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Mumu by Ivan Turgenev


by Ivan Turgenev

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Poor Gerasim. ( )
  AmieB7 | Jan 21, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Mumu is a short story, dealing with a deaf-mute majordomo and his domineering employer. I am not sure that short stories really suit the audiobook format - certainly, the slightness of this story seemed to be emphasised by the fact that I was listening to it. The reader, Max Bollinger, had a heavy Russian accent. I don't know if this is his normal accent or a deliberate choice. If the latter, it did the book no favours. ( )
  wandering_star | May 13, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
As an animal lover, I found this story particularly sad. But that's pretty much what one seems to get from many Russian short stories. Still a good story though. I think I would have preferred to read this story rather than listen to it. I like audiobooks, but sometimes the narration just doesn't mesh with what I would have heard/pictured in my head. ( )
  kmv | Dec 31, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I consider myself a fairly well-read person, but readily admit that there are large gaps in my literary diet, one of the largest being Russian literature. Somehow I’ve never quite talked myself into taking the jump and making the commitment to read Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky— Actually, that’s not quite true. I have tried Dostoyevsky twice, but at sixteen I didn’t feel I was quite up to the demands of Crime and Punishment, and my assigned reading of Notes from Underground last spring ended up being more of a skimming than anything else.

So I was quite pleased when I received the audiobook of Ivan Turgenev’s Mumu from LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program. It was short (a novella, maybe even a short story), seemed to tell a simple story without much deep philosophizing, and moreover would be spoon-fed to me in audio form.

The story consists of two major episodes, both involving Gerasim, a giant deaf-mute who works as porter to a wealthy female landowner. In the first section, he falls for Tat’jana, a washerwoman, but she is frightened of him, and moreover is promised by the mistress to another of her worthies. Later, the lonely Gerasim takes in a stray dog he names Mumu, and she, unlike Tat’jana, returns his affection. But not all is sunshine and flowers. The tale ends on a markedly bleak note, and one wonders whether enduring happiness is even possible for a person like Gerasim.

What I most liked about Mumu was how real the characters were. One could read them as symbolic, certainly—with Gerasim representing the serfdom and his mistress the aristocracy—but these are not a mere backdrop for philosophical ramblings (which Turgenev never embarks on): they are living, breathing people. Tat’jana is not an angelic creature, except in Gerasim’s eyes, but then, neither is she a brazen hussy. And the mistress of the estate, who might very well have become a deplorable villainess, is softened with touches of humor and humanity. I wanted to judge her, but I also saw parts of myself in her.

But when all’s said and done, I can’t say I was moved much. Others have talked about the piece’s ripe comedy and potent tragedy. I didn’t once laugh or cry. It is a pleasant, occasionally thought-provoking read, and that is all.

I am surprised at how much unmitigated praise Max Bollinger has been receiving as a narrator. I myself have very mixed feelings about his work. On the one hand, it is lovely to hear all those Russian names and terms pronounced by a native speaker. Unfortunately, much of his English is oddly phrased, and at times inaccurate. He pronounces coaxing “co-axe-ing,” and he occasionally gets verb tenses wrong. This is the sort of narration I can deal with when listening for free (I can’t imagine narrating an audiobook in any language but my first!), but I wouldn’t want to pay for it.

I wish I had been able to take to Mumu as readily as some of the other reviewers here. I simply couldn’t. It just wasn’t there for me. But it served its purpose: I have now been introduced to the world of Russian literature. My next stop will probably be Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky, but I can see myself coming back to Turgenev eventually. ( )
2 vote ncgraham | Feb 1, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I enjoyed this story. I found the pace particularly interesting, and the narrator was clear and concise. I felt for Gerasim as he had to fulfill his mistress's orders, and found myself trying to coax him to do otherwise.
1 vote bojnberry | Jan 17, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
Gerasim is a deaf mute servant in the household of a cantankerous old widow outside Moscow. He finds comfort in his isolated life of arduous work in his beloved dog, Mimi, but the widow orders the animal’s destruction. A harrowing short story published in 1854, its vivid portrayal of callous cruelty towards serfs is believed to have influenced opinion in favour of the abolition of serfdom seven years later. The narration is Russian accented English communicates all of Turgenev’s favour.

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ivan Turgenevprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bollinger, MaxNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Garnett, ConstanceTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In one of the outlying streets of Moscow, in a gray house with white columns and a balcony, warped all askew, there was once living a lady, a widow, surrounded by a numerous household of serfs.
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Book description
An audio book adaptation of Turgenev's story set on the outskirts of Moscow, in the house of an old widow. The story was written in 1854 by Ivan Turgenev, a great Russian novelists of the nineteenth century. Read in English (unabridged).

Turgenev wrote Mumu with such vivid images and reflections of the state of the tsarist Russia that this piece together with his other stories was credited with having influenced public opinion in favour of the abolition of serfdom in 1861. Turgenev was the first of the great Russian novelists to win fame abroad. One of his great admirers was Henry James, who wrote that "Turgenev’s merit of form is of the first order"
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Urban Romantics

4 editions of this book were published by Urban Romantics.

Editions: 0956116566, 1907832386, 1907832319, 0956116574

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