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The author of the _Dvoryanskoe Gnyezdo_, or "Nest of Nobles," of which
a translation is now offered to the English reader under the title of
"Liza," is a writer of whom Russia may well be proud.[A] And that, not
only because he is a consummate artist,--entitled as he is to take
high rank among those of European fame, so accurate is he in his
portrayal of character, and so quick to seize and to fix even its most
fleeting expression; so vividly does he depict by a few rapid touches
the appearance of the figures whom he introduces upon his canvas, the
nature of the scenes among which they move,--he has other and even
higher claims than these to the respect and admiration of Russian
readers. For he is a thoroughly conscientious worker; one who, amid
all his dealings with fiction, has never swerved from his regard for
what is real and true; one to whom his own country and his own people
are very dear, but who has neither timidly bowed to the prejudices of
his countrymen, nor obstinately shut his eyes to their faults.

[Footnote A: Notwithstanding the unencouraging opinion expressed by
Mr. Ralston in this preface, of the probable fate of "Fathers and
Children," and "Smoke," with the English public, both have been
translated in America and have met with very fair success. Of course,
even more may be hoped for the author's other works.]

His first prose work, the "Notes of a Sportsman" (_Zapiski
Okhotnika_), a collection of sketches of country life, made a deep and
lasting impression upon the minds of the educated classes in Russia,
so vigorous were its attacks upon the vices of that system of slavery
which was then prevalent. Those attacks had all the more weight,
inasmuch as the book was by no means exclusively devoted to them. It
dealt with many other subjects connected with provincial life; and
the humor and the pathos and the picturesqueness with which they were
treated would of themselves have been sufficient to commend it to the
very favorable attention of his countrymen. But the sad pictures he
drew in it, occasionally and almost as it were accidentally, of the
wretched position occupied by the great masses of the people, then
groaning under the weight of that yoke which has since been removed,
stirred the heart of Russian society with a thrill of generous horror
and sympathy; and the effect thus produced was all the more permanent
inasmuch as it was attained by thoroughly legitimate means. Far
from exaggerating the ills of which he wrote, or describing them in
sensational and declamatory language, he treated them in a style
that sometimes seemed almost cold in its reticence and freedom from
passion. The various sketches of which the volume was composed
appeared at intervals in a Russian magazine, called the _Contemporary
(Sovremennik)_, about three-and-twenty years ago, and were read in it
with avidity; but when the first edition of the collected work was
exhausted, the censors refused to grant permission to the author to
print a second, and so for many years the complete book was not to be
obtained in Russia without great difficulty. Now that the good fight
of emancipation has been fought, and the victory--thanks to the
present Emperor--has been won, M. Turgénieff has every reason for
looking back with pride upon that phase of the struggle; and his
countrymen may well have a feeling of regard, as well as of respect,
for him--the upper-classes as for one who has helped them to recognize
their duty; the lower, as for a very generous supporter in their time
of trouble.

M. Turgénieff has written a great number of very charming short
stories, most of them having reference to Russia and Russian life; for
though he has lived in Germany for many years, his thoughts, whenever
he takes up his pen, almost always seem to go back to his native land.
Besides these, as well as a number of critical essays, plays, and
poems, he has brought out several novels, or rather novelettes, for
none of them have attained to three-volume dimensions. Of these, the
most remarkable are the one I have now translated, which appeared
about eleven years ago, and the two somewhat polemical stories, called
"Fathers and Children" (_Otsui i Dyeti_) and "Smoke" (_Duim_). The
first of the three I may leave to speak for itself, merely adding that
I trust that--although it appears under all the disadvantages by
which even the most conscientious of translations must always be
attended--it may be looked upon by English readers with somewhat of
the admiration which I have long felt for the original, on account of
the artistic finish of its execution, the purity of its tone, and the
delicacy and the nobleness of the sentiment by which it is pervaded.

The story of "Fathers and Children" conveys a vigorous and excessively
clever description of the change that has taken place of late years in
the thoughts and feelings of the educated classes of Russian society
One of the most interesting chapters in "Liza"--one which may
be skipped by readers who care for nothing but incident in a
story--describes a conversation which takes place between the hero
and one of his old college friends. The sketch of the disinterested
student, who has retained in mature life all the enthusiasm of his
college days, is excellent, and is drawn in a very kindly spirit.
But in "Fathers and Children" an exaggeration of this character is
introduced, serving as a somewhat scare-crow-like embodiment of the
excessively hard thoughts and very irreverent speculations in which
the younger thinkers of the new school indulge. This character is
developed in the story into dimensions which must be styled inordinate
if considered from a purely artistic point of view; but the story
ought not to be so regarded. Unfortunately for its proper appreciation
among us, it cannot be judged aright, except by readers who possess a
thorough knowledge of what was going on in Russia a few years ago, and
who take a keen and lively interest in the subjects which were then
being discussed there. To all others, many of its chapters will
seem too unintelligible and wearisome, both linked together into
interesting unity by the slender thread of its story, beautiful as
many of its isolated passages are. The same objection may be made
to "Smoke." Great spaces in that work are devoted to caricatures of
certain persons and opinions of note in Russia, but utterly unknown
in England--pictures which either delight or irritate the author's
countrymen, according to the tendency of their social and political
speculations, but which are as meaningless to the untutored English
eye as a collection of "H.B."'s drawings would be to a Russian who had
never studied English politics. Consequently neither of these stories
is likely ever to be fully appreciated among us[A].

[Footnote A: A detailed account of both of these stories, as well as
of several other works by M. Turgénieff, will be found in the number
of the _North British Review_ for March, 1869.]

The last novelette which M. Turgénieff has published, "The Unfortunate
One" (_Neschastnaya_) is free from the drawbacks by which, as far as
English readers are concerned, "Fathers and Children" and "Smoke,"
are attended; but it is exceedingly sad and painful. It is said to be
founded on a true story, a fact which may account for an intensity
of gloom in its coloring, the darkness of which would otherwise seem
almost unartistically overcharged.

Several of M. Turgénieff's works have already been translated into
English. The "Notes of a Sportsman" appeared about fourteen years
ago, under the title of "Russian Life in the Interior[A];" but,
unfortunately, the French translation from which they were (with all
due acknowledgment) rendered, was one which had been so "cooked" for
the Parisian market, that M. Turgénieff himself felt bound to protest
against it vigorously. It is the more unfortunate inasmuch as an
admirable French translation of the work was afterwards made by M.

[Footnote A: "Russian Life in the Interior." Edited by J.D.
Meiklejohn. Black, Edinburg, 1855.]

[Footnote B: "Récits d'un Chasseur." Traduits par H. Delavea, Paris,

Still more vigorously had M. Turgénieff to protest against an English
translation of "Smoke," which appeared a few months ago.

The story of "Fathers and Children" has also appeared in English[A];
but as the translation was published on the other side of the
Atlantic, it has as yet served but little to make M. Turgénieff's name
known among us.

[Footnote A: "Fathers and Sons." Translated from the Russian by Eugene
Schuyler. New York 1867.]

The French and German translations of M. Turgénieff's works are
excellent. From the French versions of M. Delaveau, M. Xavier Marmier,
M. Prosper Mérimée, M. Viardot, and several others, a very good idea
may be formed by the general reader of M. Turgénieffs merits. For
my own part, I wish cordially to thank the French and the German
translators of the _Dvoryanskoe Gnyezdo_ for the assistance their
versions rendered me while I was preparing the present translation of
that story. The German version, by M. Paul Fuchs,[A] is wonderfully
literal. The French version, by Count Sollogub and M.A. de Calonne,
which originally appeared in the _Revue Contemporaine_, without being
quite so close, is also very good indeed.[B]

[Footnote A: Das adelige Nest. Von I.S. Turgénieff. Aus dem Russicher
ubersetzt von Paul Fuchs. Leipzig, 1862.]

[Footnote B: Une Nichée de Gentilshommes. Paris, 1862]

I, too, have kept as closely as I possibly could to the original.
Indeed, the first draft of the translation was absolutely literal,
regardless of style or even idiom.

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