What did Turgenev mean? On the eve of what?
Turgenev made no answer; but over the troubled waters of his story moves the brooding spirit of creation. Russians must and will learn manhood from foreigners, from men who die only from bodily disease, who are not sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought. At the very close of the book, one man asks another, "Will there ever be men among us?" And the other "nourished his fingers and fixed his enigmatical stare into the far distance."
Perhaps Turgenev meant that salvation would eventually come through a woman — through women like Elena. For since her appearance, many are the Russian women who have given their lives for their country.
Novel by Ivan Turgenev, published in Russian as Nakanune in 1860. It is a major work concerning love amid a time of war and revolutionary social change. Set in 1853, On the Eve deals with the problems facing the younger intelligentsia on the eve of the Crimean War and speculates on the outcome of the emancipation of the serfs in 1861. Elena, its principal character, is a charming yet serious-minded, morally courageous young woman.
Her concern for justice finds no outlet in her small circle of family and friends until she is introduced to the young Bulgarian patriot Insarov, whose idealism matches her own and who becomes Elena's companion and the catalyst for the changes in her life. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev (Russian: Ива́н Серге́евич Турге́нев; IPA: [ɪˈvan sʲɪrˈɡʲeɪvʲɪtɕ tʊrˈɡʲenʲɪf]; November 9 [O.S. October 28] 1818 – September 3, 1883) was a Russian novelist, short story writer, and playwright. His first major publication, a short story collection entitled A Sportsman's Sketches (1852), was a milestone of Russian Realism, and his novel Fathers and Sons (1862) is regarded as one of the major works of 19th-century fiction.
Turgenev's artistic purity made him a favorite of like-minded novelists of the next generation, such as Henry James and Joseph Conrad, both of whom greatly preferred Turgenev to Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. James, who wrote no fewer than five critical essays on Turgenev's work, claimed that "his merit of form is of the first order" (1873) and praised his "exquisite delicacy", which "makes too many of his rivals appear to hold us, in comparison, by violent means, and introduce us, in comparison, to vulgar things" (1896).
Vladimir Nabokov, notorious for his casual dismissal of many great writers, praised Turgenev's "plastic musical flowing prose", but criticized his "labored epilogues" and "banal handling of plots". Nabokov stated that Turgenev "is not a great writer, though a pleasant one", and ranked him fourth among nineteenth-century Russian prose writers, behind Tolstoy, Gogol, and Anton Chekhov, but ahead of Dostoyevsky. His idealistic ideas about love, specifically the devotion a wife should show her husband, were cynically referred to by characters in Chekhov's "An Anonymous Story".
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