Yesterday, I took you to Assam to meet one of India’s fantastic storyteller Homen Borgohain. Today I would like to take you in 18th century Russia to meet Mr. Ivan Turgenev, one of the finest Russian novelist, short story writer, poet, playwright. It is said that he is the man behind popularizing Russian literature in the West. While East India Company were busy in clutching the power across India, Ivan Turgenev was writing fantastic stories about the Russian society.
Ivan Turgenev was a keen hunter and a great observer of his surroundings and the life and nature of peasants. He had written twenty-five sketches using these observations and anecdotes from the travels throughout Russia for hunting. These sketches are published as a collection with a title A Sportsman’s Sketches or Sketches from a Hunter’s Album. It is translated by Richard Freeborn and published by Penguin as a Penguin Classics and its blurb says “His album is filled with moving insights into the lives of those he encounters – peasants and landowners, doctors and bailiffs, neglected wives and bereft mothers – each providing a glimpse of love, tragedy, courage and loss, and anticipating Turgenev’s great later works such as First Love and Fathers and Sons.”
Considering Turgenev’s later works, it won’t be wrong to conclude that his travels across the country made him witness the cruelty and arrogance of the ruling classes and that reflects in his works. These strong views were the reasons behind his arrest but they became the window to the plight of peasant lives for many contemporary readers. In the mind of Turgenev himself, this was the most important contribution from him to Russian literature while it is reported that Pravda: The official newspaper of Communist Party of the Soviet Union, as well as Leo Tolstoy, was in agreement with this view about Sketches from a Hunter’s Album. It is also considered that this book later led to the abolishment of serfdom from Russia in 1861 as it created a vast public opinion against serfdom.
I find this collection as a window to the 19th-century Russian society and I am eager to know about it more than the wiki pages tell us. If you are interested in this trip to 19th century Russia, come join me.
Book purchase link
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Penguin; Reprint edition (30 August 1990)
I am adding this to the amazing bucket of blogs at #BlogchatterA2Z.