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First Love [Paperback]

Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev , Isaiah Berlin , V.S. Pritchett
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

30 Nov 1978 Classics
When the down-at-heel Princess Zasyekin moves next door to the country estate of Vladimir Petrovich's parents, he instantly and overwhelmingly falls in love with his new neighbour's daughter, Zinaida. But the capricious young woman already has many admirers and as she plays her suitors against each other, Vladimir's unrequited youthful passion soon turns to torment and despair - although he remains unaware of his true rival for Zinaida's affections. Set in the world of nineteenth-century Russia's fading aristocracy, Turgenev's story depicts a boy's growth of knowledge and mastery over his own heart as he awakens to the complex nature of adult love.

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Frequently Bought Together

First Love + Diary of a Madman, The Government Inspector, & Selected Stories (Penguin Classics) + The Queen of Spades and Other Stories (Oxford World's Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (30 Nov 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140443355
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140443356
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 13.1 x 0.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 63,814 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Authors

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Product Description


"Small wonders"
--"Time Out London"
"I wanted them all, even those I'd already read."
--Ron Rosenbaum, "The New York Observe"r --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Turgenev (1818-83) studied philosophy at Petersburg University, Russia. When he was nineteen he began to publish poems before moving to study in Berlin. In 1843 he fell in love with a young Spanish singer, whose influence remained throughout his life. He followed her round Europe, and was accepted by her and her husband as a friend. He had one daughter with a sempstress. After 1856 he lived mainly abroad and was well-known in Paris, where he was a friend of Flaubert. He wrotes six novels, all after 1855.

Isaiah Berlin was a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, Professor of Social and Political Theory at Oxford and the first President of Wolfson College, Oxford. He received many honours and awards throughout his lifetime. On his death in 1997, he was described by The Times as 'one of the most influential figures in the intellectual life of the country.'

V.S. Pritchett was Visiting Professor at several American universities and President of the Society of Authors. He wrote critical works, novels and short stories throughout his lifetime. When he died in 1991 he was described by The Guardian as 'one of the towering English literary figures of the century.'

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Turgenev, Pritchett, Berlin 18 Mar 2008
Simply beautiful. One of the most overlooked of the nineteenth-century writers, Turgenev (like his friend Maupassant) was a master craftsman as well as an amzing observer of people and scenes; this little book, together with Scenes From a Hunter's Album, is his best. And here is surely the best of all the translations into English from the Russian novels: V.S. Pritchett's lucid, pared-down style fits the bill so well. Don't look further for a translation of First Love. It also has a terrific little essay by Isaiah Berlin as an introduction. Well done to Penguin for keeping this in print for almost 30 years. Maybe they should try now to reprint the marvellous collections of short stories by Pritchett, too...
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
These six stories offer subtle variations on the theme of first love, often beautifully evoked through the first person narrative to highlight the autoboigraphical nature of some of the episodes. Turgenev creates contrasts of moods which capture either the ecstacy or misery of falling in love. For example, in the title piece, 'First Love', the young boy feels the bliss of his first crush and first kiss, which is finally defeated by his own father. The main message of the book is that nothing is permanent, and that love does not lead to a happy marriage nor to fullfilment. This is enhanced by the episodic nature of the tales which often capture just one moment of a larger timescale. The book is also historically interesting as it contains some of the first Russian literature to have become widely known throughout Europe in the nineteenth century. If you enjoy these stories I would recommend you try some of Turgenev's longer novels.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Would be a fantastic teen movie 25 May 2009
A tiny short story following the first crush of a 16 year old boy who finds that his father is his rival. Accurate, perceptive and nicely twisted but not elegant enough to be a true great.

The story of a summer romance between the 16 year old middle-class Vladimir Petrovich and the impoverished, bewitching, Princess Zinaida - who moves next door. Vladimir is completely intoxicated with Zinaida who flirts with Vladimir and a circle of half a dozen other, older, boys. But Zinaida also falls in love and Vladimir discovers that it is with his own father.

This is a neat and atmospheric short story that conjures up a summer of intense puppy love for the adolescent Vladimir, exploring his own feelings and using him as a sonar to detect those of Zinaida. What brings life to this otherwise slightly sweet brew is Zinaida's hopeless affair with Vladimir's father which explodes the emotional range of the book's cast and transforms the lives of Vladimir, Zinaidia and the father too.

This would be a very modern tale remade as a movie in (say) high school America - not a million miles from American Beauty. As a book it doesn't quite have the grace or effortlessness of the very best storytellers and it reads more like a fable than the truth.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully told story of a coming of age 6 Jan 2010
By Aran
Captures the frenzy of first-love with its highs and lows and renders them in beautiful, very Russian prose.
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