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

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Dream by Ivan Turgenev (1877, translated by Constance Garnett, 1897)

The Dream (some would classify this work as a short story, others as novella, the reading time will be for most all under thirty minutes) is the first work by Turgenev I have so far read with a supernatural overcast.  Turgenev had serious mother issues (she ruled over 5000 serfs with a very cruel hand to the point of severe whippings  for petty offenses), his biographers said she treated Turgenev very harshly after the death of his father.  This sort of a cold indifferent mother abused and abandoned is very much like the mother of the first person narrator of The Dream.  

Garnett's prose beautifully sets the story in motion

"I was living at that time with my mother in a little seaside town. I was in my seventeenth year, while my mother was not quite five -and -thirty; she had married very young. When my father died, I was only seven years old, but I remember him well. My mother was a fair -haired woman, not very tall, with a charming, but always sad -looking face, a soft, tired voice and timid gestures. In her youth she had been reputed a beauty, and to the end she remained attractive and pretty. I have never seen deeper, tenderer, and sadder eyes, finer and softer hair; I never saw hands so exquisite. I adored her, and she loved me…. But our life was not a bright one; a secret, hopeless, undeserved sorrow seemed for ever gnawing at the very root of her being.....
No! something more lay hidden in it, which I did not understand, but of which I was aware, dimly and yet intensely aware, whenever I looked into those soft and unchanging eyes, at those lips, unchanging too, not compressed in bitterness, but, as it were, for ever set in one expression. I have said that my mother loved me; but there were moments when she repulsed me, when my presence was oppressive to her, unendurable. At such times she felt a sort of involuntary aversion for me, and was horrified afterwards, blamed herself with tears, pressed me to her heart. I used to ascribe these momentary outbreaks of dislike to the derangement of her health, to her unhappiness…."

The story unravels in a very suspenseful way the mystery behind the sadness of the mother.

My Posts on Ivan Turgenev


Suko said...

That is beautiful, descriptive writing. The Dream sounds like enticing short fiction.

Unknown said...

Much impressive, passionate, deep insight, really turgenev is a great poet.