Ivan Sergeevich (1818-83), Russian novelist and playwright. He was
born in Orel, in central Russia, and studied at Moscow and St. Petersburg
Universities. He published some poetry in 1838 and studied in Berlin, 1838-41.
On returning to Russia he served briefly in the Civil Service, but from
1845 he devoted himself to literature. He also fell in love with the singer
Pauline Garcia Viardot, and partly for this reason was to live much of
his life abroad, mainly in Baden-Baden and Paris, where he died. His first
important prose work was A Hunter’s Notes (1847-51), the limpid
prose of which, in such masterpieces as ‘Bezhin Meadow’ and ‘The
Living Relic’, is one of his greatest achievements. This was followed
by a series of novels in which individual lives are examined to illuminate
the social, political, and philosophical issues of the day: Rudin
(1856), A Nest of Gentlefolk (1859), On the Eve (1860), Fathers
and Sons (1862), in which, in Bazarov, he created a Nihilist hero,
(1867) and Virgin Soul (1877). His greatest short stories are ‘Asya’
(1858), ‘First Love’ (1860), and ‘Torrents of Spring’ (1870).
His best play is A Month in the Country (1850). Turgenev was the
first major Russian writer to find success in the rest of Europe. This
resulted partly from his living largely in Western Europe, where he was
personally acquainted with Flaubert, G. Sand, Merimée, and others,
but also from the fact that he was closer in both sensibility and literary
practice to Western Europe than his contemporaries Leo Tolstoy and Feodor
Dostoevsky. Turgenev was particularly popular in Britain, which he first
visited in 1847 and returned many times up to 1881. He received an honorary
DCL at Oxford in 1879 for ‘advancing the liberation of the Russian serfs’.
See: Vasily Perov. Portrait of the Author Ivan Turgenev.