A Common Story

Constance Garnett, Ivan Gontcharoff
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ISBN 9780571246533 Format Paperback
Published 30/10/2008 Length 288 pages

About Book

Ivan Gontcharoff is best known for his second novel, Oblomov. One might say, only known, but, while his output was small, he did write two other novels, some short stories and some travel pieces. A Common Story was his first novel, published in 1847. It opens with its hero, Alexandr Fedoritch asleep. Its plot concerns his departure from the countryside to St Petersburg to pursue a bureaucratic career and his mother trying to prevent him, pointing out the superior qualities of the countryside. The title of the novel is a reference to the time-honoured psychological tension between son and mother. Many of the themes Gontcharoff developed more fully in Oblomov are first seen here.
  • About 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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  • About Ivan Gontcharoff

    Ivan Gontcharoff (1812-1891) was a Russian novelist of slender output - three novels, some short stories and a volume of travel notes. Oblomov, his second novel, is his best known work. His first novel, A Common Story (reissued by Faber Finds) was first published in 1847, and his third, The Precipice in 1869. His life was uneventful, most of it spent working in the Civil Service and Censor's Office.

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