The Diary of a Superfluous Man and Other Stories

Ivan Turgenev
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ISBN 9780571245529 Format Paperback
Published 18/09/2008 Length 332 pages

About Book

'That night I went home to my lodgings in a state of perfect ecstasy ... I felt supremely happy, and was already making all sorts of plans in my head. If someone had whispered in my ear then: "You're raving, my dear chap! That's not a bit what's in store for you. What's in store for you is to die all alone, in a wretched little cottage, amid the insufferable grumbling of an old hag who will await your death with impatience to sell your boots for a few coppers ... !"'

Turgenev's hopeless protagonist, at the end of his life, can only truthfully define himself as 'superfluous,' and relates the tale of the failed romance that confirmed him in that unfortunate opinion. Turgenev's virtuosic account of a man thoroughly undermined by himself, tormented by jealousy and love, but who is, ultimately, nothing more than superfluous.

This volume of five tales also includes A Tour in the Forest, Yakov Pasinkov, Andrei Kolosov and A Correspondence, in Constance Garnett's classic 1899 translation.

  • 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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