8 best works of Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev

Review of the best according to the editorial board. On the selection criteria. This material is subjective, does not constitute advertising and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev is a famous classic of Russian literature, publicist, poet and talented translator. He made a significant contribution to the cultivation of Russian literature in Europe – it was thanks to him that Western European society became acquainted with Russian writers. Being a wealthy nobleman, Turgenev spent a lot of time abroad, making important acquaintances in the literary environment and showing his writing talent. Each work of this master of prose deserves reading and careful analysis, because in his characters Turgenev laid something more than just human passions.

The great realist writer: 8 best works of Turgenev

Nomination a place Composition rating
Review of the best works of Turgenev 1 'Notes of a Hunter', 1852 5.0
2 'Noble nest', 1856-1858 4.9
3 'Fathers and Sons', 1962 4.8
4 'Asya', 1857 4.7
5 'Mumu', 1854 4.6
6 'Rudin', 1855 4.5
7 'First Love', 1860 4.4
8 'The Eve', 1859 4.3

'Notes of a Hunter', 1852

Rating: 5.0

Hunter's Notes

Speaking about this cult work of the Russian master of realism, it is necessary to take into account several factors at once that had a considerable influence on his worldview: the attitude of the mother and her despotism towards serfs, as well as his valet, who, by the way, was also a serf. Turgenev's mother, although she was a well-read and enlightened woman in many matters, was distinguished by a despotic character, which manifested itself in the physical punishment of her own children and cruel relations with serfs.

Little Ivan deeply absorbed the negative experience of those difficult years, remembered how hard life was for ordinary peasants, and at the same time fell forever in love with the works of venerable classics of Russian literature, such as Pushkin, Lermontov, Zhukovsky, etc. And for this his mother should be thanked, which from childhood instilled in the future genius of prose a love of literature.

The title of the work is not accidental: Turgenev himself was a passionate hunter and was considered one of the best in this business in the entire empire. He walked many kilometers along the Oryol, Tula, Kaluga provinces with a gun and a hunting bag behind his back. The writer did not hesitate to communicate with ordinary people, listened attentively about life in those regions, memorized the advice of experienced hunters, enjoyed the beauty and diversity of Russian nature.

The Hunter's Notes are based on the life of the Russian people: without embellishment, exaggeration or speculation. The author's style traced here is incredibly distinctive: it is simple, laconic, interesting. Turgenev practically does not assess the events taking place in the work, he only shows real realism, the tragedy of serfdom.

The cycle is represented by 25 stories, some of which can be called, rather, essays. Each has its own heroes, its own events. But one theme is clearly traced in all – the beauty of Russian nature and the author's incredible love for it.

'Noble nest', 1856-1858

Rating: 4.9

Noble Nest

The first mention of the novel appeared in October 1856, when Turgenev wrote to the publisher Panaev about his idea to create a new work. But the writer's illness made its own adjustments: he lay in bed all winter, and then completely destroyed the first sketches, starting to work on a completely different plot.

The novel is based on the author's reflections on the most worthy representatives of the Russian nobility and their family 'nests'. Turgenev perfectly understood and wanted to convey the idea that such 'nests' with their sublime atmosphere are gradually receding into the past. It is not for nothing that the novel contains a detailed pedigree of the characters. In the main one – Fyodor Lavretsky – Turgenev partially saw himself. The family nest – a symbol of the motherland – has been abandoned. The writer's contemporaries also preferred to live for a long time abroad, quickly adopting other people's traditions.

In the center of the plot is the nobleman Fyodor Lavretsky: honest, sincerely loving his homeland, striving to rationally use his capabilities. The “Spartan” upbringing of his father and the influence of a power-hungry, cruel aunt contributed to the fact that Lavretsky acquired good health and a stern appearance, but at the same time remained shy and simple inside.

His calculating wife Varvara sees in him only a fool whose wealth can be easily used. For him, she is the first deep feeling and, in a fit of which, he agrees to move to France, where Varvara is cheating on him with a Frenchman.

Learning about this by pure chance, Fedor decides to return back, trampled, disappointed in women, not trusting anyone. And this is only halfway, because a new test awaits him in the family estate, a new love – Liza, and a new collapse.

The novel is built in an absolutely straightforward manner. This is, first of all, the story of the deep and unhappy love of Liza and Fedor, the collapse of their hopes, which clearly echoes the social collapse of the nobility in Russia.

The novel received wide recognition: it was warmly received by both ordinary readers and critics, profoundly influencing Russian society as a whole. In fact, not reading 'The Noble's Nest' was considered bad manners at that time.

'Fathers and Sons', 1962

Rating: 4.8

Fathers and Sons

In Russia, the 60s of the XIX century became a real test. It was a period that marks the beginning of global changes in society: going to the people, revolutionary democrats, etc. It is precisely such important moments that are touched upon in the work of the great classic. It is noteworthy that the novel was published during a period of exacerbation of the class struggle. At that time, mass riots, fires, arrests began in St. Petersburg – the publication of the book became another subject of fierce controversy.

The novel was written a year after the abolition of serfdom, but it describes the events of the period when serfdom was still in crisis. It was not in vain that Turgenev used exact dates on the pages of the work – May 1859 and winter 1860. It was then that a new type of figure appeared in the empire – a commoner-democrat who prefers to promote changes in society not in word, but in deed.

The protagonist of the novel, Yevgeny Bazarov, is, in fact, a representative of an emerging species of 'business people'. He is radically different from all the other characters (and the point is not only that he is of non-noble origin) and this is immediately noticed in the details. Despite the deliberate rudeness of manners, he strives for changes, acts – unlike the nobles around him, who are mired in emptiness, licentiousness, as if frozen.

The hero is gradually revealed, and even for himself. Having fallen unrequitedly in love with the rich widow Odintsov, he finds in her a faithful companion and an excellent companion. Having failed in love, Bazarov plunges headlong into work, but even here he is alone: ​​he has students, but they, rather, look like imitators – they gladly accepted nihilism, but they do not build anything new.

The fate of the protagonist ends tragically – this caused bewilderment among many contemporaries. But, according to the author himself, Bazarov is a man of the new era, whom the representatives of the old are not yet ready to accept. And death, met with dignity by Bazarov, is where the true manifestation of his character.

'Asya', 1857

Rating: 4.7


The “Test by Love” is one of the most powerful and often touched upon topics in Russian literature. After all, few understand that falling in love means not only plunging headlong into your feelings, but also taking responsibility for the future life of your chosen one. 'Asya' is a deeply sad story – after all, it is a story about a failed love. In the center of the plot are two characters: Asya and an unnamed young man, into whose life she bursts into a whirlwind.

From the first minute of acquaintance, the main character is amazed at Anna's amazing character: she is incredibly mobile, changeable in her behavior. Until the age of 13, the girl did not know about her origin. After the death of her mother, they take her to the master's house and make a young lady out of her: they dress her, teach the sciences, and are respectful. Asya gradually assumes her new position, but begins to be ashamed of both her mother and her master father. This translates into distrust of everyone and growing pride. She looks for consolation in books.

The protagonist of the story N.N. is at the beginning of his life: everything is new to him, everything is interesting. But the life and everyday life of other people pass by, without deeply affecting him … until he meets Asya. After spending only a few days with her, the hero feels happiness and does not understand that this is a harbinger of falling in love.

But, feeling the need to be with Asya all the time, N.N. begins to feel irritated: he devotes too much time to her. And after the girl's half-brother declares that she loves the main character, but that he will never be her husband, he says at all: 'To marry a seventeen-year-old girl, with her disposition, how is this possible!'. After that, Asya's love ceases to please him, and on a date that the girl herself assigns him, he directly blames her for everything: she did not allow his feelings to develop, and in vain she was the first to tell her brother about everything.

Shocked by such accusations, Asya runs away, and the hero suddenly realizes that he has made a mistake and really loves her. But nothing can be changed: the next day the girl leaves and N.N. can’t find her. And, although after that he had hobbies, feelings like this, he never experienced again. “Condemned to loneliness …” the hero lived out his years sadly, unhappy.

'Mumu', 1854

Rating: 4.6

Mu Mu

Ivan Turgenev was the son of a powerful and cruel woman. His mother Varvara Petrovna experienced in childhood the early death of her mother, the dislike of her stepfather, a quarrel with her uncle. Nevertheless, he bequeaths to her a considerable inheritance, and after his death she becomes the full-fledged mistress of a huge estate and many serf souls. And then she gives complete freedom to all her whims, takes revenge for the ruined youth, difficult childhood. But her children and forced people suffer from this.

Turgenev himself recalled that practically not a single day passed in the house without punishment with rods: they beat both the serfs and the children of the lady. In the future, the writer used it as a prototype for the main character of the story – Saltychikha. And this is not surprising, because a story similar to the work actually happened.

Turgenev's younger sister recalled that one day her mother saw a strong peasant plowing the land in the field, and wished to take him to her as a janitor. The name of this man was Andrey (he was given the nickname Dumb). Andrei quickly became the mistress's favorite, wore red shirts, and he really had a small dog, which he drowned on the orders of the lady. But the ending of this story is completely different from what it is shown in the story.

In reality, Andrei was a downtrodden, weak-willed creature who was quite content with his existence, albeit a slave one. And when the mistress ordered to take the life of a little four-legged friend, the serf not only did it without hesitation, but also stayed on to live on the estate, forgiving the lady for a minute of anger.

Turgenevsky Gerasim, after drowning Mumu, did not want to remain there as a slave, humbly enduring any bullying. He chose the path of a free, worthy person, who realized himself as a person. It can be difficult for people of the 21st century to understand what it meant at that time to leave the owner, who could sell, beat, lose at cards, and in case of escape, shackle or even kill.

Gerasim's departure from Saltychikha is a kind of gesture by the author, showing how the slave stopped feeling like a dumb brute and became a real person.

'Rudin', 1855

Rating: 4.5


The theme of the “superfluous person” is touched by the writer in the novel very skillfully and is shown simply masterfully. The bearer of such a problem in the work is Dmitry Rudin – a contradictory, mysterious nature that immediately appeals to almost everyone who meets on the way.

The novel is set on the estate of Daria Lasunskaya, where the protagonist arrives for a dinner party instead of his friend. He immediately grabs the attention of all women, and some men (partly for this reason) makes his enemies. But if at the first meeting almost all the guests meet him with admiration, over time, notes of admiration begin to sound less and less: criticism of Rudin increases, his negative features gradually appear.

The other characters see the other side of the character of the protagonist. It turns out that vanity, pettiness, cruelty, and a tendency to manipulate people are inherent in him. Rudin is not capable of loving love, and indeed deep human feelings are alien to him. The novel unfolds in a short period of time. The 17-year-old daughter of the owner of the Lasunka estate, Natalya, falls in love with Dmitry Rudin.

But their relationship lasts only a couple of months: the novel comes to an abrupt end when Pandalevsky took root at home, tracks down the couple and reports everything to the hostess. A scandal erupts, after which Rudin faint-heartedly escapes from the estate. But the story doesn't end there. The reader will have to learn the fate of the protagonist to the end.

Oddly enough, but, unlike Dmitry Rudin, almost all the characters in the novel are well-arranged in life. But not the protagonist himself. After parting with Natalia, the author shows Rudin twice more: in the Russian outback, and then in Paris. The character is constantly in wandering, his character changes dramatically. Everything petty for him fades into the background: he longs to create good, but his noble impulses are fruitless.

The reader sees a completely different hero – a tragic one. He is an extra person who wants to serve good, but fate cannot escape, therefore failures follow Rudin's heels. His life ends no less tragically: he dies on French barricades.

'First Love', 1860

Rating: 4.4

First love

The story is a landmark phenomenon not only in the work of Turgenev, but also in all Russian classical literature. This work is one of the most unusual in its plot, written incredibly accurately and subtly. Critics believe that at the center of the narrative is the writer himself and the story he told is taken from his own life, like the main characters.

The protagonist of the story, Vladimir Petrovich, is a man of age who is in a company that has decided to share stories of first love with each other. He refuses oral narration, promising to write the story and read it the next day, which he does. It is noteworthy that the reaction of the audience is not shown in the story.

The plot describes the life of a married noble couple, whose union was not concluded for love. The wife is much older, has a good business acumen, and skillfully manages the household. The husband is a charming handsome man, a favorite of the ladies, far from any family issues. Their son is young Vladimir Petrovich (it is believed that Turgenev himself was the prototype). He is preparing for the university entrance exams. But his thoughts are far from studying: young blood is agitated by thoughts about a stranger.

And, indeed, after a while he meets her. Princess Zasekina from the neighboring estate – a beauty with a magnetic character – is surrounded by admirers and amuses them, feeling her power. A young master also falls into this circle. He instantly forgets about everything and thinks only of the princess, gradually falling in love with her. But over time, Vladimir realizes that Zasekina has someone. And one day the young man becomes an accidental witness to the conversation between the princess and her father. In a fit of anger, he hits her with a whip on the arm, and she only obediently presses the place of the blow to her lips.

At this moment, the main character realizes that the princess's feelings for his father are truly deep and incomprehensible, and that he has only a romantic passion. Soon his father dies from a blow, and the princess marries another, and after 4 years dies in childbirth. It is surprising that the young man in his soul does not have resentment towards his parent and beloved. He realizes the greatness of the love that was between them.

'The Eve', 1859

Rating: 4.3

The Eve ', 1859

After the creation of a number of characters, which became a household name, Turgenev needed a new hero who would be active and ready to move from words (as Rudin did) to deeds. The 60s, during which the novel was created, required just such people – decisive and stubborn.

When Turgenev had his first thoughts about a new novel, his neighbor, leaving for Crimea, gave him the manuscript of an autobiographical work, in which one of the heroes was a Bulgarian revolutionary. The writer turned to work on the manuscript only 5 years later (by that time the author had already died).

So the main character of the work turned out to be a real prototype – Nikolai Katranov, who came from Bulgaria to enter the capital's university. Against the background of the outbreak of the Russian-Turkish war, a revolutionary mood awakens in him (the Bulgarians have long fought against the Turkish yoke). Katranov goes home with his Russian wife, but because of the outbreak of tuberculosis, he has to go to Venice for treatment, where he dies.

In the novel, the role of Katranov is played by Insarov – a strong-willed, decisive man with iron self-control. He is a practical person, and, unlike other characters of the work – contemplative natures, he is active. The main character, Elena Stakhova, cannot choose the chosen one, who can become a young scientist, a novice sculptor, a distant relative of her mother, a successful official or a revolutionary.

At the same time, Stakhova appears in the novel, among other things, as a symbol – a symbol of young Russia, which is on the verge of change and cannot make a choice. Her choice is the answer that the country should receive in the era of the 60s. And she chooses the revolutionary Insarov. Young people see in their love a combination of personal and social, spirituality, a common striving for a higher goal.

On the other hand, they are tormented by the unforgivability of their own happiness. So, Elena thinks about whether a great good deed is compatible with the grief of her mother, who was left completely alone in her homeland. And Insarov, seriously ill, reflects on whether illness was sent to him as punishment. So gradually a just cause and love go their separate ways.

The ending of the novel is tragic. The main character dies, leaving his young wife devastated, at the crossroads of his own soul. Mother Nature spares no one, with absolute calmness taking both a mere mortal and an outstanding hero. Turgenev wants to show man's eternal striving for perfection and his challenge to 'indifferent nature'.

Attention! This rating is subjective and does not constitute an advertisement and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

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