First Love

Ivan Turgenev (1818 - 1883)
Translated by Constance Garnett (1861 - 1946)

The title of the novella is almost an adequate summary in itself. The "boy-meets-girl-then-loses-her" story is universal but not, I think, banal - despite a surprise ending which notoriously turns out to be very little of a surprise. First Love is given its originality and poignancy by Turgenev's mastery of the piercing turning-point (akin to Joyce's "epiphanies") that transforms the character's whole being, making a tragic outcome inevitable. Even the nature symbolism is rescued from triteness by lovely poetic similes - e.g. "but at that point my attention was arrested by the appearance of a speckled woodpecker who busily climbed up the slender stem of a birch-tree and peeped out uneasily from behind it, first to the right, then to the left, like a musician behind the bass-viol." (Summary by Martin Geeson)

Genre(s): Romance, Published 1800 -1900

Language: English

Section Chapter Reader Time
Play 01 1 - Introductory and Chapters I - V Martin Geeson
Play 02 2 - Chapters VI - IX Martin Geeson
Play 03 3 - Chapters X - XIV Martin Geeson
Play 04 4 - Chapters XV - XVII Martin Geeson
Play 05 5 - Chapters XVIII - XXII Martin Geeson