Chapter 1: Rudin
With Rudin Turgenev opens up a major theme of the Russian novel and of Russian literature in general - the man of ideas, the intelligent placed central stage. In one sense, of course, we have seen Rudin before, but not quite; for if he is to be identified as a superfluous man, we may feel that we have already encountered his like in such characters as Evgenii Onegin and Pechorin, but in essence they are bored social dandies influenced by a fashionable Byronism. If the merit of The Hero of Our Time was to bring psychological analysis into the Russian novel, Turgenevs innovation was to focus his novels on the Russian intelligentsia and to use the dynamism of their debates as the intellectual engine of his plots. The emotional drive, as always in the novel, was provided by love, and it is the contrary pull of these two forces which, most notably in Rudin and Fathers and Children, characterises the Turgenevan novel, in which the central figure assumes tragic dimensions through his inability to reconcile the values of the heart and the head.
The origin of debate in Russia is to be seen in those philosophical societies which sprang up in the early nineteenth century, the most famous of which was that led by Stankevich, and it is no accident that Turgenev in his first novel sought to pay homage to Stankevich in his fictional portrait of Pokorsky.1 The debate was not new in Russian literature: it is to be seen in Pogorelskiis The Double, Odoevskys Russian Nights and Sollogubs Tarantas,2 but it was Turgenev who recognised its dramatic qualities for the novel and its potential as a countervailing force to the traditional theme of love. His most notable successors were Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, particularly the latter, who managed to charge the clash of ideas with particular dramatic tension. Later, at the turn of the century, the theatrical possibilities of the debate were exploited with consummate artistry in the plays of Chekhov and in such short stories as The House with the Mezzanine, My Life and The Duel.
In his original conception of the novel Turgenev had actual prototypes in mind. Rudin was based on M.A. Bakunin, who after Stankevichs death became the circles leader and chief champion of the ideas of Hegel. Daria Lasunskaia was based on A.O. Smirnova a grande dame of Russian intellectual and court circles, who was acquainted with Pushkin and other literary figures, and whom Turgenev regarded as having exerted a baleful influence on one of his own literary heroes - Gogol.3 Nevertheless, in the final version of the novel overtly polemical characterisation is toned down. In spite of the Bakunin-like detail of the lion's mane [6, 282], Rudin emerges, not as a particular figure, but one typical of his age. Daria Lasunskaia, too, is merely a society lady with intellectual pretensions, and for all Turgenev's backward look at the Moscow circle of Stankevich, the setting for his debates is not the salons of the capital cities, but the country house. This is an ambience conducive to what is a constant preoccupation in his writing - the depiction of nature. It allows him to introduce a lyrical element into his plots while at the same time providing him with a rich source of imagery.
Turgenev set about writing his first novel not without a certain sense of trepidation. Nevertheless, The Sportsman's Sketches had been a useful training in the depiction of character and the techniques of natural description. Moreover in one of the sketches, The Hamlet of the Shchigri District, he had depicted a product of Moscow philosophical circles and broached the theme of the debate. As a writer, up to this point, of short stories and sketches he also had before him an example of a structural method of building on this experience to achieve a longer work. Lermontovs A Hero of Our Time had started with a kernel of short stories from which the author had skilfully built up a novel of the kind that Turgenev himself now envisaged: a portrait novel of a figure typical of his age. Although Turgenev, unlike Lermontov, did not begin from a basis of discrete stories, he was nevertheless able to adapt the Lermontovian technique of portraying his central figure in a multifaceted way: through straightforward narrative presentation; through the eyes of a third party (Lezhnev) and finally (in the Epilogue) through the characters own self-analysis. That this many sided presentation is not as strongly developed as in A Hero of Our Time may owe much to the fact that Turgenev does not place the heavy emphasis on psychological analysis so typical of the earlier novel. Nevertheless, Lermontov is an undoubted presence behind Turgenevs first full- length work.4
The opening chapter of Rudin suggests the world of The Sportsmans Sketches. We are in the Russian countryside on a beautiful summers day, and the chief concern of Lipina, its central figure, is the welfare of the peasants. Yet it is a day full of chance encounters, and Lipinas own words It is all meetings today for me merely serves to highlight the device by which Turgenev contrives to introduce virtually all his cast of characters to the reader: Lipina, Lezhnev, Volyntsev, Pandalevsky, Basistov, and Daria Lasunskaias two sons. We do not meet Daria Lasunskaia herself, but we learn about her from two contrary view points: a negative characterisation by Lezhnev and a positive one by Pandalevsky. We also hear of her daughter Natalia and of the imminent arrival of Baron Muffel.
Nature, which, as in the earlier sketches, so permeates this opening chapter, has its own thematic and symbolic role to play throughout the further course of the novel, and, as with the cast of characters, its symbolic uses are also introduced and adumbrated from the very beginning. Thus nature, as often in Turgenev, is the romantic backdrop for a lovers meeting: Lipinas first encounter in this setting is with Lezhnev, the man she will eventually marry. Yet the beauty of the natural world is not just a background, it comes to the fore as a means of distinguishing between sincere and false emotion. Lezhnev, wishing to compliment the woman with whom he is secretly in love, compares her to the beauty around her: Today you are just as fresh and nice as the morning itself [6, 240], but Lezhnev does not express emotion easily, and Lipina laughs, teasing him with the lack of warmth in his compliment. By contrast, the effusively insincere Pandalevsky, who next pays her court, offers her a flower, which to his great chagrin she quickly drops. The motif is developed; for almost immediately Pandalevsky seeks consolation by pressing his attentions on a peasant girl, insisting that she pick him flowers. He is surprised in the middle of these activities by the tutor Basistov and his two wards, and he tries to cover his embarrassment by a natural justification: "But I", he added, turning to Basistov, "have already been out a long time; my passion is the enjoyment of nature." To this Basistov gives his own ironic comment on Pandalevskys passionate enjoyment of nature: Weve seen how you enjoy nature [6, 245]. Thus in the course of these brief exchanges Turgenev has used nature to reflect a range of emotional attitudes from genuine love, insincere affection to open hostility. Finally it is nature which offers Basistov an escape from hostility itself: "Children!" Basistov suddenly gave the order, "You see the willow tree in the meadow; lets see who can run there the fastest. One! two! three!" [6, 246].
The thematic resonances of these initial meetings extend well beyond the opening chapter. Lipinas dismissive reaction to Lezhnevs compliment on her natural beauty evokes the following exchange between them:
The theme of hot and cold is relevant not only to the relationship of Lezhnev and Lipina, but is a motif important in the characterisation of the novels central figure, and later in chapter 6 these same two characters will transpose the elements of their earlier exchange to Rudin himself:
In this respect Natalia, the object of Rudins love, appears to be his antithesis; for although her mother thinks of her as cold, the author himself tells us that she is wrong [6, 280].
In similar fashion Pandalevskys retort to Basistovs ironical comment on his enjoyment of nature: Youre a materialist and nothing more. You absolutely wish to see merely a prosaic side in everything [6, 246] adumbrates characteristics of Rudins future opponent - the cynic Pigasov. As yet these protagonists have still to appear, but the emotional clashes over nature in chapter 1 are suggestive of the intellectual sparring that is to follow, in which the poetry and heat of a cold intellect will easily put down the prose of the down-to-earth cynic.
Rudin himself is absent from the cast of characters introduced in chapter 1, because as yet he is an unknown figure who will only arrive, as a surprise substitute for Baron Muffel, in chapter 3. Nevertheless, Turgenev, through his use of natural imagery in chapter 1, contrives to cast doubt on the seriousness of Muffel himself. Pandalevsky recommends him to Lipina, and to the reader, in the following manner: Sir baron also interests himself in literature, or, it would be better to say.. Oh, what a charming butterfly! May I point it out to you.. .it would be better to say in political economy [6, 243]. This apparently spontaneous juxtaposition of the baron's intellectual interests and a short-lived creature of nature appears to identify him as a cultural butterfly, and the suggestion is confirmed in chapter 4 by his substitute, Rudin: He is a good man, with a kind heart and informed.. .but he has no character.. and he will remain all his life a man who is half a scholar and half a socialite. That is - a dilettante, that is, speaking directly - nothing, and its a pity! [6, 273].
If nature in Rudin assumes a symbolic function, largely absent from the Sportsmans Sketches, what of that other theme, which, as we have seen, appears to link chapter 1 of the novel with that earlier work - the theme of the Russian peasant? We look in vain for its continuation in the further course of the novel. Yet, given the fact that the original inspiration behind the figure of Rudin was the revolutionary activist Bakunin, and that Turgenev later tacked on an ending portraying his hero dying on the Paris barricades in 1848, we would be entitled to assume that the burning political issue of the peasant might assume more prominence in Rudins idealistic outlook.5 The mere fact that only after the death of tsar Nicholas I was it possible for Turgenevs novel to end on a revolutionary note, may also do much to explain the authors silence about the people (narod). On the other hand, in Lezhnevs belated eulogy of Rudin in chapter12, he claims that Rudins misfortune is that he does not know Russia, and, echoing the words of Belinsky, he pronounces: Outside nationality (narodnost) there is neither art, truth nor life - nothing. [6. 349; 583].
There is a sense in which the reticence of Rudin on this issue is externally imposed. Thus, in sparring with Pigasov in chapter 3, it is at the point when he begins to talk about the needs, significance and future of ones own people, that Pigasov leaves him in full flow with the ironic comment: You are very welcome! (chest i mesto!) Of course, Rudins words may be taken to refer to people narod in its sense of nation, but there always lurks behind this word its identification with the common people i.e the peasants. The problem is one of censorship. In chapter 2 Pigasov complains about contemporary literature and compares its profound sympathy with social problems (glubokim sochuvstviem k obshchestvennym voprosam) [6, 254] to a scene he has witnessed of a nobleman groaning as he watches a coachman struggling to unload his heavy carriage from a ferry: Literature nowadays is just like that: other people do the driving, are engaged in something useful, but it [literature] groans [6, 253].
In the 1850s amelioration of the peasant lot was possible at little more than the level of charity and it is with such an act that the novel opens: Lipinas errand of mercy. When, in the Epilogue, Rudin is asked to specify what kind of action he himself would undertake, he replies that he would feed a blind woman and all her family, that is what he means by action [6, 364-5) (a response hardly more satisfactory than that later given by Bazarov, when asked to clarify his own sphere of activity). Nevertheless, in this same epilogue it is strongly suggested that Rudin is being exiled to his own estate for his activities in education [6, 355, 363-4]. Moreover, Lezhnev had commented on his earlier life in the Pokorsky circle: His bustling nature was never still. ..a political nature, sir [6, 298].
Chapter 2 completes the readers introduction to the social circle of Daria Lasunskaia. We meet Daria Lasunskaia herself, her daughter Natalia and two figures not previously mentioned: Pigasov and the French governess, Mlle Boncourt. All are now gathered for the expected arrival of baron Muffel. Pigasov plays the role of provincial intellectual and court jester in the house of Daria Lasunskaia, yet the basic source of his wit is an exaggerated misogyny, which his hostess appears to tolerate with amused condescension, even though at times she finds his outbursts disconcerting.
As in chapter 1 the process of introduction is not merely of characters but also of themes. Responding to Daria Lasunskaias question about his views on the affected nature of emotion displayed by young girls, Pigasov recounts how he hit a young girl with a wooden stake. This story which, with the exception of Mlle Boncourt, so seems to amuse his audience, is put forward as an act intended to reveal the genuine feelings of a young girl. (It has its own ironic sequel; for in the Epilogue we learn of the rumour that Pigasov himself has now married a wife who beats him). Crude and bizarre, as Pigasovs anecdote undoubtedly is, it does, nevertheless, point to the central emotional issue of the novel: the sincerity of Natalias feelings in contrast to those of Rudin, and at their final proving he will in effect administer her a painful blow. The background for this scene is one in which nature, as we shall see, has a strong symbolic role and in Pigasovs story nature too is implicated: he calls the girls cry of pain the voice of nature.
Nature comes into its own in chapter 2, when the entire company moves to the garden, but the reader merely follows Natalia and Volyntsev as they walk into its depths, followed at a discreet distance by Mlle Boncour. Here nature for a second time is the backdrop for real love, but a love which, like that of Lezhnev and Lipina, does not dare declare itself. The chaperone sums up Volyntsevs inadequacies: Quel dommage que ce charmant garçon ait si peu de ressources dans la conversation [6, 257].6
The walk in the garden, and the waiting of dinner, are meant to give time for the baron to arrive, but Pigasov has already anticipated a dispute. This baron who will splutter Hegel, he thinks, will take the high ground of philosophy: Philosophy is a higher view-point! These higher view-points are the death of me. What can one see from above? I bet if you wanted to buy a horse, you wouldn't look at it from a watch tower [6, 255]. The philosopher who eventually arrives in chapter 3 is not baron Muffel, but his more plebeian substitute - Rudin. Nevertheless, the difference between high and low is reflected in the physical characteristics of Pigasov and his opponent. Rudin is introduced as a man of thirty-five, of tall stature [6, 258]; Pigasov is short, and this difference of height assumes a metaphorical dimension in the course of their debate: Rudin looked at Pigasov, and, inevitably, down. He was taller by a couple of heads [6, 265]. The long and short of the differences between them is further echoed in Pigasovs intended put-down on the size and function of dogs tails [6, 309].
The advent of Rudin in chapter 3 does not seem propitious: he is a mere surrogate occupying the place of an aristocrat, and intellectual, esteemed in the household. The thin timbre of his voice seems at odds with his height and broad chest, and his clothes are tight, as though he has outgrown them - much as he has not changed the ideas of his youth, in spite of his thirty-five years. Daria Lasunskaia seems far from impressed. The assault on her refinement manifests itself at an olefactory level: Daria Mikhailovna sniffed at a little knot in her handkerchief, saturated with eau-de-Cologne [6, 259]. She seems afflicted with a nervous headache, but when Rudin succeeds in putting Pigasov down, she confirms his status as a guest by taking his hat, and finally concludes that he is un homme comme il faut [6, 263]. Indeed his acceptance by the hostess and her court is so rapid that before long he is behaving like a travelling prince [6, 267].
Rudin had appeared hesitant, until oratory took over: Rudin at first appeared to hesitate, could not make up his mind to speak out, could not find the words, but finally he burst into flame and began to speak [6, 264]. He argues with Pigasov on the latters chosen ground: the high and low theme of generalisations versus facts, and quite early puts him down with a debating trick revealing Pigasovs proclaimed lack of convictions to be in itself a conviction. Rudin asserts the primacy of the general in human knowledge: Striving to search for general principles in particular phenomena is one of the basic characteristics of the human mind. It is our entire educational experience [6, 262]. After raising the age-old question of the nature of truth, Rudin proceeds to draw an important distinction between self-esteem (samoliubie) and self-love (sebialiubie). Echoing an image used before by Lermontovs hero Pechorin, who likened self-esteem to the Archimedes lever that could raise the earth, Rudin sees self-esteem as a positive force, but one which must be guided as a rider controls a horse. Self-love, on the other hand, is suicide, and to convey its baleful effects Rudin evokes an image taken from nature: The self-loving man withers like a lonely, barren tree [6, 267].7
To Rudins love of generalisations Pigasov had opposed facts. Rudins weakness in areas of factuality is revealed when he is asked about his student life in Germany. Significantly, perhaps, the memory of these years is evoked by a potent combination of nature and music [6, 268], yet such artistic potency is lacking in his account: Colour was lacking in his descriptions, he had no ability for humour [6,268]. He quickly moves on to generalisations about education, science and the universities. Yet even in his command of the rhetoric of generalisation there is a certain lack of clarity. His thought processes seem to conform to those precepts on art which held sway in the Stankevich circle of the 1830s: he thinks in images,8 and his rhetoric is nearer to the art of music: Rudin possessed almost the highest of mysteries - the music of eloquence. Striking certain chords of the heart, he was able to set all the others to a vague ringing and trembling [6, 269]. Like the typical intelligent, whom Chekhov would later portray in his plays and stories, his thoughts are turned to the future [6, 269].
A striking example of Rudin's rhetorical imagery is his account of what he calls a Scandinavian legend (in reality it is an Anglo-Saxon legend told by the Venerable Bede [6, 579-60]). The king and his warriors are sitting round a fire in a dark barn, when a small bird enters the open doors, flies through the barn and out through the doors on the other side. This flight from dark through light and warmth and out again to the dark is likened by the king to the life of man, and his eldest warrior adds the comment: The little bird will not be lost even in the dark, and will find its nest [6, 270]. Rudin interprets the legend in the light of the German idealistic philosophy dominant in the Stankevich circle: The consciousness of being the instrument of those higher powers must replace all other joys for man [6, 270], but his gloss on the words of the eldest warrior is also significant: In death itself it will find its life, its nest [6, 270]. The Epilogue seems to take up this image with reference to Rudin himself. Lezhnev had earlier been compared to a swallow, flying over all difficulties (He would fly along amidst all sorts of misunderstandings and muddles, like a swallow over a pond [6, 302]), and in the Epilogue it is he who offers Rudin a nest. Rudin refuses and goes out into the turbulent autumn night. Originally the novel had ended with the words: He is well off, who in such a night sits under the roof of a house, and has his warm corner...May the Lord help all homeless wanderers [6, 368].9 Yet in the ending added in 1860 Rudin does find death, and if the circumstances of his fate also suggest consciousness of being the instrument of those higher powers, perhaps, in terms of his gloss on the Scandinavian legend, it may also be seen as life and a final nest for a wandering bird.
Given all Rudin's fine words, Natalia cannot understand him when in chapter 5 he talks of resting. He seems full of self-doubt, and much as Pigasov had earlier used self-denigration as a springboard for his arguments, Rudin now appears to revile himself, and even his views on the future are conveyed through negative imagery drawn from the natural world: He showered himself with reproaches, argued that to deliberate beforehand about what one wanted to do, was as harmful as to prick a ripening fruit with a pin, that it was merely an unnecessary waste of energy and juices [6, 283]. It is the very weight of such fruit which wearies true genius and inhibits action, as Rudin seems to suggest in another of his images drawn from nature: "Look", Rudin began, and pointed through the window, "Do you see that apple tree; it is breaking under the weight of the great quantity of its own fruit. The true emblem of genius..." [6, 290]. Yet Natalia, too, can think in images, and is quick to suggest a possible role for herself: "It has been broken because it had no support", Natalia retorted [6, 290].
The question of love is not far away, and when Rudin goes on to discuss an article he is writing on the tragic in life and in art, he confesses that so far he has not been able to clarify for himself the tragic meaning of love - an ominous phrase given the further development of the plot. Once again the image of a tree can explain the mystery of love:
It is not merely Rudin who uses images drawn from nature, and in particular trees, to express an amorous relationship and the tragic in love, such imagery is also employed by the author himself. The description of the garden at the opening of chapter 7 seems to reflect Natalias own confused mood of hope and tears. She feels a strange excitement and after the rain, all the little leaves of the trees were languorously a tremble [6, 304]. The garden breathes: that gentle and happy peace, to which the human heart responds with the sweet langour of secret sympathy and vague desires...[6, 304-5]. It is at this moment that she meets Rudin, whose sudden appearance before her is couched in the language of natural growth, as though he himself might be a tree: Suddenly, before her, Rudin sprang up (vyros) as though from out of the ground [6, 305]. Indeed it is a tree which is very much on Natalias mind as she takes her walk through the garden. She now has an opportunity to ask Rudin what he meant by his comparison of love to an oak.
Rudin prevaricates, answering in a way, that according to Dobroliubov, all these superfluous men respond to the challenge of love - he is not created for happiness: I have renounced enjoyment. love is not for me.11 Nevertheless, his answer is actually honest: A woman who loves has the right to demand the whole of a man, I cannot surrender myself entirely [6, 306], and he has already given an accurate prediction about the further course of his life: It now remains for me to drag myself along a hot and dusty road, from post-station to post-station, in a jolting cart. ..when I shall arrive and whether I shall arrive - God alone knows [6, 306].12 - a prediction clearly realised in the Epilogue. Natalia counters: Believe me, a woman is not only capable of understanding self-sacrifice, she, too, can sacrifice herself [6, 306]. It seems that some of Rudins eloquence and fire have infected her. The author comments: Before her acquaintance with Rudin, she would never have pronounced such a long speech and with such heat [6, 306].
Rudin brings up the subject of Volyntsev, and Natalia, in her confusion, stretches out her hand to a bush standing nearby, like some unconscious reflex of memory, recalling that moment in chapter 2, when walking in this same garden with Volyntsev, as a substitute for words, he had broken off a branch and twirled it in the air [6, 256]. Finally Rudin confesses that in his metaphor of the oak he had been speaking about his past and about her. Natalias confusion is complete, and unknown to her the whole scene has been witnessed by Volyntsev who, as though in continuation of the image, is leaning against a tree [6, 308].
The assignation which follows that same evening develops the arboreal theme of spying. The lovers meet in a bower in the garden - a fitting background for a declaration of love - but yet there are ominous elements in this natural setting. The romantic symbol of the moon is shining through a net of weeping birch: The other trees stood either as gloomy giants with a thousand areas of light shining through, in the manner of eyes, or they fused into solid gloomy masses [6, 311]. The trees not only have the appearance of eyes, the lilacs and acacias also seem to be listening to something, and although nature is still and quiet, one senses in this silence a passionate sigh.
The net of weeping birches and the sigh latent in this natural setting suggest that somehow amidst these trees and bushes lurk frustration and disappointment. The declaration of love takes place, but when Natalia tells Rudin that she is his, his response is hardly reassuring: he cries Oh, God! (Bozhe moi!) and leaves, trying to convince himself of that happiness which earlier in the day he had declared to be dissociated from his dreams and hopes [6, 306]. "I am happy", he pronounced in a soft voice, "Yes, I am happy", he repeated, as though wishing to convince himself. [6, 312]. Even during this scene Natalia had the feeling that someone was eavesdropping, and, as we have seen, it is a setting where trees appear to have eyes, and the lilacs and acacias seem to listen. Natalia's fears are not unfounded, for among these listening lilacs lurks the true spy, Pandalevsky, who has heard and seen everything.
When Pandalevsky informs Daria Lasunskaia of the scene he has witnessed, Natalia herself has to make a decision. The nature surrounding them, at her final meeting with Rudin, is even more ominous. The setting is Avdiukhin Pond, which is now dried up, and has an evil reputation among the local peasants. Only two enormous pines remain as a mark of the manor house which formerly stood there; the wind howls gloomily through their sparse foliage. Trees now seem to be associated with destruction and evil; for there is a folk belief that a terrible crime was committed beneath these pines, and a superstition that not one of them will fall without killing someone. A third tree had stood there, but when it fell in a storm it crushed a young girl. The place is derelict and, even on a sunny day, is gloomy, and seems all the more so from the proximity of a decrepit oak wood, which has died and withered a long time ago. Its tall stumps tower up like sad ghosts; they inspire fear, as though they are wicked old men who have come together to conspire some evil. The death of a young girl, the withered oaks (contradicting the original oak-image of Rudins love), the spectre-like old men - all contrive to present nature in a symbolic role and point to the essential features of this ill-starred lovers meeting.
The omens do not derive solely from peasant superstition They come also from the lips of Natalias peasant maid, who, in her comments on Rudins far too conspicuous stance, appears to be taking up the earlier theme of high and low: "He [oné -literally they in its feminine form (R.A.P.)] is already waiting", she added suddenly perceiving the statuesque figure of Rudin standing picturesquely on the dam, "but he shouldnt stand out so much in vain. He should go down into the hollow" [6, 321]. In the meeting that follows Rudin's affected superiority does turn out to be vain, and the maids first reference to him, using the female pronoun oné, is in itself highly suggestive; for when confronted with Natalias decisiveness Rudin appears to adopt a feminine role. In reply to Natalias question about what he intends to do, he repeats his earlier cry: My God! My God! claiming that his head is spinning, that he cannot think; he can only feel his own unhappiness and wonder at her sang froid [6, 322]. His one resort is to suggest that they submit to her mothers will.
Rudin has been put to the test and found wanting. He has often talked of self-sacrifice, and in the full flood of rhetoric in chapter 5, he himself had talked of the shame of cowardice and the need to act [6, 283], but now in the eyes of Natalia he is a coward: his reaction is just as pusillanimous as it had been when confronted by the challenging behaviour of Volyntsev. This censure stings Rudins pride, his samoliubie - the principle of action and the archimedes lever that could raise the world, this very same self-respect which he had been at pains to distinguish from self-love (sebialiubie) - a quality he identified with suicide: The self-loving man withers like a lonely barren tree [6, 267]. These brave words now have a hollow ring; for the self-love of this oak with young green leaves, of this apple tree weighed down with fruit has prompted him to choose self-preservation rather than bold action, against a backdrop of withered oaks, whose grey towering trunks haunt the scene like spectres.
In his first clash with Pigasov Rudin had spoken of the need for soil (pochva) on which to stand firm, but the discrepancy between word and deed, inconsistency in the pursuit of his aims and his peripatetic life - all point to a rootlessness at odds with his own arboreal self-identifications. In the Epilogue he reveals the lack of firm ground beneath his feet: I never knew how to build anything, and building, brother, is difficult when there is not even any soil beneath ones feet, when you yourself have to create your own base [6, 357].
In the Epilogue Lezhnev is far more lenient in judging his erstwhile friend, suggesting that the fault lies less with Rudin than with the society in which he finds himself; it is not so much a question of roots, but of the nature of the soil itself: Why was it that you, you strange man, whatever the intentions with which you began something, every time unfailingly ended by sacrificing your personal interests, and did not send roots into bad soil, however rich it might have been? [6, 366]. He is, says Lezhnev, as nature made him [6, 367]. Thus Rudins refusal to strike roots in such conditions is now presented as a mark of his honesty and sincerity. With a new frankness Rudin himself redefines the plant imagery: "I was born a tumble-weed", Rudin continued with a doleful smile, "I could not halt" [6, 366]. Rudins very rootlessness and his indebtedness to foreign ideas make him a typical Russian in that pessimistic characterisation of his national culture which Chaadaev offered in his First Philosophical Letter13
Lezhnevs change towards Rudin is dramatic. Before Rudins departure from the house of Daria Lasunskaia his attititude had been openly hostile. He tells Lipina of Rudins cold, unfeeling treatment of his mother [6, 286] and when Lipina accuses Lezhnev of something akin to slander, and advises him to reserve his final judgement [6, 287], he agrees, although this does not deter him from further criticism. Thus in Chapter 6 he tells Lipina that Rudin is as cold as ice and merely pretends passion [6, 293] and he considers that with his fiery eloquence Rudin is playing a game which is dangerous, not for himself, but for others: He himself does not gamble a kopeck or a hair on a card, but others gamble their souls [6, 293]. He goes on to tell of his closeness to Rudin in the Pokorsky circle, drawing a distinction between the figure whom he sees as a real genius, Pokorsky, and the fiery eloquence of Rudin, whose ideas are all at second hand. Nevertheless, he says, because he was not afraid of half-truths, Rudin was able to communicate a sense of the interconnection of things. To the young men of the Pokorsky circle it was as though a veil had been lifted:
This is a clear reference to the Hegelianism with which Bakunin, in particular was associated in the latter days of the Stankevich circle,14 and in this same chapter 6, in which Rudin had already made a comparison of himself to trees (an apple and an oak) Lezhnev shows the relevance of such associations for the young men of the Pokorsky circle:
Although this is presented by Lezhnev as an awareness of that wholeness of nature, preached by Rudin at that time, the language in which it is couched is clearly erotic, and it will not have escaped the readers notice that the person to whom the incident is retailed, Lipina, herself bears a name derived from a lime tree (lipa). It is to Lipina that Lezhnev will later propose marriage, and in a way which stands in direct contrast to Rudins behaviour with Natalia. There is, indeed, a sense of meaningful interconnections in the novel as, it is suggested, there is in nature itself, and we begin to see that Turgenevs extended use of natural imagery has a philosophical basis which derives from the early experience of his heroes, and ultimately from that of his own youth. Indeed, it seems that the Lezhnev of the Pokorsky circle has been given attributes of Turgenev himself; for he, too, had fallen under the spell of Stankevich.15 Lezhnev confesses that in his youth he had written a drama in verse in imitation of Manfred [6, 300]. Turgenev, too, had attempted to imitate the Byronic poem in his drama Steno [6, 582).
Lezhnev goes on to relate a more obviously amorous moment in his life: his love for a young girl, which was ruined by Rudin: because of his accursed habit of pinning down in words every moment of his own and others lives, like a butterfly on a pin [6, 302]. Rudin insists on analysing their feelings and thoughts, explaining each ones attitude and behaviour to the other. The practice was apparently common in the Stankevich circle:
Like the clothes which characterise him, Rudin has not quite outgrown these practices of his youth. It is precisely the way he attempts to act between Natalia and Volyntsev: first with Natalia in chapter 7 [6, 307] and then with Volyntsev in chapter 8 [6, 313-17].
Lezhnev gives his final judgement on Rudin only after he has fully embraced the lime and proposed to Lipina. He then confesses that it was fear of Rudins possible effect on her that made him seem harsh towards his erstwhile friend. He makes good his earlier churlishness, particularly after Pigasov has recounted his cynical story of Rudins relations with a French girl. Lezhnev concedes that there are faults in Rudin, but perhaps not as pronounced as he had earlier claimed. Perhaps, he says, the positive side of Rudin is to be seen in the influence his words have on others [6, 348] and suggests that in some sense Rudin is really a type: It would take us a long time if we wished to analyse why Rudins appear amongst us. But let us be grateful to him for what there is in him that is good [6, 349]. He then proposes a toast to him. While this little scene is being enacted, we learn that Rudin himself is wandering - driving from one coach station to another. His lack of real aim seems to be typified by the fact that he is prepared to go in a different direction to his proposed journey, because of the whims of a postmaster and the supposed lack of horses.
In the Epilogue Rudin relates three unsuccessful attempts to put his principles into action: innovations on an estate; making a river navigable; and finally working as a teacher. His feeling that it is his youth which has led to his present sense of impasse is summed up in his quotation from Koltsov a poet linked to the circle of Stankevich: You, O my youth, have reduced me, and harassed me to such an extent that I have nowhere further to go [6, 364]. Rudin is still wandering, but Lezhnevs attitude to him has become decidedly warmer. He proposes that they drink to their intimacy [6, 357], even kisses Rudin on the forehead [6, 359] and confesses: There was a time, indeed, when merely your dark sides were only too apparent to me; but now, believe me, I have learned to appreciate you [6, 361]. What seems to bind them together is the memory of the Pokrovsky circle and their youth. They are, perhaps, a generation that is passing - the last of the Mohicans [6, 366]. Turgenevs final addition to the Epilogue makes this plain. Rudin dies on the barricades of 1848 - a date significant, not only in European history, but also in the history of the Russian intelligentsia: it marked the death of the idealism of the 1840s.
If Rudin has left behind him an ideological legacy, then this is to be seen in the influence of his words on the younger generation. In chapter 3, when Rudin is in full flow in the drawing room of Daria Lasunskaia, his effect on Natalia and Basistov is clearly evident:
Thus the two young people are linked in their admiration of Rudins rhetorical powers, and, for Rudins own purposes, Basistov can actually become Natalias surrogate. When she is confined to her room, after Pandalevskys report to her mother on the meeting in the bower, Rudin, in order to divert himself somehow, devotes his attention to Basistov and finds him an eager pupil [6, 319]. Again, when Rudin leaves the estate, having refused Natalias offer to flee with him, it is Basistov who accompanies him to the first post-station: the emotional farewell is not with Natalia, but with Basistov. On the way there the latter is rewarded by being likened to Rudins Sancho Panza: a relationship which casts Rudin himself as Don Quixote - the well-meaning idealist at odds with the real world, and a figure whom Turgenev would later project as a basic type both in life and in literature.17
Some two years later Basistov is the messenger bringing news of Natalias marriage to Volyntsev, and in the discussion which then develops on the subject of Rudin, he is the one who most enthusiastically endorses Rudins restless genius and his influence for good: And as regards Rudins influence, I swear to you, this man not only had the ability to move you, he shook you from the spot, he did not allow you to stand still, he disturbed you to your very foundations, he set you on fire [6, 349].
Natalia herself has come of age under Rudins influence. At the beginning of the novel she scarcely seems a presence, but the more Rudin pays her attention the more she blossoms. She dares to say things she would not have said before. She accepts Rudins lofty principles at face value, and is prepared to act on them, even if her mentor himself, when put to the test, is not. This eighteen-year old girl has developed a sense of determination lacking in the thirty-five year old philosopher. The shock of this revelation is great, but she now has sufficient strength of character to overcome her pain and disillusionment. As Turgenev himself comments: First suffering, like first love, is not repeated. Thank God! [6, 342]. It has been a maturing experience and Natalia now has strength to stand up to her mother. Against her mothers wishes she refuses to marry Korchagin, a lion of Moscow society, who is more like a statue than a man [6, 345]. Instead she has her own way and marries the retired staff-captain, Volyntsev, who is dependable, down-to-earth, and considers all poetry rubbish - the very antithesis of Rudin. This may seem a prosaic ending for one so caught up, under Rudins spell, in the poetry of high ideals, but ahead of her lies a happy and practical life, and like so many heroines in Russian literature she shows moral fibre lacking in her male counterpart.
If Basistov is Rudins disciple, Pigasov and Pandalevsky are obvious foils designed to set off Rudin's superiority: intellectual, in the case of the former; and moral, in the case of Pandalevsky - the sycophant, spy and careerist. As Lezhnev dismissively comments in an obvious comparison of Rudin and Pandalevsky: That one wont die in poverty, one can bank on that [6, 350]. In the regime of Nicholas I the spying and toadying to authorities, which Pandalevsky represents, was one way for a young man without connections to make his way in life (his name seems to be a choice amalgam of vandal and the Russian word for carrion - padal).
In Pigasov we have another view of a different route that might have been taken by an educated man of limited means. Unlike Rudin, however, poverty has embittered Pigasov: Poverty angered him and developed in him qualities of observation and cunning [6, 249]. Although his misogyny is extreme, to the point of becoming a comic pose, his cynicism runs deep and affects all matters. He is in effect a misanthropist. Whereas Rudin draws his imagery, for the most part, from the world of plants, Pigasovs comparisons are from the animal realm. He may feel he has scored a point against Rudin in his contrast of dogs with flowing tails and those with docked tails, but for all this difference, dogs are still dogs, and tails are their least important part.
Pigasovs history suggests that he is a raznochinets (déclassé) of an older generation. He received his university education within the Russian empire at the German university of Dorpat, but his rational and cynical approach to life suggests that he is cast in an earlier Voltairean mould of the Russian intellectual a natural opponent for an exponent of the idealistic German philosophy of the younger generation.18 The new, romantic spirit, for example, endorsed nationality as a positive expression of the greater concept of humanity. Pigasov, in a typically rationalistic reduction of higher strivings to the absurd, mocks the existence of a separate Ukrainian language.
In Daria Lasunskaia we have the grande dame of society, who speaks and thinks more readily in French than in Russian, but she is really talking about herself when she flaunts her social and cultural contacts: She talked about them and, like a rich setting around a precious stone, their names lay as a brilliant border around the chief name - that of Daria Lasunskaia [6, 271]. She is apparently to be consulted by baron Muffel about questions of language in his article, and Turgenev mocks these pretensions early in the novel, when Pandalevsky tells Lipina that the venerable (blagopotrebnyi starets) Rokoslan Mediarovich Ksandyrka19 values her knowledge of Russian very highly [6, 243].
There is, perhaps, something slightly masculine in her make-up, which seems to be suggested, when she recommends Lipina to Rudins attention and, somewhat to his surprise, says: If I were a man, I would fall in love only with women such as that [6, 274]. For all her airs she is, nevertheless, shrewd in practical matters, and thus while quite prepared to listen to Rudins advice about her estate, she does not act on it. It is in human understanding that she is weak. She thinks she knows her own daughter, but clearly does not, and she is perfectly happy to trust the fawning efficiency of Pandalevsky. We are also told that in her first impression of people there was a great deal that was childlike, in spite of her years [6, 264).
This, the first of Turgenevs novels, clearly reveals the authors Russian agenda and themes for the future: the focus on typical stages of his countrys social and intellectual development; the intellectual/revolutionary as hero; the question of the Russian people; the beauty of the Russian countryside, yet significantly, a countryside, seen not merely as a backdrop, but as a symbolic presence, integrated into the fabric of the novel itself.
1 See: Edward J. Brown, Stankevich and His Moscow Circle, 1830-40, Stanford, California, 1966.
2 Antonii Pogorelskii (A. A. Perovskii), Dvoinik, ili moi vechera v Malorossii, (The Double, or My Evenings in Little Russia), 1828; Vladimir Odoevskii, Russkie nochi (Russian Nights), 1844; Vladimir A. Sollogub, Tarantas, 1844. See also Neil Cornwell, The Life and Times of V.F. Odoevsky, 1804-1869, Athlone Press, London, 1986, p.263.
3 For a discussion of Turgenevs attitude to Smirnova see: [6, 575-7].
4 Turgenev in his first novel was obviously influenced by Lermontovs A Hero of Our Time. Apart from a similar attempt to give a many faceted presentation of the central character, there are clear allusions to the novel in the text. Thus Lezhnev, in discussing Rudins attitude to his mother, makes direct reference to Pechorin: Gentlemen of the Pechorin school will tell you that we love those, who themselves are little capable of loving [6, 286], and when Lezhnev concedes that Rudin is eloquent, his qualification: only his eloquence is not Russian [6, 293] seems to echo Pechorins own strictures on Grushnitskys bravery. Lezhnev goes on to regret that Natalia is impressed by such an actor, such a coquette. The latter designation is queried by Lipina, but reasserted by Lezhnev. It is a definition, which readers of A Hero of Our Time will remember was used by Pechorin about himself when analysing his motives in trying to seduce Princess Mary. Moreover, such a moment of self-interrogation appears to have influenced Rudins own self-questioning, while he is waiting for Natalia at the Avdiukhin Pond: Rudin, intelligent, perspicacious Rudin, was not able to say for sure, whether he loved Natalia, whether he was suffering, or would suffer, if he parted from her. Why then, not even pretending to be a Lovelace, one must do him this justice, had he turned the head of a poor girl? Why was he waiting for her secretly all a tremble? [6, 321]. But yet Turgenev, unlike Lermontov, provides an answer to these self-questionings of his hero: There is one answer to this: nobody is so easily carried away, as people without passion. A similar passage of self-questioning, delivered to Lezhnev in the Epilogue [6, 264], has been compared by the editors of PSS to Pechorins expression of self-doubt on the night before his duel [6, 584].
5 Freeborn points to the significance of Rudins unfinished sentence, when discussing the question of the people How can he know what he must do himself, if ?. See: Freeborn, p.77. There may also have been another prototype for Rudin in one of Turgenevs neighbours, N.K. Ruttsen. See: F.F. Seeley, Turgenev: A Reading of his Fiction, CUP, Cambridge, 1991, p. 354.
6 What a pity that this charming boy is so lacking in conversation.
7 Pogorelskii had earlier discussed the difference between samoliubie and egoism in Dvoinik. Pogorelskii, pp.94-5.
8 Cf. Brown, pp.50-51.
9 Cf. the use made of this quotation by Chekhov in The Seagull. See: R. Peace, Chekhov: A Study of the Four Major Plays, Yale Univ. Press, Newhaven and London, 1983, pp. 21, 161.
10 The image may well have been borrowed by Tolstoy in War and Peace. See: L.N. Tolstoy, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, Moscow, 1928-58, Vol.10, pp. 153-4, 156-7.
11 Cf. Dobroliubovs essay What is Oblomovshchina? in N.A. Dobrolyubov, Selected Philosophical Essays, (trans. J. Fineberg), FLPH, Moscow, 1956, p.195.
12 In the second of his letters apropos Dead Souls, Gogol had interpreted the wanderer on inhospitable roads (e.g. his own hero Chichikov) as symbolic of the Russians alienation from his own society. N.G. Gogol, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, Leningrad, 1937-52, Vol.8, p.289.
13 Look around you. Does it not seem to you that none of us can rest in one place? We all have the appearance of travellers, not one of us has a fixed sphere of existence. No good habits have been developed for anything and no rules; we do not even have a domestic hearth. P.Ia Chaadaev, Sochineniia i pisma (ed. M. Gershenzon), 2 vols. (reprint of Moscow 1913-14 edition), Oxford, 1972, vol.2, p.110. Chaadaev, too, blames the soil: Not a single useful thought has come forth on the barren soil of our native land (ibid., p.117). He talks about his fellow countrymen as having one foot in the air ( pied en lair) (ibid.,vol.1, p.78).
14 Nevertheless, Stankevich had expressed similar ideas even before he had read Schelling, or the group had later taken to Hegel. See: Brown, p.15. Pokorsky is all the things that Rudin in whom there are traces of Bakunin, Herzen, Belinsky, and Turgenev himself is not and never can be. Pokorsky and therefore Stankevich is the imagined better self of them all (ibid., p.30). For a further discussion of Bakunin as a prototype for Rudin see: Marshall Shatz, Bakunin, Turgenev and Rudin, The Golden Age of Russian Literature and Thought: Selected Papers from the Fourth World Congress for Soviet and East European Studies, Harrogate, 1990, (ed. D. Offord), MacMillan, Basingstoke and London, 1992, pp.103-14.
15 Cf. Turgenevs own words as quoted by Brown: He stretched out a hand to me and showed me the true path (Brown p.21).
16 Brown, p.131.
17 See: Turgenevs essay published in 1860, Gamlet i Don-Kikhot [8, 169-192].
18 Bakunins own father was: an old fashioned rationalist of the French school. Mikhail Bakunins first steps as an homme révolté were taken in his fathers house, where he was the chronic instigator of rebellion against parental authority in the name of the free and transcendent human spirit (Brown, p.60).
19 A thinly disguised reference to Aleksandr Skarlatovich Sturzda [6, 577].