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Essay on Turgenev and Dostoyevsky

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Turgenev and Dostoyevsky

Upon first meeting Turgenev in 1845, Dostoyevsky wrote to his elder brother Michael saying that "A few days ago the poet Turgenev returned from Paris and right away showed me such friendship and affection that Belinsky is persuaded he is in love with me. But what a man he is, brother! I almost fell in love with him myself. He is a poet, a man of talent, an aristocrat, handsome, wealthy, intelligent, cultured, twenty-five years old; I doubt that nature has refused him anything. And finally, his character is unstintingly straightforward, beautiful, formed in a good school." (Frank-Goldstein p. 37). While Turgenev liked to pull his friend's leg occasionally, there was never any large argument between them. When Dostoyevsky returned from Siberia years later, they resumed their friendship as if uninterrupted. However, this friendship was not without contradictions. In a letter written to Turgenev in 1863, Dostoyevsky lavishes praise of Turgenev's "Ghosts" with only minor criticism. Turgenev had promised his story "Ghosts" for publication in Dostoyevsky's magazine, Time. When it the magazine was suspended, he was freed from his promise, but Dostoyevsky pleaded with him to save it for his new magazine. It was finally published in Epoch in 1864. Turgenev apparently did make some changes in response to the criticism expressed by Dostoyevsky in this letter. Dostoyevsky, in 1864, wrote to his brother Mikhail, degrading Turgenev. "Some of the articles are quite decent, such as "Ghosts." In my opinion it contains a lot of rubbish; there's something sordid, morbid, and senile about it; it evidences a lack of faith due to impotence-in a word, the whole of Turgenev and his convictions." (Frank-Goldst...


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...ew that the reforming ideas of the older spawned the nihilist view of the younger, and that the older liberals must bear some responsibility for the actions of the radicals. The older Verkhovensky, Stepan Trofimovich, has produce a son, Petr, who has subjugated and broken the ideals of his fathers generation, metamorphosing the idealistic liberal humanism of the 1840s Westernizers into shallow nihilistic opportunism, to become a murky reflection of the disturbing, amoral Nechayev whose revolutionary theory culminated in murder (Jones -Miller p.75). It is the generational gap, first promoted by his former friend Turgenev, which gives Dostoyevsky the opportunity to condemn the nihilists.

Dosotyevsky, The Devils

Turgenev, Fathers and Sons

Frank and Goldstein, Letters of Dostoyevsky

Jones and Miller, The Classic Russian Novel

Allen, The Essential Turgenev


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