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First Love by Ivan Turgenev
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First Love (1860)

by Ivan Turgenev

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (23)  Dutch (2)  French (1)  All languages (26)
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
It flows easily, and it sets a beautiful scene. He describes the emotional setting well too. I just hope that more of the Russian authors are as easy to read for me as he is. I did find it interesting that in First Love, one of the suitors of the Princess Zinaida was a poet, but she always wanted him to read Pushkin to her. I think I may need to pick Eugene Onegin up soon. ( )
  AmieB7 | Jan 21, 2016 |
This is a damn good little novel providing rolling emotions of joy, giddiness, loathing, sorrow, and more.

With themes mirroring his own life, especially his distant father and less desirable mother, Turgenev tells the tale of Vladimir Petrovich’s first love, in the countryside of Moscow, in the summer of 1833. The narration is autobiographical, with Petrovich discovering his first desires of adult love at the age of 16, immediately after which he finds his new impoverished neighbor, Princesses Zinaida, age 21, to be the object of his adoration and endless affections. Add a snuff-snorting princess mother, five other overly eager suitors, the aforementioned distant father who isn’t happy in his marriage and a mother who fears her husband, the comedy and the inevitable tragedy virtually writes itself.

To say the story is predictable would not be a fair statement. We know it can’t end well. The beauty of the book is its flow, its word usage (fantastic translation by Isaiah Berlin), and the affecting footprint that it leaves, despite the brevity. A boy’s first love going awry, the revelation of the truth, his regret at the end are simple but effective. The passages of love – the desire, the enchantment, the loss of innocence, the first falling, being lost in it, yielding to it, crushed by it, to leave it, the shock of it, and its eventual passing – are all in these pages, without sappiness.

His first love was his most memorable. My last love was my most memorable. Good-bye.

Some Quotes:

In the Foreword, advice from Turgenev’s father:
"'Take what you can yourself, and don't let others get you into their hands; to belong to oneself, that is the whole thing in life.”

On love – the youth desiring love:
“I remember that at that time the image of woman, the shadowy vision of feminine love, scarcely ever took definite shape in my mind: but in every thought, in every sensation, there lay hidden a half-conscious, shy, timid awareness of something new, inexpressibly sweet, feminine… This presentiment, this sense of expectancy, penetrated my whole being; I breathed it, it was in every drop of blood that flowed through my veins – soon it was to be fulfilled.”

On love – the enthrallment:
“…I forgot everything; my eyes devoured the graceful figure, the lovely neck, the beautiful arms, the slightly disheveled fair hair under the white kerchief – and the half-closed, perceptive eye, the lashes, the soft cheek beneath them… I blushed terribly…, fled to my room, threw myself on the bed and covered my face with my hands. My heart leaped within me. I felt very ashamed and unusually gay. I was extraordinarily excited.”
On love – the youth sinking into the first love, innocence gone:
“… the image of Zinaida still hovered triumphant over my soul, though even this image seemed more tranquil. Like a swan rising from the grasses of the marsh, it stood out from the unlovely shapes which surrounded it, and I, as I fell asleep, in parting for the last time clung to it, in trusting adoration.
Oh, gentle feelings, soft sounds, the goodness and the gradual stilling of a soul that has been moved; the melting happiness of the first tender, touching joys of love - where are you? Where are you?”

On love – better to have loved than not at all:
"She quickly turned towards me, and opening her arms wide, put them round my head, and gave me a strong, warm kiss. God only knows for whom that long farewell kiss was seeking, but I tasted its sweetness avidly. I knew that it would never come again.
'Good-bye, good-bye,' I kept repeating.
She tore herself from my embrace, and was gone. I went too. I cannot even begin to convey the feelings with which I left her. I never wish to experience them again, but I should count it a misfortune never to have had them at all."

Lastly – on youth and its inevitable passing:
"O youth! youth! you go your way heeding, uncaring - as if you owned all the treasures of the world; even grief elates you, even sorrow sits well upon your brow. You are self-confident and insolent and you say, 'I alone am alive - behold!' even while your own days fly past and vanish without trace and without number, and everything within you melts away like wax in the sun ... like snow ... and perhaps the whole secret of your enchantment lies not, indeed, in your power to think that there is nothing you will not do; it is this that you scatter to the winds - gifts which you could never have used to any other purpose. Each of us feels most deeply convinced that he has been too prodigal of his gifts - that he has a right to cry, 'Oh, what could I have not done, if only I had not wasted my time…
What has come of it all - of all that I had hoped for? And now when the shades of evening are beginning to close in upon my life, what have I left that is fresher, dearer to me, than the memoirs of that brief storm that came and went so swiftly one morning in the spring?..." ( )
2 vote varwenea | Dec 27, 2015 |
"First Love" by E. C. Turgenev.
  John_Dryden_Jr | Nov 3, 2015 |
Very good book about a young boy's first love with a flirtatious older girl. Setting is 18th century Moscow. All of the characters play their part well with the exception of the boy's father, who is devious and quite unlikable (by me that is). A good twist that was easy for the reader to see coming, but not so easy for the boy. A short book and an easy read. ( )
  MathMaverick | Aug 28, 2015 |
It's official, I need more Turgenev in my life. He could narrate the mundane and I'd be engrossed. His portraits and scenes are so vivid. A sixteen year old boy falls in love with the impoverished, capricious princess next door, so does a decent chunk of the neighborhood. Her heart, however, belongs to his father - this doesn't stop her from demanding adulation from the other poor sods. Things never end well for russian heroines though! ( )
1 vote dandelionroots | Oct 2, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (36 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Turgenev, Ivanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Anhava, MarttiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Balbusso, AnnaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Balbusso, ElenaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Berlin, IsaiahTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Löb, KurtIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Magarshack, DavidTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pritchett, V. S.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schot, Aleida G.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weststeijn, W.G.Forewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140443355, Paperback)



Love can be surprising. Love can be heartbreaking. Love can be an art. But love is the singular emotion that all humans rely on most . . . and crave endlessly, no matter what the cost.

Isaiah Berlin's translation reproduces in finely wrought English the original story's simplicity, lyricism, and sensitivity.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:00 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"The great thing is to lead a normal life, and not be the slave of your passions. What do you get if not?" One of Russian literature's most renowned love stories--a vivid and sensitive account of adolescent love, wherein the sixteen year old protagonist falls in love with a beautiful but older woman living next door, thereby plunging into a whirlwind of changing emotions that are heightened by her capriciousness, and leading to a truly heart-rending revelation.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140443355, 0141032820

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