Generally thought to be the work that led to the abolishment of serfdom in Russia, "Sketches from a Hunter's Album (A Sportsman's Sketches)" is a series of short stories, written in 1852, that gained Turgenev widespread recognition for his unique writing style. These stories were the result of Turgenev's observations while hunting all over Russia, particularly on his abusive mother's estate at Spasskoye. A definitive work of the Russian Realist tradition, this collection of sketches unveils the author's insights on the lives of everyday Russians, from landowners and their peasants, to bailiffs and mournful doctors, to unhappy wives and mothers. Turgenev captures their tragedies and triumphs, losses and love in a set of stories that condemned the behavior of the ruling class. Considered subversive writing, Turgenev was confined to his mother's estate, yet his "Sketches" opened the eyes of many people of his time, proving him not only an artist but also a social reformer whose abilities ultimately affected the lives of countless Russians.
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Sketches from a Hunter's Album based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
A Sportsman¿s Sketches by Ivan Turgenev is a collection of short stories or observations (sketches) from the viewpoint of a Russian nobleman traveling his lands to both survey them and hunt for sport. [Note that this book is sometimes titled Sketches from a Hunter¿s Album.]When you can¿t enjoy a novel in the original language, then the book is only as good as the translation you have at hand. This particular edition was translated by Constance Garnett who did an excellent job of making Turgenev approachable.While somewhat pastoral through the idyllic scenery that is described in detail, Turgenev¿s main focus is the people that the sportsman encounters. Through discussions and business dealings, we learn that most people are not as they initially appear. Poor, unhealthy peasants display some of the deepest wisdom while privileged and well respected gentry are abusive and take advantage of their position. Class distinctions are important in this book, but the narrator tends to take a more positive view of those well below his station. One lesson that is consistent through most sketches is that your actions have a great impact on how others treat you.My favorite descriptive passage in the book was when the hunter is lying on his back and looking up through the trees into sky. In the middle of his detailed description, he flips his viewpoint to be that of peering into the depths of the ocean. This ends in one of my favorite phrases:¿the deep, pure blue stirs on one¿s lips a smile, innocent as itself; like the clouds over the sky, and, as it were, with them, happy memories pass in slow procession over the soul¿Turgenev is a Russian master that is more easily understood by Westerners than some of his contemporaries. His sentence structure (depending on the translator) may still be very complex, but the subject matter is simple. This was relatively short for a piece of Russian fiction, but it¿s a great sample of Turgenev¿s style and made me interested in reading more of his work.
The Book Report: This edition of "A Sportsman's Sketches" or "Sketches from a Hunter's Album" contains 13 of a possible 25 short fictions published by the tyro writer in Russia's preeminent literary magazine, The Contemporary, from 1847 to 1851. These were his first prose outpourings, designed to sustain his independent life far away from his autocratic and abusive mother. He brought these luminous, beautiful vignettes to life in partial imitation of his beloved's husband's work...Louis Viardot, much older husband of opera singer Pauline Viardot, and author of Souvenirs de chasse, a very similar collection of huntsman's memories of the countryside and people of Viardot's youth...but of his own youthful world at his mother's country estate.The stories all illustrate the young author's liberalism, his disdain for the serf system sustaining a luxurious lifestyle for some and penury and privation for most. They were hailed by his fellow liberals, and entered the canon of Russian literature on the strength of that appeal. But generations of readers will attest that what keeps people reading these vignettes is a certain deftness and facility with characters and descriptions that is so robust that it even survives translation. These are objects of rare beauty. Not much when considered as stories, they blossom into beauty when viewed as moments lived by a very acute observer.My Review: "Singers" is possibly my favorite of the sketches. The bleakness of the village, the unexpectedness of the singing contest in such a place, and the sheer animal drive of humans to find SOME joy in life...memorable."Kasyan from the Beautiful Lands" makes me weep...the dwarf, his simple belief that the world is good but mankind is not, his strength and certainty, all in contrast to our helpless and feckless narrator...how clear is Turgenev's picture of the unfairness of privilege unearned."Forest and Steppe" is, alone, the best reason I can give to you to go and get this book and read it. It shimmers. Its beauty of image and of imagination is simply unsurpassable. It is as close to perfect as any piece of writing I've ever seen.So many of the others are, while good and worthy pieces of fiction, just not superb, that I feel it's best to say...the reason to read this collection is the cumulative effect of many a small, beautiful moment, not a Grand Revelation. More like walking in the woods by yourself, noticing birdsong and small shy flowers, than stumbling all unaware across the Grand Canyon.