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First Love Paperback – Sep 1 2004
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About the Author
Ivan Turgenev was born into a wealthy, landed family in Oryol, Russia on October 28, 1818, the son of a chronically philandering cavalry officer and an unhappy, abusive heiress. As a child one of the family serfs read him verses from the Rossiad of Kheraskov, and Turgenev’s early attempts at literature and poetry gave indications of genius. He was sent to study at the University of Berlin in 1838 and returned impressed with German society, believing Russia could best improve itself by incorporating ideas from the Age of Enlightenment. Turgenev made a name for himself, beginning in 1852, with the short-story collection A Sportsman’s Sketches. He followed with the novels Rudin in 1854, A Nest of the Gentry in 1858, and On The Eve in 1859. Yet Turgenev’ s seeming pro-Western philosophy led to a tempestuous relationship with his countrymen—Tolstoy, at one point, challenging him to a duel—and his masterpiece Fathers and Sons, released in 1862, went largely unappreciated in his home country. Disillusioned, Turgenev wrote progressively less and less, spending ever more time abroad later in life. He died at Bougival, near Paris, on 4 September 1883.
Top Customer Reviews
This book is more than a simple love story between a young man and an older woman, though the idea of the shortness and depthlessness of young love is an important theme. There are also such themes as the dissolution and fall into poverty of the Russian nobility as seen in Zinaida and her mother, a former princess; the idea of 19th century Russia shrugging off the chains of serfdom and royal dominance is also explored in the vastly superior Fathers and Sons. Another noteworthy theme is alienation from parents and society in general; Vladimir Petrovich is dominated utterly by his menacing father and carking, gossipy mother. He grows to become a bachelor, rehashing his tragic story before a fireplace in an inn. Towards the end of the book, when Vladimir's father, who shares with Vladimir a strong affection for Zinaida, flogs the young girls arm with a riding crop, as well as the threat the father gives to one of Zinaida's numerous suitors, we are made to wonder exactly what part romantic relationships have in the alleviation or exacerbation of violent mental illness, or at least a violent and cold mindset.
This book, however deep and lovingly crafted, is a cipher next to Fathers and Sons. It's also a lot shorter; first time Turgenev readers might want to start here.
Very good translation by Isaiah Berlin. If after reading this you want to read more by Turgenev try "A Month In The Country" and "Spring Torrents".
"First Love" begins in a style reminiscent of Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales." Following a long dinner party, three men are in the middle of a calm conversation, when the unnamed host proposes that they all share the stories of their first loves. Two men's stories are quickly dismissed, leaving Vladimir Petrovich, a pensive middle aged man, who offers to give his story after having a chance to write it out. Vladimir's story concerns a summer when he was 16. Living in the country with a dissatisfied mother and an agonizingly Byronic father, Vladimir happens upon a dispossessed 21-year-old princess, Zinaida. From her shabby home, the beautiful and mysterious Zinaida commands a court of six men of varying ages and backgrounds - a poet, a doctor, a minor nobleman, a soldier, and Vladimir - each of whom is desperate to win her affection at any cost. For his own part, Vladimir attempts throughout the story to discover the roots of his own fascination with Zinaida.
Part of the appeal of "First Love" is its point of view. It is a true first person narrative - we only ever know Vladimir's experience - the effect is a realistic account of the infatuation, love, doubt, and inner turmoil of a young man told through the hindsight of age and experience.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This novel is a typical piece of Russian of literature. It is a classic, some see as grand as Anna Karenina.Published on April 2 2010 by A. Bouchard
Turgenev, a friend of Flaubert, makes a good effort at this slow moving eternity in the ephemeral type novel. Read morePublished on March 31 2004 by Neri
An old man reflects on his most dearest love in his life: his first love at 16 for a girl of 21.
His love is not requited for a truly astounding reason. Read more
Turgenev's brief novel, "First Love" is about growing older and lossing innocence. Vladimir, the central character who tells the story, makes a large memory excersice to remember,... Read morePublished on June 10 2002 by Moises I. Orozco
Before reading this novel, I have expected something really bittersweet and warm from its title...however, was kinda depressed by its dark mood and the melancholic air covering the... Read morePublished on Dec 18 2001
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