Turgenev's "The Night Before" Synopsis and Impressions - A long novel about Russia just before the liberation of the serfs.

the night before Turgenev, the great Russian writer

Turgenev's "The Night Before" Synopsis and Impressions - A long novel about Russia just before the liberation of the serfs.

Turgenev (1818-1883)Wikipedia.

The Night Before is a full-length novel published by Turgenev in 1860.

I read "The Night before" translated by Akira Sasaki in Kodansha's "Sekai Bungaku Zenshu - 38 Turgenev.

Let's take a quick look at the synopsis.

The full-length novel "The Night Before" (1860) was published in the first two issues of the "Russo-Political Journal". The title "The Night Before" refers to the eve of the emancipation of serfs. In fact, serfdom was abolished in 1861. In this work, the author attempted to portray the image of a proactive, socially active type of woman.

Elena, the only daughter of a wealthy landowner, has three groomsmen. They are Bersenev, a future university professor; Shubin, a young sculptor; and Kurnatovskii, an up-and-coming elite bureaucrat.

No matter which of these women she married, Elena would have been guaranteed a happy family life. However, Elena did not choose the intellectual Bersenev, the artistic and direct-minded Shubin, or the hard-nosed businessman Kurnatovskii, but chose the poor Bulgarian student Insarov as her life partner.

Bulgaria, a Slavic nation, was then under Turkish rule and was not an independent country.

If so, the Russian public's view of Bulgarians must not have been so warm. Elena overcame her parents' opposition, forcibly married her husband, and left for his homeland in the midst of the upheaval.

On the way, Insarov dies of illness in Venice, but Elena serves as a volunteer nurse for the independence of Bulgaria as her husband's homeland is our homeland.

This self-sacrificing, heroic human image of Ellena evolved into the human image of Marianna in "The Virgin Land" (1877) and of an unnamed revolutionary girl in one of the "Prose Poems," "Shikii."
Some line breaks have been made.

(In "Sekai Bungaku Zenshu - 38 Turgenev", translated by Akira Sasaki, p. 383-384, Kodansha

When this work was published in 1860, it was right on the eve of the Emancipation of the Peasants Act of 1861.

What are the young men thinking and doing as the world moves toward emancipation of the serfs? This is what Turgenev stares at.

Turgenev decided to portray a woman among these young men who was actively involved in society and willing to take action.

Turgenev, who has portrayed many Russian Hamlets as "superfluous," now attempts to create a dynamic character who stands up to his fate.

Considered the epitome of "superfluous."Luzhin."s protagonist, a man named Luzhin, is a genius at manipulating abstract theories, but he lacks a strong will. He is portrayed as someone who, like Hamlet, is troubled and suffering before his fate and unable to take action to overcome it.

In contrast, Insarov, the protagonist of this work, and Elena, who is in love with him, are truly people of action.

Turgenev sought to depict the turbulent Russian society before the emancipation of the serfs in 1861 through these two men.

Thoughts - From a Dostoevskyian Perspective

The Night Before" was immediately criticized by many quarters after its publication. Although I personally found the story easy to read and interesting, it was rejected by Russian society at the time.

From then on, Turgenev found himself in a difficult position in Russia. The winds would change in the late 1870s, in his last years, when he would have to wait a long time before he was greeted with great acclaim in Russia. He would have to wait a long time before he was greeted with great acclaim in Russia.

To see why he was criticized, let's look at Henri Troyer's Biography of Turgenev.

As soon as "The Night Before" was published in the "Russia Report," it drew criticism from all quarters.

Conservative newspapers accused the female protagonist of being unethical and incompatible with a true Russian woman. A true Russian woman is pious, respectable, modest, and family-oriented.

The liberal newspaper declared that the male protagonist's words and actions were not convincing and that the whole story had too much of a Slavic tinge to it.

The fiercest criticism came from the very magazine of which Turgenev was a permanent co-author, Modern Man. The magazine, of which Nekrasov was still editor-in-chief, had for some time been undergoing a further shift to the left, thanks to the arrival of a group of uncompromising and conceited young writers.

Turgenev, always of a gentle nature, tried to pacify them with friendship and advice. They did not, however, appreciate Turgenev's affability and feminine sensibilities as an elder.

With his lordly appearance, his refined elegance, his smooth-tongued eloquence, his taste for gastronomy, his useless sighs, and his high spirits, they judged Turgenev to be "out of date.

Turgenev was Turgenev, and he was having an unbearable time of it. He was fed up with their bad discipline, their illiteracy, their arrogance, their dirty fingernails, their shaggy hair that they did not comb well, and the idea of overthrowing the state that they were spouting everywhere. Thus the old-fashioned liberals clashed with the new generation of revolutionary democrats.

Suiseisha, Henri Troyer, translated by Hiromiko Ichikawa, Biography of Turgenev, p. 109

Conservatives are the so-called Slavic, or roughly speaking, Russia-loving group. They value good old Russia and its traditions.

From their point of view, they could not forgive the behavior of the female protagonist, Elena, who disregarded the importance of a solid family and abandoned her home.

In contrast, the liberals were accused of being incoherent by a group of Europe-loving people called the Western Europeans, who also, roughly speaking, called Elena's behavior incoherent.

Even more vehement condemnation came from a group in the magazine Modern Man, of which Turgenev is a permanent co-author.

This group of people is also known as the Western School, but they are, after all, radical. They were extremists who believed that everything existing should be destroyed. From the point of view of such bloodthirsty and radical young peopleTurgenev is too lukewarm.This is the case.

Turgenev tried to calm them down like a calm elder, but they would not listen to him at all. Instead, he poured fuel on the fire.

Thus, Turgenev became hated by all groups.

It is a rather unfortunate situation for Turgenev, but the Russian literary scene at that time was highly political and ideological. There was an extreme tone of opinion that to do either was to be attacked by both sides.

I have talked about this area before on my blogWhat is the Slavic/Western School? The difference between Dostoevsky's and Turgenev's positions - if you understand this, Russian literature will be clear!"Please also see the article titled

This work has become a bitter memory for Turgenev, but as a modern Japanese, I do not think it is to be blamed.

It was a work that gave me a sense of how differently the film was evaluated in different countries and in different eras.

The above is a synopsis of Turgenev's "The Night Before" - a long novel about Russia just before the liberation of the serfs.

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