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A Desperate Character and Other Stories

Ivan Turgenev
Translated by Constance Garnett
Date Published
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Misha Poltyev, a ‘desperate character,’ squanders his inheritance, senselessly turns to drink, and lives among the beggars of the highway. Eventually, he returns to his family estate and the graveyard where his parents lie:

‘I want to dig myself a grave … and to lie here for time everlasting. There’s only this spot left for me in the world. Get a spade! Oh God! Everywhere nothing but injustice, and oppression, and evil-doing … Everything must go to ruin then, and me too!’

These stories demonstrate Turgenev’s matchless skill for portraying elemental aspects of Russian life: the melancholic, the nostalgic, and the darkly comic.

Six tales written by Turgenev between 1847 and 1881, in Constance Garnett’s classic 1899 translation: A Desperate Character, A Strange Story, Punin and Baburin, Old Portraits, The Brigadier and Pyetushkov. With an introduction by Edward Garnett.


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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