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A House of Gentlefolk

Ivan Turgenev
Translated by Constance Garnett
Date Published
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A sequel to Rudin, A House of Gentlefolk was originally published in 1858 and was translated from the Russian by Constance Garnett in 1894. A quintessential Turgenev novel about Russian society, idealism, innocence and disillusionment it is set amidst the green fields owned by bourgeois Russians.

The novel pivots around the character of Lisa, a smart and accomplished young woman who represents the traditional, dutiful, innocent and modest Russian girlhood from that era. Lavretsky, the hero, is a man of action and a man of culture. He, like Lisa, is a democratic Russian and so it is almost inevitable that he and Lisa fall in love. Their contentment is short-lived, however, as a woman from Lavretsky’s past enters their lives and threatens to ruin their happiness forever.

Although a melancholy story the novel’s overall tone remains one of hope and it is easy to see how A House of Gentlefolk became the favourite Turgenev novel for English-speaking readers.


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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