Torrents as well as the ones mentioned above.

Speaking of beautiful Russian stories on the depressing side I'll put a recommendation out here for Oblomov. I read the penguin edition, a great work!

nov. 10, 2015, 9:36am

I'm reading A Sportsman's Notebook now (in bits and pieces, in the order they were published, as part of my campaign to read as much of I can of Russian literature in chronological order), and I'm enjoying it a great deal; I look forward to getting to his novels! (Apart from Fathers and Sons, which I read a few years ago.)