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Sketches from a Hunter's Album: The Complete Edition (Penguin Classics) Paperback – December 10, 1990

4.5 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Russian

From the Back Cover

Drawn from his first-hand observation of the countryside and its ways of life, Turgenev's anecdotes, portraits and lyrical impressions depict the peasants and the tyranny of serfdom with such immediacy that when the first of these Sketches appeared in book form in 1852 they were read as inflammatory polemic and led to his arrest and confinement at his estate of Spasskoye.
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (December 10, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140445226
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140445220
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.2 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #284,556 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It's taken me until now to get to Sketches From A Hunter's Album. Now I have finished it and now I am grieving. It will stay in my nonlending collection so I can savor it even after the surprise has gone. It's like losing a friend.
Turgenev calls these 'sketches' rather than stories. It's a good distinction. More story writers should concentrate on their sketch pads. The sketches are of places and people in the rural south of Russia in the 1840s. Each is strung thematically on Turgenev's wandrings through the countryside while hunting for game birds. Each begins with a mention that he was hunting in a certain place. He goes into lovely thoughtful and surprising descriptions of the woods or marsh, the sky, the smells, the sounds, the light. Even in translation, these are exquisite. He speaks of shifting light shining through the leaves onto the forest floor, or unbreatheable noonday heat, or changing skies at the advent of a storm, a dawn, or a sunset; he calls up moments from your own life that you thought could not be shared with anyone who wasn't there and he makes you relive those moments as if he had been there with you.
For anyone who has spent time out of doors, these little Aldo Leopold nature essays standing alone would be reason enough to read the 'Sketches', but these are just hors d'œuvre to his descriptions of the persons he meets while hunting. When sketching people, Turgenev does gracefully what Dickens tried to do and did clumsily; that is, he describes the physical characteristics of a person and gives you a fully formed description of their character as well, and he does this without sounding forced and without showing himself. (And you will burst out laughing at the sudden recognition that, indeed, someone does look 'like a root vegetable'.
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Format: Paperback
Turgenev effectively invents a new form -- the literary sketch -- to impart a new kind of content. What is brilliant about these sketches which are in part nature meditation and in part biographical sketch is how Turgenev allows each character to speak for themselves. As a result we feel like we are hearing something we have never heard before -- the natural voice of the people. By allowing people to speak for themselves Turgenev gives us a truer and more genuine idea of how people -- serf and gentry -- really think and relate. Each sketch begins with a detailed description of the natural surroundings he is walking through and these descriptions give us insight into Turgenev's cast of mind which is infintely receptive, and discerning, even romantic and delicate at times as when he describes staring up through the forest canopy and imagining he is staring up at the world from beneath a vast body of water. These magnficent introductions set the mood for the character sketch to come. When he meets a serf it is as if he is merely continuing his communion with nature for the serfs live at one with the land. When he meets one of the gentry, however, and passes time in their company he feels removed from the natural settings and people he so values. It is a fascinating and very subtle technique but Turgenev makes the landowners seem like unnatural creatures who are disturbing the natural order. Though he is one of the gentry himself Turgenev hunts with the serfs , he values their company and conversation, and he values what they know. He knows them as individuals not just as serfs and so we too come to know them as individuals, each with their own personality and ideas about life and story to tell.Read more ›
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By David Light on October 17, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In giving this book only three stars, I'm not rating Turgenev but rather the translation. I'm not a translator myself, I'm sure it's very difficult rendering dialogue from another time and place, etc., etc. but I finally couldn't abide the translator's choice in this case to render the voices of nineteenth century Russian peasants in Cockney (or other English) slang.
Examples: "He was a right pain to his peasant girls." "They felt right idiots." "He's not a gent, is he?" "Help us, mate." "Judge for yourself, mate." "He's the soul of kindness, he is." "Gavrila comprehended-like how to get out of the wood." The use of "'cos" for "because." The use of "gotta"--"And I've gotta tell you this."
And what was for me the last straw, in the story Bezhin Lea, "Cor!" and "Cor, stone me!"
If you like this kind of thing, you'll love the book. For Russian lit in translation, give me Constance Garnett (and her Edwardian diction--which works so well, perhaps because it seems natural in contrast to the forced quality on display in "Sketches") or else the current team of Pevear and Volokhonsky.
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I don't like short stories, never have and I don't know why. I had to read this collection for a course and found it pretty good. The professor told us that this was Hemingway's favorite book which Hemingway had read over and over. In fact, Hemingway modeled some of his own stories on those here, particularly the Hemingway stories where nothing happens except someone might make a pot of coffee. But let's face it, these are not so much stories (narrations of events in time) as sketches of characters. Any plot would be too much plot and would interfer with the general effect, which is to show us the life and times of Russians before the liberation of the serfs. I liked "The Singers", as other reviewer have, but the true masterpiece, worth the entire price of the book, is "Living Relic." Nothing happens in that story except we learn again the beauty and strength of the human spirit and in the process the redemptive nature of true literature.
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