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On the Eve

Ivan Turgenev

Book Overview: 

It is set in the prior decade (by the end of the novel, the Crimean War (1853-56) has already broken out. It centers on the young Elena Nikolaevna Stakhov, daughter of Nikolai Arteyemvitch and Anna Vassilyevna Stahov. Misunderstood by both her parents (Nikolai Artemyevitch is at least as interested in his German mistress as in members of her family) she is on friendly terms with both the would-be professor Andrei Petrovitch Bersenyev and the rising young sculptor Pavel Yakovitch Shubin, both of whom might be -- or might not be -- in love with her. The appearance of Dmitri Nikanorovitch Insarov, a young Bulgarian revolutionary who seeks independence for his nation,, alters the balance of her relationships however. The book is praised, among other things, for the way in which Turgenev manages to describe the varying emotions of a girl on the verge of womanhood. But it is also a portrayal of a kind of youthful Russian society striving towards a modern cosmopolitanism, that will shake off the parochialism and narrowness of its elders.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .ved those vague and sweet, shapeless, and all-embracing emotions which are stirred in the soul by the combinations and successions of sounds. For more than an hour, he did not move from the piano, repeating many times the same chords, awkwardly picking out new ones, pausing and melting over the minor sevenths. His heart ached, and his eyes more than once filled with tears. He was not ashamed of them; he let them flow in the darkness. 'Pavel was right,' he thought, 'I feel it; this evening will not come again.' At last he got up, lighted a candle, put on his dressing-gown, took down from the bookshelf the second volume of Raumer's History of the Hohenstaufen, and sighing twice, he set to work diligently to read it.


Meanwhile, Elena had gone to her room, and sat down at the open window, her head resting on her hands. To spend about a quarter of an hour every evening at her bedroom window had become a habit with her. At this tim. . . Read More

Community Reviews


First, so expressive, the prose makes me swoon. And I am not a swooner (is there such a word as swooner?). Elena listened to him very attentively, and turning half towards him, did not take her eyes off his face, which had grown a little paler--off his eyes, which were soft and affectiona

প্রথমে ভেবেছিলাম প্রেমের আখ্যান। পরে বুঝতে পারলাম, নাহ। সাধারণ একটা গল্পের ভেতর কিভাবে অসাধারণত্বের বহিঃপ্রকাশ ঘটাতে হয়, তা লেখকের ভালোই জানা আছে। মুহূর্তের মধ্যেই গল্পটা প্রেমের গল্প থেকে হয়ে উঠল দেশপ্রেমের গল্পে।


إن النجوم تنظر إلى المُحبين ، وهذا هو سر جمالها ..

قد نظن في لحظة أن الأقدار ابتسمت لنا ابتسامتها العريضة و حبَتنا كل ما يضيء وهج سعادتنا ، لكن ملامحها تكفهر في اللحظة التالية لتحيك لنا النهاية التي لا نشتهي ، لعلّه لا ضوء في نهاية النفق ! ، لعل الجَلَد والاحتمال لا ثمار لهما في الدنيا ! ، لعل نصيب

This was the Turgenev that spoke most directly to me when I was young, which makes for a peculiarly intense reading experience now: Yelena and Insarov are as if people known to me, I believe in them entirely; and indeed the whole novel comes alive to me in that rare way…

A dangerous novel to do this

Writing a novel about love must be one of the most risky endeavors that a writer can undertake. Love is such a powerful emotion that it is easy for such novels slip into the realm of melodrama. This takes place when humans are depicted in ways that step beyond reality. It doesn't take much. The call

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