Image of Ivan Turgenev


Lifetime: 1818 - 1883 Passed: ≈ 140 years ago


Writer, Poet, Translator



Ivan Turgenev

Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev was a Russian novelist, short story writer, poet, playwright, translator and popularizer of Russian literature in the West.

His first major publication, a short story collection entitled A Sportsman's Sketches (1852), was a milestone of Russian realism. His novel Fathers and Sons (1862) is regarded as one of the major works of 19th-century fiction.

Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev was born in Oryol (modern-day Oryol Oblast, Russia) to noble Russian parents Sergei Nikolaevich Turgenev (1793–1834), a colonel in the Russian cavalry who took part in the Patriotic War of 1812.

After the standard schooling for a son of a gentleman, Turgenev studied for one year at the University of Moscow and then moved to the University of Saint Petersburg from 1834 to 1837, focusing on Classics, Russian literature, and philology.

Turgenev was impressed with German society and returned home believing that Russia could best improve itself by incorporating ideas from the Age of Enlightenment. Like many of his educated contemporaries, he was particularly opposed to serfdom. In 1841, Turgenev started his career in the Russian civil service and spent two years working for the Ministry of Interior (1843–1845).

Turgenev never married, but he had some affairs with his family's serfs, one of which resulted in the birth of his illegitimate daughter, Paulinette. He was tall and broad-shouldered, but was timid, restrained, and soft-spoken. When Turgenev was 19, while traveling on a steamboat in Germany, the boat caught fire. According to rumours by Turgenev's enemies, he reacted in a cowardly manner. He denied such accounts, but these rumours circulated in Russia and followed him for his entire career, providing the basis for his story "A Fire at Sea". His closest literary friend was Gustave Flaubert, with whom he shared similar social and aesthetic ideas. Both rejected extremist right and left political views, and carried a nonjudgmental, although rather pessimistic, view of the world. His relations with Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevsky were often strained, as the two were, for various reasons, dismayed by Turgenev's seeming preference for Western Europe.

Turgenev occasionally visited England, and in 1879 the honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law was conferred upon him by the University of Oxford.

Turgenev's health declined during his later years. In January 1883, an aggressive malignant tumor (liposarcoma) was removed from his suprapubic region, but by then the tumor had metastasized in his upper spinal cord, causing him intense pain during the final months of his life. On 3 September 1883, Turgenev died of a spinal abscess, a complication of the metastatic liposarcoma, in his house at Bougival near Paris. His remains were taken to Russia and buried in Volkovo Cemetery in St. Petersburg. On his death bed he pleaded with Tolstoy: "My friend, return to literature!" After this Tolstoy wrote such works as The Death of Ivan Ilyich and The Kreutzer Sonata. Turgenev's brain was found to be one of the largest on record for neurologically typical individuals, weighing 2012 grams.

Books by Ivan Turgenev

First Love Cover image

First Love

Romance Fiction Novel
Love Youth Dominance

First Love is a novella by Ivan Turgenev, first published in 1860. It is one of his most popular pieces of short fiction. It tells the love story between a 21-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy.

Smoke  Cover image


Fiction Novel
Love Politics

Smoke is an 1867 novel by the Russian writer Ivan Turgenev (1818–1883) that tells the story of a love affair between a young Russian man and a young married Russian woman while also delivering the author's criticism of Russia and Russians of the peri...

A House of Gentlefolk Cover image

A House of Gentlefolk

Romance Fiction Novel
Social Culture Customs

Home of the Gentry also translated as A Nest of the Gentlefolk, A Nest of the Gentry and Liza , is a novel by Ivan Turgenev published in the January 1859 issue of Sovremennik. It was enthusiastically received by the Russian society and remained his l...

The Torrents of Spring Cover image

The Torrents of Spring

Fiction Novel
Love Relationships Semi-autobiographical novel

Torrents of Spring, also known as Spring Torrents, is a 1872 novella by Ivan Turgenev. It is highly autobiographical in nature, and centers on a young Russian landowner, Dimitry Sanin, who falls deliriously in love for the first time while visiting t...

The Diary of a Superfluous Man Cover image

The Diary of a Superfluous Man

Fiction Novel
Epistolary Short Works

The Diary of a Superfluous Man is an 1850 novella by the Russian author Ivan Turgenev. It is written in the first person in the form of a diary by a man who has a few days left to live as he recounts incidents of his life. The story has become the ar...

Rudin Cover image


Romance Fiction Novel
Politics True Love

Rudin is the first novel by Ivan Turgenev, a famous Russian writer best known for his short stories and the novel Fathers and Sons. Turgenev started to work on it in 1855, and it was first published in the literary magazine "Sovremennik" in 1856; sev...

A Lear of the Steppes Cover image

A Lear of the Steppes

Fiction Novel
Social Customs Short Works

This book contains three novellas by one of the major writers of Russian literature. The first, A LEAR OF THE STEPPES, is a brilliant re-imagining of Shakespeare’s play King Lear, wherein a larger-than-life father makes a life-altering decision with...

On the Eve Cover image

On the Eve

Romance Fiction Novel
Politics Historical Fiction

On the Eve is the third novel by Russian writer Ivan Turgenev. It has elements of social comedy but fell foul of radical critics who advocated the need of more overt reform.

A Sportsman's Sketches  Cover image

A Sportsman's Sketches

Fiction Novel
hunt 19th century Literature Short Stories Classics Russia

A Sportsman's Sketches was an 1852 collection of short stories by Ivan Turgenev. It was the first major writing that gained him recognition. He wrote this collection of short stories based on his own observations while hunting at his mother’s estate...

A Contented Man Cover image

A Contented Man

19th century Literature Poems Verses Fortnightly Prose

Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev was a Russian novelist, short story writer, poet, playwright, translator and popularizer of Russian literature in the West. Constance Clara Garnett was an English translator of nineteenth-century Russian literature. She was...

Annouchka: A Tale Cover image

Annouchka: A Tale

Fiction History Novel
Love Young adult fiction Self-Discovery Exploration Emotion Classic Literature

It is a captivating and thought-provoking novella that delves into the complexities of love, societal expectations, and the pursuit of personal freedom. In this beautifully written story, Turgenev takes readers on an emotional journey through the lif...

Dream Tales and Prose Poems Cover image

Dream Tales and Prose Poems

Poetry Fantasy Horror
Short Story Love Death Poems Loss Verses Supernatural Fiction

In the ethereal realms of "Dream Tales and Prose Poems" by Ivan Turgenev, mysteries of the human soul unfurl like delicate petals, revealing a world of emotions, dreams, and profound insights. Delve into the enigmatic labyrinth of the mind, where lov...

The Stone Cover image

The Stone

Love Power Youth Poems Life Hope Humanity Fortnightly Joys

An old man's heart is rejuvenated by the presence of young girls, like a stone on the seashore revitalized by the waves. Ivan Turgenev's The Stone is a short story about an old man whose heart is rejuvenated by the presence of young girls. The story...

Poezdka v Polesye Cover image

Poezdka v Polesye

To tell the truth, this story — “A trip to Polesye” — is not so much complicated with philosophical or psychological ideas. In this story author had another goal — to describe the beauty of places where he was born, the beauty of nature. The only thi...

Fathers and Sons Cover image

Fathers and Sons

The fathers and children of the novel refers to the growing divide between the two generations of Russians, and the character Yevgeny Bazarov has been referred to as the "first Bolshevik", for his nihilism and rejection of the old order. Turgenev wro...

Записки охотника (Zapiski Ohotnika) Cover image

Записки охотника (Zapiski Ohotnika)

Записки охотника — цикл рассказов Ивана Сергеевича Тургенева, печатавшихся в 1847—1851 году в журнале «Современник» и выпущенных отдельным изданием в 1852 году. Три рассказа написаны и присоединены автором к сборнику значительно позже. - Summary by В...

Вешние воды (Veshnie Vody) Cover image

Вешние воды (Veshnie Vody)

Основное повествование ведётся как воспоминания 52-летнего дворянина и помещика Санина о событиях 30-летней давности, случившихся в его жизни, когда он путешествовал по Германии. (Wikipedia)English translation of this novel is also available as a Lib...

Дворянское гнездо (Dvoryanskoe gnezdo) Cover image

Дворянское гнездо (Dvoryanskoe gnezdo)

Главным героем романа является Фёдор Иванович Лаврецкий, дворянин, имеющий многие черты самого Тургенева, например в том, что воспитан он был суровой помещицей. Роман был впервые опубликован в 1859 году и послужил поводом серьёзной размолвки между Ту...

On The Sea Cover image

On The Sea

LibriVox volunteers bring you 15 recordings of On The Sea by Ivan Turgenev. This was the Weekly Poetry project for April 14, 2019. ------ Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev was a Russian novelist, short story writer, poet, playwright, translator and popu...

Virgin Soil Volume 1 Cover image

Virgin Soil Volume 1

Turgenev's last and longest novel presents the story of a group of young people in late nineteenth century Russia, who because of disillusionment with the country's entrenched traditional hierarchies and power relationships, seek to foment revolution...

Nymphs Cover image


LibriVox volunteers bring you 7 recordings of The Nymphs by Ivan Turgenev. This was the Fortnightly Poetry project for November 15, 2020. ------ Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev was a Russian novelist, short story writer, poet, playwright, translator and...

Virgin Soil Volume 2 Cover image

Virgin Soil Volume 2

The second volume of Turgenev's last novel sees social change bubbling up into conflict with the established order and interacting with the fates of the characters, testing their resolve and motivations to the limit. The publication being read is div...

Reporter Cover image


LibriVox volunteers bring you 22 recordings of The Reporter by Ivan Turgenev. Translated from the Russian by Constance Garnett This was the Weekly Poetry project for November 5, 2023. ------ This week we have a prose piece by Ivan Turgenev, taken...