Premier amour by Ivan Tourgueniev

Premier amour by Ivan Tourgueniev is an enjoyable novella. The modern reader finds it a bit overwrought… we can tell that the “other lover” is the young man’s father almost immediately. If the skill of the novel is portraying how the boy might not be aware of that, and might be incapable of apprehending that, then indeed a feat. But I think that at the time the skill was in portraying a young woman who was frankly coquettish, and frankly a mistress, and the social reality of that situation. Why not have told the story from the young woman’s point of view, then? Beyond the writing skill of anyone, I suppose, in 1860. Maybe George Eliot? So amazing that the novel, as a sustained literary ecosystem (with novelists reading other novelists and adapting their writing accordingly), was really less than 100 years old at the time.

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
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