Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Ivan Turgenev (1818 - 1893)

"Turgenev received by the mysterious decree which marks out human vocations the gift which is noble beyond all others: he was born essentially impersonal. His conscience was not that of an individual to whom nature had been more or less generous: it was in some sort the conscience of a people. Before he was born he had lived for thousands of years; infinite successions of reveries had amassed themselves in the depths of his heart. No man has been as much as he the incarnation of a whole race: generations of ancestors, lost in the sleep of centuries, speechless, came through him to life and utterance."
So uttered the Breton fisherman's son Ernest Renan at the trackside ceremony at the Paris Gare du Nord as IvanTurgenev's remains were loaded for transport to and burial in Russia, his home country.

Turgenev was born on this day, November 9, in 1818.

Henry James said of Turgenev, in 1903,
He was the most generous, the most tender, the most delightful, of men; his large nature overflowed with the love of justice: but he also was of the stuff of which glories are made.
One would like to know such a man, if one exists.

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