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The Hunting Sketches Bk.1: My Neighbour…

The Hunting Sketches Bk.1: My Neighbour Radilov and Other Stories (1853)

by Ivan Turgenev

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Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
It took a big effort to hear this audiobook. It was not as attractive to me as the other audiobook I reviewed, Mumu. How come? The voice of the narrator was more nasal and the intonation too monotonous. Combined with the slightly less interesting stories I just couldn't get the book finished for months. In this case (also contrary to Mumu) I prefer reading the stories myself. I still think it is a good idea to bring out these stories on audio, but with a better voice (sorry, Max Bollinger)! ( )
  jolijtje | Oct 12, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
These short stories relate the interactions between a Russian land owner and his neighbours. I enjoyed them.
These stories were read via an audio book, and while the Russian accent gave the stories a more authentic feel, and I am most grateful that someone else was pronouncing those Russian names, I did find that unless I paid close attention I easily lost the flow of the stories. There were also times where I felt the narrator was reading without understanding as I noticed several errors, (eg: .....I made him a preposition....... , ... he attended versity.....)
Maybe in the car was not the right place to listen to them. ( )
1 vote TheWasp | Jul 11, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Like Mumu, this version of the Hunting Sketches, narrated by Max Bollinger and translated by Constance Garnett, is a polished and professionally narrated work. The accent of Bollinger only adds to the authenticity and makes it stand apart from similar audio books that have ridiculous English accents. I would not I think listen to an audio book unless it was narrated by an indigenous story teller like Bollinger after listening to his previous works. The pace is just right and the pitch is soothing yet not so much as to irritate. I again, recommend another successful Bollinger production, and just like his language books and works of Chekhov, they are unmatched in dependability; who else could pronounce those Russian patronymics so well? Recommended. ( )
1 vote LesMiserables | Jun 25, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I have no idea why I asked for this from the early review scheme , I mustn't have noticed the audio book bit or been half asleep, anyway I am looking at it and It is looking at me. I keep on thinking about listening to it but what do I do with my eyes? driving - no will lose concentration on it or the road, using the PC likewise, ditto sewing or gardening. I really must give it a try though and will write this again when I do.
  wendyrey | Jun 8, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
What Turgenev’s Early Writing Led Him To (A review of The Hunting Sketches)

A work from a distant country in a foreign language written over a century-and-a-half ago had better be able to speak for itself. Fortunately, as an audio book, it now can.

When a book first comes out, as this one did, it attracts or repels readers largely on the basis of three things: its author, its topic, and its type or genre. While a swing and a miss on any of these is a strike against you, a hit on just one of them may save the day and keep the game alive. When Turgenev published The Hunting Sketches in 1852, he wasn’t well known (Strike One!). What’s more, though his material had a definite place to it (the estate he had just inherited from his domineering mother) and a gaggle of colorful people, it really had no theme or topic (Strike Two!!). When it came to the sole remaining chance, what Turgenev did actually doubled his difficulty ratio, because what he chose wasn’t the familiar and more popular story form, but that of the sketch (When was the last time you read, and thoroughly enjoyed, a sketch – on anything?). And here is exactly where Turgenev’s fortunes pivoted and turned around. Not only did he get his hit, but he knocked the ball into the stands, and – to stick with the sports metaphor – he even made it into the hall of fame.

The response was instantaneous. It wasn’t a matter of beginners luck, but emerged out of what he chose to focus his sketches on: character. Not as a mere literary device or technique employed to make a written piece more effective (though many regard it in this very way, and their work shows it), and few writers succeed, despite their many labored attempts, in learning to wield it in the engaging and life-like way Turgenev did. That is what shows so clearly in The Hunting Sketches, where again and again he seizes his people with both hands, determined not to let them go until they all “gave,” handing over the revealing riches character always holds within. He wrote of this exclusively, relentlessly, and unswervingly in every single sketch. What Turgenev found in character gave the people he wrote about -- the peasants and nobles of the provincial Russia of his day -- real things to talk about, think of, feel, say, and do. And that is found in his distinctly vivid characters.

Surely this boundless depth and dimensionality came as something of a surprise even to him. For what had he published up to that time but a long poem and a short story? But in 1847 at 29, he begins to write in the fine fashion found in The Hunting Sketches. It changed both the way he saw things and the way he would write from then on. It even had a hand in changing the world around him (several credit his writing with hastening the official end of serfdom as well).

That Turgenev could actually see the reality of character is evidence of his artistic creativity, but that he also chose to follow where it led is a sure sign of his own.

If the quality of narration matched that of the writing, I would have given this audio book a four star rating. As it presently stands, though, I rate it at three-and-a-half.

* * *

(General comments on the recording and on two mispronunciations:)
I strongly suggest re-recording the entire first track in order to correct the mispronunciation of two words in the first track (see notes at bottom), and to use this as an opportunity to bring the narrator’s level of animation and vocal energy up to the level achieved in the third track and those following. As the opening track, it is simply not up to standard! – and, it is likely to turn-off listeners otherwise interested in hearing Turgenev’s work. (This commonly happens in readying professional recordings, and when it does, as indeed it has, there is no need to delay in quickly getting it corrected. After all, Turgenev handled his part very well, and now the current producers must do the same!)

To an American listener, the accent sounds “British,” which needn’t be a drawback, yet it seems “odd” and a little puzzling. This is likely due to the speaker’s having learned English from people whose natural accent was an English one, as is commonly found among Europeans who learn English in that way.

The narrator’s strength lies in the accurate pronunciation of the many Russian names. He speaks distinctly and enunciates well, warming to his task as he got further into it, so that his pace picked up, his tone grew less deliberate and became more natural, reflecting the accompanying feelings treated in the dialog. Beyond that, there is the slightly dated language of another historical era (which, of course, is there in Garnett’s translation); but a case can well be made for the language being closer in its style to that used in Turgenev’s day. Some will find it “quaint” by modern standards, but it can nevertheless serve the purpose of opening to the modern listener the world and times treated in the book. Without doubt, a greater formality was observed back then, particularly between people of different social classes, and was simply a fact and feature of how these people lived and related.)

Mistake #1 – (3:43 into Track 1), in the phrase . . . “a dog blinking and twitching in every limb was gnawing a bone” . . . (the word was mispronounced as ‘knowing a bone’).

Mistake #2 – ( 6:21 into Track 1), in the phrase . . . “took the bow” . . . (the word was mispronounced ‘bow’, as in the posture of respect, but here is meant to be ‘bow’ as that with which one plays a fiddle). ( )
2 vote GeneRuyle | May 13, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
"Often, the most insignificant things produce more effect on people than the most important." Turgenev expresses his own view through these words of the young nobleman who meets landowner Radilov while shooting gamebirds on his family estate. The impact of the sketches is in the significance with which Turgenev freights simple detail, such as the fly Radilov observes on his dead wife’s eye. Bollinger’s engaging Russian intonation enhances this richly detailed creation of the daily lives of both landowners and serfs on country estates.
Even hunt saboteurs will enjoy the story, in this all-too-brief taste of one of Russia's greatest writers, about Lejeune, a French drummer boy retreating from Moscow with Napoleon's not so Grande Armée. Captured by villagers and all but drowned under river ice, he is rescued by a passing nobleman out hunting. On one condition. Lejeune must teach his daughter to play the piano . . . Now read on.
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The first major writing by Turgenev that gained him recognition. The stories in this collection were written based on Turgenev's own observations while hunting at his mother’s estate. This work exposed many injustices of serfdom and led to Turgenev’s house arrest and eventual abolishment of serfdom in Russia. A fine example of realist tradition in Russian literature. Read in English (unabridged)

Turgenev was an enthusiastic hunter; and it was his experiences in the woods of his native province that supplied the material for The Hunting Sketches. They are written from the point of view of a young nobleman who is surprised to find the qualities of intelligence and morality among the peasants who live on his family's estates. Turgenev wrote many novels on this theme to stress his sentiments against serfdom. In his famous novel, Fathers and Sons, he showed the conflict between the older generation, who respect tradition, and the youth, who are Nihilists, relying heavily on materialism, faith in science, and lack of respect for tradition and authority. "A nihilist is a man who does not bow to any authorities, who does not take any principle on trust, no matter with what respect that principle is surrounded."
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