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Sketches from a Hunter's Album: The Complete Edition (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

Ivan Turgenev , Richard Freeborn
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 10, 1990 Penguin Classics
Turgenev's first major prose work is a series of twenty-five Sketches: the observations and anecdotes of the author during his travels through Russia satisfying his passion for hunting. His album is filled with moving insights into the lives of those he encounters peasants and landowners, doctors and bailiffs, neglected wives and bereft mothers each providing a glimpse of love, tragedy, courage and loss, and anticipating Turgenev's great later works such as First Love and Fathers and Sons. His depiction of the cruelty and arrogance of the ruling classes was considered subversive and led to his arrest and confinement to his estate, but these sketches opened the minds of contemporary readers to the plight of the peasantry and were even said to have led Tsar Alexander II to abolish serfdom.

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Russian

About the Author

Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev was born in 1818 in the Province of Orel, and suffered during his childhood from a tyrannical mother. After the family had moved to Moscow in 1827 he entered Petersburg University where he studied philosophy. When he was nineteen he published his first poems and, convinced that Europe contained the source of real knowledge, went to the University of Berlin. After two years he returned to Russia and took his degree at the University of Moscow. In 1843 he fell in love with Pauline Garcia-Viardot, a young Spanish singer, who influenced the rest of his life; he followed her on her singing tours in Europe and spent long periods in the French house of herself and her husband, both of whom accepted him as a family friend. He sent his daughter by a sempstress to be brought up among the Viardot children. After 1856 he lived mostly abroad, and he became the first Russian writer to gain a wide reputation in Europe; he was a well-known figure in Parisian literary circles, where his friends included Flaubert and the Goncourt brothers, and an honorary degree was conferred on him at Oxford. His series of six novels reflect a period of Russian life from 1830s to the 1870s: they are Rudin (1855), A House of Gentlefolk (1858), On the Eve (1859; a Penguin Classic), Fathers and Sons (1861), Smoke (1867) and Virgin Soil (1876). He also wrote plays, which include the comedy A Month in the Country; short stories and Sketches from a Hunter’s Album (a Penguin Classic); and literary essays and memoirs. He died in Paris in 1883 after being ill for a year, and was buried in Russia.

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: 0.8 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,896 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
(24)
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lessons from a Master June 17, 2002
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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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Turgenev, sportsman and ardent liberal November 17, 2003
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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30 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cor! 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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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars See Ezra Pound's definition of "Literature"
"Literature is news that stays news" and that is very much the case with Turgenev's masterwork. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Jeffrey Tedford
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, Translation Less So
This was Turgenev's first "novel" (it's really a collection of short stories with a common theme) and a brilliant achievement, given the time and place. Read more
Published 5 months ago by reading man
5.0 out of 5 stars say no more...
Many beautifully reviews that say it all. The sketches are very easy to read but still rich.
Not the best edition judging by a 3 star review here, refering to the use of... Read more
Published 16 months ago by .fgd
5.0 out of 5 stars A Hunter's Pantheism
Turgenev's A Hunter's Sketches is a classic of Russian (and world) literature, and has been on my "to read list" since my teens. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Eric Maroney
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book; good translation.
I don't read Russian, but this is the most readable and rich translation I've found. In "How to Read and Why," Harold Bloom recommends "Bezhin Lea" and " Kasyan from the Beautiful... Read more
Published on June 5, 2012 by A.
5.0 out of 5 stars HUNTER OF INJUSTICE
HUNTER OF INJUSTICE, May 28, 2012
Federico G. Martini - this review is on: Memoirs of a hunter by Ivan Turgenev. Read more
Published on May 29, 2012 by federico g. martini
5.0 out of 5 stars Why should you read it?
Although it's a collection of short stories, i.e. sketches, it has a strong unifying theme and coherence. The question of slavery, i.e. serfdom, is central and well portrayed. Read more
Published on November 7, 2011 by Ronald L. Oliver
3.0 out of 5 stars Peasants And Subjugation
Ivan Turgenev's Sketches From A Hunter's Album - somewhat confusingly also published in English as A Sportsman's Sketches - is a series of short stories written between 1847 and... Read more
Published on July 29, 2009 by AliGhaemi
4.0 out of 5 stars Cheap
This was really cheap, and I saved alot of money on it. An awesome buy for a broke college student who needs it for class.
Published on June 8, 2009 by J. Lanza
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Work, Curious Translation
I enjoyed the sketches in this enjoyable book, but my enjoyment was dampened by the curious translation. Read more
Published on February 1, 2009 by zorba
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