On the Eve

Ivan Turgenev
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ISBN 9780571244508 Format Paperback
Published 17/07/2008 Length 310 pages

About Book

On the Eve is set at the beginning of the Crimean War and probes the friendships and loves of Elena, a young Russian woman, and the men in her life. First published in 1859 and translated into English in 1895 On the Eve is an exquisite novel that delves into the life of a young woman as well as being a penetrating diagnosis of Russia in the 1850s.

Vying for Elena's affections are Shubin, an artist, and Bersenyev, a student, but into their midst comes Insarov, a friend of Bersenyev's from Bulgaria, who is passionate about the freedom of his country. It is the strong and committed Insarov that Elena falls in love with but Elena's parents are unimpressed with the Bulgarian and want her to marry a more suitable Russian man that they have chosen for her. Elena and Insarov secretly marry but with a dawning consciousness and sense of foreboding the reader remembers that this is on the eve of the Crimean War - what future will the lovers have once war breaks out?

  • About Ivan Turgenev

    Born in Orel in central Russia in 1818 Ivan Turgenev studied at the universities in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Berlin and worked briefly for the civil service before turning to writing. He wrote several novels that examined the social, political and philosophical issues of the time as well as many plays and short stories.

    Living mainly in Baden-Baden and Paris Turgenev was acquainted with a variety of influential writers and met Dickens and Trollope among others on his travels to England. He was widely perceived to be the first major Russian writer to achieve great success in Europe.

    Turgenev died in Paris in 1883.

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  • Translated By: Constance Garnett

    The subtitle of Richard Garnett's biography (reissued in Faber Finds) of his grandmother, Constance Garnett (1861-1946) is A Heroic Life. It couldn't be more apt. She remains the most prolific English translator of Russian literature: twelve volumes of Dostoevsky, five of Gogol, six of Herzen (his complete My Past and Thoughts), seventeen of Tchehov (her spelling), five of Tolstoy, eleven of Turgenev and so on. Many of these will be appearing in Faber Finds. In all she translated over sixty works. It is not, however, the sheer quantity that is to be celebrated, though that in itself is remarkable, it is more the enduring quality of her work. Of course there have been critics - translation is a peculiarly controversial subject, but there have been many more admirers. Tolstoy himself praised her. Of her Turgenev translations, Joseph Conrad said 'Turgeniev (sic) for me is Constance Garnett and Constance Garnett is Turgeniev'. Katherine Mansfield declared the lives of her generation of writers were transformed by Constance Garnett's translations, and H. E. Bates went so far as to say that modern English Literature itself could not have been what it is without her translations.

    This extraordinary achievement was accomplished despite poor health and poor eyesight, the latter being ruined by her labours on War and Peace ,a tragic if fitting sacrifice; hers indeed was A Heroic Life.

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