Ivan Turgenev (1818–1883) was one of the greatest Russian writers of his day, and the first to gain an international reputation. His novels, among them Rudin (1856), Fathers and Sons (1862), and Virgin Soil (1877), and his many stories and plays pointedly reveal his opposition to the serf system and his profound insights into the lives, interests, and attitudes of the nobility and intelligentsia of mid-19th-century Russia.
Two of Turgenev's best works of short fiction are the touching First Love (1860), a novella known to be partly autobiographical, and The Diary of a Superfluous Man (1850), a fascinating tale of an ineffectual Russian Hamlet. Both provide a superb introduction to the keen social perception, rich characterization, and narrative command of this Russian master. Both stories are presented here in acclaimed translations by Constance Garnett.