Torrents of Spring and Mumu

By Ivan Turgenev.

I have read this before but I really can’t remember when. It is interesting that Hemingway has a book of the same name – perhaps as homage to Turgenev. Turgenev’s novella is very affecting and a book that once you start, must be finished. Turgenev really is a master at analysing relationships and creating emotion in the reader. This is one of the most perfect novellas or short pieces I have read for a while.

Mumu is an interesting story as well, it is much shorter but no less profound and filled with melancholy. It tells of the trials of the peasant Gerasim serving a gentrified household. Ultimately, his return to the countryside is shown to be a more satisfactory life, despite the hardships, than the false atmosphere and people of the house.

Turgenev is interested in people and their relationships and love – the personal over the public. Reading these after War and Peace makes these themes of Turgenevs seem more pronounced. War and Peace had a grant scheme or context while Turgenev’s novella shows a microcosm of life which affects the participants profoundly and changes the course of their existence – no less important than the grand battle at Borodino for those involved. Turgenev seems to have received a lot of criticism for his inward focus but his writing had real strength in this area and if you add a dash of politics (which Torrents of Spring doesn’t have) you can see why his novels are still read today.

Torrents of Spring is really worth reading, the characters are quite exceptional and it was was a nice change following War and Peace.

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