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A House of Gentlefolk

A House of Gentlefolk (Paperback)

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Synopsis

A sequel to Rudin, A House of Gentlefolk was originally published in 1858 and was translated from the Russian by Constance Garnett in 1894. A quintessential Turgenev novel about Russian society, idealism, innocence and disillusionment it is set amidst the green fields owned by bourgeois Russians. The novel pivots around the character of Lisa, a smart and accomplished young woman who represents the traditional, dutiful, innocent and modest Russian girlhood from that era. Lavretsky, the hero, is a man of action and a man of culture. He, like Lisa, is a democratic Russian and so it is almost inevitable that he and Lisa fall in love. Their contentment is short-lived, however, as a woman from Lavretsky's past enters their lives and threatens to ruin their happiness forever. Although a melancholy story the novel's overall tone remains one of hope and it is easy to see how A House of Gentlefolk became the favourite Turgenev novel for English-speaking readers.

Fiction & PoetryClassic fiction pre 1945Fiction & PoetryFiction in translationFiction & PoetryModern & contemporary fiction post c 1945 Publisher: Faber & Faber Publication Date: 17/07/2008 ISBN-13: 9780571244539  Details: Type: Paperback Format: Books
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Born in Orel in central Russia in 1818 Ivan Turgenev studied at the universities in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Berlin and worked briefly for the civil service before turning to writing. He wrote several novels that examined the social, political and philosophical issues of the time as well as many plays and short stories. Living mainly in Baden-Baden and Paris Turgenev was acquainted with a variety of influential writers and met Dickens and Trollope among others on his travels to England. He was widely perceived to be the first major Russian writer to achieve great success in Europe. Turgenev died in Paris in 1883. The subtitle of Richard Garnett's biography (reissued in Faber Finds) of his grandmother, Constance Garnett (1861-1946) is A Heroic Life. It couldn't be more apt. She remains the most prolific English translator of Russian literature: twelve volumes of Dostoevsky, five of Gogol, six of Herzen (his complete My Past and Thoughts), seventeen of Tchehov (her spelling), five of Tolstoy, eleven of Turgenev and so on. Many of these will be appearing in Faber Finds. In all she translated over sixty works. It is not, however, the sheer quantity that is to be celebrated, though that in itself is remarkable, it is more the enduring quality of her work. Of course there have been critics - translation is a peculiarly controversial subject, but there have been many more admirers. Tolstoy himself praised her. Of her Turgenev translations, Joseph Conrad said 'Turgeniev (sic) for me is Constance Garnett and Constance Garnett is Turgeniev'. Katherine Mansfield declared the lives of her generation of writers were transformed by Constance Garnett's translations, and H. E. Bates went so far as to say that modern English Literature itself could not have been what it is without her translations. This extraordinary achievement was accomplished despite poor health and poor eyesight, the latter being ruined by her labours on War and Peace ,a tragic if fitting sacrifice; hers indeed was A Heroic Life.

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