Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Faust by Ivan Turgenev (1855, translated by Constance Garnett, 1899)

Recently I read Ivan Turgenev's beautiful novella, King Lear of the Steppes.  Yesterday I read another of his novellas, also echoing  on one of the great works of world literature, his Faust.  I don't want to try to decide which is better, both are more than worth your time.  I am sure Faust will be more meaningful to you, I have not, if you have read Goethe's Faust, Part One but maybe in a fabulous bonus it will motivate you to read Goethe.  

The basic plot is elegantly simple.  A man has been away for a long time.  He returns and a young girl has been transformed into a  young woman, now at seventeen married to one of his friends.  She has never read any literary works, her father did not belief they were suitable for girls.  The narrator gives her Faust and it very much changes how she sees the world.  The man falls in love with her but he does not pursue any dishonorable connections.  There are many wonderful descriptions of the Russian countryside.  This is a sublime  work.

As we read older works, we must accept that a seventeen year old girl is considered a grown woman and there seems to be no impropriety in a much older man being interested in or married to what we see as a girl.  There are a lot of reasons for these alterations in attitude.  Part of it is related to longer life expectancy producing fewer widowers and young widows.

                      Constance Garnett 

I will soon begin Turgenev's most famous novella, First Love.

I really enjoyed reading Faust.

Mel u

1 comment:

Tea said...

Thank you. I remember Faust is mentioned in The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. I never knew the plot of Faust.