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Young Muscovite bachelor Yakov Aratov lives in contented solitude, until the arrival in town of the dazzling actress Clara Militch:
‘She was all fire, all passion, and all contradiction; revengeful and kind; magnanimous and vindictive; she believed in fate – and did not believe in God.’
Her beauty entrances him, beyond her tragic death; and soon, for the formerly level-headed rationalist Aratov, dreams, fever and the spirit world blend and merge together. These tales involve Turgenev’s enthusiasm for spirituality, ghosts and premonitions, usually suppressed in his works but an intriguing counterpoint to the powerful naturalism of which he was master.
This volume contains Clara Militch, Phantoms, The Song of Triumphant Love, The Dream and Turgenev’s marvellously realized Poems in Prose, which conclude with his famous avowal:
‘In days of doubt, in days of dreary musings on our country’s fate, thou alone art my stay and support, mighty, true, free Russian speech! But for thee, how not fall into despair, seeing all that is done at home? But who can think that such a tongue is not the gift of a great people!’
Constance Garnett’s 1897 translation succeeds in capturing the subtleties and delicacy of Turgenev’s own poetic prose.
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