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On the Eve

Ivan Turgenev
Translated by Constance Garnett
Date Published
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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?


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…

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