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Forgetting Turgenev?

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Isaiah Berlin writes so well in his Russian Thinkers about Ivan Turgenev. Yes, Turgenev is — there on the surface — “a writer of beautiful lyrical prose, … the elegiac poet of the last enchantments of decaying country houses and of their ineffective but irresistibly attractive inhabitants, the incomparable story-teller with a marvellous gift for describing nuances of mood and feeling, the poetry of nature and of love”. We can indeed love him for that. But there is so much more. It is not for nothing that Turgenev’s books were so controversial when they appeared and (at least for Russians) long remained so. Yes, as Berlin puts it, “unlike his great contemporaries, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, he was not a preacher and did not wish to thunder at his generation.” But he was deeply engaged from the beginning “with the controversies, moral and political, social and personal, which divide the educated Russians of his day; in particular, the profound and bitter conflicts between. . .

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News source: Logic Matters

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