Henri Troyat, Author, Nancy Amphoux, Translator Dutton Books $18.95 (184p) ISBN 978-0-525-24674-9
Ivan Turgenev was a misfit. Although Russian to the soles of his feet, he was happy only when living abroad. For decades he passionately pursued a stoop-shouldered soprano who responded only with kind words. He drew close to Tsar-hating conspirators, mistrusted revolution and was scorned by conservatives and leftists alike. This engrossing, brisk biography by the French biographer of Tolstoy, Gogol and Chekhov offers no major personal revelations or stunning literary insights. Troyat's achievement in this down-to-earth, concise narrative is to take the measure of a sensitive man torn between literature and love, between Slavophile longings and an attraction to Western liberal ways. There are unforgettable scenes: Turgenev showing Tolstoy how the can-can is danced in Paris; young Ivan, a dandified student in Germany, watched over by a male secretary who is actually his bastard half-brother; Dostoyevsky goading the rootless aristocrat into a towering rage. Troyat seamlessly interweaves Turgenev's letters and journal entries to pin down his enigmatic subject. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1988
Release date: 12/01/1988
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 978-0-517-06311-8
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