Chapter 9: Virgin Soil
After what he saw as the hostile reception of Fathers and Children in Russia, Turgenev appears to have been sulking in Germany. Smoke is full of bitter resentment towards his fellow countrymen and Spring Torrents virtually ignores political and social issues connected with his homeland. Virgin Soil, however, marks a new, determined effort to engage once more with Russian intellectual currents of the time.
Perhaps stung by Dostoevskys gibe that he needed a telescope to see what was going on in his homeland, Turgenev concedes the need to visit Russia. In a letter to S.K. Kavelin (21 Dec.1872 o.s.) he writes:
In the summers of 1872 and 1874 he spent one and two months respectively in Russia, and talked about returning in the winter of 1874.
Turgenev saw his new novel as the culmination of his lifes work his farewell to his readers: As I have the intention of bowing out to my readers in this novel, I want to put into it everything that I have on my mind [L.10, 65]. At the same time the novel would be the answer to those, who had so severely criticised him for his portrait of Bazarov. In a much quoted letter to A.P. Filosova in 1874 Turgenev wrote: Times have changed; Bazarovs are not needed now [L.10, 295]. Yet Bazarov was certainly in Turgenevs mind when, in 1870, he began to formulate his ideas for the new novel. There was, he said, a small element of romantic of realism in Bazarovs character and something which only Pisarev had noted, but his new hero (Nezhdanov) would exemplify this side more fully and be set in contrast to a real, practical man, in the American fashion, who carries out his work as calmly as a peasant ploughs and sows [12, 114]. This statement suggests Solomin as the real hero of Virgin Soil, and the agricultural analogy for his activity is consonant with the novels title and epigraph. In a more detailed working out of his plan, Turgenev has the note: In Solomin show a genuine figure from the younger generation [12, 337].
During the early 1870s a great deal of information on revolutionary activity became available through press reports on a series of trials, beginning with that of the Nechaevists in 1871, and continuing with those arrested for taking part in the Going to the People movements (1874).1 At the same time that Dostoevsky was using the published accounts of the trial of the Nechaevists to fill out his own portrayal of these activities in the later sections of The Devils, so Turgenev was also reading this material for his own proposed novel on the revolutionaries.
The shadowy figure of Nechaev haunts Virgin Soil from its beginning to its end. In the list of characters of February 1872, Turgenev notes that the character weaknesses of Markelov are absolutely suitable, ready ground for Nechaev and Co. [12, 320], and says of Mashurina: Nechaev makes her his agent [12, 324]. In outlining the novels opening discussion, he states: Nechaev is already here in the background [12, 330]. In these preliminary outlines Nechaev figures as X a behind-the-scenes puppet master bringing all the young revolutionaries together [12, 333-4), but here, we also read: Solomin goes along with Xs supposition only to a certain extent. He does not believe in the imminent possibility of revolution in Russia [12, 335].
In the novel itself Nechaev is referred to as Vasilii Nikolaevich; his messenger is Mashurina, and he communicates his orders through letters. The only description we have of him comes from Nezhdanov, who claims to have seen him fleetingly a couple of times. Yet the account he gives to Marianna is also conditioned by reservations:
The real life Nechaev was indeed a ruthless, domineering figure, capable of murdering those who did not obey him. This attitude to co-conspirators is suggested in the novels opening conversation, when Ostrodumov communicates the gist of a letter he has received from Vasilii Nikolaevich: Only one man has turned out unreliable. Therefore he must be removed; otherwise eliminated altogether [12, 9]. Markelov, the one figure who attempts to carry out the masters orders, ends up badly, yet after a brief moment of disillusionment, feels that he has gone wrong merely through not following Nechaevist principles: All one had to do was give orders, and if anyone started to obstruct or to jib hed have a bullet in the head! Nothing to discuss. He who is not with us has no right to live. After all spies are killed, like dogs, worse than dogs! [12, 271].
The statement of these Nechaevist principles reverses the sense of disillusionment, when only shortly before he had felt that: Even Kisliakov talked nonsense and Vasilii Nikolaevich gave worthless orders, and all those articles, books, the works of socialists, of thinkers, every letter of which had seemed to him something beyond doubt and indestructible, was all this a hoax? Surely not? [12, 271]. Such self-questioning, however fleeting, echoes the involuntary thought of Nezhdanov, that the need for obedience to Vasilii Nikolaevich was all nonsense[12, 161-2]. The third of the novels leading revolutionaries, Solomin, is even more cautious in his acceptance of Nechaevist ideas.
The ideological discrepancy between the shadowy figure of Vasilii Nikolaevich and the novels chief protagonists is indicative: they are part of the Going to the People movement of the early 1870s, whose aim was enlightenment and propaganda, rather than the disruptive terrorism advocated by Nechaev at the end of the previous decade. It seems as though Turgenev has wilfully confused two separate strands of revolutionary thought and activity, but in doing so suggests Nechaev as the ideological father of the movement, much as Dostoevsky in The Devils had projected the men of the forties as the intellectual fathers of the Nechaevists of the 1860s.
Yet the link between the 1840s and the new generation of revolutionaries is also made, though more obliquely, by Turgenev. Nezhdanovs name is merely another version of Nechaev both are unexpected,3 but in Nezhdanovs case it is a name conferred on him, because he is the unexpected, illegitimate son of a nobleman social origins which mirror those of one of the most prominent revolutionaries of the generation of the 40s - Alexander Herzen. Turgenev profoundly disagreed with Herzens view on the Russian peasant and his advocacy of peasant socialism. Yet Herzens teachings were one of the strands which entered into the ideological motivation of the going to the people movement. At the beginning of the novel we learn that the reason for Paklins visit is to give Nezhdanov his thoughts on obtaining Herzens journal The Polar Star (Poliarnaia zvezda) from abroad [12, 20],4 and later we are told that Markelov, the only real activist of Vasilii Nikolaevichs group, had not read much and mostly just books germane to the cause, especially Herzen [12,75]. The influence of Herzen, like that of Nechaev, can be felt as a shadowy presence in the novel. Indeed, the central situation of the déclassé tutor in the noblemans house, who elopes with the noblemans ward, only to find later that she is attracted to another man is the basic plot of Herzens novel Who is to blame? (Kto vinovat?). The ideas of Herzens friend and erstwhile companion in arms, the anarchist Bakunin, also influenced the Going to the People movement, and through him there is a direct link to Nechaev. Indeed, after Herzens death, Nechaev attempted to carry on publishing Herzens journal The Bell (Kolokol).5
Just as the novel confuses two distinct political strata (the Nechaevists of the 60s and the populists narodniki - of the 70s) so the central figure, Nezhdanov, embodies two distinct phases of Russian intellectual life. In essence he is, once again, the typical Turgenevan hero of the 1840s the so-called superfluous man. A distinguishing feature is his noble birth, or at least his sense of it. The author himself makes this clear: Paklin was not wrong in calling him an aristocrat. Everything about him betrayed breeding: his small ears, his hands, feet, his rather small, but delicate features, his soft skin, flowing hair, his very voice, which was pleasant, but with a slight burr [12, 31].
Paklin not only calls him an aristocrat but also refers to him as the Russian Hamlet [12, 14;122]: the stock identification for the superfluous man (as Nezhdanov himself makes clear, when he claims to have discovered such figures among the Russian common people [12, 229]). Consonant with this identification are Nezhdanovs failure in love and failure in life (I was born disjointed I wanted to mend myself, but dislocated myself even worse [12, 282]). He is even a failure in death: his suicide is not clean and instantaneous, and he himself comments Even here I was incompetent (i tut ne sumel [12, 287]). It is a commonplace that such a figure cannot live up to the heroine, and even as Nezhdanov proclaims his happiness at having found Marianna, he betrays his own weakness: I am happy, Marianna, that I am beginning this new life along with you! You will be my guiding star, my support, my courage [i.e.muzhestvo manhood] [12, 203]. They have just arrived at Solomins factory, and the whole of this scene of their new beginning deserves attentive reading. Marianna goes to her room to prepare her toilette, but locks herself in, at the same time praising Solomin, while Nezhdanov goes to the window and looks at the garden: An old, old apple tree for some reason or other attracted his special attention. He shook himself, stretched, opened his travelling bag and took nothing from it; he became lost in thought [12, 203]. Such deep thought linking the apple tree and his unpacked bag is not fortuitous. The following day Marianna herself will unpack the bag and find a revolver [12, 208]. The apple tree recalls the symbol indentified with the superfluous man - Rudin in Turgenevs first novel.6 It will be the backdrop for Nezhdanovs suicide with this same revolver. At the same time, like Natalia in the first novel, Marianna is here seen as the heros support and courage (muzhestvo), but she is also identified as his guiding star (putevodnaia zvezda) a phrase used to define the role of the heroine in another famous novel about the superfluous man: Goncharovs Oblomov, and Mariannas apparently casual mention of the practical man, Solomin, as she locks the door on Nezhdanov, prefigures the future course of her own emotional life. Later Nezhdanov himself will come to the Oblomov-like realisation that his fiancée should marry another: Look, Marianna, I would not hold it against you, if the man, with whom you linked your life for ever, was someone like Solomin...or was Solomin himself [12, 254].7
In Turgenevs first novel the hero had been based on the young Bakunin. Now in this last novel the superfluous hero dies because he cannot live up to ideas inspired by the mature Bakunin (Going to the People). Rudin had ended up pointlessly shot on a barricade, but Nezhdanov, realising the futility of his existence, shoots himself, under Rudins own symbol the apple tree [12, 285].
If Nezhdanov has all the characteristics of the men of the forties he is nevertheless trying to force himself into the mould of the new people of the 1860s and 1870s. At the beginning of the novel Paklin comments: Well, lad I can see: although you are a revolutionary, youre not a democrat, to which Nezhdanov counters: Say outright that Im an aristocrat! [12, 18]. Yet, he is, as Paklin reminds him, only half an aristocrat, and his ambiguous social position is revealed by an earlier incident in the theatre. In buying his ticket, he asserts himself against an arrogant officer in a manner worthy of that text-book of conduct for the younger generation, Chernyshevskys What is to be done?,8 but in doing so spends more than he had intended, and finds himself in the aristocratic section of the Aleksandrinsky Theatre [12, 22], viewing a play, whose title seems fraught with irony Dont get into another mans sledge (Ne v svoi sani ne sadis). He does, however, get into another mans sledge; for his act of plebeian self-assertion ultimately leads to his being taken into the aristocratic household of the Sipiagins, where he is humoured as a red [12, 50]. His chief opponent here, Kallomeitsev, soon notices a trait typical of the plebeian honour of the new men he is not the first to bow [12, 69], and soon a fierce argument develops between them, during which Nezhdanov strongly defends the hopes, principles and ideals of the younger generation [12, 101]. When he abandons this household to take up the political struggle, his revolver is seen as a pledge of his sincerity his Nechaev-like principles. As he tells Marianna: How can one be without a revolver in our profession [12, 208]. Yet the weapon is never used professionally, and it is the realisation of his divided nature that makes him turn it on himself. He tells Marianna: there are two people inside me, and one does not allow the other to live. So I already suppose that it is better that both should cease to live [12, 279] - words which Marianna will recall at his death [12, 286]. A destructive force deep within him even conditions his inability to make a proper proposal to Marianna: He felt just one thing: some dark subterranean hand had seized the very root of his being, and would no longer let go [12, 254]. We know that Turgenev had planned his heros self-destruction from the outset, and death is an ever-present feature.9 It is the subject of one of Nezhdanovs poems: Dear friend when I shall /Die here is my behest. [12, 86] verses which he recalls at his own death [12, 287]. He realises that the sentiments of this poem are at odds with his political convictions. How can he reconcile such scepticism and lack of faith, with all that he had said earlier at Markelovs? [12, 86]. The opening of chapter 18 finds him full of self-doubts: "If you are a reflective person and a melancholic", his lips once again whispered, "How the devil can you be a revolutionary" [12, 121]. The writing of verse is a further sign of his divided nature; it is an unpardonable weakness in the eyes of the young revolutionary generation, whose mentors, Dobroliubov, Chernyshevsky, and especially Pisarev, had condemned such frivolity as the aestheticism of the older generation of the 1840s. Nezhdanov is ashamed of his own aesthetic leanings, and seeks to blame the older generation:
He hides his poetry from his friends, except Silin, and in a letter to him attributes his inability to pursue his political objectives to what he calls his vile education and foul aesthetic nature [12, 99]. When, however, he is persuaded to read his poems to Marianna, her apparent criticism elicits his would-be joking, yet ominous response: You have, indeed, buried them, and me along with them! [12, 215]. Marianna contrasts Nezhdanovs poem on his own death with one on a similar theme by Dobroliubov (for all his later anti-aestheticism, Dobroliubov, as a younger man, had written poetry). It is in clear opposition to the self-indulgent sentiments of Nezhdanovs poem; it bans all fuss of friends and particularly rejects flowers [12, 214].
Nezhdanovs efforts to politicise the people merely amount to adopting their clumsy dress and their depraved passion for cheap vodka. All this goes against his nature, as he himself complains: Oh it is difficult, difficult for an aesthete to come into contact with real life! [12, 224]. Two weeks later he writes a long letter to Silin about these experiences, claiming: All this is the inheritance from my aristocratic father. Nezhdanov feels he is an aesthete shoved into mud [12, 228]. The letter contains a new poem, reflecting, not the romantic scepticism of his earlier verse, but a new social scepticism about Russia itself. Son (Dream), both in title and content evokes echoes of Goncharovs Dream of Oblomov: it suggests that his native land is permanently asleep.
Poetry reasserts itself at Nezhdanovs death. In a farewell letter to Silin he quotes from Pushkin, comparing his death to that of the poet Lensky in Eugene Onegin [12, 287-8],11 and his faltering, dying words reassert the values of his own poetry, rather than those of Dobroliubov: Do you remember, Marianna, in my poem "Surround me with flowers" Where, indeed, are the flowers?.. But then you are here [12, 287].
To his portrait of the failed revolutionary Turgenev contrasts two differing male figures, both linked to him through their love for the heroine. Markelov is a negative foil for Nezhdanov, and he, too, has much of the superfluous man about him. He is a landowner with a social conscience, but is a misfit in society, unable to sustain an officially recognised career. He, too, has artistic leanings, (he has painted a portrait of Marianna), but like all superfluous men he is a failure in love.
Nezhdanov first observes him in the role of rejected lover, when, by chance, he overhears Mariannas final word to him: Never [12, 65] (her reply to Markelovs proposal). Later when Markelov learns of her relationship with Nezhdanov, his bottled-up anger explodes into gratuitous insult, forcing Nezhdanov into a situation not untypical for the superfluous man the prospect of a duel [12, 150]. Yet the volatility of Markelovs character is such, that almost immediately he apologises, renouncing his claim to Marianna, by giving his rival her portrait, and resuming his relationship with Nezhdanov on even more intimate terms [12, 151-2].
Later, and untypically, he shows tact by warning Mashurina against disturbing the lovers happiness, by delivering Vasilii Nikolaevichs letter of instruction [12, 237]. More typical is his lack of tact, in criticising Fomushka and Fimushka for harbouring household freaks [12, 139]. The author himself points out his limitations, stating that his narrow mind focused on one and the same point and that in general he had no luck - ever or in anything [12, 76].
In his initial sketch for the plot, Turgenev makes it clear that Markelovs motivation for political activity is failure in love, and this is borne out in the novel itself: It seemed that, having lost all hope of reciprocal feelings from Marianna, he no longer spared anything, and only thought of engaging as soon as possible "in the cause" [12, 77-78]. The justification for immediate action is the impoverished state of the peasantry after Emancipation, and Markelov thinks in violent terms: his favourite image is the lancing of a boil. Emancipation, besides bringing the peasants poverty, he argues, has produced a whole class of money-lender landlords. Such an outcome had not been foreseen; the consequences had not been weighed up, but, at least, there had been Emancipation [12, 153]. Yet he himself proposes action without calculating its consequences a philosophy summed up in Ostrodumovs phrase: No matter, everything will have to be redone afterwards (Vse ravno nado budet vse potom peredelat) [12, 80]. Later this phrase comes to Nezhdanovs mind, when he observes the way in which Markelov runs his own estate [12, 82-3], and the philosophy is confirmed by Markelov himself, when over lunch he pronounced two or three bitter words about the running of the estate, and again made a dismissive gesture "No matter, everything will have to be redone afterwards"[12, 82-3]. He has already carried out reforms, giving the peasants three quarters of the land [12, 66]. Yet, here again, he has not foreseen the consequences: they reject his theories of association [12, 83], and are more interested in vodka [12, 74; 75]. They do not understand him, and believe he is bringing ruin on himself: Because, they say, he doesnt know any order (poriadki), and tries to do things after his own lights, not like his fathers [12, 82].
When Markelov launches into political activity, it is peasants who physically seize him and hand him over to the authorities. Even so, in the governors office he defends their right to arrest him [12, 270], though inwardly he is greatly disturbed by the betrayal of peasants, he had trusted, and because of this begins to question the whole basis for his action. Yet once the cliché phrase lancing the boil comes into his mind, he can reassure himself, and, as we have seen, begin to reassert purely Nechaevist principles [12, 271].
Both Markelov and Nezhdanov conclude: I proved incapable (Ia ne sumel), but in using this phrase, Markelov, stresses the I . His limited mind refuses to accept the defeat of the ideas; defeat is his own personal tragedy, for which he uses the Bazarov-like image: he himself had fallen under a wheel [12, 271]. Nezhdanovs failure is summed up in different wheel-imagery by Mashurina: Only he fell into the wrong rut (Tolko ne v svoiu koleiu popal) [12, 294] a phrase, with its double negative, echoing the title of Ostrovskys play, from which all Nezhdanovs woes began, Ne v svoi sani ne sadis.
Solomin is presented as the positive foil to Nezhdanov, as Turgenev makes clear in his original note for the novel, where, as we have seen, he opposes to his central figure a real, practical man in the American fashion [12, 314]. He is also the real figure from the younger generation [12, 337]. The real, genuine (nastoiashchii) nature of Solomin is stressed by Paklin in the novel itself: People such as he they are the real people. You wont be able to fathom them at once, but they are the real ones, believe me; and the future belongs to them [12, 298].
Paklin suggests Solomin as figure marking a positive progression from the neurotic sensibility of the earlier superfluous man: Well, what has the situation been so far with us in Russia: if you were a person who was alive, with feelings and consciousness then, inevitably, you were ill! But Solomin has a heart, which, perhaps, feels pain for the same things as us; hates the same thing that we hate, but his nerves are steady and his whole body is in control as it should be in other words - a real man [molodets]! [12, 298-9].
As we have seen, attempts up to this point to portray the positive man in Russian literature had been characterised by a strong tendency to stress a foreign component (Gogols Kostanzhoglo; Goncharovs Stolz; and Turgenevs own Insarov). There is a foreign element suggested in Solomin. Physically he is like a St Petersburg Finn, perhaps even more like a Swede [12,110]. He has also spent two years in Manchester learning industrial methods and at the same time picking up English. The experience has left its mark. His respect for personal privacy, seeking permission before entering Mariannas room, is, as he says, an English habit [12, 207], and whereas the superfluous man, Nezhdanov, constantly talks of death, Solomin reveals his positive attitude to lifes tribulations in his preference for the English proverb: Never say die to the Russian saying: Trouble has come, fling wide the gates! (prishla beda, rastvoriai vorota!) [12, 234]. His quiet, undemonstrative manner might appear boring, but it is relieved by an almost English sense of irony. Thus, when Nezhdanov gets carried away and becomes heated in political discussion, Solomin gets up and closes the window behind his head. Although this may be a wise precaution against hostile eavesdropping, Solomins own explanation is more ironic: "I was afraid you might catch cold", he said good-naturedly in reply to the astonished look of the orator [12, 114].
His scepticism about the revolutionary movement expresses itself in an ironic comment on the strange figure cut by Paklin: A very amusing gentleman! If we are all sent, God forbid, to Siberia, we shall have someone to divert us! [12, 141-20]. When asked to advise Nezhdanov and Marianna whether they should leave the Sipiagin household in view of the fact that the revolution is about to break out, he tartly observes: In that case.. I repeat: you can sit at home a good long time [12, 187] a sceptical statement, given more ironic point later in the verses he quotes when, as according to Russian custom, they ceremoniously sit, before going off to take part in revolutionary activity: We shall go off and we shall look,/ How well we sit (Otoidem da pogliadim,/ Kak my khorosho sidim) [12, 219] a remark given its ironic point by the fact that the Russian verb to sit (sidet) has the well established secondary meaning: to be in prison. In his dealings with the other camp Solomins ironic defensiveness is to the fore. When he feels that he is being patronised by Sipiagin and Kallomeitsev, he pays back Sipiagins mispronunciation of his name [12, 171] by wilfully distorting that of Kallomeitsev, adding with studied ambiguity: No, I am always careful in my words [12, 175].
The practicality of Solomin must not be seen as slavish, foreign imitation, as Paklin makes clear in dismissing the purely theoretical examples of practicality advocated by Samuel Smiles. Such figures as Solomin, he says, are not heroes, not even "heroes of labour", about whom some eccentric, an American or an Englishman, has written a book for the edification of us poor people.12 They are strong, grey, monochrome men of the people. Only such people are needed now! [12, 298]. Solomin is a man of the people (narodnyi chelovek). His background is typical of the déclassé intellectuals of the 1860s (raznochintsy); it is clerical, but he is the son of very minor clergy. His father, a sexton (diachok), was enlightened enough to let him leave the seminary to study mathematics and engineering. This is very much the background of Chernyshevsky and Dobroliubov, with one important difference: unlike them he is not interested in theory - he is a practical man. This shunning of grand theoretical solutions, this greyness is a virtue in the Russian context, according to Paklin, whose words, not only betray the convictions of the author himself, but seem almost prophetic, given the future course of Russian history:
For many of the other characters in the novel such belief in the one great solution is centred on the figure of Vasilii Nikolaevich (Nechaev). Nezhdanov and Markelov are both instructed by him to make contact with Solomin, in the belief that he is a true disciple of the leader [12, 100]. Marianna, too, is initially drawn to Solomin, not merely because of his truthfulness, but also because: In Mariannas eyes a special seal lay on Solomin. On him rested the halo of a man recommended to his followers by Vasilii Nikolaevich himself [12, 182]. Yet, Solomins attitude is in complete contrast to the immediate action advocated by Vasilii Nikolaevich. He is playing a waiting game, and he tells Markelov that there are two ways of waiting: Wait and do nothing, and wait and move the cause forward [12, 145]. Markelov accuses him of gradualism, but Solomin draws a distinction between his own behaviour and the official policy of concessions (e.g. the Emancipation of the serfs): So far, he says, the gradualists have come from above but we will try it from below [12, 145]. With great prescience he foresees that revolution will devour both its fathers and its sons and Markelov himself will perish, as he tells Marianna: in such undertakings, the first ones always perish, even if they succeed. And in the business, which he has started, not only the first and the second will perish, but those who come as the tenth and the twentieth [12, 233]. Nor does Solomin think that they will live to see the revolution [12, 233-4]. When Marianna asks him why, given such views, he is going along this road, Solomin replies: Because there is no other. That is - that really my aim and that of Markelov is the same; the road is different [12, 234].
Nezhdanov is aware that, like him, Solomin has little faith in the groups present political activity, but, nevertheless, is going along the road, as he tells Marianna: A man who is going along the road to the city, does not ask himself: does this city really exist? He just keeps on going. That is what Solomin is doing. [12, 280]. The full endorsement of Solomins fellow-travelling is left to Paklin at the end of the novel, when he tells the committed revolutionary Mashurina: Do you know what our real, age-old road is where the Solomins are, the grey, ordinary, cunning Solomins! Remember when I told you this, the winter of 1870, when Germany is preparing to annihilate France.. [12, 299]. Paklins juxtaposition of the grey Solomins to the Franco-Prussian War (with the setting up of the Paris Commune as its aftermath) suggests that it is not dramatic events that will bring real change but the so-called little deeds (malye dela) that would characterise the intelligentsia of the next decade of Russian life the decade of the 1880s. Addressed to Mashurina, however, such ideas fall on deaf ears.
Solomin takes little comfort in the consequences of the Liberation of the Serfs. It has increased the number of kulaks, richer exploiting peasants, who merely pursue their own interests, but the rest of the peasants are sheep, an unenlightened mass [12, 113]. The landowners have turned to financial speculation and exploitation, without any practical knowledge of commerce [12, 174]. They have become chinovniki functionaries, a foreign excrescence (chuzhaki) [12, 175], and he tells Kallomeitsev that they will not become gentlemen farmers, the landed gentry typical of English life; they will lose their land to the merchants, as well as the factories they have started, and the peasants will suffer [12, 179]. In arguing with Kallomeitsev Solomin is quite explicit on these issues:
Solomins statement that the people (i.e. the peasants) are asleep is consonant with the disillusionment expressed in Nezhdanovs poem, Sleep. Nor, unlike Markelov (and later the Marxists), does Solomin see much hope of an awakening among the factory workers. With us in Russia, he says, the factory workers are not the same as abroad. They are the most subdued of people [samyi tikhonia narod] [12, 113]. His own factory workers treat him as an equal, yet have great respect for his knowledge and judgement [12, 165]. At the same time his English experience has taught him to call them to account [12, 113].
It is precisely because Solomin is aware of the real state of the people that he believes the revolution to be further away than his would-be colleagues wish to think:
He is, therefore, sceptical about going to the people, and ironically refers to Nezhdanovs dressing up in peasant garb as a masquerade [12, 208; 227]. He suggests to Marianna that her real role in the revolution is not the building of barricades, and shouting for a republic, but practical, unglamorous work gaining the peasants trust by helping peasant women in their daily tasks [12, 221]. When the revolutionaries are arrested, he himself is seen to have conducted himself with such care, that there is no evidence against him. He is able to leave and give fuller expression to his ideas of practical cooperation with the people, by setting up his own factory in Perm on cooperative principles [12, 295].
We are told that Solomins father, who had been so helpful in encouraging his sons education, had only one regret: that he did not want to get married [12, 113]. Later in England Solomin is tempted to forgo his career in order to pursue a beautiful Irish girl, Polly,13 whom he observes in London, but he restrains himself and returns to Manchester. Such self-abnegation is typical of the positive, practical hero. It is in contrast to the romantic susceptibility of the superfluous man. Yet this latter figure, for all his amorous vulnerability repeatedly reveals himself incapable of love. When Solomin observes Nezhdanovs attitude to Marianna: It seemed to him, that were he to be in love, he Solomin, he would have had a different air about him, would have spoken and looked differently. "But", he thought, "As this has never happened to me, I do not know how I would have looked in this case" [12, 190]. Yet his obvious attraction to Marianna grows, and the normally taciturn Solomin becomes quite talkative in her presence. Indeed, when Marianna herself comments on this, he makes a declaration of love [12, 222].
Yet there is a complicity of silence which they both share. At the end of chapter 36, Nezhdanovs strange behaviour and ominous statements obviously cause both of them concern. Solomin intends to say something to Marianna about Nezhdanov, but keeps silent. Marianna also understands that he wants to say something about Nezhdanov, but has kept quiet; she herself says nothing [12, 283-4]. This silence about their joint premonitions comes back to haunt them at Nezhdanovs suicide, and Marianna asks herself, why she dare not look now at Solomin: as though he were her confederate..as though he too felt the gnawing of conscience [12, 286]. Such qualms, however, do not prevent them putting into operation the very marriage plans that had been devised for Marianna, when it should have been Nezhdanov in the role of bridegroom [12, 290-91].
Marianna, although not the typical Turgenevan heroine, nevertheless has many of her qualities, and in Mariannas relationship to Nezhdanov we see the typical apposition of the strong woman to the vacillating superfluous man. A general statement on these matters is put into the mouth of Solomin: You are all practical, you Russian women, and loftier than us men [12, 222]. Although described as plain (durnushka) when compared with her aunt, she, nonetheless, has grace and mobility, with a firm supple little body which recalls Florentine statuettes of the sixteenth century. Through aesthetic reference such as this Turgenev expresses sympathy for a heroine, who in many other respects he presents as a young nihilist, ostensibly in revolt against all forms of aestheticism [12, 100], yet like Nezhdanov there is ambiguity here. Thus Markelovs lack of aesthetic appreciation is a cause for her rejection of him as a suitor: Marianna, of course, did not dare admit this even to herself; but, after all, only that has power within us, which remains a half-suspected secret for us ourselves [12, 100].
Ambivalence links her with Nezhdanov in a more obvious way: the ambiguity of social position, from which each suffers, establishes a bond between them. She, like him, is an unhappy being (neschastnoe sushchestvo) [12, 94], but is quick to defend herself to him:
Marianna has already adopted many of the outward signs of the young nihilist girl. She wears her hair short [12, 43], smokes [12, 54], teaches in local peasant schools [12, 46] and appears to be in revolt against aesthetics. Sipiagina says she is pleased that her niece does not wear glasses (blue glasses were another mark of the female nihilist), but she points to her interest in the natural sciences and in the female question [12, 44]. Later Mariannas interest only in facts, not descriptions and personal feelings, will remind Nezhdanov of his contact with children, and the author comments: Marianna was not a child, but resembled a child in the directness and simplicity of her feelings [12, 160]. When Kallomeitsev makes slighting reference to the St Petersburg fires, Nezhdanov exchanges glances with her and immediately felt, that both of them, he and this gloomy young girl, were of the same opinions and the same type [poshib] [12, 52].
She is tormented by a thirst for activity, a drive towards self-sacrifice [12, 106]. Even before her flight from the Sipiagin household her thoughts are of going to the people, as she tells Solomin: Where should one go, if not to the people? [12, 188]. Yet from the perspective of 1887 the phrase to the people was already coloured by an unfortunate history, and Solomin, as though gifted with the wisdom of authorial hindsight, looks quizzically at Marianna. Later, when she talks of her sense of mission, the author adds his own parenthesis: (Marianna for some reason could not bring herself to add: to the people) [12, 202].
Solomin tells her that true self-sacrifice is to be found in performing the everyday tasks of the people, and he approves of her suggestion that she could learn from Tatiana, the wife of the foreman: Excellent Learn. You will be washing dishes like a scullery maid, plucking chickens and then, who knows, you will be the salvation of your native land! [12, 221]. Immediately after Solomins declaration of love, she puts these ideas into practice [12, 222-3].
Yet the learning process is not just one way. When she protests to Tatiana that people like her want to serve the people not teach them, she is told that teaching is the best way to serve them [12, 206]. It is important that the peasants should be literate. From Tatiana she herself learns a word: oprostitsia [12, 204] to simplify oneself (i.e. to approximate to the qualities of the common people). For Marianna this means the way suggested by Solomin, and (on the advice of Tatiana) giving up smoking [12, 207], it does not mean, as it does for Nezhdanov, the charade of dressing up like a peasant and drinking gut-rot vodka. Nezhdanovs experience of going to the people profoundly disillusions him; whereas, Mariannas more practical efforts strengthen her political faith. In a crucial scene between them, Nezhdanov confesses his lack of faith in the cause, but when he asks Marianna whether she believes, he receives the reply: Yes, Aleksei, I believe. I believe with all the strength of my soul I shall devote the whole of my life to this cause! Until my last breath! [12, 280]. Her firmness of purpose, as Paklin suggests, is heroically classical - a Roman woman of the age of Cato [12, 251], an identification which Nezhdanov himself is forced to acknowledge: "A Roman woman!", he uttered half-smiling, in an unpleasant way, "The sense of duty !" [12, 253].
To some extent, her relationship with Nezhdanov (which he describes in a letter to Silin as that of brother and sister [12, 226]) is typical of their commitment to a higher cause. The first acknowledgement of their love is entirely non-verbal: But they did not even kiss, this would have been bad taste and somehow terrible, both of them, at least, felt this [12, 108], and when Nezhdanov takes stock of the situation the following day, any palpitations he feels are hardly those of a lover: "And indeed", it occurred to him, "Why should we be alarmed? Personal feeling, which was secondary, played a role in our coming together . But we have become irrevocably united. In the name of the cause? Yes, in the name of the cause!" [12, 108]. Yet in her silent acknowledgement of love, Marianna herself betrays a more primary emotion, by suddenly falling towards Nezhdanov, clinging to his neck, and pressing her head against his shoulder [12, 108]. When Sipiagina suspects her of conducting an amour, the author expresses pity for his heroine: Poor Marianna! Her stern, proud lips had not yet known anyones kisses [12, 157]. Her relations with Nezhdanov are sexually pure to the last. It is these qualities which the final words of his suicide note seem to prize: Farewell, Marianna! Farewell, my pure, chaste one! [12, 290]. Nevertheless, it is clear, such purity depends not on her, but on Nezhdanov,. When he reminds her that they are not newly-weds in the sense that she appears to have used the term molodye (young people, newly weds), she replies: That depends on you [12, 210]. All she needs is a declaration of love that will acknowledge her right to her own life, and she will be his.
He is unable to make such a declaration, even though a compliant priest has been found and the marriage is waiting to be arranged. Nezhdanovs reasons for his reluctance, as explained in a letter to Silin, hardly seem convincing: he cannot ask her to link her life to a corpse [12, 226]. Yet, perhaps, what is really at issue is not so much a corpse as a dead body. When Nezhdanov makes his funereal joke in response to her attitude to his poetry, she playfully slaps his wrist, calling him wicked, then indulges in repeated farewells from her bedroom. Marianna is obviously more sexually alive than her lover [12, 215]. When he does make advances towards her, it is merely to throw himself at her feet, bury his head in her dress and talk of death [12, 215]. Yet the second time he attempts this, after the arrest of Markelov, she feels nothing more than sympathy for his tears [12, 252]. Nezhdanov is aware of the change; he feels her body moving away from him [12, 253]. It is inevitable that she will marry Solomin.
Mashurina is the only other female revolutionary portrayed in the novel, and as such is a foil to Marianna. We are told that she is from a modest gentry family in the South of Russia and has come to St Petersburg to become a midwife the typical, ideological profession for the young female nihilist. Like Marianna, she has the emancipated habit of smoking, but she is a professional revolutionary and the chief emissary of Vasilii Nikolaevich. She revels in the secrecy of her trade. At the beginning of the novel she refuses to give Paklin her full name, and at the end of the novel we encounter her again under an assumed name, having just returned from that hotbed of Russian political activity abroad Geneva. She now has a false passport under the name of Countess Rocco di Santo-Fiume (even though she speaks no Italian) [12, 293]. She has been sent there (even though she speaks little German) to establish contact with an unknown person to whom she is to hand over 279 roubles, once a secret sign has been recognised.
Mashurina is far from attractive, but like Marianna is drawn to Nezhdanov, and also, like her, is chaste. Her one act of defiance of Vasilii Nikolaevichs orders is the suppression of the note she was entrusted to deliver to Nezhdanov, destroyed, presumably, because of her feelings for him though even here she is true to the tricks of her calling: she destroys the note by surreptitiously swallowing it [12, 238].
* * * * * *
On the other side of the political divide, Turgenev presents us with Sipiagin, the type of the patriarchal liberal that it was not only fashionable, but advantageous, to be in bureaucratic circles at the time of the Great Reforms. As if to mark his break with the previous, repressive regime of Nicholas I, with its slogan of Orthodoxy, Autocracy and Nationality, Sipiagin puts forward a new triad of values: Religion, Agriculture and Industry, to which the ultra-conservative Kallomeitsev adds the rider under the aegis of authority, which is accepted by Sipiagin himself in the more liberal version of under the aegis of wise and tolerant authority [12, 180].
The Western orientation of Sipiagin may be seen in his liberal use of French. He brushes his hair in the English fashion, and, in chapter 8, although he takes his leave of Nezhdanov in the French manner, he also flourishes his English bamboo cane, and the figure he cuts is: not at all that of an important civil servant or person of rank, but of a good natured Russian "country gentleman" [in English in the text] [12, 57].
Yet despite such Western gloss, he claims to be, to some extent, a Slavophile: but not a fanatic [12, 58], and later pronounces himself to be very critical of Kallomeitsevs contempt for the common people [12, 169]. He himself has banned from his household the Asiatic practice of servants kissing their masters hand, ordering them to bow instead, a mark of respect which he acknowledges by a mere twitch of the eyebrow or the nose [12, 46-7].
Sipiagin prides himself on his oratory. Kallomeitsev is less flattering, suggesting that he is drunk on his own eloquence (ses propres paroles le grisent) and that he courts popularity [12, 45-6]. At his sons nameday party Sipiagins oratory is in full flow, he even introduces a Latin tag and strikes a pose reminiscent of Robert Peel [12, 61]. His liberal oratory intervenes in a dispute between Nezhdanov and Kallomeitsev, in an ostentatious effort not to take sides:
The authorial irony behind this resumé of Sipiagins speech is obvious, and is a constant feature of Turgenevs portrayal of the character. The caged parrot, which is well-disposed only to Marianna, may, on one level, be a symbol of her own imprisonment,14 but on another level it provides a commentary on Sipiagins clichéd oratory and leftward leanings. When, in teasing fashion, his wife suggests that Sipiagin is a Jacobin, the word is mocked by the parrot: "Jakó, jakó, jakó", chattered the parrot [12, 45].
The question of freedom, central to liberalism, and corner stone of the Great Reforms, is a personal issue for Nezhdanov. He replies to Sipiagins offer of the post of tutor: I do not want to enslave myself, I do not want to lose my freedom, but for Sipiagin such concern for personal freedom is a mere minor irritant; he makes a movement of his hand as though chasing away a fly [12, 26]. Once Nezhdanov has arrived at the estate, he is told that he is free free to go to bed; for the chief motto of the house is freedom [12, 55]. Nezhdanov takes the hint, but as he lies in bed, the ominous sound of the beating of a metal plate and the cries of watchmen suggest imprisonment, he feels exactly as though in a fortress [12, 56].15
Turgenev makes particular fun of Sipiagins pretentiousness in matters of European culture. Thus the sybaritic savouring of wine accompanies his defence of Adam Smith: "..it would be useful to imbibe his principles" (he poured himself a glass of Chateau dYquem), "along with the milk" (he passed the wine under his nose and smelled it) " of ones mother!". He swallowed he wine [12, 68]. Later in suggesting that the governor might free Paklin, he launches into German (Lass den Lumpen laufen!), but the author adds: For some reason he thought, that he was quoting Goethe, from Götz von Berlichingen [12, 277].
The pretentiousness of Sipiagins Slavophile leanings is also mocked in his attempt, when talking to Solomin, to pepper his speech with folk sayings. Turgenev comments (and ironically in French) that, not only does he deliver this folk wisdom in a comic voice (dune voix rustique [12, 184]) but that he gets some of these sayings wrong. Yet the Gallicised St Petersburg society in which he loves to show off his knowledge of the folk is not aware of such shortcomings from notre bon rusak [12, 183]. Indeed, high ranking ladies exclaim: Comme il connait bien les moeurs de notre peuple!, to which influential personages add: les moeurs et les besoins [12, 184].
There is a distinctly patronising element in Sipiagins dealings with the lower orders, suggested particularly by his intentional corruption of their names. He gives Solomin the wrong patronymic [12, 117] and purposely distorts Paklins surname [12, 258; 260; 261]. There is more posture than reality in his liberalism, as Paklin discovers after the arrest of the revolutionaries: "Devil take it!", he thought, "Well, did they say you were a liberal?! - Youre a roaring lion!" [12, 258]. Later Sipiagin plays a more subtle game of cat and mouse with Paklin, but then at the governors (where he is assured that no laws exist for people like him [12, 267]) he once again becomes the authoritarian civil servant: It seemed that Sipiagin derived particular pleasure in tormenting poor Silushka [Paklin]; he avenged himself now for the cigar he had given him in the carriage; for the familiar courtesy of his behaviour towards him, and even for a certain playfulness [12, 274].
Valentina Mikhailovna Sipiagina is a fitting complement to her husband. He, at the beginning of the novel, tells Nezhdanov: My wife shares my way of thinking her views, perhaps, even more closely approach your own than mine. It is understandable: she is younger! [12, 25] (She is thirty-years old). As a schoolgirl, she had a republican reputation [12, 88], and she reminds Marianna of this: In my youth I was even considered a republican no worse than you [12, 195], yet earlier she had mocked Marianna for her interest in the female question, until she suddenly remembered herself: But I am doing myself an injustice these questions also interest me. After all I have not yet grown entirely old [12, 45]. In the eyes of Marianna her aunt merely uses a pose of liberalism and lack of prejudice to spread gossip. She is also capable of spying and of writing a mischievous tale-telling letter to her brother.
Sipiagina is constantly compared to Raphaels Madonna, and she uses her beauty and the power of her eyes to charm and control men. Yet, for all her flirtatiousness, she is faithful to her husband. On one occasion, after an admirer had attempted suicide, she had erected a shrine: She genuinely prayed for him, although from early years religious feeling in her had been weak [12, 90]. Even in church she poses in her Parisian dress of pale lilac, and with her tiny prayer book, bound in red velvet, she causes consternation among the peasant parishioners [12, 58-9]. In attempting to work her magic on Nezhdanov, she is compared to an unfolding rose: As in the heavy heat of a summers midday a blossoming rose unfurls her fragrant petals, which will soon be rolled back and compressed by the strengthening cool of the night [12, 90]. Basically she is cold; she is one of Turgenevs femmes fatales, behind whose portrait one senses, yet again, the presence of Pauline Viardot:16
One of the men under Sipiaginas spell is the thirty-two-year old gentleman of the bedchamber, Semen Petrovich Kallomeitsev. For all his aristocratic airs, his background is not what it seems: his ancestors were simple market gardeners. His grandfather was given the name Kolomentsov after the place where he was born, but successive generations, including Semen Petrovich himself, refined the form of the name to make it sound more aristocratic, even suggesting that in some way it derived from the baronial family Fon-Gallenmeier [12, 38]. Such a background puts Kallomeitsevs sneering reference to the names of Solomin (soloma = straw) and Paklin (paklia = tow) as country names (de vrais noms ruraux, hein?) into its proper context [12, 255].17
Kallomeitsev is a successful young civil servant: un peu trop féodal dans ses opinions [12, 39], who if it were not for his patriotism, should have had a diplomatic career, were he prepared to leave his native land: Mais quitter la Russie? jamais! [12, 39]. That such a patriot should resort to so much French in his conversation is commented on by Sipiagina; it is, she says, an old fashioned mannerism [12, 41]. In his defence the ultra-conservative Kallomeitsev takes up this suggestion, claiming to venerate the language of the eighteenth-century writer, Karamzin, and to love the language of official documents [12, 41]. Nevertheless, in later conversations (though with little success) he tries to avoid the use of French [12, 44]. He also defends more archaic usage in Russian, such as the deferential s added to the end of words (roughly equivalent to sir) [12, 183].18 Kallomeitsevs nationalistic prejudices are full of inconsistencies. He is religious, claiming to be Orthodox in the full sense of the word [12, 43], yet he has a strange antipathy to priests, even though, later, he claims that schools should be run by them [12, 46].
The question of village schools is a political issue. Although Kallomeitsev is a civil servant in the Court Ministry (Ministerstvo dvora) [12, 38-9], his early prototype, B.M. Markevich, served in the Ministry of Popular Education,19 and Kallomeitsev relates with pride how he had asked peasant pupils silly questions, claiming that it is far better for them to know obscure literary words than the ideas of Proudhon and Adam Smith. Sipiagin says that Kallomeitsev despises the common people, and hints that this aversion may be linked to litigation with his own peasants [12, 169]. He belongs to the new, post-reform generation of landowners, who have become money lenders. His demands on them are inhumane. He never has personal dealings with his peasants, who are not allowed into his fragrant European study [12, 174]. They are dealt with by his bailiff. Later when the governor tells him that a peasant debtor, who has filed a complaint against him, has hanged himself, he merely shrugs his shoulders [12, 268]. Typical of this lack of human feeling is the boasting story he tells of his direction of a police raid and his persecution of an old man, an old believer: who almost managed to jump out of the window, but up until then had been sitting quietly on a bench, the idle man! [12, 69]. Later this idle man starved himself to death in prison.
As an arch reactionary, Kallomeitsev is out of step with the prevailing liberalism in St Petersburg. The modest measure of local government reform represented by the institution of the zemstvo, he sees as a threat to authority - an authority he prefers to identify with that Balkan policy of brutal suppression, he so admires in his friend the Serbian prince, Mikhail Obrenovich [12, 39- 40]. Nevertheless, he is careful to say that he is not in opposition to the government: Sometimes I criticise, but always I submit! [12, 40]. The real values of Kallomeitsev come out in what he regards as a comic toast: I drink to the only principles I acknowledge to the knout and to champagne! [12, 51-2]. At the end of the novel we learn that Kallomeitsev is considered to be one of the most promising civil servants in his ministry [12, 292] a pointer perhaps to a change towards reaction in government circles .
The fact that Kallomeitsev is a constant and welcome guest in the Sipiagin household is a commentary on the supposed liberalism of the Sipiagins themselves. Yet just as the revolutionaries, Nezhdanov and Markelov, have their shadowy confidents in Silin and Kisliakov, and behind them all lurks the indistinct figure of Nechaev, so the reactionary figure, Kallomeitsev, has his own hierarchy of inspiration. He has a shadowy mentor in Ladislas, under whose name Turgenev conceals the real-life figure of B.M. Markevich, sacked from the Ministry of Popular Education for bribe taking [12, 486-7], and a close associate of Katkov. Indeed, Turgenev, considered Markevich a follower of this right-wing publisher [12,102], and, in parodying conservative views, it is against Katkov, that Turgenev, however obliquely, is directing his main polemical thrust. It is also significant that the heroes of the patriot Kallomeitsev are all foreign: Ladislas (a Pole); Prince Mikhail (a Serb) and the French emperor, Napoleon III [12, 51].
* * * * * *
Another strand enters the novel with Paklin, who at the opening of the novel is received with coldness and suspicion by the revolutionaries (Ostrodumov and Mashurina) gathered in Nezhdanovs room. His political unreliability is suggested by his joke that the chief reason for his democratic leanings is that the Greek cooking he ate with Nezhdanov has inflamed his liver, and the impression of unreliability is further strengthened by his slip of saying your cause instead of our cause, when replying to Ostrodumov [12, 13]. The fact that Paklin, alone, stays to listen to the conversation between Sipiagin and Nezhdanov adds to the readers own suspicion that he might really be a spy. Further doubts are aroused, when he brings Marianna news of Nezhdanovs arrest, and finds it strange that he himself has not been arrested [12, 248].
Paklin does prove unreliable, but not intentionally so. It is his visit to Sipiagin which besmirches his credibility. He intends to warn Sipiagin of his brother-in-laws arrest, but is really counting on gaining credit with Sipiagin and saving his own skin [12, 250]. The wily St Petersburg politician traps him into saying more than he had intended, and he suddenly realises that he has been bribed by a good cigar; he feels like an informer [12, 265]. His embarrassment is increased when he is confronted by the prisoner Markelov, who acidly remarks: And you, Paklin, whisper, whisper as much as you want; you wont be able to whisper it away. Dont try that on! [12, 276]. He recalls these words, when he himself is allowed to go, and weeps, we are told, the tears of Peter after his denial of Christ [12, 278]. Back in St Petersburg he is treated with even greater suspicion by his peers, and actually called informer to his face [12, 296].
Although Nezhdanov jokingly calls Paklin a Russian Mephistopheles [12,14], he is perhaps nearer to a court jester, with his puny body and his limp. His very name and patronymic appear to be a joke Sila Samsonych (Strength Son of Sampson) [12, 12]. The jester in him also fuels the suspicions of his fellow conspirators: "Mashurina thinks", Ostrodumov interrupted, "and she is not alone in thinking, that since you look at all matters from their comic side, one cannot rely on you" [12, 11].
Because of his wit, his function in the novel is to give everyone his character: Nezhdanov is the Russian Hamlet [12, 14]; Markelov John the Baptist [12, 125]; Solomin smiles in a way which reveals he is above others, but does not know it [12, 125], and Golushkin with his readiness to sacrifice money is openly mocked [12, 146]. Paklins sharp remarks are often to the point. To Nezhdanov, early in the novel, he criticises the narrowness of the young revolutionary circle and its lack of contact with the outside world: We wish to act, we wish to turn the whole world upside down, but we live apart from this very world [12, 28].
We may suspect that Paklin is often the mouthpiece for Turgenevs own ideas, as in his view that the Russian vice is the expection of some saviour who will cure all ills [12, 295], or in his analysis of the stagnation in Russian life, which he expounds to Mashurin in the final chapter [12, 297], and it is to him that Turgenev gives the final word in the novel: Anonymous Russia (Bezymiannaia Rus!). It is, perhaps, in his aesthetic views that Paklin most approaches the author. The comic portrait Paklin gives of the critic Skoropikhin is a polemic directed by Turgenev himself against V.V. Stasov [12, 19], and his statement that the laws of art do in fact exist could well be a rebuttal of Pisarevs assertion to the contrary in his notorious article The Destruction of Aesthetics.20 Most telling of all are Paklins cynical words on friends. The examples he gives of their slander: the insulting of a society hostess; the poisoning of an uncle reflect reproaches made against Turgenev himself by the poet Fet.21
There is, however, a good side to Paklins nature. He uses his own meagre salary to look after a sick aunt and a hunchbacked sister [12, 12]. This, the more gentle side of his character, is exemplified in the novel in his affection for Fomushka and Fimushka and their old-fashioned way of life. In the words of Paklin, their estate is an oasis: Imagine: an oasis! Neither politics, literature, nor anything contemporary even gets a look in there [12, 123]. Amid all the recent changes this is a haven of traditional values, and Paklin develops his image of the oasis:
The Great Reforms have somehow passed this estate by. Everything is as it was before [12, 126]; quit rent is still paid; the house is still full of servants. The chief of these, Kalliopych, dismisses the liberation of the serfs as tittle-tattle: The Turks, they say have freedom, but, thank goodness, it has passed him by [12, 126]. Here is the idyllic side of feudalism, with its refusal to punish and its care for dependants [12, 127]. Paklin is anxious to forestall criticism of such virtues: People will say, "unlimited" goodness is often linked to an absence of moral feeling But I do not enter into such subtleties, and only know that my old people are good, kind people! [12, 124]. Nevertheless, when into this little world free of politics he himself introduces politics, in the shape of his revolutionary friends, it is this very quality of goodness which comes under attack. Markelov cannot refrain from voicing the ideas of his own generation on charity and social conscience. The role of the dwarf, Pufka, in the household assaults those moral feelings referred to by Paklin, but when Markelov is soundly scolded by Pufka for his criticism, he turns his fire on the goodness of this life style in general: But allow me to observe to you: to live in comfort, on the fat of the land, not oppressing the lives of others, and not lifting a finger for the good of ones neighbour this is far from meaning that one is good. I at least, to tell you the truth, put no value on such goodness! [12, 138].
If the intrusion of politics into this oasis strikes a discordant note, the insertion of the oasis itself into a political novel may strike the reader as no less discordant, particularly as the description of this world is in a totally different literary register. This is the style of Gogol, and the debt to his Old-World Landowners is almost overtly acknowledged. Thus when Nezhdanov asks Are there such people?, Paklin replies with a famous Gogolian phrase: seldom, but they do exist (redko; no byvaiut) [12, 125]22 and the description of their life, which follows, is crammed with bizarre and typically Gogolian detail: their house; their coach [12, 127]; Fomushkas snuff-box and comic tale-telling [12, 132] all owe a debt to Gogol. One may ask why Turgenev should wish to include this episode in his contemporary novel - this reversion to older times conveyed through an older literary style. Like Gogols Old-World Landowners the oasis episode is a nostalgic sigh for the past. It is as though the liberal landowner in Turgenev himself is not prepared to concede that everything about the old order in the countryside was wrong (particularly given the real outcome of Alexander IIs reforms). Moreover, the oasis is the necessary pendant to the new values proclaimed by the would-be revolutionaries. The point is made with comic exaggeration by Paklin, as the group leaves Fomushka and Fimushka for the house of Golushkin: Youve been in the eighteenth century carry on now straight in to the twentieth century. Golushkin is so advanced, that its improper to consider him in the nineteenth [12, 140].
Golushkin is a rich merchant and an old believer, whom Vasilii Nikolaevich orders his followers to contact [12, 100]. The old believers, in as much as they represented a traditional force of opposition to the state, were of great interest to Russian revolutionary thinkers, despite the cultural and intellectual gap that lay between them. Herzen, in London, particularly under the influence of Kelsiev, turned his attention to their revolutionary potential.23
In his drafts for the novel, Turgenev links his portrait of Golushkin to two old-believer merchants Kozma Terentevich Soldatenkov and Dmitrii Efimovich Kozhanchikov and through them, in a sense, to his own subversive activity; the common thread is Herzen. Turgenev was accused of being in contact with the London revolutionaries (i.e. Herzen and his party) and Soldatenkov and Kozhanchikov were likewise indicted.24
Golushkin is a man of poor education, but with great cultural pretensions and even greater ambition. He is attracted to the revolutionary movement, because he thinks he can make a name for himself: The thirst for popularity was his chief passion: as though he wished to say may the name of Golushkin thunder throughout the whole world! A Suvorov or a Potemkin was one thing but this was Kapiton Golushkin! [12, 117].
When Markelov, Solomin and Nezhdanov visit him, he displays his revolutionary credentials by talking of Vasilii Nikolaevich and pointedly referring to Markelovs favourite symbol of revolution the lancet [12, 118]. When the trio return later that day, they are accompanied by the sceptical Paklin. During the heavy drinking which follows Golushkin makes a great display of sacrificing a thousand roubles to the cause, but Paklin openly mocks and insults him, as though paying back Markelov in kind for his insulting behaviour at the oasis. On departing, Paklin returns to the oasis, claiming that although there is nonsense in both these enclosed worlds, the nonsense of the eighteenth century is nearer to the heart of Russian reality than the nonsense of the twentieth century [12, 147] and this, indeed, may be Turgenevs own justification for including the oasis in his novel.25
Golushkin, in the event, proves an unreliable ally. When arrested, he blurts out a confession and becomes a turncoat, renouncing, not only his revolutionary activity, but his religious beliefs [12, 248; 252]. He is let off lightly [12, 291].
* * * * * *
The title of Turgenevs novel, Virgin Soil, evokes the agricultural land of Russia, but in a clearly symbolic role, and here, as in Turgenevs earlier novels, natural description also carries a symbolic charge. We have already seen that the apple tree (in this case an older, more barren one; as opposed to the tree weighed down by its own fruit) suggests Nezhdanov as a later, and more exhausted, version of the superfluous man (Nezhdanov, like Chekhovs own updated superfluous man, Ivanov, constantly complains of fatigue).26 At the same time the novel has many typically Turgenevan, lyrical evocations of nature.
Nezhdanov, as a city dweller, is struck by the beauty of Sipiagins estate. The opening of chapter 7 evokes the many charms of the garden in early spring. Nezhdanov breathes in the air, and appears to feel better [12, 50]. Yet, at the same time as he is lulled by the gardens calm, he himself is being discussed by his new employers [12, 50]. Lying in bed that night, he is again aware of the beautiful world outside his window: the nightingale; the red sunset above the tree tops; the newly emerging moon. Yet he is also troubled by the apparent discrepancy between liberalism and authority, which he senses in his new employers a discrepancy echoed in the garden outside, when its natural idyll is shattered by the rough shouting and banging of guards. The chapter ends, as we have seen, with Nezhdanov feeling that he is in a fortress [12, 56].
The garden itself is a metaphor for this liberal/authoritarian dichotomy. Here the apparent freedom of nature has been subjected to conformity and control. On the following day Nezhdanov once more admires its expansive beauty (It was very big and beautiful, this garden, and kept in excellent order [12, 56]), when he is suddenly confronted with the reality behind the metaphor: And then, at the turning of an avenue, Nezhdanov was presented with the personification of order and regularity itself Sipiagin appeared before him [12, 56].
By contrast, after a night spent at Markelovs, Nezhdanovs awakening to the shortcomings of that estate reveal the revolutionarys weak grasp on nature: Everything seemed poor, unsound, not exactly neglected or gone wild, but just never having flourished, like a sapling which had not properly taken [12, 81]. This image evokes another symbol of failure - Nezhdanovs decrepit apple tree. The sapling seems to express the immature, poorly based activity of Markelov himself, and it seems further significant that when Nezhdanov comes across his host later that morning, he is engaged in the destruction of trees the felling of a stand of birches [12, 81-82]. Here lack of order and regularity are in direct contrast to the Sipiagin estate. Even Markelovs former peasants predict his ruin: Because he doesnt know any order, and tries to do things after his own lights. Not like his fathers [12, 82].
The dispute which erupts between Markelov and Nezhdanov over Marianna also takes place against a symbolic natural setting. They are driving back to Markelovs estate through a dark, treacherous night, and take a wrong turning at the oak grove, which should have been their landmark. In spite of Markelovs assertion to the contrary they have lost their way. The coachman leaves them in order to get his bearings, and during this period of temporary uncertainty they themselves lose their way as comrades in a common cause. Their quarrel culminates in Nezhdanovs dark words about a duel, and blood expunging Markelovs insult [12, 150]. Yet at this very point they are back again on the right road: "I recognise the road!", the coachman shouted, appearing in front at the right-hand wheel. "I made a small mistake, went to the left. Now everythings all right!" (150-51). Indeed, everything is all right. The quarrel is patched up once they are home.
In typical Turgenevan fashion nature forms a backdrop (and commentary) to the love scenes in the novel. The first serious discussion of personal issues between Nezhdanov and Marianna takes place in the garden. At first, as the couple walk along a narrow path through serried ranks of fir trees [12, 93], Marianna seems scarcely capable of controlling her bile [12, 94], but when they come to an open glade with a tree in the middle, ringed by a seat, they sit down:
In keeping with this change of mood in nature, Mariannas mood also changes. Yet, for all the encouraging omens of spring flowers, new grass and freshness relieving an oppressive atmosphere, the imagery is reminiscent of the bower scene between Rudin and Natalia [6, 311]. The tree which offers them its green leaves is in fact a weeping one - a weeping birch. They are spied on by the Sipiagins maid, and their return watched by Sipiagin herself, who makes a barbed comment on the damp air and its unhealthiness [12, 98].
The declaration of love between Nezhdanov and Marianna, such as it is, takes place indoors, with the typical Turgenevan concomitant of eavesdropping [12, 106]. Marianna assigns another meeting after Nezhdanov has returned from his visit to Markelov and the town. Yet, here once again, the natural background seems associated with tears: The grove, to which Marianna had sent him, consisted of some hundred old, tall, and, for the most part, weeping birches [12, 158]. As he waits for her the wind turns the long branches of these weeping birches into flowing tresses,27 but the wind also drives clouds across the sun, causing alternations of light and shade, which seem to mimic Nezhdanovs own emotional state: With just such joyful violence - passion burst into his darkened, agitated heart It was precisely a heart like this that Nezhdanov brought with him [beating] in his breast [12, 158]. In that earlier scene, as she had walked through the fir grove, the sunlight had also caught Mariannas inflamed mood: The sunlight, caught in the dense net of branches, lay as a slanting golden patch on her forehead, and this tongue of fire matched the excited expression of her entire face, her eyes, wide open, motionless and shining, and the ardent tones of her voice [12, 94]. Now, in the birch grove, Nezhdanov first becomes aware of a womans dress, but the sunlight, which catches his own mood, seems also to condition his view of Marianna. Visual uncertainty echoes his own emotional confusion: he cannot tell whether she is moving towards, or away from, him; whether it is a relationship of looking up, or of looking down:
Nevertheless, by the end of the rendezvous indecision appears to have been overcome; they have decided to run away, and the omens of nature, of light and of shade seem good. These are the words which bring the chapter to an end, and with it Part I of the novel:
If individual trees characterise the ineptitude of both Nezhdanov and Markelov, it is the forest that seems to be the attribute of the Russian people itself the peasants.29 When, in chapter 4, Nezhdanov had spoken of ignoring ones enemies, but of establishing contact with the people, Paklin had objected: If I want to shoot a wolf in the forest, I have to know all its tracks..Secondly, you spoke just now of getting close to the people..My dear chap! In 1862 the Poles went off "do liasu" to the forest; and we are going off now to that very same forest, that is to say to the people, who for us are just as dense and dark as any forest! [12, 28].
In mentioning the ineffectual Polish uprising (in fact of 1863 not 1862),30 Paklin is obliquely alluding to the tragic gap between the Polish gentry and their own common people, but the earlier reference to the wolf and the forest suggests the well-known Russian proverb: If you are frightened of wolves, dont go into the forest (Volkov boiatsia, v les ne khodit). His words are a warning of the difficulties facing the Going to the People movement. The Polish phrase do liasu comes back to haunt Nezhdanov, when Marianna confidently asks Solomin to send them to the people:
As well as the forest there is another natural image, used to symbolise the peasants. It is proclaimed in the very title: the common people are virgin soil, yet as the epigraph warns: Virgin soil must be upturned, not with the wooden plough which scratches the surface, but with the deeply penetrating metal plough. The failure of the going to the people movement lay in its purely superficial knowledge of those it was attempting to help. Nezhdanov does not understand the peasants; even in nature they appear to him as the least of creatures. As Nezhdanov admires the Russian countryside on his return from Markelovs, peasants appear less like people - more like parasites on the body of the land:
The image is hardly flattering. Yet we are told: But Nezhdanov let all this pass by, pass by..He did not even notice that he had arrived at the Sipiagins estate, he was so consumed by thought [12, 156]. Given such insouciance on the part of his hero, it may be legitimate to conclude that these observations are actually those of the author himself.
In the letter, which Nezhdanov writes to Silin before eloping with Marianna, he not only asks his friend to wish them patience, strength, self-sacrifice, love and more love, but concludes by addressing the Russian people themselves:
As he waits for Marianna the following day, he is aware of the early morning beauty of nature, but the cold air (ironically echoing that of an earlier tryst commented on by Sipiagina) makes him shudder as he hears Marianna approach. Yet a representative of that other declared passion (loved by us with all our being , with all our hearts blood) is also present in this natural setting a little, old peasant, asleep in a cart. The moment is symbolic; for Nezhdanov is not only going forth to a new life with Marianna, but also to a life devoted to the peasants. Thus at the very outset of his mission, his first view of the people is of a peasant asleep in a cart, and he will later come to realise that: Everything around is asleep: everywhere, in the villages, in the towns, in carts, in sledges, day and night, sitting and standing.. [12, 230 (italics added)].
It is not only Nezhdanov who regards the people as asleep, it is also, as we have seen, the view of Solomin when arguing with Sipiagin and Kallomeitsev, and to the latter he suggests that it wouldnt be a bad idea to rouse them [12, 180]. Nezhdanov, however, adds an interesting post-script to his poem on the subject: Yes our people are asleep.. but it seems to me that if something awakens them, it will be something different from what we think.. [12, 231]. His own efforts to awaken the people are proof of this. In chapter 32 he attempts to harangue peasants from his own cart, with words of arousal: Why is it that you are, as it were, asleep? Rouse yourselves! It is time! Down with taxes! Down with landowners! [12, 241]. Yet these exhortations are misconstrued as the ramblings of a drunk, or the lisping words of a foreigner.31
Almost from the outset Nezhdanov is aware of a gulf between the common people and the intelligentsia: He had spent almost the whole of his life in the city, and between him and country people there existed a ravine or a ditch, across which he had no means of jumping [12, 99].32 Dressing up like them and simplifying himself (oprostitsia) in no way narrows this gap. In the Act of Emancipation of 1861 the peasants had apparently been given their freedom, but when Nezhdanov from his cart shouts the word svoboda (freedom) at them.33 They appear to interpret it in a way diametrically opposed to its meaning, it is for them strictness the words of authority, for which they themselves will have to pay. Yet, whatever the semantics, the peasants logic is correct the freedom, which was imposed on them, only brought greater debts. For the emancipators the peasant view of freedom had been disappointing; since for the serfs gaining land was infinitely preferable to loss of bondage. A phrase they used at the time seemed to sum this up: We are yours (i.e. we still belong to the landlords), but the land is ours [my vashi, a zemlia nasha]. Nezhdanov had already come across this insistence on the acquistion of land. In a letter to Silin he records the reaction of a peasant to his attempts at propaganda:
When Markelov tries to establish the principle of association on his estate, the peasants perversely take the word uchastie (participation) to mean uchastok (plot of land) [12, 83]. Such obtuseness suggests a blow, directed by Turgenev himself, against Slavophile doctrine, and the peasant socialism of Herzen their idealised view that the Russian peasant community, the mir, was unique in preserving the primitive virtues of cooperation and communal participation, and when Markelov draws the conclusion that immediate action is necessary: Since the people [ ] do not agree to wait any longer!, Turgenev adds his own parenthesis (that very same people, that did not understand the word "cooperation") [12, 84].
The peasants on Markelovs estate express their new freedom in drunkenness. Even Markelov remarks The Russian is overcome by drink! [12, 75]. It is such a part of peasant life, that Nezhdanov, in trying to establish contact with the peasants is always forced himself into drinking. When in chapter 31 he returns from such a foray - drunk, he can sardonically joke: Now, I am a real simplified chap. Because the whole of our people is always drunk [12, 240].
Nevertheless, the people are not just a grey undifferentiated mass. Nezhdanov is struck by the attitude of the peasant Fitiuev, who looks strong and energetic, yet has been deprived of land by the peasant commune, because of his self-professed inability to work:
"I cannot" Fitiuev would himself sob with a deep, inner groan, and would give a long sigh, "I cannot work! Kill me! Otherwise I shall lay hands on myself!" [12, 99]. Later in a letter to Silin, Nezhdanov will claim to have come across superfluous men and Hamlets among peasants who are attracted to the cause: but are actually useless for the cause, just as were those previous Hamlets [12, 229]. Solomin points to the ever-growing number of kulaks among the peasantry grasping fists pursuing their own ends, but the rest are mere sheep exhibiting the darkness of ignorance [12, 113].
The factory workers, on whom later revolutionaries would place their hopes, are not like those of the West. Solomin admits that they are docile [12, 113], and Nezhdanov is struck by the dirt and apparent chaos in which they work. Their link to the rural community itself is suggested by the presence in the factory of a sow complete with litter [12, 110]. It is the state of the people, which makes Solomin sceptical about the nearness of the revolution preached by others.
The people are a dense forest as the words of Paklin suggest, but also he describes them in a more frightening image: "The Indians throw themselves under the chariot of the Juggernaut", Paklin continued gloomily, "It crushes them and they die in bliss. We also have our Juggernaut, and crush us it certainly does, but it yields us no bliss" [12, 28-9]. In the eyes of Turgenev, who accused Herzen of undue veneration of the peasants, they had become a cult object to be worshipped among large sections of the intelligentsia. Yet this dark mass was an unpredictable force, capable of crushing its devotees.
Besides recalling Paklins Polish phrase do liasu, that other image he had used also comes to Nezhdanovs mind, when Solomin asks if he is prepared to go to the people: "Of course, Im ready!" He said hurriedly. "Juggernaut" he recalled Paklins other word, "Here it is, the enormous chariot rolling on and I hear the crack and thunder of its wheels" [12, 188]. The people are, indeed, a juggernaut; for it is they who crush Markelovs incipient revolution, carried out in their name. No wonder that after his arrest he himself feels that he has fallen under a wheel [12, 271].
After the failure of the revolutionaries, Paklin, trying to ingratiate himself with Sipiagin, puts forward the idea that such a juggernaut of unreason and ignorance can only be moved by playing on its superstition and gullibility:
Although the reference here is to Pugachev, as Sipiagin acknowledges, the idea of rousing the people through a legend is reminiscent of Dostoevskys portrayal of the Nechaevists in The Devils.34
The Emancipation of the Serfs in 1861 had not improved the lot of the peasants. As Solomin tells Sipiagin and Kallomeitsev, the land is moving out of the hands of those who owned it and those who till it, and becoming the property of merchants [12, 179]. Here is the theme (at the beginning of the next century) of Chekhovs The Cherry Orchard. In the closing pages of the novel Paklin complains of the stagnation afflicting Russian life in literature, science and art. His views here, obviously, reflect those of Turgenev himself, and he goes on to assess the achievements of the Emancipation:
The last comment in the novel is also given to Paklin: "Anonymous Russia!" he said finally. The bezymiannye anonymous or nameless ones were the homeless vagrants and escaped convicts of Russia, unidentifiable to the authorities. Yet, if this is the novels last comment, it is not its last word that comes from the author himself: nakonets - finally: a word which linguistically seems to comment on the more optimistic title of his pre-reform novel Nakanune (On the Eve). Moreover, it is with this same word that he brings his own novelistic career to its end.
1 Sergei Nechaev was a charismatic but utterly ruthless revolutionary, who with the ostensible backing of Bakunin set up a revolutionary cell at the Moscow Agricultural Academy. When in 1869 a weak link in the cell, the student Ivanov, was murdered, Nechaev fled to Switzerland, leaving his accomplices to face trial in 1871. In Switzerland his attempts to control and manipulate the emigré community caused much dissension. He was finally extradited as a common criminal and stood trial in Russia in January 1873. (For further details see: Michael Prawdin, The Unmentionable Nechaev; A Key to Bolshevism, London, 1961). In 1874 the trial of 193 people arrested for going to the people took place. Many more were also apprehended, were sent to prison or suffered under administrative orders.
2 Cf. Pavel Petrovichs suggestion in Fathers and Children, of a parallel between primitive Kalmyk power and nihilism [8, 246].
3 Cf. the adjectives nezhdannyi unexpected and nechaiannyi unexpected, accidental, unintentional.
4 Herzen began publishing his almanac Poliarnaia zvezda in London in 1855. There were nine issues until 1868. It was here that Herzen, most notably, published his memoirs.
5 See: E.H. Carr, The Romantic Exiles; A Nineteenth-Century Portrait Gallery, London, Manchester, Reading, 1949, p.239.
6 It is also a symbol applied to Sanin in Spring Torrents in contrast to the fresh oysters the attempt to portray New People in recent literature [11, 37].
7 In the letter which Oblomov writes to Olga in Part 2, Chapter 10 of Oblomov, he tells her: The man before you is not the one for whom you have been waiting, about whom you have been dreaming. Wait, he will come and then you will open your eyes. This man, like Solomin, is the practical man, Shtolts.
8 Cf. Chapter 3, section 8 of Chernyshevsky's novel.
9 He expresses a death-wish to Marianna at the end of chapter 29 [12, 225] and in the following chapter refers to himself as a corpse or at least a half-dead being [12, 226]. In his parting letter to Silin in chapter 37 he alludes to his own death by quoting Pushkins words on the death of Lensky [12, 288].
10 Perhaps not all its forms his aestheticism does not extend to music [12, 55].
11 Cf. Evgenii Onegin, ch. 6, stanza 32.
12 The reference is to the English moralistic writer Samuel Smiles, a Russian version of whose lives of four English workmen appeared in 1870 under the title Geroi truda (Heroes of Labour) [12, 565].
13 There may be an allusion here to the private life of Engels, who whilst in Manchester formed a strong, permanent relationship with an Irish girl, Mary Burns. His affection for her almost led to a break with Marx. See: Leopold Schwarzschild, The Red Prussian; The Life and Legend of Karl Marx, London, 1984, pp.99, 125, 144, 257, 258, 318.
14 Cf. the imagery of the caged bird, symbolising Elenas situation in On the Eve [8, 35; 36]. Woodward sees a parallel between Mariannas parrot and the caged goldfinch of Fenechka in Fathers and Children [8, 229]. See: James Woodward, Turgenevs Constancy in His Final Novel, From Pushkin to Palisandriia; Essays on the Russian Novel in Honour of Richard Freeborn, (ed. A. McMillin), London, 1990, p.147.
15 The image is a recurrent one in Chekhov. Cf. A Case History (Sluchai iz praktiki). See: A.P. Chekhov, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii i pisem v tridtsati tomakh, Moscow, 1974-83, Vol. 10 (Sochineniia), pp. 79, 81, 83. It occurs as an ominous sound at the beginning of Act 4 of The Seagull, (ibid.vol. 13, p.45) and in Act 2 of Uncle Vania (ibid. pp.75, 89).
16 In the sketch for the novel (Rasskaz novoi povesti) Turgenev alludes to the relationship between Pauline and her sister-in-law, Berta, to suggest the tone of voice of Marianna when referring to Sipiagina - Marianna speaks with the voice of Pauline [12, 335].
17 Woodward relates the name Solomin to a straw that has to be clutched: "Among us", remarks Paklin in Chapter 2 of the novel, "a drowning man must himself create the straw to clutch at" (p.15), and in the form of Solomin the "straw" (solominka) is "created". Woodward, Turgenevs "Constancy", p.140. He also links Paklins first name Sila to Nezhdanovs confidant Silin (ibid. p.141).
18 He uses the device twice at the beginning of his argument with Solomin, in order to reassure Sipiagin that he is not disrespectful to his guest [12,179]. He can also amuse himself with what he considers to be more racy Russian expressions e.g. kroshechku podgulial (a tiny bit poor) [12, 41].
19 In his first conception of the character Kallomeitsev, too, served in the Ministry of Popular Education, but later Markevich served as a model for Ladislas [12, 486-7].
20 Stasov himself recognised his portrait. See commentary [12, 514]. Pisarev is mentioned in connection with Nezhdanov in Turgenevs preparatory material for the novel (ibid.).
21 See commentary [12, 552].
22 The famous phrase which ends Gogol's fantastic tale The Nose.
23 V.I Kelsiev, an authority on the Old Believers, could point to them as a traditional source of anti-government opposition. Herzen also gave hospitality to the leader of the Old Believer commune in Turkey, Gonchar. See: Tuchkova-Ogareva,, pp.328-30.
24 In 1862 Vetoshnikov, an intermediary between Herzens London circle and Russia, was arrested. Among his papers the police found apparently incriminating evidence of Turgenevs involvement with the London revolutionaries. Turgenev was called to account in 1863, and in January 1864 had to return to St Petersburg to give personal evidence, but managed to satisfy the Senate commission of his innocence. Kozhanchikov, who was accused of contact with Kelsiev, was also acquitted [12, 573]. Soldatenkov was similarly called to account for subsidising subversion in London [12, 575]. See also: Leonard Schapiro, Turgenev His Life and Times, Oxford, 1978, pp.199-203.
25 On the other hand, it might be suggested that they [Fomushka and Fimushka] serve, like figures in a landscape, to show scale and give perspective: to convey how far Russian society had travelled in the course of a single lifetime, Seeley, pp.305-6.
26 Cf. Chekhovs letter to A.S. Suvorin (30th December 1888) in which he analyses Ivanov in terms of the Russian temperament itself. See: Chekhov, Poln. sob. soch., (Letters) Vol.3, pp.108-116.
27 Raspushchennye kosy plaits which have been let down suggests wedding ritual (and in association with weeping a marriage against ones will). Cf. the account Tatianas nurse gives of her own forced marriage in Pushkins Evgenii Onegin (chapter 3, stanza 18, l. 14.): Mne s plachem kosu raspleli, which Nabokov translates: crying, my braid they unplaited, and in commenting on this line he quotes the explanation given by Turgenev for his translation of the work into French in collaboration with Louis Viardot in 1863: La tresse de cheveux que portent les jeunes filles est cachée au mariage et ne se montre plus désormais. See: Aleksandr Pushkin, Eugene Onegin; A Novel in Verse. Translated from the Russian, with a Commentary, by Vladimir Nabokov, Princeton, 1964, Vol.1, p.158; Vol.2, p.364.
28 Cf. a similar use of from above (svysoka) in Rudins relationship to Pigasov [6, 265] and the pose he adopts at his final meeting with Natalia [6, 621].
29 The peasant woman Natalia refers to herself before her daughters death as having the fortitude of plants (honeysuckle and a tree): a prezhde chto zhimolost, chto ia. Kak est derevo! [12, 213].
30 See: commentary [12, 553].
31 The political activity of Rudin, too, had been misconstrued as that of a foreigner [6, 368].
32 In his story Gooseberries (Kryzhovnik) Chekhov uses a similar image of the ditch (rov) to suggest an impediment to a more just society. See: Chekhov, Poln sob. soch. (soch.) Vol. 10, p.64.
33 Cf. the earlier ironic use of the word svoboda, when Nezhdanov was told that it was the chief motto of the Sipiagin household [12, 55].
34 In Pt.2, ch.8 Ivan-tsarevich of The Devils (Besy) Petr Verkhovensky talks of creating a similar legend for Stavrogin. See Dostoevsky, Poln. sob. Soch., Vol.10, pp.319-326.