Ivan Turgenev
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ISBN 9780571244522 Format Paperback
Published 17/07/2008 Length 332 pages

About Book

Smoke was published in 1867 and translated into English in 1896. It was written when Turgenev was based in Baden, amongst the resorts that were favoured by many Russians. The most cosmopolitan of all Turgenev's works Smoke sketches the intricacies of the aristocratic and Young Russia parties at a time when Russia was changing from the philosophical Nihilism of the 1860s to the more politically active Nihilism of the 1870s. An attack on all political parties and on the Russian nature of analysing everything but doing nothing, Smoke's success was immediate and great.

Despite the pervasive politics in the book the two central characters, Litvinov and Irina, are not political figures. Litvinov is gentle, sympathetic and intelligent while Irina is one of the best examples of Turgenev's creation of woman. A mixture of irresistibility and innocence, will she manage to distract Litvinov from Tatyana, his fiancée?

Smoke was described by Edward Garnett in 1896 as 'the finest example in literature of a subjective psychological study of passion ... [and] a classic for all time'.

  • 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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