Turgenev's "First Love" Synopsis and Impressions - Turgenev's masterpiece with an autobiographical character.

first love Turgenev, the great Russian writer

Synopsis of Turgenev's autobiographical masterpiece "First Love

Turgenev (1818-1883)Wikipedia.

First Love" is a medium-length novel written by Turgenev in 1860.

I read "First Love" translated by Masao Yonekawa, Iwanami Bunko.

Let's take a quick look at the library cover synopsis.

A 16-year-old boy falls in love for the first time with an older woman, Zinaida, who already has a boyfriend. He is surprised and saddened when he discovers that the woman he is in love with is his father. ...... This autobiographical story, steeped in lyricism about "first love" at the dawn of life, conveys the essence of Turgenev (1818-83) as a poet of melancholy, and Zinaida is said to be the most unique female figure he created.

Iwanami Bunko, "First Love," translated by Masao Yonekawa

As mentioned in the synopsis, this novel is based on Turgenev's actual experiences. The woman he fell in love with was actually his father's mistress, which would be quite shocking if he were actually faced with such a situation.

The commentary at the end of the book describes the work as follows

First Love" was written by Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev in 1860. By this time, Turgenev had already written "The Hunter's Diary," "Luzhin," "The Nobleman's Nest," "The Night Before," and many other works, so it is needless to say that this middle work is worthy of a mature master's pen. But it must be emphasized that this is the most complete and artistically perfect of all Turgenev's creations, and it is allowed by critics to be so.

I believe that it is not wrong to say that Turgenev strove to express his most inhuman and precious memories as a human being and a poet in this middle section.

Therefore, the reader may have guessed that this book contains autobiographical elements. In order to clarify the autobiographical nature of this work, a few words must be said about the author's parents. The protagonist of "First Love" is not only the boy Turgenev, but also his father. In fact, it would be more correct to say that the father is the real protagonist.
*Lines have been changed as appropriate.

Iwanami Bunko, translated by Masao Yonekawa, "First Love," p. 111

According to translator Masao Yonekawa, "First Love" is one of Turgenev's most artistically outstanding works.

He also noted that in reading this work, knowing about Turgenev's parents will aid in its reading.

I introduced this point earlier.Introducing the life and major works of Dostoevsky's rival Turgenev - A human portrait of Turgenev, author of "Aibiki", "First Love" and "Father and Son".I quote again from the

Her mother was a domineering, selfish, and hysterical woman, and her treatment of the serfs was harsh. Originally, she had spent a miserable youth as an orphan, but now, as an old woman, she had unexpectedly become the heir to a vast fortune.

Then Turgenev's father, who came from an old family but was of a lowly samurai family, came along, and the two married. From the husband's point of view, this marriage was for money, so to speak, and the wife could not be happy.

The winds and waves that often blow between the two men, and how dull their home life was, are described in Turgenev's autobiographical short story, "First Love" (1860).
Some line breaks have been made.

Iwanami Shoten, translation by Akira Sasaki, The Hunter's Diary, p. 299

Turgenev's mother, Varvara, unexpectedly inherited a huge fortune and became a wealthy landowner. To take advantage of her wealth, her father, Sergei, proposed to her and married her. My mother fell in love with Sergei, who was beautiful and had a glamorous air about him, but Sergei was not. Their married life was not a happy one.

Quoting the endnotes.

Sergei was constantly engaged in extra-marital affairs until he passed away at a young age. Valvara, who was infinitely in love with the good man, generally tolerated it in silence. When he occasionally made a snide remark, unable to control his jealousy, the good man never lost his condescending, cold demeanor. On the rare occasion when his wife would forget the back and forth, he knew how to silence her with a sharp rebuke.

Iwanami Bunko, translated by Masao Yonekawa, "First Love," p. 112

One of these out-of-home affairs will be told in "First Love".

Thoughts - From a Dostoevskyian Perspective

First Love" is Turgenev's masterpiece, and I still found it interesting when I actually read it.

The translator's commentary also pays tribute as follows.

How delicately and deeply the 16-year-old boy's surprise, sadness, and subtle emotional turmoil when he discovers that the "queen," to whom he has devoted his body and soul with the purest and most intense passion for the first time in his life, is in love with another man, and that the object of her love is his own father, is depicted in this book. The story is also deeply and delicately depicted.

The father's peculiar character, which appears only rarely in the story, is beautifully rendered with a concise touch.

Finally, the perfection of the human image of the female protagonist, Zinaida, who is both a tyrant and a woman-slave, conceited and feminine at the same time, all of this is depicted through the youthful senses of a young boy, and is therefore filled with a certain sweetness and sentimentality. At the same time, because the book is written in the form of a memoir by a middle-aged man who has experienced life, the precision and accuracy of the observations that naturally appear between the lines do not feel unnatural to the reader.

In this sense, "First Love" is truly a work of art so heavenly that, in the words of Boris Zaitsev, "even Tolstoy and Dostoevsky would be envious.
Some line breaks have been made.

Iwanami Bunko, translated by Masao Yonekawa, "First Love," p. 112

There is such a level of perfection in this work that the last "even Tolstoy and Dostoevsky feel envy".

The woman Zinaida, whom the protagonist falls in love with, is truly a queen.

Because of her beauty, wit, and charm in her behavior, many men always surrounded her to win her favor. The hero was one of them.

She makes light of the men, but her high-handedness ignites their passion even more. Zinaida's queenliness is somewhat similar to that of the women in Dostoevsky's works. Prideful, impetuous, and yet with a mysterious allure that keeps one captivated.The Moron.andThe Gambler.The "perimeter" may be close to that.

And the protagonist is also infatuated with her and suffers from her passion.

However, the main character spends her days like that, but recently she has been acting strangely.

So the protagonist sneaks out to investigate, and lo and behold, there is his father...

She was like a queen, but in front of her father she succumbs like a slave and is in love with him. That is what he will find out.

This father is also amazing.

This man, modeled on Turgenev's father, is portrayed as uncommonly strong as a man. There are no flashy descriptions. But his calm power and overwhelming strength oozes from his portrayal.

He has the strength to hold a woman captive with a force that makes her say no.

It is completely different from the charm of macho strength and flirtatious storytelling.

The overwhelming power of the father that the boy Turgenev felt will be felt in this novel.

Power to the point of something cold and tyrannical, completely opposite to Turgenev's sensibilities of gentleness, kindness, warmth, and the like. Power as a man. This mysterious but powerful father easily snatches away his first love.

If it were up to my father, that queen would fall in love with him like a slave. The queen whom he had respected and fallen in love with so much, the queen who treated him like a slave, easily prostrated herself before my father.

This is tough.

It must have been unbearable for Turgenev, who has delicate sensibilities.

Some may think, no, no, it's a novel and there is no need to think that far.

But it is also powerful because it is based on an actual story. As I mentioned earlier in this article, Turgenev had this very same experience as a young boy.

This event seems to have a great deal of weight in shaping Turgenev's view of love.

Although "First Love" is a very interesting story, it is also a very interesting work in terms of Turgenev's views on love.

The volume of the book is also easy to read, at just a little over 100 pages in the library.

Turgenev's masterpiece, "First Love," is highly recommended.

The above is a synopsis of Turgenev's autobiographical masterpiece "First Love.

Next Article.

Click here to read the previous article.

Click here for a list of Turgenev's recommended works.

Related Articles