Ivan Turgenev

Russian writer (1818–1883)

Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev (Russian: Ива́н Серге́евич Турге́нев IPA: [ɪˈvan sʲɪrˈgʲeɪvʲɪtɕ turˈgʲenʲɪf]) (November 9 [O.S. October 28 1818September 3 [O.S. August 22] 1883) was a Russian novelist and playwright. His novel Fathers and Sons is regarded as one of the major works of 19th-century fiction.

Ivan Turgenev in 1872

Quotes edit

Father and Sons (1862) edit

Translated by Richard Hare. Full text here

  • "Naturally," observed Nikolai Petrovich, "you were born here, so everything is bound to strike you with a special —"

    "Really, Daddy, it makes absolutely no difference where a person is born."

    "Still —"

    "No, it makes no difference at all."

    • Ch. 3.
  • "What is Bazarov?" Arkady smiled. "Would you like me to tell you, uncle, what he really is?"

    "Please do, nephew."

    "He is a nihilist!"

    "What?" asked Nikolai Petrovich, while Pavel Petrovich lifted his knife in the air with a small piece of butter on the tip and remained motionless.

    "He is a nihilist," repeated Arkady.

    "A nihilist," said Nikolai Petrovich. "That comes from the Latin nihil, nothing, as far as I can judge; the word must mean a man who... who recognizes nothing?"

    "Say — who respects nothing," interposed Pavel Petrovich and lowered his knife with the butter on it.

    "Who regards everything from the critical point of view," said Arkady.

    "Isn't that exactly the same thing?" asked Pavel Petrovich.

    "No, it's not the same thing. A nihilist is a person who does not bow down to any authority, who does not accept any principle on faith, however much that principle may be revered."

    "Well, and is that good?" asked Pavel Petrovich. "That depends, uncle dear. For some it is good, for others very bad."

    "Indeed. Well, I see that's not in our line. We old-fashioned people think that without principles, taken as you say on faith, one can't take a step or even breathe. Vous avez changé tout cela; may God grant you health and a general's rank, and we shall be content to look on and admire your... what was the name?"

    "Nihilists," said Arkady, pronouncing very distinctly.

    "Yes, there used to be Hegelists and now there are nihilists. We shall see how you will manage to exist in the empty airless void; and now ring, please, brother Nikolai, it's time for me to drink my cocoa."

    • Ch. 5.
  • "For myself, I detest the fellow, and think him a charlatan. I am certain that, in spite of his frogs, he is making no real progress in physics."
    • Ch. 10.
  • Bazarov drew himself up haughtily. "I don't adopt any one's ideas; I have my own."
    • Ch. 13.
  • Death is an old joke, but it comes like new to everyone.
    • Ch. 27. The original Russian goes Старая штука смерть, а каждому внове. Here, штука means piece or thing, whereas joke is шутка, possibly a mistranslation.

On the Eve (1860) edit

Translated by Constance Garnett. Full text here

  • 'There was a time,' Nikolai Artemyevitch resumed, 'when daughters did not allow themselves to look down on their parents—when the parental authority forced the disobedient to tremble. That time has passed, unhappily: so at least many persons imagine; but let me tell you, there are still laws which do not permit—do not permit—in fact there are still laws. I beg you to mark that: there are still laws——'
    • Ch. 30.

Quotes about him edit

  • The intellectuals of that time, while never so superficial as those I am talking about, indulged in revolutionary ideas, split hairs through the early morning hours, philosophized about all sorts of questions and carried their superior wisdom to the people with their feet deeply rooted in the old. Of course they failed. They were indignant with Turgenev and considered him a traitor to Russia. But he was right. Only when the Russian intellectuals completely broke with their traditions; only when they fully realized that society rests upon a lie, and that they must give themselves to the new completely and unreservedly, did they become a forceful factor in the life of the people. The Kropotkins, the Perovskayas, the Breshkovskayas, and hosts of others repudiated wealth and station and refused to serve King Mammon.
  • I read a great deal of Russian literature in translation, Tolstoi and Tourgueniev particularly and Tchekhov who had a very deep influence on me.
  • [H]is first important book, A Sportsman's Sketches, revealed to the world two things: the dawn of a new literary genius, and the wretched condition of the serfs. This book has often been called the Uncle Tom's Cabin of Russia; [...] It is interesting that Uncle Tom's Cabin and A Sportsman's Sketches should have appeared at about the same time, and that emancipation in each country should have followed at about the same interval...
  • Our author first made a name by his striking sketches "The Papers of a Sportsman" (Zapiski Okhotnika), in which the miserable condition of the peasants was described with startling realism. The work appeared in a collected form in 1852. It was read by all classes, including the emperor himself, and it undoubtedly hurried on the great work of emancipation.
  • Unquestionably Turgueniev may be considered one of the great novelists, worthy to be ranked with Thackeray, Dickens and George Eliot; with the genius of the last of these he has many affinities. His studies of human nature are profound, and he has the wide sympathies which are essential to genius of the highest order. A melancholy, almost pessimist, feeling pervades his writings, a morbid self-analysis which seems natural to the Slavonic mind. The closing chapter of “A Nest of Nobles” is one of the saddest and at the same time truest pages in the whole range of existing novels.
  • I also can’t get along with Turgenev, though I love Russians, or Doris Lessing, though I am a feminist.

External links edit