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

Thursday, September 10, 2015

"My Neighbor Radilov" by Ivan Turgenev (1856, story four in his Sportsman's Sketches, translated by Constance Garnett, 1895)

A Post by Ambrosia Boussweau, European Correspodent of The Reading Life

For a while now I have been reading on and off novellas and short stories by Ivan Turgenev (1818 to 1883).  Ford Madox Ford in The March of Literature said the short stories of Turgenev are among the greatest of all literary works.  The stories were drawn from his experiences as a outs an hunting on the vast estate of his mother, said to include over 5000 serfs, basically slaves.  The stories were all first published individually before being published in 1856 in Sportsman's Sketches.  

For those totally new to Turgenev, I would suggest you first read his very famous novel, Fathers and Sons.

"My Neighbor Radilaw" is a simple story.  The narrator is out on the estate hunting partridges.  A man unknown to him approaches and tells him he is his neighbor, Radilov.  After a bit of conversation Radoliv invites him back to his place for Sunday dinner.  We meet his mother and and the widow of Radilov's brother.  Sunday dinner is a river fish feast with bountiful sides.  The mother is largely silent.  After the meal Radilov invites him to return anytime he is nearby.  On his return visit he finds something shocking has happened.  

The beauty in this story is in how Turgenev makes us feel we are wandering the estate with him.  

Ambrosia Boussweau 

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