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Translated by Constance Garnett Three Plays by Turgenev includes A Month in the Country, A Provincial Lady and A Poor Gentleman.
Turgenev wrote A Month in the Country in France between 1848 and 1850. Published in 1855 and first staged in 1872 the plot revolves around Natalya Petrovna, the 29-year-old wife of older landowner Arkadi Islaev. Set in Islaev’s country estate in the 1840s the play pivots around the character of Natalya and her pursuit of attention, first from Mikhailo Rakitin and then with handsome young Aleksei Belyaev, her son’s tutor. Problems arise when Vera, her 17-year-old foster daughter, also falls in love with Aleksei. Exploring themes of love, jealousy, rivalry and ennui A Month in the Country is just one example of Turgenev’s brilliance.
A Provincial Lady, written in 1851, was a comedy in one act. As Richard Freeborn wrote in 1994, ‘Turgenev’s comedy has often been called Chekhovian, even though it preceded Chekhov’s mature work by more than forty years’.
A Poor Gentleman (1840s) was a two-act play whose themes were compared to the works of Nikolai Gogol, a writer that Turgenev greatly admired and was influenced by. It was for writing an obituary for Gogol that Turgenev found himself arrested and imprisoned for a month, having managed to publish the obituary despite its being banned by the censor.
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