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Sketches from a Hunter's Album: The Complete Edition (Penguin Classics) Paperback – December 10, 1990
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Original Language: Russian
From the Back Cover
Top Customer Reviews
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'uvre 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'.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This Russian classic tells in low-keyed, elegant pastoral prose the poignant tales of down-trodden serfs abused by their loony and cruel owners, every bit as malicious and... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Lee H. Smith
If you enjoy books with a strong plot, flowing dialogue, and page turning adventure have I advice for you!.. You need to stay far, far, faaaaaar away from this book then. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Joshua Clark
"Literature is news that stays news" and that is very much the case with Turgenev's masterwork. Read morePublished on April 8, 2014 by Jeffrey Tedford
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 morePublished on March 4, 2014 by reading man
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 morePublished on February 14, 2013 by Eric Maroney
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 morePublished on June 5, 2012 by A.